The Cure for Complacency - Panthers 6, Senators 2
posted Mar 9, 2006 at 12:11AM
I did not put together any pre-game thoughts but if I did I am sure they would have reeked of complacency. Getting blown out 6-2 by the 13th place Panthers just did not figure in my calculus. If you listened to the game on radio, (or if you were one of the lucky ones to catch the game on a TV somewhere) then you probably already know the basic story: their top line beat our top line, and their goalie was much better than our goalie.
Looking at the highlights on the Senators site, it looked like our defence were still playing like they had mono. I mean not only were they weak on the puck but they looked to be actually "lumbering" out there on the ice. The Panthers made them look like oversized pylons.
There has been a definitive pattern to the Senator season. If the Senators can put three strong lines together in sequence, then no one can touch us. If we can't, then we lose. Our complete dominance in the first two month came despite the fact we were basically just a three line team. (The "big" line, followed by Vermette, Schaeffer and Havlat, followed by Smolinski, Fisher and Neil.)
Against the Panthers only the Vermette Kelly Schubert line finished in the green in terms of plus/minus. The Fisher line was also sound and also seemed to have the edge in play when ever they were on the ice.
The third line of Smolinski, Varada and Eaves is the real weak link here. Eaves has been a non-entity since being paired with Smolinski. Looking over my suggested line combination I guess it is unrealistic to think that they would call Hamel up.
One quick fix would be to simply switch Eaves and Neil. Neil has simply played better with Smolinski than with any other combination. Neil as well has been basically persona non grata as far as the score sheet goes since being separated from Smolinski. If Murray made the switch I think both players would start contributing again.
Of course another quick fix is to put Schubert up with Schaeffer and Fisher. Neil back with Smolinski and Varada. Then Eaves can go back and finally form the kid line with Vermette and Kelly. Again maximum potential would be realized by having Vermette at center.
On another note, I for one, cannot wait for trade dead-line to come and go. Some of the trade suggestions coming out of the Toronto-centric media, and right now that includes Bruce Garrioch, just want to make me yak my cookies.
Garrioch was talking up trading Vermette for McCauly. He says McCauly would be a "good fit". Sure McCauly has scored two goals since Christmas. That is a good fit if you are a Leafs fan.
Surely I am not the only one to notice that every team that wants to sell the Senators someone, always have the same price - Vermette and Volchenkov....there is a reason everyone else wants these two guys.
Then today on Sportscentre they were talking about Ottawa going after Ryan Malone from the Penguins. They project him as taking Fisher's place as our number 2 center. I mean what planet are they living on? Don't they even watch the games?!! Then there was the Havlatt or Chara for Bertuzzi trial balloon. Havlat is the reason I started watching the Senators. To lose him for a suitcase full of "issues" would be just too much to take.