Monday, February 25, 2008

Sens shut out of the Sundin celebration

If Bryan Murray didn’t have any deals percolating on Monday morning, by 10:30 Monday night he was probably on the phone, trying to find some kind of a spark for his struggling squad.

On the eve of the NHL trading deadline, Murray’s Senators were humbled in their own home town, by their worst possible rival the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Leafs despite their subterranean place in the standings, played as though they were the favored team for a playoff run. Taking the play to the Senators and running them around their own rink. A night of carnage on the scoreboard, that left Ottawa fans reeling as the Leafs tallied five unanswered goals in the victory.

Ray Emery the frequent subject of trade speculation didn’t do very much to enhance that prospect, as he surrendered five goals on 16 shots before being replaced by Martin Gerber in the third. If Emery wanted to be free of the pressure of playing in Ottawa, he probably didn’t help out his cause, though as has been the case for most of the season, the blame doesn’t necessarily all land in the nets.

Once again defensive shortcomings rose to the top of the worry list, with an inability to clear the puck or the space directly in front of the embattled Senators goaltender.

Offensively the Sens again found frustration as they fired 31 shots at Vesa Toskala, only to find the Leaf goaltender more than ready to turn aside whatever the Sens were ready to dish out. What would have been a sure fire goal into an empty net was denied to the Sens, as Leaf defenceman Tomas Kaberle blocked a Mike Fisher shot to preserve Toskala’s shut out. A sign indicative of the way that the puck was going for the Sens once again.

The Toronto scoring came from an energized D’arcy Tucker another of the frequent possible trading chips in Cliff Fletcher’s poker pile, Tucker became an Ace in the possible trading deck with two power play goals and an assist on Pavel Kubina’s goal. Dominic Moore and the non waiveable Mats Sundin, were the other scorers for the Leafs.

While the Leafs are more thank likely not playoff bound, they will certainly play the role of spoilers if given the chance. Adding to the Senators woes with Monday's 5 – 0 drilling.

The Sens have won but two of their last seven games, having surrendered first place to the Devils all while they watch the Canadiens pulling up in the rear view mirror.

It’s with all that background that Murray will enter Tuesday’s trade deadline. The last name being bounced around the capital was a possible return of Marian Hossa to Ottawa, an event which if transacted, would complete the snookering of Atlanta.

The Senators, having already gained Dany Heatley ironically in a trade for Hossa a few years ago, could once again strip the Thrashers of another offensive threat. Though if completed, it would be a trade that would be a hard one to explain to Thrasher fans, unless some huge names came along for the return trip.

Another name that has Sens fans thinking of the possibilities is Buffalo's Brian Campbell, who according to his agent has apparently played his last game as a Sabre. While it seems hard to think believe that the Sens and Sabres would ever strike a deal, Campbell would certainly be a solid addition to the Sens blue line.

Murray is now facing a situation where he is more of a desperate buyer than a patient seller. Ottawa is running out of chances to stake its claim to the Stanley Cup, what Murray does on Tuesday could very well set the table for either another long run into the playoffs. Or if the current malaise continues a very early exit, one which won’t be well received in the nation’s capital.

No comments: