In the summer between Grades 11 and 12, I went to a bush party thrown by a friend of mind on his dad’s 80-acre farm. This being Cornwall, where the entertainment possibilities presented to the teen population consisted primarily of a) go to Montreal and hope you can fool a bouncer with your older cousin’s ID, or b) hang out at the only legitimate mall in town making fun of fat American tourists and their even fatter kids, this was the highlight of our social season, and hence most of my high school was there. Included among these last was an absolutely smoking hot goddess whose perfect breasts and lethal ass I had spent most of the previous school year
And it worked! While I don’t want to bore you with the details (mostly because my recollection of them is somewhat fuzzy), I must say that my performance that night was one for the ages, a glorious, nay, virtuoso combination of Lothario and Casanova, with a dash of Duracell. Well, that’s how I remember it anyway. When I inquired about her feelings later that week through a third party, the response was “I passed out after the third time he hit himself in the eye trying to unhook my bra”. Never so much as sniffed a date with her, or any other girl in the Greater Cornwall Area for that matter, for the remainder of my not-so-glorious High School career.
Anyway, what could this possibly have to do with reaching the mid-way point of a hockey season? Well, I’ll tell you. The Senators should, to a man, feel exactly the way I did on that long ago morning following the party. They’re ecstatic! They're on top of the (Eastern) world! They’re not quite sure how they did it, or if they deserve to be there, but they're happy to take it. And most of all, they’re feeling slightly ashamed about how it all came about. Unlike myself, however, they still have a chance to straighten some things out before the rest of the girls figure out it was all smoke and mirrors to begin with.
So, without further ado, I am proud to present Your Totally Half-Assed Mid-Season Review!
So, without further ado, I am proud to present Your Totally Half-Assed Mid-Season Review!
Players NOT named "Martin" or "Ray":
While I had hoped to use the same format as my season preview and break things down line by line, a combination of injuries and Coach P's hair trigger line scrambling at the first sign of a bad drop pass makes this impossible. Therefore, I had to come up with something that would a) give the illusion of quasi-serious analysis, thus pleasing both of my loyal readers (Hi Mom!), and b) involve the least possible amount of work on my part because, well, I hate that.
So I decided to throw all of the forwards and defence into one bag, and using a completely original idea I so totally thought of all by myself, grade them on a scale of one to ten. Everybody got that? Sorry Leaf fans. Try reading it slower.
10/10 I respectfully request that you impregnate my wife so I may raise your progeny as my own: Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley, Mike Fisher.
9/10 Um...my sister-in-law is kinda cute. I'll introduce you: Jason Spezza.
Sorry Jason, but you just won't listen will you? The things keeping you away from my wife are all of the same things everyone has ever told you since you've been in the league. Blind drop passes...are...bad. Seeing eye passes through the middle of the offensive zone that have no hope in hell of succeeding and end up going the other way on an odd man rush...are...bad. Oh, and it would be cool if you could at least pretend to throw a body check every now and again. Seriously man, the only thing that got you this high is the fact that you're shooting the puck a little more than you're giving it away.
8/10 Okay, you can date my little sister, but she'd better be home by 11:00: Antoine Vermette, Chris Phillips.
Both are playing above expectations, and therefore have earned their standing invites to my dinner table. Verms' off season conditioning has improved his speed from merely "Wow!" to "Holy Shit!". And Chris has done a solid job covering up for the innumerable and completely baffling screw ups by his fellow D-men, all the while doing it without his regular side kick.
7/10 Sorry Guys. She said she just wants to be "friends": Christoph Schubert, Chris Neil, Anton Volchenkov.
Solid work, do what's asked of them, plus a little bit more. Despite the fact that he was out for a month with his busted digit, I'm putting A-Train up here because without him, our defence has basically sucked moose balls while giving up a gazillion shots per game.
6/10 Yeah, we can hang out for a beer. I guess. Just let me check my calendar: Andrej Meszaros, Chris Kelley.
Both started the year strong, but have faded of late. While 18 points from a third line centre is nothing to sneeze at, there have been too many nights where #22's effort just hasn't been there. As for you Mesz, I'm not sure if you heard, but that whole "sophomore jinx" was SO last season. Pick it up will ya? A +8 rating after 41 games does not a wealthy restricted free agent to be, make.
5/10 Everything okay there fellas? I hear Dr. Phil has been chasing you around the parking lot with a microphone: Wade Redden, Dean McAmmond
I'm not sure what's going on here gentlemen, but you still have the benefit of my doubt. Dean, I can understand if you're still a little punky from Dipshit Downie's head shot, and I have to admit, you have been skating much better the last few games, so we'll see how it goes. And Wade...well...um...WTF man? Where are the hits? Where are the sweet breakout passes? Whether you want to stay in Ottawa, or make the big bucks as a UFA, either way, I'd suggest you work on the "don't fuck up the play more than it already is" part of your game. And I'd start with "How to defend a 2-on-1".
