Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sens Game Report - Ottawa @ Nashville - 12.14.06


Hard to really put this game into the typical format just because nobody made any sens(e) tonight and the report would be more of an angered rant than a piece of literary genius. For the fifth straight game, Alfredsson was out and his teammates looked like they were somewhere else, too. All the players that you exepct will step up with increased ice time are actually floundering worse than when they had third line time. Again, it is hard to pick out a particular player that had a disappointing game because they were all terrible. The silver lining, if you can call it that, is that after Emery was pulled, Gerber didn't allow a goal. That isn't to say that he looked good in there, but the puck stayed out. The problem is that is too pressure free to get any confidence out of that. Suer, his job was to stop the bleeding, but its a pretty different game at 6-0 then it is at 0-0.

The question now is to figure out why this team is so lifeless out there. And it isn't the road trip because they've played like this for five games now!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sens Game Report - Ottawa @ Detroit - 12.12.06

How the BALLS did we win this one?

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 3-2
Ottawa Goals:
Spezza (17) takes a Lang giveaway in alone and roofs a beauty over Hasek
Neil (9) tipping in a Schubert blast – I’m getting used to these goals now
Spezza (18, pp) on a goal you need to see, splitting the defence and blowing past everyone. Tell Pierre McGuire to watch this one, too. He glides, Pierre.
Making Sens: Emery, Eaves, Vermette
Lacking Sens: Volchenkov, Corvo, backcheckers, Schaefer, Fisher, Neil, etc.
It was over when: The horn sounded. We had no business winning this game
It was definitely over when: Someone told Emery that no more shots were coming.
Message in a Molson bottle: A combination of amazing goaltending and a kiss on the cheek from the hockey monkeys allows us to leave Detroit with a much-needed win. Its hard to build off this one because everyone was terrible in this game, save the goalie. The ice looked terrible and we were literally a step behind the entire night. This looked to be a tentative team out there, terrified of shooting the puck into the stands or icing it, because our transition game was left in Kanata, probably shopping at Bayshore or something. Ugly game, much needed win, thank goodness we have at least one goalie.
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: Thursday in Nashville, Alfie might be back.

Three storylines to wow your friends over a Timmy’s double double:

A brief ray of sunny optimism
There are team wins and then there are games like this one. Emery finished the night with 43 saves and they weren’t those dumb ones like a dump in or Lalimey-type shots. He made some lights out saves and completely upstaged the q-tip in the other net. Based on the past two games, I have officially jumped the Gerber Wagon and am climbing aboard the Emery Express. I choo choo choose him to be our number one, a solid month after the rest of the fans did the same. This guy was awesome. If the Gerber for Cujo trade is at all possible, can I personally make the call to Wayne to accept? Great job, Rayzer.

Part Time Hero
Remember that old commercial that showed a young Chef Boyardee in an orphanage saying, “sister, why must everything that is so good for me…taste so bad?” It was genius, see, because it was motivation for the young toddler to grow up and create wonderful high-sodium pasta meals that are ready in just under three minutes. Hooray! I’ve obviously digressed here. I want someone to say to Jason Spezza, “Spezz Dispenser, why must your offensive creativity be so good for us, but your defensive play taste so bad?” His two goals are highlight reel variety and he follows that up with some ridiculous turnovers in our end. I still love what he does and continue to give him a long leash because he’s so young and tender, but when the frig is he going to be a Steve Yzerman and backcheck properly? By the way, the Detroit announcers asked him during a TV timeout what he got from Hasek for giving up #39. I guess he didn’t give him anything because Spezza netted two beauties on the guy. Shoulda just given him $20 or some hair gel or something.

