Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Time to part ways with Hartsburg

When Bryan Murray hired Craig Hartsburg this summer as the Senators' new head coach, he was pretty confident Hartsburg would turn the Senators around after a horrendous finish last season.

29 games into the 2008-09 season, the Senators are sitting at the bottom on the Eastern Conference, only five points in front of bottom-dweller Tampa Bay Lightning after losing 4-1 to the 13th place Atlanta Thrashers on home ice.

GM Bryan Murray signed Hartsburg to a three-year contract last June to replace John Paddock who had been fired in February. After a torrid start under Paddock, the Senators stumbled, leading to his firing at the end of February. Murray, who is not known as being a patient general manager, finished the season behind the bench.

This season, the Senators have had troubles scoring goals, averaging only 2.3 goals/game after finishing 2nd overall offensively last season. Secondary scoring has been a problem all season, as Mike Fisher (3 g, 6 a, 9 points), Antoine Vermette (2 g, 3 a, 5 points) and Nick Foligno (4 g, 4 a, 8 points) haven't been able to get going as they are in a season-long slump. The top pairing of Anton Volchenkov (-10) and Chris Phillips (-12) have been the Sens worst defensive pairing this season despite being a defensive force during the past few years.

Bryan Murray, because of the salary cap, hasn't been able to add a puck-moving defenseman nor a veteran forward to help boost his anemic offense.

And since Bryan Murray will not fire himself because of his inability to make a trade, Craig Hartsburg is the likely scapegoat if the players don't turn things around. They don't seem enticed to play for Hartsburg as their past showings have been dreadful being 1-3-1 in their last five games during which they only managed seven goals while allowing 15 goals.

The recent call-ups of Brian Lee and Ilya Zubov haven't done anything to save this sinking ship.
The Pizza line is not producing anymore. Heatley is pointless in his last four games (-4), Spezza is also pointless in his last four games (-3), while captain Alfredsson only has one goal, an empty netter, during that span.

The Senators still have three games to play before the Christmas hiatus, visiting the Devils and the Flyers, two hot teams, and receiving the Stars, a team on the rise lately.

Should his team cannot manage to earn four points out of six, look for Bryan Murray to pull the trigger and let Craig Hartsburg go after Christmas.

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