Kukla's Korner


Sens Winless; Have They Found The Point?

Kovalev sees Ottawa’s problems, and team doctor Don Chow is successfully recovering from his near tragic motorcycle accident, but first. . .

From the Ottawa Citizen (and OS), on Ottawa’s 3-2 OT loss to the Capitals,

So, while coach Cory Clouston was happy with the Senators overall, calling Monday’s effort it a step in the right direction, he didn’t offer a lot of applause for Leclaire.

“He didn’t have to make a lot saves,” Clouston said. “He made some saves, for sure, but we need him to make that last one. It’s very disappointing.”
“It was just a mistake, just bad timing,” [Leclaire] said. “It is frustrating. I felt good (Monday night). I just missed that one. He fanned on it a little bit. I was expecting something harder, and it caught me a bit flatfooted and I missed it. It happens.”

The Senators also suffered a potential casualty that could end up hurting the team when it can least afford it. Captain Daniel Alfredsson didn’t play in overtime because of a lower-body injury. The severity of it wasn’t known Monday night, but Alfredsson said after the game that he didn’t feel too bad and would just wait to see how he felt today.

Hard to feel good about the Senators’ best game last night, but it’s not exactly an unforeseen problem.

In three games, the Senators have just four goals, with one apiece from Shannon and Spezza, and a pair from the hardworking third line of Ruutu-Kelly-Neil. Despite an eight-game pre-season for the Senators many of the veterans did not see much in the way of ice time, and even those who did spent much of it auditioning, Clouston looking for chemistry to exploit. In theory, finding every ounce of compatibility in his squad makes sense, but in practice, being unable to find or strengthen it has left the Senators ripe for the picking.

Take the defence. While Phillips and Karlsson had little time to work together before opening night, the first two games highlighted the match: in each, Karlsson was beaten by an opposing forward, did not stick with him, and in coming across to attempt to cover for his partner’s mistake Phillips wound up gifting opportunities that invariably wound up behind Leclaire.

Where has the little bit of success come from? The third line was the only line to truly get time together in the pre-season, and they have responded with two goals so far. Players like Shannon, Regin, and Spezza all felt pressure coming into this season, and hard work paid off for all of them, even if a full effort escaped on them and others at times.

From the Ottawa Citizen, Kovalev is right in that the problem is passion,

“The only problem I see in the last two games usually happens at the beginning of the season, where some of the players maybe didn’t play as much in exhibition games,” the 37-year-old forward said.

“When the puck comes in they’re not confident with it. They’re kind of skating away from the puck instead of being hungry for it. It almost feels like we’re afraid of the puck, like every time it comes in you start throwing it away somewhere. You know, bad passes and everything else.

“Right now I see we just have no confidence with the puck. We’re pretty much chasing the puck all game. The way the game is played, you see the puck and you say, ‘I want that thing. I want to get control of it, and I want to do something with it.’”

Interesting that Kovalev can hit the nail so squarely on the head, and yet that same mark eludes him in games where he has seemed wholly disinterested. Far from being alone in that category, Senators have failed to adhere to strategy, and in leaving their defensive responsibilities for reasons of laziness or foolhardy attempts at an inappropriate body check, they have left opponents uncovered and have authored their own demise.

Only against Washington were the Senators able to get things going to a degree, controlling the puck for long periods in the Capitals’ end. Despite this, they still failed to take charge, never spinning any cycle game into chances down low, but sticking to perimeter play that once again saw the Senators with sub-30 shots (26 through to the end of OT).

Despite a sad game winner scored against him, Leclaire has answered the questions posed about him, and where he must be perfect, the missed or spurned opportunities the Senators have had at the other end of the ice are what truly needs fixing. Near endless highlight-reel saves aren’t enough when open nets just don’t get fed the pucks they need.

From the Ottawa Citizen, on Don Chow’s surprise visit to Ottawa’s home opener,

Ottawa Senators doctor Don Chow made a surprise appearance at Scotiabank Place for Friday’s regular-season opener, visiting with coaches, management and players before the game against the Buffalo Sabres.

Chow, an orthopedic surgeon, was left with head injuries and broken ribs after an Aug. 28 collision in which his motorcycle struck a car that had turned in front of him on Fisher Avenue.

He spent almost a month at the Ottawa Hospital, but showed steady improvement during that time. For the past two weeks, he has been living at home, though he is making daily trips to the hospital for rehabilitation.

Nothing but a positive feeling from this news; now if only the Senators could find as much boost from it as they should.

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


Da lil Guy's avatar

The big question at this point has to be ‘where is the improved powerplay’?

You would have thought it would have clicked at least once - even with the usual arguments about the players not having played together, new system, etc.

Fingers in the front office may finally have to point in the direction of Greg Carvel - who mysteriously holds onto his job despite being responsible for the things the Sens have been consistently poor at (save goaltending - but the guy who was responsible for that was… er, fired.)

Maybe with a couple of days to practice, they can get the system tuned up.

Also, there is something particularly ‘meta’ about Kovalev talking to the media about a lack of passion.

Best news of the season so far is Dr. Chow recovering.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 10/12/10 at 02:51 PM ET

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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