A white elephant among the forwards?
I’m putting it out there for you all to toss around and do with it what you want. I think Peter Schaefer is a floater and is actually making his linemates worse. I thought he held Alfredsson and Vermette back and now I think he is holding Fisher and Neil back. He is never in the right place and he just seems to be lollygagging through the corners and skates away from pucks. Is he going to coast for the duration of his new contract? I think Schaefer was best in the past when he worked hard in the corners and dug pucks out and worked the boards, but he doesn’t even do that anymore, except in our own end before coughing it up to the opposition. What bothers me most is I don’t know if there is a player in the room right now that will pull him aside and give him one of those Jake Taylor-Roger Dorn speeches about tagging plays, regardless of his sty in the eye. Coffee, anyone?

Beaver Droppings
1. Detroit was credited with 13 takeaways, but they looked a lot like we just handed it over politely. Hey, that’s the Canadian way.
2. Hi, I’m Jason Spezza. I’m known to be good in the faceoff circle but tonight I won 3 of 16 (18%). I’ll try and do better next time because I’ve been told that my line isn’t so hot when we don’t have the puck.
3. Chris Phillips with 9 blocked shots. That’s wearing the C and wearing some pucks.
4. I think the practice tomorrow needs to really work on the Hennessy/Payer/Hamel line. Just kidding, they won’t see much of the ice tomorrow or Thursday night.
5. Badly outplayed in the first and third period, outshot 30-8 in those periods, 45-22 in the game.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sens Game Report - Ottawa @ Columbus - 12.10.06

Hard to want to write a game report after this debacle. Five PP goals against, Martin Gerber pulled mid-second, a complete disaster in all three zones of the rink, and penalty trouble again.

I'm starting to question my own opinion on Gerber as he jsut undid everything he had recovered in the past three weeks with this performance. It was bad.

Meszaros took a five minute penalty and a game misconduct for a hit from behind that I didn't think was that bad. It looked like Picard turned late and Meszy couldn't pull up. Of course, we were frustrated with the 3-0 deficit so I'm sure the refs figured Meszaros was taking out his frustrations, but the ensuing powerplay put us away for good.

Again, we are reminded of what a mistake it would have been if Alfredsson had been traded during the previous losing streaks. We are lost without him and Redden.

This makes three straight sub-par efforts from the team and we now have Detroit, Nashville, and Buffalo this week.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sens Game Report - NY Rangers @ Ottawa - 12.9.06

Where are those leaders we built from within?

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: New York wins 3-1 (with an empty netter)
Ottawa Goals:
Spezza (15, pp) tipping in a Schubert blast to bring us to within one.
Making Sens: Phillips, Volchenkov
Lacking Sens: Schaefer, Spezza – guys that need to be stepping up
It was over when: Spezza shows the wrong way to backcheck by whispering to Jagr to slow down instead of knocking him off the puck, and #68 roofs it over Emery’s glove
It was definitely over when: A funky bounce on a forecheck in the last minute and instead of fighting to get the puck back, we back off an let Shanny pot it into the empty net.
Message in a Molson bottle: This one was a bit sickening when you consider the effort this organization has put into developing leaders in the dressing room. The guys that we expect to fill the void of Alfredsson are playing a lifeless brand of hockey that leaves with two straight losses at a time when we need to continue going forward. Everyone seems to be skating around wondering what to do and where Alfie has gone instead of taking the opportunity to rack up a few points in his absence. Interesting how Toronto wins when Sundin misses games and we ALWAYS lose when Alfie is gone. Forwards need to want it more than they did this afternoon.
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: Tomorrow evening in Columbus, a Sunday tilt to kick off a four-game trip

Three storylines to wow your friends over a Timmy’s double double:

You’re not Ron…
Remember that scene in Anchorman when Veronica Corningstone did the evening news as Burgundy was locked in a glass case of emotion as a result of watching his dear Baxter get punted off the Coronado Bridge? The rest of the news team goes about everything in a tentative manner, not really knowing how to act. That is how the Sens are without Alfredsson. I hate to keep harping on this, but to me it was the predominant theme in today’s game. Vermette and Schaefer are useless with Eaves up there, and everyone just seems to wait for someone else to lead the way. Heck, Cassie Campbell made a mention of it in pregame when they discussed the ridiculous move of Schaefer waving the white towel on Wednesday. We’ve taken pride in trying to develop leaders within the organization but only Phillips seemed to really show he wanted the letter on his chest. These guys had better snap out of it or we’ll get absolutely embarrassed on this trip against four streaking teams.

