The Sens Mile

- March 26th, 2015

The Hamburglar chases the record Thursday night at Canadian Tire Centre by collecting points in 16 straight games.
He can tie Patrick Lalime who went 14-0-2 in 2006-07 with Pittsburgh.
Down at city hall today, council was a little red-faced after Senators president Cyril Leeder asked them not to open the Sens Mile on Elgin Street after a motion Wednesday at council.
The decision was ill-advised and ridiculous in the first place.
Reversing it was the right thing to do.
Sometimes politicians can’t help themselves and get overzealous.
Assume that’s what happened here. They were excited. No bid deal really. But the whole idea lacked any thinking and it certainly sounds like the Senators weren’t consulted at all.
Let’s see what happens.

Beware of hungry Sharks

- March 23rd, 2015

If the Senators walk away with a victory from tonight’s game against San Jose, I will be surprised. And impressed.
Here’s why:
I am a strong believer in the desperation factor, and for the first time in a month, the Senators don’t need this game more than their opponents.
The Sharks have 78 points and, with 10 games left, are eight back of the last wild card spot.
The feeling is for them to get back to the playoffs for an 11th consecutive year, they pretty much have to win out.
This is their fourth game of a seven-game road trip (2-1-0 so far) and their last stop in Canada, after visits to Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal.
They are desperate to go back across the border with two more points in the bag.
The Senators are one point behind the Bruins with two games in hand, which means they finally have some rope to play with, some room for error.
If they blow this shot at getting to a playoff spot tonight, there’s always Thursday night, when both Ottawa (vs. the Rangers) and the Bruins (vs. the Ducks) play again.
Plus, the Senators will be without two left wingers who have contributed to their recent success tonight: Milan Michalek, who appears to have a concussion, and Matt Puempel, who is out week-to-week with a high ankle sprain.
Taking their place will be Zack Smith, who has missed the last three months and is a better centre than a winger, and Colin Greening, who has played three NHL games since Jan. 8.
Help appears to be on the way at the LW spot in Clarke MacArthur, who is a long shot to play Thursday but could return Saturday in Toronto.
Then there’s the Hamburglar, who has already defeated the Sharks in San Jose but has allowed seven goals in his last two games.
Sharks centre Logan Couture admitted in the post-morning skate dressing room today he and his teammates have been watching film on how to beat Andrew Hammond. When they faced him the last time (a 4-2 Senators victory Feb. 28), they barely knew his name.
This magnificent run Hammond is on (13-0-1) has to end sometime, right? Will it be two games before he ties Patrick Lalime’s record for best start to a career ever (14-0-2) by an NHL goalie?
I wouldn’t be surprised.

Hamburglar gets first taste of the BOO

- March 21st, 2015

Andrew Hammond is from White Rock, B.C. but he’s quite familiar with the Battle of Ontario.
“Even on the west coast when you grow up, it’s a 4 p.m. game (on TV). You know those games mean more,” said the Senators goalie, who will make play in his first Ottawa-Toronto game tonight at Canadian Tire Centre. “This is a big game for us. We’ve got to keep going. We’ve got to keep collecting our wins when we can.
“For Toronto, obviously they’re a team out of it, but in the rivalry I don’t think it would be any sweeter at this time of year for them to play spoiler to us.”
We assume Leafs coach Peter Horachek was joking when he told reporters who attended the team’s practice at Carleton University that his players are having hamburgers for their pre-game meal today. You’ve got to have a sense of humour when you’re behind that team’s bench these days.
Imagine how good the three games Ottawa and Toronto play in the next 15 days would be if the Leafs were in the playoff hunt as well?
The one player who has suited up for both teams won’t be in the Senators lineup tonight, but Clarke MacArthur did participate in his first practice Saturday morning since suffering a Feb. 16 concussion.
Two other left wingers will be switching spots, as Dave Cameron as elevated Matt Puempel to the first line (with Mika Zibanejad) and slid Mike Hoffman to the fourth (with David Legwand and Alex Chiasson) to get more of net presence on the top unit. Puempel played there in that spot Thursday when the line scored the winner against the Bruins.
This is a big day for the Senators, who could be in a playoff spot by 10 p.m. should they win and the Bruins lose in regulation to Florida. With a game in hand, Ottawa would be in the eighth spot in the standings.
I have a feeling that Toronto, with James Reimer in goal, won’t go down easily. Reimer is 8-2-0 all time at CTC.

The other masked man

- March 19th, 2015

Only one goalie has defeated the Senators in regulation time since Feb. 16. And he’s going to get the chance to do it again Thursday night.
Starting in goal for the Bruins will be Tuukka Rask, who missed Boston’s shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night with what is being coyly referred to as “general soreness.”
Rask had the help of three goal posts in the second period of Boston’s 3-1 victory over Craig Anderson and the Senators at Canadian Tire Centre Mar. 10, but he was also sensational.
By game’s end, he had made 39 saves, allowing only the first NHL goal by rookie winger Matt Puempel.
“It wasn’t easy today,” Rask said after the game. “I thought the first period was our best period, and after that we didn’t play our best, but we got the win and that’s all we need.”
Rask’s last appearance was a 2-0 loss to the Washington Capitals Mar. 15. Since Feb. 16, he has a 6-2-3 record and has only allowed as many as three goals twice.
For the Senators to close the gap on the Bruins to two points, they need a regulation win, and that task just became harder with news that Rask will be in the opposing net.

Hey there

- March 17th, 2015

Sorry for not being around here more.
At the GM’s meetings in Boca Raton this week and I have been focused on doing the job here. I’m not staying in Boca so I’ve had a bit of a commute after the meetings and then have to get straight to write my stuff.
Yes, it is nice in Florida. I spoke with Bryan Murray today regarding Craig Anderson injury. Here’s what he had to say and what I posted a couple of hours ago.
Clearly this is a frustrating situation for everybody involved _ Anderson and the Senators. Murray doesn’t think he’ll need surgery.
Speaking after the GM’s meetings wrapped up here, Murray said Anderson was being sent for another MRI just to make sure he’s going to be okay, but noted he won’t return to practice and play again until he’s deemed to be 100%. He first suffered the injury on Jan. 21 against the Maple Leafs.
“It’s just the same thing,” Murray said. “He was not 100% when he came back to backup. He said he could handle the puck fine and we put him against (Calgary and Boston) but he didn’t still feel like he was where he should be.
“The other night, supposedly in the warmup, he got hit in the same spot and it was bothersome. The thought was just get him out of the net, get him out of practice, do an MRI and all the evaluation again just to see what’s going on because it’s been (almost two months).”
Murray said he doesn’t think Anderson will need surgery.
“They thought it was simply a bone bruise at the beginning,” Murray said. “They were doing an MRI to double-check and make sure there was nothing that they missed. What happens with a bone bruise is they say there’s an interior of the bone and there’s particles that break away. That cause of a lot pain sometimes.
“We suspect that might be the problem.”
Murray admitted the situation is frustrating for Anderson and the organization especially with Robin Lehner sidelined with a concussion as well.
“It’s really hard to not have one of our top two guys back up _ at least _ the way (Andrew Hammond) is playing,” said Murray. “It’s big burden on Hammond as well to keep carrying the load every night and not having the backup that we might need if something did happen.”
Will be home in time to be at the Battle of Ontario Saturday.