Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Game Recap: Senators 4 - Leafs 1

Well... what to say. The Leafs came out very strong, had the first three or four solid chances of the evening, but Gerber stood tall. The game settled into a fairly bland pace, with Wade Belak taking a few silly penalties. Some decent chances both ways, with the Sens capitalizing on them more effectively than the Leafs. An empty-netter made it a 4-1 final for the visitors.

You know, in past seasons, I would have been bitterly disappointed with the outcome, but for some reason I was almost satisfied that they were even able to hang with the Sens. Sad really.

Oh, and I'll save Damian Cox the time... this team couldn't score their way out of a wet paper bag. It is going to be a long season for Mr. Sundin.

The Good:

There were a few (and just a few) positives to take away from the game. Sundin was, besides Gerber, the best player on the ice. Great in the faceoff circle, played with an edge, scored the only goal and had numerous chances.

Peca made an impressive showing as well, he seemed to be playing with a little fire in his belly and did a very decent job winning key draws and generally playing a sound game.

Although allowing three goals on 31 shots, Raycroft seemed to be in control (of both his movements and the rebounds), and really did not give up any 'softies'. The issue here is the 31 shots, not really the three goals. If he plays like this for the rest of the season, goaltending won't be the Leafs #1 concern.

I thought Pohl would have shown more in the offensive zone, but he was very sound in his own end, winning a couple of key faceoffs. A good solid start that he will be able to build off.

Kaberle looked to be skating in a different gear than the rest of the players out there, moving the puck up the ice with a fluid ease. He actually shot the puck a couple of times as well (mark your calendars!)

Finally, I thought Kyle Wellwood played a slightly above average game, generating a few chances, and as the game progressed, he looked more comfortable on the wing. Did a nice job on the PP when Ottawa was crowding McCabe, forcing the Leafs to go to plan B.

The Bad:

Where to begin. So many players looked disinterested it isn't even funny.

Kilger and Tucker were invisible (I honestly had to go to the gamesheet to verify that they played in the first period), Steen & Stajan both looked like they were in way over their heads, maybe the worst game I have seen either of them play. They were both coughing up the puck with regularity and neither were able to establish a forecheck with any real results. Ponikarovsky did not appear to be able to keep up with Mats on half the plays tonight, and when he could he flubbed the passes/chances.

On D, McCabe looked like he was using his stick upside down half the night, and White might have played his worst game in his brief stint with the Leafs.

The Ugly:

Wade Belak. This guy got thrown into a bad situation (first game back on D in almost a year against the speedy Sens), but at this point in his NHL career, he should understand how to physically skate backwards. And the bad penalties... oy vey!

Wozniewski looked like he belonged back in junior tonight. Chalk it up to opening night jitters, but he was brutal. Maybe the only guy on the ice coughing up the puck more than Steen & Stajan.

Hal Gill is not worth $2 million, period. I know, big shock (especially to anyone who ever watched a Bruins game), but this guy simply cannot keep up with the play. He is late arriving to the offensive blueline, and late getting back. By the time he gets going with any speed in any particular direction, the play is inevitably already going the other way. Think Nik Antropov, but slower and playing 5 more minutes a game. Let's hope that Maurice can hide him in the #5-6 slot at 10-14 minutes a game in the coming weeks.

Suglobov looked to be shell-shocked by the whole experience. He looked confused out there, not sure if he was supposed to actually try to score, or to play 'defense'. It's clear he doesn't know how to do the latter, as his game tonight looked as natural as a monkey trying to hump a football. He can't be a fourth line player. He either needs to be on a scoring line, or he needs to be in the minors. Fourth-line grinding is a waste, because he simply is incapable of doing it.

I won't even get started on Jeff O'Neill. He shouldn't be in the lineup right now, and I think his ice-time tonight reflects that Maurice feels the same way. No passion, no chances, no real reason to give him any more ice-time, IMO. Damn, I hate even typing that, I used to be the biggest O'Neill booster...

Only 24 hours till round 2, lets hope it isn't another snooze-fest.

Oh, and am I the only one that was plain ol' shocked with how crappy Alfredsson played? He looked like he wanted to be somewhere else out there all night. Very strange performance from a consummate professional.


smacdo said...

I know what you are about to go through with Hal Gill. I am a Bruins fan, and I supported them paying his salary for another team if thats what it took to make him go away. Luckily he is gone and it didn't cost the Bruins a dime.

I have maintained for a couple of years now that Hal Gill can't skate backwards. Watch him. It doesn't happen very often...especially when you figure in that he is a *defenceman*

The Mad Hockey Blogger said...

Well, he's here for two more seasons after this one at $2 million. Maybe he can take some of that money and get a skating coach. Seriously, if my job was to translate english to french, and I couldn't speak a lick of french, I probably start taking some night courses...

PPP said...

The bright light at the end of the tunnel is that with Kubina back in the lineup Gill will be back to the 3rd pairing.

Also, Tucker played 19 minutes last night. 19! I noticed him twice. Kilger was not the guy that got himself so much praise last season. And McCabe might want to consider a refund of last night's salary as an act of contrition for that pathetic display.

I do agree that Wellwood grew into his spot on the wing. The trick will be getting settled forward lines. A couple of times guys were skating into each other or making passes to where they expected a linemate to be.

Game 1 though...

The Mad Hockey Blogger said...

Yes, it is only game 1, and the Sens have notoriously given the Leafs fits. Kubina should help, and Gill should be relegated to the 5-6 slot. The question is, who do you play with Kubina? I think if you take Kabs away from McCabe, he is going to look even worse.

Serenity now, serenity now...

Bob said...

Hall Gill is a 6 foot 4 inch defenseman who plays like he is 4 feet 6 inches, from a Bruins fan who watched to many wingers go around him.

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