Chara Jr.?
Not quite, but Chris Phillips was great in covering Jagr this afternoon. Whether he was stickchecking him all the way back to the blue line or roughing him up behind the net, I thought Philly looked up to the task of taking care of Jagr, besides the latter’s two points (one of those was an assist on a 5-on-3 and the other was a shot from the top of the opposite slot). I don’t know that Murray will go to the shadowing that Chara did last year against every star in the league, but it is nice to know that we have someone that can handle that role. And make no mistake, Jagr was on fire today and still scares me as the most dangerous player in the league. Nice work, Philly. I’ll work on helping you hail a cab, though.

Dumb and Dumber
No, that’s not fair because Spezza and Heatley created a lot of scoring chances tonight and were solid in the offensive zone. What drives me and Jacques Martin crazy is that they need to realize that any kind of turnover isn’t going to be against the other team’s fourth line or something. For about the half of the game, we had the pizza kids against the Jagr/Nylander/Straka line and those three are fast as hell and just waiting for the puck. Spezza and Heatley need to realize this and while they can still go hard at the net, they need to understand that they need to be quick on their horses to backcheck. Two of the three goals were a result of these two floating back….again. Should we sent them to Binghamton to learn a lesson? Maybe Zdeno can do us a favour and smack them upside the head with a half rack of ribs to get the message through? Nah, he’s a division rival now.

Beaver Droppings
1. Why doesn’t Dean McAmmond get the spot with Vermette and Schaefer? We certainly don’t gain a thing with Eaves up there as all three play a different style.
2. Peter Schaefer, down a goal in the dying minutes of a game, is useless. The only thing he can do is skate fast down the wing and then kick the puck around the corner for a while. I continue to be unimpressed by what he brings to this season’s edition and am waiting for something to change my mind.4.
3. Emery needs a rest. I’m not saying this because I like Gerber and want him to get the job back, but it is obvious that Emery isn’t healthy. Why, when Washington exposed his weak glove hand for 60 minutes on Wednesday, are we still forcing this guy in there? The game winner was a result of his inability to get his glove up. Guess what? If we’ve heard about the injury and its effect on his game, then you can bet all the opposing players know about it, too. Get Gerber some games this week, coach.
4. Neil hits really hard.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Sens Game Report - Ottawa @ Washington - 12.6.06

This one escalated quickly; it really got out of hand quick!

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Washington wins 6-2
Ottawa Goals:
Fisher (7, pp) on a great pass through the blue paint from Schaefer
Spezza (14) left alone in front to tap a Preissing rebound into the partially open cage
Making Sens: Fisher, Schaefer
Lacking Sens: Vermette, Neil, Eaves
It was over when: Semin scored less than a minute after Spezza got us to within one, another two goal deficit that we just couldn’t overcome
It was definitely over when: Semin, Pettinger, Laich, bingo bango bongo and we’re packing mid-third
Message in a Molson bottle: I really hope that there is no mention in the post-game interviews about the officiating because this game was lost by the tired legs in Senators uniforms. Just as we outplayed the Islanders the night before, we lost every battle in the corner and had unbelievable difficulty moving the puck out of the zone. Missing Redden is bad enough, but we really get an idea of how important Alfredsson is as a forward in the transition game. Instead, we embarrassed ourselves by having no movement in all three zones of the pad. Thanks for coming out. Oh yeah, Ovechkin and Semin are outstanding. You could even say they’re the balls.
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: Saturday hosting the Rangers and then Sunday in Columbus. I’m guessing the goalies will split the games once again.

