Kukla's Korner


Sens Ready To Lather, Rinse, Repeat

What exactly is going on? Ottawa’s Ruutu taking pot shots back at the Lightning after their 3-0 win Sunday is not much of a surprise, but some subtler jabs by Murray at the still freshly fired Hartsburg do come as a bigger surprise.

Should it really be a surprise, though, that the Senators are looking down the barrel of the nigh-inevitable mathematical elimination tonight, but still plan to push through all seven remaining games?

In one corner, you have the Senators’ Ruutu, pest extraordinaire, and in the other, Lightning interim head coach Rick Tocchet. The event in question a cross-check by Tampa’s Ryan Craig on Ruutu, where Ruutu went down to his knees to escape the brunt, but not enough to stop the stick from breaking, sliding into Craig’s sensitive knees, from the Ottawa Sun,

Tocchet, who was incensed with a “submarine” hit Ruutu put on Lightning centre Ryan Craig in Ottawa’s 3-0 victory Sunday, told Tampa reporters he wished he wasn’t behind the bench because he would have personally dealt with the Senators agitator.
“Craig’s had two knee operations, so I don’t think that was professional,” said Tocchet, a rugged player during his 18 years in the NHL. “I have a suit on, so I can’t do anything about it. I wish I didn’t have a suit on.”
“That’s good,” said. “It seems to work. If I can get the coaches rattled, I think it’s a huge compliment for me. (Tocchet’s) playing career is over now.

“In games, that’s what it’s all about. If you throw some ‘meatheads’ on the ice, then you’ve got to take advantage of it. Maybe (Tocchet) should pay attention to how his team is doing. There’s a lot more to worry about than me in that organization.”

Would you expect anything less from Tocchet? It doesn’t take much to win the fancy of Barrie and Koules in Tampa Bay, but it takes even less to lose it, and Tocchet still has yet to sign on any dotted lines to employ him past the end of the season. If Ruutu can incense not just players but coaches as well, next season might just have yet another reason to keep your head up. Maybe there should have been a no-contact shade of pants on Craig?

On the more subtle end, we have Murray, from USA TODAY (yesterday),

Now that you are a couple months removed from your team’s poor start and coach Craig Hartsburg’s dismissal, can you sum up what happened to your team?

Murray: We talked a lot about the trap and defensive coverage, instead of letting the players play. That comes down to coaching. It’s a hard story. But I talked to Hartsy about it often. Number one, we didn’t work hard enough in practice, and that’s the biggest area that a coach has to look after. The other part is making sure that your players understand what they are and what roles they have to play and then allow them to do it. It’s not a complicated business, but we make it complicated.

To boil it down, did you believe Hartsburg tried to make your talent fit his style rather than making his style fit your talent?

Murray: Yes, basically that’s what it was. Now, we have gone back to a more (puck pressure) style. We don’t control the puck like the Detroit Red Wings, but we have the puck more often. We play a puck pressure more, and that’s the way we’ve played in my time here. I like teams that score goals, and we were the lowest scoring team in hockey when Craig left.

Everyone in the business knew that Hartsburg would bring defensive sensibilities, and for a team that’s consistently been at the heights of both goal scoring and goal allowing, it made sense as a move, to try to bring the team to a better balance between the two. Offense has always been the name of the game for Ottawa, but I would suggest that Hartsburg was not immediately set to be as terrible a fit as things wound up being.

His World Junior golds came with solid defense, but you don’t win those golds by taming an entire lineup of hungry, ready-to-pounce Canadian youngsters; there should be proof enough there that he could work a system to both extents. But Ottawa is not stocked with the cream of Canada’s crop, nor built to be as defensive and risk-less as they appeared to be earlier this season. A misplay, for sure, but not a misguided man in Hartsburg. Just another ‘bad marriage,’ as Paddock termed it.

The Senators may not be done the season, but they are already planning for the future. First came the trade to acquire Campoli and Comrie, both of whom have shown flashes at times and things to be desired as others. Next, Shannon has finally emerged on the second line, most notably by pairing off of Foligno nearly as much as Heatley and Spezza pair off each other, perhaps finally giving Shannon his first one-way NHL contract. The Frolunda Indians being out, Erik Karlsson may soon get a chance to ‘try out’ with Binghamton, still being under contract until the end of April. The Seattle Thunderbirds meeting the same fate, Jim O’Brien is free and will join Binghamton for the stretch drive.

Now it seems that the Senators are in the hunt for Tyler Bozak,

Highly regarded University of Denver centre Tyler Bozak began on Monday the task of whittling down the list of National Hockey League teams trying to get his name on a contract.
Ottawa Senators assistant general manager Tim Murray said he’d be “shocked” if the Senators were not on the short list. Murray said he had talked to Bozak’s agents “every day for the last couple of weeks about this.”

The Senators have put some effort into courting Bozak, 23, a Regina native who was passed over by NHL clubs in his draft year because he was then only 5-9 and 155 pounds. He’s listed now at 6-1 and 180.

Top defensive prospect Patrick Wiercioch is also on the Denver team, so the Senators already have a relationship with coach George Gwozdecky.

Earlier this season, Senators general manager Bryan Murray made a visit to Denver to meet Bozak, which could help since it’s regarded as important to express interest earlier rather than later.
“I don’t know where we stand on the list, the type of conversations or interests the other teams have shown compared to ours, but we were on top of him right from Day 1, and Bryan went out early, so when your (general manager) shows up early in the season, not late in the season.… [Tim Murray said.]

Sound familiar? Last year, the Senators lucked out and signed Jesse Winchester when many teams were hunting for him. Like last year, it may take a one-way deal to entice Bozak, no matter Murray’s longstanding persistence or Wiercioch’s status as a Senators prospect.

Suddenly, the team is looking rather full again at every position. Suddenly, playoffs or not, there’s reason for plenty of players to be playing to their utmost.

Suddenly, even as the combination of Montreal points gained and Ottawa points missed stands at a paltry 4 with both teams in action tonight, Montreal fighting off Chicago and the Senators battling the Panthers, it makes sense that Elliott will be back in goal, the team will attempt to stay in form, and ‘lather, rinse, repeat’ will be about so much more than just shampoo.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | SENShobo | Permalink


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About SENShobo

Native of Northern California.  Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.

I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle.  I watch, I react, I write it down.

My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked.  I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind.  When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom.  It hasn't, I don't think it will.  At all.

Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.

I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.

I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at talkingstick@petshark.net