Thursday, April 17, 2008
So it ends, all of that promise of the last decade.
Leaf fans still call this team chokers although they went further last season then any Leaf team has gone in over forty years and Daniel Alfredsson had a spring last season like very few players ever have. Certainly Mats Sundin never has.
The Ottawas had such a terrific collection of talent back in the day but whether it was goaltending, lack of passion, lack of heart, coaching or just plain bad luck, things never came together for them. If Niedermeyer doesn't pop one off Lidstrom to force OT in Game 5 last year it would have likely been the Wings in the final and that is a series where matchups would have been more to Ottawa's favour then one against the Ducks, a team with a terrific shutdown line to play the Daniels.
Of course the ironic thing in all of this is that they said farewell to Bonk and Todd White and Havlat and Hossa and Chara and then they made it to the big one. Funny how that goes.
In the end though it was management and coaching that did them in, imo. The inability five years ago to address goaltending and the lack of muckers on the club. Jacques Martin's strange passionless coaching. And then when they decided to change the face of the club the thrashing about and questionable decisions, the biggest of which of course was choosing Wade Redden over Chara.
Now Redden will be gone too as will Emery. Alfredsson is getting up there and they have a pile of cash tied up in two guys who have, what, zero goals in their last ten playoff games? Something like that.
Last year's club played power vs power with the Pens, a little easier with a team that had no Hossa, no Sykora and an overwhelmed Malkin. Alfredsson's line faced Crosby, a matchup both coaches lived with for the most part. As the series wore on however there were times that Crosby took on the second line, Fisher, Schaeffer and Comrie, or a line of Kelly, Neil and Vermette.
A year later that whole second line was either gone or injured as were Kelly and Alfredsson. Not the same team and no surprise that the Pens wiped them out.
The question is what the future holds now for this franchise. The window for a team that had so much talent has now officially closed.
Posted by Black Dog at 8:28 AM