Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hurry Up And Wait

The Ottawa Senators have once again rattled off an impressive start to their season, which is something they are beginning to make a habit of doing. (3 out of four years is not bad at all) Playing 7 games in the first 11 days of the season has taken its toll on the team, who are looking forward to a rest before continuing action Thursday. But wait. The schedule they see for the rest of the month only shows them playing a total of three more games in the month of October.

Forget about Martin Gerber's hot streak. Forget about the big three getting into a groove, and forget about Kelly and Vermette playing as though they have the same brain. Rewind a little bit to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Ducks. Sure, the talent on the Anaheim squad helped to quiet the team's hyper advancement towards the Cup, but that was not the only factor. After making short work of Buffalo in the conference finals, Ottawa sat around and waited, which I personally attribute heavily to their fast exit from the finals. Arguably the best in the East coming into their little break, Ottawa will have to reformulate their style to regain composure, and they will have to do it slowly.

This inevitably takes us to the structure of the NHL scheduling. Sure, I'm a little less than embarrassed that I sat in front of the television as though I was unable to move during the first week of the season, but this isn't baseball. Hockey teams will only wear down during these major periods of time where they are forced to play night after night, and they will get 'soggy' during the times that they are not playing enough. It is a delicate process, but I have a feeling someone will be able to get it right.

Players and coaches are not the only ones who suffer during these times. As a fan, it doesn't get much worse than a layoff of your favorite team. Sure, there is plenty to watch, but it doesn't have the same spine tingling excitement as compared to your 'home' team. Again this can go both ways. When the teams are playing every night, it makes it a lot harder to plan around so a fan can watch each game. Having that two or three days break between games really makes a difference.

They plan to work out the 'kinks' in the schedule and hopefully take away a couple of the divisional games in the next year or so. I propose that this is also something they consider. Don't wear teams down when it is not necessary. In the Senators case, I really don't think it is unheard of to remove one game from the first 11 days, and setting it inside the major layoff they are dealing with right now. At least that would add another game and get them placing twice a week.

~ srotaneS
The NHL Arena


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