Combining Senators hockey with a contempt of the human condition since 2007.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Your Totally Half-Assed Season Preview
As I've mentioned before, I'm not very good at previews. While I like to argue that a player-by-player breakdown of a team into its component parts serves no purpose as it discounts the holistic strengths inherent in a cohesive unit (the whole being greater than the sum of parts and all that), the truth of the matter is that I'm just too fucking lazy.
That said, with the 2007-2008 season less than 32 hours away (and I hope you're as moist about that as I am), I felt I owed it to both my loyal readers to put something up before puck drop tomorrow night, if only to be able to justify the inevitable and merciless taunting I will be doing over the broken, bleeding bodies of our opponents come next June.
So buckle up as we take a line by line trip through the locker room, albeit in a less alliterative fashion, and some quick thoughts on the playoffs. Because October is not too soon to be thinking about April. We will then get back to our regularly scheduled rants, rumours and innuendo. Promise.
1st line: Heatley, Spezza, Alfreddsson.
For the time being anyway. Unlike the more mainstream pundits, I've never been that orgasmically enamoured by the "CASH" line. Aside from the lamest line nickname in history, putting these three together has always smacked of putting too many eggs in one basket. As we saw in the Finals last year, shut this line down and our scoring goes into the crapper. This will no doubt change as the season goes on, with Alfie dropping to the second line and for that, I will be very grateful. But in the meantime, Alfie's continuing mission to point Spezz to his own end of the rink will continue.
2nd line: Foligno, Fisher, Eaves (subject to change if the rookie shits his pants)
I have to admit, when I heard that The Spawn Of Mike had made the team, my first thought was that he'd be a good fourth line cog to plug into the hole left by Dean McAmmond's temporary inability to tie his own skates, and that once that was rectified, little Nicky would be riding the buses in Bingo for at least another year. Imagine my surprise to open this morning's paper and find him on the second line. On the strength of his preseason, I'll give him the benefit of my considerable doubt, but you have to think that Paddock will be rather quick with the hook if things don't go as planned. As for Fish, well everyone knows my feelings on him. And Patty Eaves has always been underrated, I think. While his history of injury makes me a little nervous, all he does is give everything he has to any role he's asked to play, and without bitching about it. You can never have too many of those guys.
3rd line: Vermette, Kelly, Neil
At the risk of hyperbolizing, these three are the guys that will be responsible for winning us that Big Ugly Trophy next spring. Arguably, the best third line in the League, they've done nothing but improve from year-to-year, to the point that they would easily play on any other team's second unit (and yes, I am including Neil in that). While the primary role of any third line is to check the opposition into the ice, all three have the speed to turn the other team's mistakes into a scoring chance faster than Paul Maurice can question his career choice. Look for a breakout year for all of them.
Welcome to the Plug-And-Play section of today's program. Until McAmmond's return we'll be seeing just about everybody playing at centre for this line, possibly up to and including the beer vendors. Look for Kelly and Fish to be double shifted along with the occasional appearance of our Athenian Wonder, while Schubert bounces back and forth from the blue line. Donovan is a bit of an unknown quantity, but if he pastes Darcy Tucker just once this season, I'm putting him on my Christmas card list.
Philips/Volchenkov: Our top shut down guys, there's no reason to think they won't pick up where they left off last year. A-Train's superhuman ability to attract vulcanized rubber is a bit worrisome due to the increased probability of taking one off the head, but I wouldn't trade him for a thousand Chris Pronger wayward elbows.
Redden/Meszaros: Let's be honest. Wade Redden will not be with the Senators past the trade deadline. We can't afford to resign him past this season, but neither can we let him walk for nothing. There is the pesky matter of his no-trade clause however. Time to earn your money Bryan. Mez suffered a bit of a sophomore slump after a stellar rookie year, but now that he has a year of top-four duty under his belt, he should be more comfortable.
Corvo/Schubert/Richardson: I'm not entirely convinced signing Richardson was a great move. Mostly because the conditions that rendered him expendable in Philly (and if you couldn't make the Flyers last year, you have big problems) are still there, i.e.: too big, too slow. But as a seventh guy to fill in while Schube is playing on the wing, or a veteran presence to calm the whipper snappers when things get hairy, I will grudgingly admit it may have been money well spent. Corvo's howitzer from the blue line is nice to have, but the early Vegas line has the over/under on his first "I suck so much" meltdown of the year locked in for the 28th of December.
Ray Emery's wrist/Martin Gerber/Brian Elliot
As always, the Achilles heel. Can Rayzor be The Man once his wrist is finally healed? And more important, can he stay the hell out of any vehicular trouble? Remember, he fought the puck through most of the playoffs, but was bailed out by a crazy-good team D. At least until the Final. Will Gerber be able to hold the fort in the meantime, without having some kind of existential meltdown in his confidence? And after that, who's left? This will be the story all season. Maybe we can trade Reds for, say, Carey Price. What do you say guys, any takers?
It's pretty safe to assume that the Sens are a lock for the division title. Boston has probably improved the most out of all five teams, but not enough to make a charge. After the rape and pillage in Buffalo, the Sabres, Habs and yes, even the Leafs, will be too busy just trying to make the playoffs to be a serious threat. That's not to say I'm not looking forward to a few more goalie fights this year (Ya heard me Toskala! Drop 'em, bitch!)
And while there is no reason to think that we won't challenge for the conference title, that third seed (at a minimum) will come in mighty handy come April. If we're going to make a return trip to the Finals (and let's not fool ourselves, it's this year or bust...a theme I will be harping as the season goes on) we'll need to go through a much improved Rangers team and the perpetually bothersome ass-pimples that are the Pittsburgh Penguins (another year with The Pensblog. Whee!).
So how will it shake out? We take the Pens in the Eastern Final before exacting revenge on Brian Burke and his shitty haircut for the Cup. Then again, I'm just a lazy bastard talking out of his ass here, and I reserve the right to repudiate, reject or otherwise deny anything I just wrote. But enough of this. Just drop the goddamned puck already!
Unapologetic sports fanatic (blessed with an incredibly patient wife...and my own Man Room). If they keep a score, if there's a winner and a loser, or if the participants stand a better than average chance of bleeding (especially that one), I'll watch it. At least once. Well, except for cricket. I'll NEVER understand cricket.