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Play Morrison Or How To Avoid Getting Bombed From The Air
posted Apr 8, 2006 at 03:57PM

It happened both in Afghanistan and Iran. The bad guys would be sitting in their trench lines out on some exposed ridge line. They could see the American forward air control party set up their laser targeting equipment a kilometre away, and start aiming it at them. They could see the B-52 circling around them. They would know that within 15-20 minutes that bombs were going to start dropping right into their holes.

They could have sent 25 or 30 guys down to go kill the air control party. And if that proved too strenuous, all they had to do was get out of their trenches, walk back down the hill 50 yards, and lie down and wait until till after the bombs have been dropped.

Of course they did neither. Things really reached the level of absurdity in Afghanistan where troops from adjacent trench-lines would get out of their trenches, gather round, and watch the show. They would then turn around, go back into the graves which they had dug themselves, and literally wait for their turn to die.

All of which to say, that in any "competitive" environment, you can never, ever, underestimate the stupidity of the men in charge.

The admission of Emery stating that things were not quite right with his hips, should be initiating flashing lights and wailing sirens throughout the Senators brain trust.

They should know that fate is ready to start dropping bombs on them. This is about as clear a warning shot over the bow as you can ask for.

After all they have gone through this before. In acquiring Hasek I am sure they did their research on muscles going "sproiinggg". Indeed even in my limited Googling, one thing became very clear: "the primary cause of muscle/ligament injury is overuse". Wear and tear is cumulative.

Of course they did their research, which is why Murray made it clear at the beginning of the season that Emery would be used often; indeed it was planned that he would get 40% of the starts.

A funny happened though on the way to the arena. After Nov 30, Murray went from "lines that worked" to "lines that sucked". He went from lines that concentrated offensive skill and speed, to lines which diluted these aspects for the sake of "balance".

We went from being the most dominant team in the league, a team which was on top of the standings with five games in hand, to a team that could barely keep its head above .500.

Because we were not playing as well, because we were suddenly losing to teams that we had no business losing to, Murray tried to mitigate poor line combination choices by keeping Hasek, our best goalie, in nets. 12-15 games in a row, back to back, right up into the Olympic Break, even as Emery, (who had broken a record for most consecutive victories to start a career) was left rotting on the bench.

Then Hasek goes on a 11 hour plane ride, gets onto the ice, and within 10 minutes, that overused muscle calls it quits.

So through sheer force of circumstance, Emery is put back in. We all find out that there was never any real problem here, once the rust was scraped off.

As well, shortly before the Olympic break, Murray, goes from "lines that suck" to lines that "at least make some sense". We lose a tight one with Atlanta, but played well. We win against Philadelphia. We come back off the Olympic break and start putting an impressive winning streak together. Indeed there were times when Ottawa actually starts approaching the dominating form they displayed in the first two months of the regular season.

When defencemen started getting injured, Murray worsened the situation, by going back into "lines that suck" mode.

So here we are. We are losing games. Our next four games are against teams that have just beaten us. Your goalie is being overused just like Hasek was and is showing signs of physically breaking down. You don't want to go into the playoffs on a losing streak.

What do you do?

There are some who argue that Murray should be considered for "coach of the year". Fine. He has to start making decisions worthy of that title.

First he has to play Morrison now. He has to give Emery the chance to nip this hip thing in the bud, before it flares up into something more serious. He has to avoid the bomb falling from the air, and at least live to fight another day, like in the playoffs.

"Defence by committee" is fine ... up to a point. By itself it is playing safe, and as the saying goes, "Safe equals Death". You have to go on the attack. You have to go get the guys that are "targeting" your goalie. You don't do that with "lines that suck", even with lines that "at least make some sense". No you do it by returning to "lines that dominate" .

The characteristics are very simple. On the top end of the scale this entails putting the Big Line, the best line in hockey, back together. At the other end of the scale, it means putting Vermette with any two forwards who are not McGrattan or Varada.

This is not genius. This is just plain common sense.

Every time these criteria have been met, we have kicked the other team's asses!. Every single time. We won't have to worry as much if Morrison is good or not because the other team will be too busy in their own end, running for their "lives", instead of targeting our net.

"Coach of the Year", or "Idiot of the Year". We will know soon enough.

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