Everyone Has a Plan, ‘Till They Get Punched In The Face

Over the past couple of days I’ve spent some time ruminating over the Sens recent loss to Carolina.  It wasn’t a terrible performance, but the fact remained, they lost in a fashion that left one wondering if the fire went out.

I don’t think so.

I think, for the first time in a number of games, the pressure was back on, in a very real, unavoidable way.  For all the public statements of taking it one game at a time, this remains an easier statement then mental reality, when the game in question suddenly means something.  As is said in the fight world “everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the face“.  Carolina punched the Sens in the face, now lets see if they can stick to the plan.

This, “sticking to the plan”,  has been the fundamental goal of Cloustons since he took over this roster.  He wants to have a system in place that is strictly adhered to, and relied upon, in times of pressure.  Too often teams go off the page when the heat is on.  Individual play, disjointed strategies and, ultimately, mass confusion.  Clouston wants everyone to do the same thing every time, to rely on the system, and team effort, vs individual play and chaos.  The perennial example of this strategy is the NJ Devils.  You either play the system, or you find a new team, period.

This strategy, like taking it “one game at a time”, is easier said then done, and requires a strong hand to guide the effort.  There is a lot at stake in this the final 9 games of the season, and not only for the players, but for Clouston as well.  He is being judged as to whether he can manage an NHL team, and guide it through not just the good times, but the bad times too.

Tonight will help answer these questions.  If the Sens want to keep their dreams of post season play alive, they must respond, from the drop of the puck, to the final horn.  From head coach, to back-up goaltender.

At the end of the season some will invariably question whether or not this team would have been better of securing a higher draft position, over making a late surge in the standings.  I contend, with this added pressure, management will be better able to determine just what kind of club it has before making roster decisions going into next fall.

Intrinsically the players  know they’ve proven to have the physical skills to win, now they have to prove they possess the mental fortitude to win.

I predict the Sens destroy the Thrashers tonight, and prove they are a team that can win under pressure.



3 Responses to “Everyone Has a Plan, ‘Till They Get Punched In The Face”

  1. Dave Morris Says:

    Great blog.

    I wonder, though, if making any kind of predictions with regard to the Sens, is wise. They haven’t proven to be consistent in any way this year…and have become the epitome of a .500 team in the process.

    As you say, much evaluation yet to be done.

  2. Fair enough Dave.
    But, to be the optimist, they have gone 15-8-2 in the last 25 GP.
    I’ve actually kicked around the idea of writting a blog on this very concept.
    Ultimately, it is so difficult to predict this rosters long term ability, because of its manic behaviour over the last 2 seasons.
    But what I will say is that, unlike other rosters having late “loosy goosy” streaks, the core of this roster has achieved both regular and post season success, which could reasonably allow one to argue it has the ability to improve, vs. just getting “lucky”.
    But alas, only time will tell.

    • Dave Morris Says:

      You bring up a very good point. There is much talk about supposed capabilities of the so-called ‘the core’…but Ottawa has an imbalance in its roster which has also been much discussed.

      While there many divergent opinions on the whys and wherefores of the Senators’ decline since their Cup final appearance, it is generally agreed Cory Clouston has done excellent work.

      One can suppose management will do a thorough evaluation of the personnel at season’s end, and take the appropriate steps.

      As the clubs in their Conference can also reasonably be expected to improve, the Senators will need to improve exponentially in order to hope for movement upward in the standings in 2009-10.

      While fans can always enjoy the pleasure of optimism, the professionals on the ice and off it know realism is the operative word.

      The period of transition between this season and next should provide much to keep the attention of Sens fans’–whose loyalty, during this ‘up and down’ of now almost two years, has been exemplary.

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