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.

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Ruutu’s Play For Luck Too Late For Spezza’s Groin

Spezza’s groin could keep him on the shelf, previewing tonight’s opener against Buffalo, Sens blogger predictions for tonight, Kuba’s ongoing recovery, the Senators need shootout success, and Alfredsson gives back to the community, but first. . .

From the Ottawa Senators (and OS), Ruutu rides the Zamboni hoping to get some luck,

Does the humble Zamboni have mystical powers? Jarkko Ruutu of the Ottawa Senators likes to think so.
Talk of ice machines got Ruutu thinking about his Finnish pal, Antti Niemi, who worked part-time driving a Zamboni at a local rink in Vantaa, not far from Ruutu’s Helsinki home, to help pay the bills when Niemi was a semi-pro goaltender several years ago. A rags to riches kind of story. Last season, Niemi helped lead the Chicago Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup victory since 1961.
“I hope it will affect me the same way as Antti Niemi.” Ruutu says. “I hope it’s a step toward that.”

There have been rituals of luck far more odd for hockey players, but the video below is a small price to pay for a bit of luck. Had Ottawa gone for ice sculptures, despite Winterlude, it might have been too much.

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Is This Spezza’s Time?

A Spezza non-injury updated, the new style for Ottawa’s defence, a season of milestones, Fisher at personal and professional best, another opportunity for Cowen’s WHL growth, and dispelling a Lehner rumour, but first. . .

From the Ottawa Citizen, on Spezza’s peaking performance,

At 27 and entering his ninth year as a professional, Jason Spezza is at the midpoint of his career. It’s hasn’t been a bad one so far, if you base that assessment on the number of points he’s accumulated.
There are indications, however, that this might be Spezza’s much-awaited breakout season. He appears to be in better shape than ever. During the summer, he changed his training to emphasize work that would strengthen his back, which has long bothered him. He also looks noticeably bigger, especially in the upper body. Better yet, in four pre-season games, he had four goals and four assists.
Coach Cory Clouston has also been impressed. Spezza was a leader on and off the ice during training camp, he says, staying after practice to work on different parts of his game, such as faceoffs. His work ethic has rubbed off on the younger players, exactly what the coaching staff wants.

“When you’re in my position, you can see both sides,” says Clouston of the booing. “I think Jason has handled it exactly the way he needs to handle it. He’s basically used adversity to try to become a better player and a better person.”

Things are definitely taking a turn towards the ascent of Spezza, subtle as they may be.

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Hale Shows Where The Buck Stops

Campoli and Lee look to make the most of Kuba’s and Hale’s absences, Gonchar adapting to Senators’ style but is style starting to follow him?, Ottawa’s goalies have opportunities but not without consequences, Lehner will get a steady development, looking for a hot year from a calm Spezza, Alfie still doesn’t feel he is bowing out, and a former Senator takes to the papers, but first. . .

From the Ottawa Sun (and OC), on the logic behind Hale’s demotion yesterday,

The veteran defenceman was a victim of his two-way contract Tuesday, when the Senators — who are loathe to bury Brian Lee’s one-way, $875,000 cap hit in the minors — put Hale on waivers.
“We have six healthy defencemen to start the season and cap space to protect,” Senators GM Bryan Murray said in a statement.

With only $1.27 million left in cap space, Murray is trying to keep his options open before the start of the season. Hale makes $675,000 if he’s in the NHL and has a minor-league clause of $105,000.
This move might have been made to showcase Lee, whom the Senators considered dealing in the summer. Once the season begins and injuries take their toll, there could be teams looking for help on the back end.

A showcase for Lee, this might also be a small reminder of ownership’s aims.

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Amidst Goalie Doubts, Sens Gain Military Perspective

The Senators gain perspective on things at CFB Petawawa, and a former Senator experiences the wild west of the KHL, but first. . .

From the Ottawa Citizen (and OS), on the continued doubts surrounding Ottawa’s tandem,

“There were some very good things we saw from the goaltenders, but there were also a lot of inconsistencies in little areas that they really have to clean up. [...] “We didn’t get that, but we’re still confident we can have at least one guy ready to go to start the season.”
“I’m not saying we’re going to have (a rotation), but when you look around the league, there are a number of teams that don’t have a legitimate go-to guy,” said Clouston.

“There are maybe seven or eight teams over the last five to six years that have had that type of goaltender. [...] But there are a lot of guys just starting to become that goaltender and we think we have a couple of guys who are in that situation. One of those guys can and will step up. If they don’t, then we know we hopefully have another guy who can pick up the slack.”
“During training camp, teams are trying stuff, trying new things, and getting used to a whole bunch of new players,” [said Leclaire.]

“So it’s not the same. But as long as you feel good and you feel ready to go, I think we all know what we have to do when the season starts, and that’s the main thing”

It never ends in Ottawa, does it?

