October 21, 2007

Ottawa Possessed by Saginaw Spirit: 7 - 2

Another beautiful fall day in Ottawa and we spent it inside the Civic Centre as loyal (but increasingly cranky) 67s fans.

A four straight losing streak by the 67s was on the line today. Prior to today, the team has played 12 games and has 12 points to show for it with a record of 5-5-0-2 and a P10 of 3-5-0-2. The only thing keeping Ottawa from the bottom of the division is that the Kingston Frontenacs are much worse – and I mean much worse (2-8-0-1 – yikes!). So far, Ottawa has a GF/GA of 38 and 48 respectively.

The Spirit come in at the bottom of their division with similar stats, also at .500 but having played one game less so far (4-4-2-1 with a P10 of 4-3-2-1). They won easily against Kingston on Friday – smoking them 7 – 1. They scored 4 of those goals on the PP – 3 of them by 18 year old rookie Tyler Murovich. Ryan McDonough notched a couple of his own as well.

Saginaw’s GF/GA is 43 and 44 respectively meaning that they have scored 10 more goals than Ottawa in 1 less game while Ottawa has allowed 4 goals more, again, having played 1 game more than Saginaw.

Ottawa lineup news:
Jordan Gallea, Thomas Nesbitt (shoulder) and Jason Bailey (mono) were scratches. Adam Courchaine started in net.

Saginaw lineup news:
Cody Sol, Tom Craig, Chris Chappell and their captain and one of their overagers, Patrick Asselin were scratches. Parker VanBuskirk got the call between the pipes.

Ottawa Lines:
Pretty mixed up with Jamie arriving late and Killer juggling his lines. Martindale was moved up to centre second line and Lahey was reunited with Couture and McGinn in the second.

Defensive pairings:

First Period:
McGinn didn’t start right away.

Just 1:42 into the game, former 67s player Joe Pleckaitis gave Saginaw the quick lead on a set-up by Jack Combs. Jack Combs and Brad Smith got the assists. Saginaw continued to keep Ottawa on their heels and Ottawa didn’t even get any shots on net until almost 5 minutes into the game.

Ottawa got their first power play with almost 7 minutes gone when Zaborsky was called for hooking on Lahey (it should have been a hit from behind). Ottawa had its best scoring chance on a two on one when Couture carried the puck up-ice on the left wing and fed the puck to Latta speeding up the middle but he was unable to handle the pass. Ottawa managed 3 shots on goal with the advantage.

With 8 minutes left in the period and Ottawa having stepped up its game a bit, Matt Lahey and Kain Allicock went at it after Kain took exception to a hit Lahey laid on Christopher Breen. Not much of a tilt and when it was sorted out, Lahey was assessed 2 for roughing and 5 for fighting while Allicock was assessed 2 for instigating, 5 for fighting and a 10 minute misconduct.

Ottawa had its second power play opportunity a few seconds later when Ryan McDonough was called for high sticking right off the face off. With a fast wrist shot by Ryan Martindale from the high slot that beat VanBuskirk high on the glove side to tie up the game. Matthieu Methot and Martin Paryzek got the assists.

But it didn’t last long as Wynn turned it over in his own end allowing the Spirit to go ahead again on a goal by Tomas Zaborsky with assists going to Tyler Murovich and Brad Smith.

At the end of the period Saginaw was leading 2 – 1 and just out-shooting Ottawa 11 – 9 but this not correct. Whoever was running the shot clock was missing quite a bit.

Second Period:
Ottawa started on the penalty kill for 33 seconds as Cuma finished his late-period punishment for an alleged interference call (I say alleged since I’m sure it wouldn’t have stood up in a court of law). Saginaw managed 4 quick shots on Courchaine in this brief period but did not score.

I hate goal-mouth scrambles in front of our goalies but for once one of these went Ottawa’s way when Michael Latta picked up a so-called garbage goal by banging in front of VanBruskirk and getting it in the net to tie the game up again! Thomas Kiriakou and Radim Ostrcil got the assists once it was all sorted out.

At this point we were seeing an Ottawa team with a little more step, more urgency, faster line changes and it was keeping Saginaw from getting too organized. And then at about the halfway mark something happened. It was like they all forgot to plY any defense. Running around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off (and I’ve seen chickens with their heads cut off – they do indeed run around and it’s not a pretty sight) it was a wonder that Ottawa didn’t meet the same fate as those chickens (cooked! But that is yet to come).

Ottawa had a good scoring chance late in the period but Wynn waited too long to set up his slap shot rather than going with a fast wrister giving Saginaw time to set up and block the shot.

It was a better period by Ottawa and after 40 the game was tied at 2 but Saginaw had more chances – leading shots 27 to 18.

Third Period
Saginaw was targeting Michael Latta and Adam Comrie took it too far when he took a run at him and forced him head-first into the boards. This one happened right in front of the ref but for some reason the zebra thought it warranted only two minutes. I hope the 67s still raise this hit with the league. For the record, Matthieu Methot tried to have a quiet word with Comrie regarding this hit but the linesmen thought it wouldn’t be a good idea. Michael got up and off the ice on his own steam which was good for him.