4/10 There's never an easy way to say this, but...: Brian McGrattan
Look man, I like you, I really do. I love watching you do what you do, and I'd hate to see you go. But you've got to show the coaches why they should give you a roster spot and more than a shift and a half. And I don't mean by picking fights with unbalanced teammates in practice either.
3/10 Look, if you're going to stay in my shit shack this long, I'm going to have to start charging rent: Randy Robitaille, Nick Foligno, Shean Donovon, Luke Richardson
Spawn of Mike, we can understand. He's a rookie after all, and there have been flashes of the talent that got him drafted in the first place. But the other three? Dead Fucking Weight. Bryan, you need to change offices before you make any more deals. Apparently you've succumbed to the John Muckler Curse Of Craptacular Signings.
2/10 This shall remain empty in order to emphasize just how putrid the next step is:
1/10 Your presence here after the trade deadline will be taken as conclusive proof that there is no God: Joe Corvo.
Please go away and take your bad pinches, lazy-ass icing touch ups, brutal give aways, tattoos, and skater punk 'tude with you...dude.
Players who ARE named "Martin" and "Ray":
Oh dear lord, where to start. I said at the beginning of the season that these guys could be our downfall.
There is no such thing as a middle ground with Gerbs. He's Darth Gerber for a string of games and then, one bad goal later and faster than you can say "Red Light Racicot", out pops Swiss Pastry (or Swiss Cheese as the boys from BoO call him). Luckily, when Pastry is in the house, Rayzor somehow manages to fit in some solid, if slightly shaky, work between bouts of petulance and road rage. And then, on cue, Darth returns just as Emery decides he'd rather look the part of a pro goaltender than actually play it. Either way, this is no way to solidify our title of Top Eastern Contender. Combined with $3 million plus a year per, neither one can be moved to any team that has any kind of sentient being as GM. And Toronto doesn't have the cap room.
Front Office and Coaching:
Six months ago all was sunshine and lollipops. Fresh off a Finals appearance as coach, Bryan Murray had finally wrestled the big chair from the cold, clammy hands of John Muckler. No longer would our future be mortgaged by giving up top prospects in exchange for such notable superstars as Tyler Arnason and Oleg
So how's that working out? Please see above, re: 3/10. Half way through this season, and we look almost exactly the same way we did last June. Four guys are doing 80% of the scoring, we still can't hit anything (Neiler, A-Train and Fish excluded), and the whole world knows that if they come heavy on the forecheck, our D will cough up the puck quicker than you can say bulimic supermodel. We're middle of the pack on the penalty kill, and as for the power play, Emperor Melnyk should demand, at his earliest possible convenience, that teams be allowed to decline penalties, a la NFL.
And Coach P.? Well, after a summer long PR sham of Peddie-esque proportions, the Crown Prince was finally given the keys to the kingdom in a transition so smooth, Leaf Nation wept openly in the streets. The result has been rather underwhelming. Since the roof caved in on our 14-2 start, our boys have looked confused and frightened. Lost souls, yearning for comfort and guidance have found only scorn and a quick benching for their troubles. As a result, the top line is being ridden into the ice on most nights ("You're 36 Alfie? Okay, only triple shifts for you then"), our line combinations may as well be written with a #2 pencil for all of their permanence and anyone with a two-way contract is scared shitless. As the cherry on top, Coach has also managed the dubious distinction of having both of his goaltenders pissed off at him at the same time. Quite the feat. A final note John. Would it kill you to look like you're enjoying yourself once in a while? Even just a little? Christ, even at the press conference announcing your role as Eastern Conference All Star Team Grand Poobah Back Patter, you looked like someone was cutting out your spleen with a rusty spoon.
The Next 41:
As I mentioned in the intro (about a million words ago) there is still plenty of time to patch the leaks and tighten the bolts before the playoffs. Starting with Thursday's tilt against the fast fading Sabres, the Senators play the equivalent of every second night (41 games in 83 days) from here on out. But as I once heard someone say at some meeting or other (I happened to be walking by on my way to the pub), the first step in solving the problem is acknowledging you have one. And we have plenty more than one. That said, they are all fixable, folks. While it may seem like forever and a day since it happened, 14-2 was no mirage.
So what's my fearless prediction and/or my point, you're asking yourself (and if you've made it this far, you probably should be)? Considering the packed schedule over the next 3 months, I predict that I will in no way be able to post after every game, while maintaining my duties to Her Majesty, my sanity AND my marriage. I also predict I will try my damnedest to keep you both amused as often as I can.
And finally, I predict that the entire team will huddle around their computers tonight, inscribe what I've written here into their very souls, change their ways, correct their bad habits and march triumphantly through June to claim that which is rightfully ours. You're welcome. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some other important delusions to attend to. Where did I put that 40 of Jack...?
Update: While Four Habs Fans seem to have beat me to the "half-assed" punch, please rest assured that it is merely a case of great minds thinking alike, and not, as it would appear, lazy assed thievery on my part. Mostly because I've been writing this beast for three days.