Three storylines to wow your friends over a Timmy’s double double:

They go together like lamb and tuna fish
Nobody missed Alfredsson more tonight than his new centre, Antoine Vermette. Vermie was completely out of synch tonight, trying to do far too much as an individual instead of trying to find chemistry with his new right winger, Patrick Eaves. It didn’t help that Eaves has been getting little icetime recently and has basically been a non-factor for offence over the past few weeks. I know people will argue that it takes time to develop new chemistry, but I expect these guys, as NHL regulars, to pick it up quickly. Plan B, s’il vous plait.

The Upper Body Injury
Anyone that questions why coaches use this ridiculous expression to define an injury to a player needs to look no further than Ray Emery’s wrist and forearm. The news of his injured arm has obviously made its rounds over the past few weeks and while some teams tried to test him by just bumping into his wrist, the Caps took what appears to be a more successful approach – they blasted pucks high glove side. There are some shots, like Semin’s ridiculously hard zinger, that are unstoppable, but we need to assume that Emery could have gotten his arm up there a bit quicker if he were healthy. Also, that whole thing about making the save at the right time to keep momentum wasn’t really in play for us tonight. I love Emery and he certainly had a team clicking around him, but he wasn’t at his best..

Ker-plunk, whoooooosh
That was the poorly written alliteration of us tossing this one out and flushing it down the toilet. We really hung it up mid third when Hamel was given a hooking penalty for lifting the Capitals player’s stick and the bench went bonkers. I imagine the bench penalty went to the coach. We then took a penalty while killing the 5-on-3 and that will typically do it for you when you’re already trailing by two. What makes me upset is seeing Schaefer and Spezza on the bench giggling while Schaefer waves a white towel on his stick over the ice. What the hell, Schaefs? First off, the joke is a bit overplayed. Second off, what can you possibly be laughing at during a third period like the one we played? Third, is that really the appropriate thing to do when we were just handed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for chewing out the refs? Take a walk and think it over, Schaefer. We need to be furious over playing a game like that. As bad as the Leafs are, at least they sound and appear genuinely livid after a loss. We laugh it off and move on without taking any lessons out of it.

Beaver Droppings

1. Fisher was hands-down our best player. You can see the passion in the way he skates hard on every shift. It amazes me that his teammates and sometimes even his linemates don’t feed off this.
2. Spezza got into the crazy errant passes in the third. Again, I think without Alfredsson out there to keep things in line, some players still try and take the game into their own hands and wind up turning the puck over at the blue line.
3. Volchenkov blocked six shots in the ugly first period and finished with eight.
4. McGrattan had a nice tilt with Erskine and wrapped it up with three solid blows the head. Callup Danny Bois accidentally looked up and realized he was fighting Brashear. Oops.
5. Their top players (Ovechkin and Semin) had 10 shots and 8 shots respectively. Our two top guys (Spezza and Heatley) had five and three respectively. The score is indicative of these numbers.

All in all, it was our inability to get the puck out of our end and lack of flow and speed through the neutral zone that kept us on our heels and fishing pucks out of the net.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sens Game Report - Ottawa @ NY Islanders - 12.5.06

This one was actually a close game, and early start was again the difference

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 4-2; officially eight of the last nine
Ottawa Goals:
Heatley (17) on a quick pass from Spezza with both in the slot
Spezza (13, pp), Zinggggg, howitzer from the sideboards when everyone was expecting the feed to his boyfriend.
Corvo (4, pp) darts in on the far side for a nice tic-tac-toe with Spezza to Alfredsson
Heatley (18) Zingggg, working to get the puck off the side boards to himself and wiring it past the Dunham pad.
Making Sens: Heatley, Schaefer, Corvo,
Lacking Sens: Preissing and Schubert were so-so, although Schubert broke up a two-on-one like a 12-year vet.
It was over when: Apart from the shot clock, this one was close. Heatley’s second goal was that sigh of relief that we could chalk it up as a win.
It was definitely over when: Killed off penalties five and six in the last eight minutes, the last one featuring the defencemen picking the puck and firing it straight out at least half a dozen times.
Message in a Molson bottle: I still can’t take the Islanders seriously, and we are actually ahead of them in the standings (one more win), but they’re division leaders. This win also puts us ahead of Toronto in the standings, not like anyone in Ottawa notices that, right? Tonight, it was Heatley and Spezza playing excellent hockey as they crossed the blueline and created a ton of turnovers. Transition game was so quick that even the Islanders broadcasters noticed how well Ottawa was at making one pass to get the puck to the neutral zone. Did you hear that? We’re envied in Long Island! Success!
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: Wednesday at Washington. Remember that time we blew a three-goal lead there? I do, and you can bet the players do, too.