For some reason, this nasty hit on one of their key players didn’t seem to fire up the team during the resulting power play. For a team with the 9th best PP in the league playing against the team with the 18th best PK in the league, you would have thought an angry team could get organized to do some damage. But noooo, they could not get organized at all and in fact the best scoring chance went to Saginaw when they managed a two-on-one breakaway for a short-handed chance. My dear departed dad (God rest his soul) had a saying about this level of organization having to do with …er... never mind. He traveled the high north most of his career and had a impressive collection of expressions. This one is too colourful for this site. Suffice it to say that it is not complimentary.

Not long after this the roof caved it. Not literally of course. Saginaw went on a romp, scoring 5 unanswered goals:

  • 3:34 Jordan Szwarz with assists from Tomas Zaborsky and RMcDonough
  • 5:26 Jack Combs skated through the entire Ottawa line and beat Courchaine clean. Brad Smith and Joe Pleckaitis with the assists
  • 8:12 Tyler Murovich through the 5-hole on another Ottawa give away. Joe Pleckaitis with the assist.
  • 9:49 Jason McDonough with assists from Jordan Szwarz and Jack Combs; and finally
  • 17:00 when Tomas Zaborsky beat Courchaine top shelf with the assist going to Nick Crawford.

Final score 7 – 2 for Saginaw and they seriously out-shot the 67s 42 – 24. Brutal! Just brutal!

Random thoughts:

  • Got home, did some other stuff, had a drink, wrote some stuff, thought better of it and wrote this. This was a baaaaad performance and this team is in a serious slump. But I took some time to put myself in their skates. It has been a very (very) long time since I played seriously competitive sports but I remember how lousy it feels to have results this bad (most competitive folks have been in similar circumstances at some point). So I will dial back some of my comments and try to respect the fact that these are competitive young men who certainly don’t want to be in the spot they are in. I'm not convinced this is a player issue.
  • McGinn didn’t finish the warm-up and didn’t make it to the ice until pretty much half-way through the period. No word on why.
  • Interesting how everyone is cutting Couture slack for his game killing giveaway on Friday. First Killer in the Citizen, instead pinning the blame on Paryzek’s play in the 20-second 5-on-3. And in the intro into today’s game listening to The Voice cutting Logan all kinds of slack. It just seems to me that had it been anyone else, the comments wouldn’t be so forgiving. Folks are putting this kid on a pedestal and not holding him to account like every other player should be held to account.

  • Speaking of holding players to account: Wynn is not so much a Wynner in my books. For an OA on the blue line, he's in the third pairing and not impressing. Pretty expensive OA in my books.
  • Saginaw’s Comrie is crap. First he drills Latta head first into the boards in a hit that was clearly targeted and then he slashes the 67s ON THEIR BENCH when the game was well in hand. He’s a rookie – hope someone has a word with him before he ends up a full-fledged thug.
  • Shot clock person missing a lot of shots
  • Book on Ottawa, hit them in their own zone. They get all discombobulated and will give you the puck.
  • Ottawa really does not have any edgy players. I miss Liscomb and Bonello.
  • Plus/minus department: the only players who did not have a minus game were McDougall and Perugini (neither hit the ice) and I guess Courchaine since goalies don’t get this stat. Everyone else was in the minus department; everyone was on the ice for one or more Saginaw goals. Minus 1: Cowie, Kiriakou, Carnevale, Latta, Demers, Methot; Minus 2: Martindale, Ryan; Wynn, TMcGinn, Lahey, JMcGinn, Couture; and Minus 3: Paryzek, Lindsay, Ostrcil. I think that pretty much covers the landscape.
  • Someone should get the game tapes from the Peterborough game and see what a good team defensive game looks like.
  • 14 Saginaw players on the plus side; 3 with a plus-4 afternoon.
  • Things that make you go hmmmmmm…Alphonso gets traded and he now leads his team in goals and single-handedly beat Ottawa when the Soo Greyhounds were in town a couple of weeks back; Pat Daley gets traded to Peterborough and although he didn’t get any points on Friday, he is second in points on his team and he was a threat all night on Friday; and today we have the return of Joe Pleckaitis (by way of Barrie) who scored a goal and two assists tonight. What is it that the other coaches are getting out of these guys that Killer can’t?
  • Likely the last nice Sunday we give up unless this team turns it around big time. My free time is a precious commodity 'cause I have so little of it that I will not give up for a franchise that insists on icing a team that is not being organized and coached to play to their potential. This franchise needs to face the fact that their coach and GM is past his prime and does not have the good sense to hand things over. The franchise can consider it a donation and inflate their attendance numbers accordingly.

Three Stars – a Saginaw sweep – with reason.
1. Jack Combs (goal and 2 assists)
2. Tomas Zaborsky (2 goals and an assist)
3. Joe Pleckaitis (goal and 2 assists and rubbing it in to his old team)

Team 1200 Hardest working 67s: Michael Latta

Blitzen’s Rate the Anthem: same singer, worse rating at minus 10 as she butchered two national anthems. Think I’ll start arriving late for games. This just contributes to a deteriorating game day experience (in addition to that irritating guy from 89.9). Don’t know why she’s still singing – must have pictures of someone doing something they ought not to have been doing.

Go 67s Go!!

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