It’s A Long & Winding Road…Trip.


Ahh, the rebuild.

Welcome to the wonderful world of beauty and the beast, where, from game to game, the team appears to be made up of different players.

There is no doubt that, through the losing streak, the Sens played some games that could have gone either way.  Being competitive, I maintain, is a win in and of itself at this juncture.

That being said, the game against Buffalo was a hot mess.  Andy was anything but dandy, the top line looked anemic and frustrated, and the following 3 lines seemed to think they were playing a game of five pass, where everyone has to touch the puck before you can shoot on net.  I can accept losing, but I can’t accept playing below your abilities.

Then came the Toronto game.  The first period was a disaster, the only saving grace being the play of Anderson, who kept them in the game by keeping the score down to 1-0 against.  Nothing new there, as the Sens are becoming known for slow starts, but as the losses pile up, the fans and management are expecting improvement on this front, and to date, it has yet to do so.  That is worrying.

Cue the second period, where, by magic or management, the team woke up, and began hitting, dogging the puck, and getting shots at (or on) the net.  After the remaining two periods the Sens actually won a game that, like so many of the past five, could have gone either way.

That was improvement.  What needs to be noted is that this win came as a result of hard work, and simple plays, not fancy passing, or playing kitty bar the door hockey.  This team became a bit “fancy” as a result of the six game winning streak.  Players/lines that had success as a result of playing a grinder game, started to think they won as a result of playing a “skill” game, and stopped grinding, and started passing.

The fact remains that, apart from Alfie, Mich and Spez, this team is made up of semi-skilled grinders.  I don’t mean 4th line bangers, rather players that have to force physical hockey, combined with speed, to make the most of their skills.  If any line, other than the top line, tries to play pretty, bang, bang hockey, the losses will continue.  If the bottom three lines skate, hit and grind in the offensive zone, they will continue to win.

It’s all a process, and the wins created a swollen head, and the losses, in a perfect world, reduced the swelling, and will help the squad learn that success comes as a result of playing to your strengths, not your ego.

This will be the teams first extended road trip, allowing the players to spend some time together, and further their esprit de corps.  I for one am glad for this road trip, as I believe that a young roster needs these sort of experience to become a team, gain that feeling of us vs. them.

Win or lose, these next 4 games will be another step on the long and winding road of a rebuild.

GN

ps  I have to admit to a developing man crush on Jared Cowen.  I was guardedly impressed with his play in the pre-season, as it was against mostly fringe players, and expected a pull back come the regular season.  Was I wrong!  This kid can skate, shoot, hit, fight, and most importantly, think.  I don’t know what the ceiling is for this kid, but if his development stopped right here, he’d still be a legitimate shut down NHL’er.  For me, he and KDawg have been the two most impressive players among the teams rookies, and, even during losses, have been the light at the end of the tunnel.

pps  How good is Alfie!  Watching him play, and dominate, on every shift, at both ends of the ice, is absolutely astounding, 38 or not.  His skill is absolutely undeniable, and is all the more obvious when skating with rookies and grinders.

 

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