Three storylines to wow your friends over a Timmy’s double double:

The gerbil and his cage
Weak reference for Gerber and gerbil, I know, but I’ve got a long time to find a better one. Anyway, Gerber played tonight much like he did in Raleigh last week – making the saves that he needs to make. But you can really notice a difference in his positioning as he is much further out of his crease to challenge shooters and he seems quicker and moving post to post. His massive black pad was flicking all over the place, too. Nice game, another step forward. Mark my word, he’ll get his games this season.

Heavy \’hev-e\ adj 1: having great weight 2: hard to bear
Now you know what to say when someone asks you to define Dany Heatley’s slapshot. It seems even harder and heavier this season than last, and he knows where to place it. His second of the night was the perfect example as the puck was just too strong and went through Dunham’s pad and just forced its way into the net. It’s official – we need Spezza and Heatley to live in loving matrimony for years to come because Spezza’s passes and Heatley’s slappers will only get better. They backcheck now, too. Hooray for Coach Murray. Fire that blog guy that brought up Hitchcock’s name a few weeks ago.

D for damn you, opposing forwards
John Muckler said that he had put together a more mobile defensive corps that would be quick and potent. They score goals, jump in on plays, move the puck, and basically do what our GM told us they would. What we might not have expected is just how good they can in their own zone. Meszaros was lights out tonight and is incredibly quick throughout the zone, Phillips is playing like he does in April (which is good), Volchenkov has been getting enough airtime about how well he is blocking shots and hitting everything, and Corvo is settling in as the #2 guy here. Maybe we don’t miss the big guy after all. Although I’m sure Baton Rouge is still furious/inconsolable.

Beaver Droppings
1. Alfredsson left the game in the middle of the third and looked very shaken up about something. I couldn’t pin point what it was, but I’m sure we’ll know which play it was in the morning. I’d like to say that he was just kept out of the game for precautionary reasons, but as I said earlier, he looked bad getting to the bench and then to the room.
2. McGrattan’s three minutes of icetime were a bit weird – three shots on goal and no hits. He looked like he was skating pretty hard out there. The fighter isn’t extinct yet dodo.
3. Schaefer looked great, skated very hard and passed through checks in the corners. He looked like he wants to create goals tonight.
4. Vermette went 16-5 in the faceoff circle against Sillinger, the #2 faceoff guy in the league behind Perreault. Spezza wasn’t too shabby at 14-4.
5. Another pair of powerplay goals and killed off six of theirs. Special teams is somewhat important, everyone.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sens Game Report - Hockey Bay @ Ottawa - 12.02.06

At least we can hold four-goal leads

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 5-2
Ottawa Goals:
Eaves (5, sh) taking a turnover and putting it over Bryzgalov on the backhand, bang bang.
Corvo (3, pp) with a wrist shot on the point making it through
Vermette (10) with a goal so great you have to track down the highlight on
Spezza (12) on some lazy play from the Lightning and some hustle by Kelly to get him the puck
Vermette (11) to ice it on the breakaway in the third
Making Sens: Vermette, Preissing, Fisher
Lacking Sens: Schaefer, Alfredsson, Heatley
It was over when: Getting out of the second period without completely blowing the fout-goal lead, which was entirely possible with the way the Sens played back and the Lightning came at them.
It was definitely over when: Vermette eased all fears with his second
Message in a Molson bottle: A great opening twenty minutes and then settling back apparently works better than those times where we’d dog it for two periods and try and come back in the third. All of our highlights came in the first twenty minutes and then we let the clock and the occasional clearing of a rebound do the rest. Not the prettiest win. Redden’s transition game was sorely missed.
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: Tuesday in Long Island

