Ok, I am back from vacation and a lot has happened over the last 10 or so days that I was away. Since I was in Florida where hockey news is sparse and hockey coverage on TV was non-existant I was dependent on the internet to keep up to date on what was happening. Let me say that I am not surprised that Buffalo defeated the Senators. In fact, I predicted it, though I am a bit surprised they did it in just 5 games. So, what was wrong with the Senators. Well, before the season I thought there were three question marks with the Senators.
1. Goaltending. After playing just 14 games in 3 years can Hasek return to form and stay healthy?
2. Spezza. Can Jason Spezza peform like a true #1 center which is something Ottawa has lacked for several years.
3. Experienced depth, especially on defense. The top 10-12 players on the team looked excellent but they were going to have to depend on a lot of inexperienced players.
Though not a prime reason for losing, goaltending did seem to be a bit of a factor. Hasek wasn’t healthy and though Emery played great at times, at other times (like game 1) he wasn’t there to make the big save. Miller clearly out played Emery.
Though Spezza performed excellent at many times during the season and post season, at other times his inexperience and someone weak defensive play showed. He clearly has the talent and ability to be a dominant #1 center but his inexperience still showed at times. His game needs a bit more refinement and I think he, like many of his team mates, has to use his size a bit more.
I got a lot of flack for listing Ottawa’s lack of experienced defense depth as a weakness and it didn’t show up as a problem in the regular season but it seemed to in the playoffs. Pothier played fairly well but by all accounts Mezsaros had a pretty mediocre playoff and Volchenkov struggled at times too. And when Phillips and/or Chara stuggled with injuries the team was hindered because they couldn’t lighten their work load any because they didn’t have an experienced defenseman who could step up and take on more minutes of ice time.
But maybe the biggest problem with this Senators team is they just seem to not know how to win. They seem to rely on talent far too much and not enough on hard work. Too many players on this Senators team just do not have that never quit even if I have to plow through a brick wall attitude. A little bit more effort from one of several players on that overtime goal on Saturday night and the goal doesn’t go in. Talent is great but hard work is what wins and I just feel they Senators as a team, and especially their top tier players, don’t put in that extra effort in. This team needs some quality, hard working veterens with playoff experience. A Chris Drury type. Or a Teppo Numminen. People talk about signing Joe Sakic, and certainly he would help, but the Senators don’t need his talent, just his experience. All they need is a player or two who has experienced playoff sucess and who will work his butt off and pressure the more talented players on the Senators to do the same and show the team what it takes to win. The team needs to be taught to win as apparently it isn’t learning how to do it on their own.
Finally, before the season I also posed the question of if the Senators faultered in the playoffs again, should the Senators consider trading Daniel Alfredsson. Think about it. The Senators have suffered playoff disapointments for several years now. Since the last disapointment Lalime was shipped out of town, Spezza replaced Bonk as the #1 center, Heatley replaced Hossa as the co-number 1 winger and Bryan Murray replaced Jacques Martin as coach. Apparently none of those were the problem so could the problem be with the captain Alfredsson? Should the captain and the supposed leader of the team finally get some blame for the constant playoff disapointments? What do you all think? Vote in the poll in the right sidebar.