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Military Precision Would Work For Sens

David Hale stakes his claim over Jared Cowen, and Ruutu looks to let his play dictate his contract year decisions, but first. . .

From the Ottawa Citizen (and OS), the Senators train at CFB Petawawa, looking to leave mistakes back in camp,

The timing is perfect for the Ottawa Senators as they head to CFB Petawawa on Monday. They need some basic training.

After the shoddy defensive effort in Saturday’s 8-5 victory over the New York Rangers to conclude their National Hockey League preseason schedule — “It wasn’t pretty, that’s for sure,” head coach Cory Clouston said — the Senators have plenty of work to do in preparation for Friday’s regular-season opener against the Buffalo Sabres.

Foremost among the issues is goaltending. It was worrisome for the Senators that Pascal Leclaire and Brian Elliott took turns allowing at least one bad goal per game early in training camp. Now it has gone from bad to worse, with Leclaire looking lost in the net on Saturday, allowing five goals on 30 shots.

Nine goals against in the last two pre-season games looks ugly, but it’s not where you’ll find the best representation of what you’ll see come Friday.

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Last Chances All Around In Ottawa

Ottawa showing no favourites in battle for starting goaltender, Shannon battles for likely last shot with Sens, and Kleinendorst’s confidence in the AHL squad from Binghamton’s new beat reporter, but first. . .

From the Ottawa Citizen, on the silent rise of David Hale’s stock,

David Hale might as well have been invisible when the Ottawa Senators opened training camp. He wasn’t on anyone’s radar. He was just another one of those names destined for Binghamton.

Surprise, surprise,
“Solid, very solid,” said Clouston. “He kind of quietly goes about his business. He’s reliable. I didn’t know completely what to expect of him. I don’t want to say (he’s been) a pleasant surprise, because I don’t want to undermine him. I think in his mind he came to make the team. But he’s been good for us.

“David right now is trying to get into the group. He’s done all he can do. We’ll see how it all unfolds. But he’s made a pretty good statement here to at least stay until the start of the season.”

In all the excitement about youth, it’s the veteran who has made the statement, and reminded us what the Sens currently need.

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Plucky Sens Get Roasted By Leafs’ Power Play

Kovalev still excited for the game, and willing to throw out only his fourth ever fight (every team gets one), but first. . .

From the Ottawa Citizen (and OS), on the Senators disappointing finish line fumble against the Leafs,

For fans of the Ottawa Senators anxiously trying to get a read on the 2010-11 version of their National Hockey League team, that was what Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs handed them.
[A]fter overcoming a 2-0 deficit and taking a 3-2 lead early in the third period, the Senators allowed two goals in the final six minutes to drop their preseason record to 2-4.
“It’s unfortunate to lose a game that way,” [Leclaire] said. “We were in pretty good shape and then it kind of slipped away from us. A couple of bounces. The third goal was kind of a weird bounce, and then the last it got tipped or something in front.

“It’s always [frustrating], but there were some good things as well, and we’ll move and learn from our mistakes. Bad bounces are better now than next week, I guess.”

The story of the game will be exuberance, only it needs to be less parts youthful and foolish for the season ahead.

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Sens’ Small Rink Yields Small Results

The Senators trim their roster by 16, and Chris Phillips reminisces about dreams gone sour for Redden, but first. . .

From the Ottawa Citizen (and OS, NHL), on the Sens’ 2-1 loss to the Sabres in Dundas,

The small-rink atmosphere added an intriguing new element to preseason National Hockey League action here Tuesday, but it still added up to an agonizing night for more than a dozen Ottawa Senators hopefuls after a 2-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
Goaltender Robin Lehner and defenceman Patrick Wiercioch made the decisions tougher. Both made glaring mistakes, but bounced back and should survive at least another few days in Ottawa.
“It’s in their hands and hopefully you just make it as tough as you can on them,” Wiercioch said of the Senators’ pending decisions. “You have to show them that you want to be here, that you’re willing to work for that spot on the team and that you can probably do something on the team that another guy can’t right now.”

Losing 5 feet of width and 10 feet of length, knowing that cuts were coming immediately following last night’s game, and having no real veteran support should have served well to light a fire under those players without an NHL ticket already punched.

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The Non-Threat of Credentialed Bloggers

Where do we fit in?

That is the question bloggers have been trying to answer, and that the NHL and its teams have been trying to sort out, looking rather discombobulated in their varied approaches. Currently under discussion is a new credentialing policy, leaked by Yahoo! Sports, which according to different sources seems to be under closer scrutiny at this point. Officially they are rules of thumb for teams wondering how to get into blogger credentialing, and the individual teams would appear to control their buildings and access to them at the moment.

But really, what is it that the League has to be afraid of, and what consequences of credentialed blogger actions are they envisioning?

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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


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