Three storylines to wow your friends over a Timmy’s double double:

Early and often
Even during the slump that we experienced in October, we were scoring early and making teams look silly. Tonight was no different as we opened up a four goal lead that looked like Thursday’s game against Florida was just replaying itself. Two months ago, we were blowing these games. Tonight, we held on. It takes consistent goaltending and awareness from your forwards that helping on defence becomes more important than scoring a fifth goal. Spezza did some decent backcehcking on a particular Richards shift and was a huge help behind the net. Scoring early kind of lets us work on the backchecking and defensive awareness. Jacques would be so proud of his little protégé.

I wanna get physical…physical
Pardon the reference, but what a difference it is when your players finish their checks. If you ask Randy Lee to see some game tapes of when the Senators were losing, you will see our forwards skating around like little Magnus Arvedsons in the corners and trying to catch clearing attempts with their supercharged spirits or something. Nowadays, we have guys like Neil and Fisher, and even Heatley and Alfredsson that go hard into the corners and make the opposing defencemen actually work to get the puck out. The difference goes deeper than the turnovers we create. It actually takes a physical toll on those defencemen and we can take advantage of their condition late in the game Case in point is figuring how the hell Vermette was so wide open for that breakaway in the third!

You guys are special
The Tampa Bay announcers brought up an interesting point during the broadcast tonight - the Senators have only won once when they failed to score a powerplay goal. I don’t have a PhD or anything, but I guess that means we should score powerplay goals if we want to win. Tonight, we scored once with the man advantage and we scored once when we were killing off a Schaefer penalty. I guess what I’m trying to say is that once again, special teams were the difference. A few weeks ago, we had a powerplay less than 10% and we were in 14th place. Now the powerplay is clicking a bit and we’re doing much better. The changes are obvious when you see how the forwards are constantly moving on the powerplay and the defencemen have started to walk the blue line a lot more to find a lane instead of firing it into an opposing forwards legs. Joe Corvo is great at this, Meszaros is much better, and Preissing has a knack for it, too.

Beaver Droppings

1. How about Volchenkov leading the team in icetime and Fisher being second? If you think this 4-0 lead seemed comfortable, then try and explain why we had these guys out there so much. Truth be told, it got a bit scary in the second when Emery was getting peppered by their talented forwards.
2. Although Emery was great in stopping 34 shots, I thought there were a handful of scoring chances to the Lightning where he just looked a bit slower than usual. I seriously hope that Coach Murray understands the importance of getting Gerber back in there again as we’re on the road in New York and Washington. Let him face the Yashin-less Islanders.
3. Speaking of slow, Alfredsson looked tired tonight. His passes were off and he didn’t seem interested in shooting. Neither did Heatley, but that is because he never was close to the puck in the offensive zone. Yes, we pick on the team even after a 5-2 win – welcome to hockey in Ottawa.
4. Pressing was good again in his own zone and he has started to get his name out there on offence.
5. Fisher, Neil, and Volchenkov with six hits each. Add in Volchenkov’s blocked shots and Fisher going 64% in the faceoff circle against Lecavalier and you’ll realize which guys have had the most impact on this team’s turnaround over the past few weeks. Zing.
6. Schaefer is lazy and seems disinterested. Furthermore, unless he is on a shorthanded two-on-one break with Fisher, Shaefs looks content to not create a single scoring chance.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sens Game Report - Florida @ Ottawa - 11.30.06

