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10-09-2003, 09:24 PM
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Location: Ottawa
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Patience after game one

Interesting in the 'game thread' that the majority of the posts are ones decrying the team and predicting eternal gloom. I wonder how many of you were actually thinking of having Julien fired after that game, and how many wrote off much of what you saw and the year as a whole as a complete loss. We all know this is a rebuilding year...don't we?

Sometimes you have to take a step back and look at the overall picture instead of just the microcosm that is the single game. And sometimes you have to focus in on certain things within the game to find the gems that will lead to future successes.

There was nothing horrible about this game in the least. I think if you went back and watched game tapes from our two 6-2 losses last year, you'd be shocked at how good this team is compared to that - in terms of the little things. Yes, we lost the game, but there was so much more going on that just the score. If I'm the coach, I go home thinking that the first hurdle is accomplished. Did anyone actually think they were going to beat the Sens? The team that is supposed to win the cup?

Some will point out the 'circumstances' of the loss, but I say look closely at each individual factor, take into consideration that this is the first game of the year, and then look forward carefully.



Theo: He wasn't bad, had zero chance on three goals, a marginal chance on one and blew the Alfie goal. Sadly, for this team to do anything, that's not good enough. Then again, it can be said that he was left alone far too often.

Markov: Made an error or two and was either benched or took himself out of it late in the second. Too bad, because he's still the best defenseman in town by a country mile.

Rivet: One of the worst games I've ever seen him play. Perhaps Markov just decided he couldn't take it playing with this guy and benched the pairing.

Brisebois: Stuck to the basics and played an excellent game, even throwing the body on occasion. If he can continue to play this way, he's a ligitimate #3 defender.

Hainsey: When he has the puck, he's great. When he doesn't have the puck, he's prone to some wicked bad mistakes. Part of it is nerves, but really I would have expected better from someone of his potential at this point in his career.

Souray: First game in over a year and played like he was nervous. Elements of his play from the playoffs way back when, and I suspect in two or three weeks, we'll all be much more pleased with his play.

Quintal: Disappointing to the extreme. Made gaffe after gaffe. If I'm the coach, (and they did say that players were going to get ice time on merit this year) Komi takes his place next game.

Hossa: Some good, some bad. Showed more than his average game last year, but honestly, this is a guy we need to take two or three steps forward, not just one. Playing on the first line at this stage is too much, but he wouldn't look out of place on line two.

Ribeiro: Showed more than I would have expected. The goal was of the dangle variety which should make plays of the week which is nice. His play off and on the puck was much stronger than in the past. Definitely not a first line centre, and probably never will be, however as a fill in number two for the year, I'm sold if he plays like today.

Zednik: Obvious that the Ottawa D keyed on him more than anyone else. Whenever he got near the puck there were routinely two guys closing him down. Without Sax in the lineup, he's the only real threat, and everyone will know that this year. Up to him to up his game to cement himself as a solid, dependable first liner this year.

Bulis: Strong at both ends of the rink, despite his +/-. Shame he had to play with those linemates. Once we get Sax back, he'll at least have a centre to work with.

Perreault: Better defensively, but gives up when the puck is just out of reach. Wonderful hands, but doesn't pay the price to get into position to use them. Waste of a spot, in my opinion. If we're going with youth, this is the first guy I toss overboard.

Audette: Better than what we saw last year, but he'll never get 20 playing like he did. He needs to use that extra gear he has to be useful - he failed tonight.

Sundstrom: Disappointing at both ends. And yet, I think for him to improve, he needs to get on a better line. Put him on the right of line two with Ribby and Bulis, and you might have something.

Juneau: Last year he lost three steps. This year it's another three. The heart he gives each shift makes less and less impression on the game now. Then again, he's still crafty and smart defensively.

Dackell: Played a typical Dax game. Mostly dependable defensively and offered more offense than anyone else on that line.

Dwyer: At least he didn't lose his fight. Otherwise, he's an AHL player all the way.

Ryder: Impressive and outclassed his linemates rather badly. Perhaps stick him on the second line with Ribby and Bulis and see what happens.

Ward: Lots of effort. Lots of heart. AHL skill-set. He's the typical AHL star who is never able to crack the NHL reliably. See Michel Picard et al.


There were lots of good things in this game that we can build on. Lots of bad that we need to work on. Of note: We blocked more shots this game than we did all year last year. We actually have some understanding of cycling the puck offensively. When the system works, it works well and we were in it for those stretches. Special teams were painful at best. When we look lost, it's bad, however it's miles better than when we looked lost last year - there's hope. The actual building blocks, i.e. the players, are better than last year.

All in all, despite the score, I'd have to say I was moderately pleased. I don't know what anyone else expected, especially considering it was the Sens, but we did a decent job of playing with them for stretches. Add in a couple of players a la Sax, Kilger, Komi, and I think it's that much closer.

For those of you who feel this was a complete loss in every sense, perhaps you'd better not watch another game - this is the Habs this year: building. If, however you like to see things slowly come together, then I think this will be about the most rewarding season since about 95. Watch closely for the little things, you might be surprised at what you see.

A concerned fan.

Guy! is offline