This one was just ugly

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 6-0
Ottawa Goals:
Heatley (15, pp) on a perfect bounce off the boards behind the net, hammers a bouncing puck past Auld
Heatley (16) with a howitzer with Preissing jumping in on the play
Fisher (6, sh) roofing a pass from Schaefer on that old-fashioned short-handed two on one break
Kelly (4) on a pass from Spezza after the latter’s first attempt stuffed Auld’s pads with both guys parked in the paint
Meszaros (4) tipping in a Phillips shot on some hard forechecking from the fourth line
Vermette (9) scores on backup Belfour looking at half of an open net and finishing
Making Sens: Emery, Preissing, Alfredsson
Lacking Sens: Schaefer
It was over when: Heatley’s second showed that his hat trick on the weekend is almost about to repeat itself and the focus of the Panthers shifted entirely on stopping #15.
It was definitely over when: By shutting down Heatley for the rest of the night, although he still found some chances, the Panthers lost all focus and just looked silly through 20 minutes. The last two periods were for show and for pizza.
Message in a Molson bottle: Perhaps one of the best all-around games when you consider their forechecking, their neutral zone play, and the backchecking. We officially have goaltending and competent defencemen and it has allowed our forwards to focus more on scoring goals. In scoring a few early goals, it allows the entire group to settle into a comfortable style of play that has all five guys moving together through the zones and helping on both ends. This win was another thing of beauty
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: Saturday hosting Tampa Bay, trying to clean up the one sore spot in our past two weeks.

Three storylines to wow your friends over a Timmy’s double double:

Defencemen 6 through 1
Wade Redden left late in the first period with an upper body injury (he looked to be grimacing after taking a hit behind our net) and who steps up to play their best game this season? Tom Preissing, that’s who. The $600,000 man, as we can now call him, was excellent in all three zones, especially in the Florida zone. He seems to know exactly when to join the play and exactly when he cannot join the play, both evidenced tonight. A key element of winning teams is different guys stepping up their game when needed. With Redden out, Preissing was solid.

Here’s a new topic: goalies
Don’t let the six goals and the free slice of pizza lead you to forget the performance that Ray Emery put forth tonight. He made the fundamental saves and he made the extraordinary saves. When your forwards are in a flow like the Senators were tonight, the last thing they want is to have their goalie let in a few goals and change the momentum. Emery ensured that it was all Ottawa tonight. Now if we can get assurances that Martin Gerber is game ready, then we’ll be in a pretty nice situation. The way I see these two right now, though, is that Gerber is like a PC and Emery is a Mac (are those commercials on in Canada like they are here?). Gerber has some glitches but you know he’ll be reliable at the end of the day. Emery, on the other hand, is more popular right now and is wowing you with what he can accomplish. I’d try and expand this analogy but it would become clear that I don’t know much about computers…

Where’s da beef?
I still love the cameo of Boris the Blade in Eurotrip as the Slovak that is just getting North American entertainment – “hey, Miami Wice, Best new show!” So where’s the beef? As in, what isn’t clicking right now with the Senators? Well, I still think Peter Schaefer is a weak link on the line with Alfredsson and Vermette. Alfie has been our best forward lately and Vermette is clicking very well with him. It is Peter Schaefer, though, that leaves me wondering just what the heck is going on out there. He kicks the puck around in his skates deep in his own end as if he’s forechecking instead of just passing off to a defenceman or just clearing the puck out. And to me, he just seems to float a bit. Remember when he formed the perfect second line with Neil and Fisher? Can you even imagine him playing with those two sparkplugs anymore? What else is less than perfect? I can’t really think of anything that stands out right now. Sounds like a good time to go on a winning streak and get back into respectable places in the standings.

Beaver Droppings
1. Can someone tell Chris Kelly that he made the team? The kid still skates around with that look on his face that makes you wonder if any of this has sunk in to him yet.
2. For those that missed the game on TV, a Weiss hit on Phillips shattered the glass in our own end that sent two children to the hospital, hopefully for precautionary reasons only.
3. Alfredsson was aggressive again tonight and nearly got into fisticuffs with Weiss on a couple of occasions. Maybe he is still upset about the alleged story that he was pegged in the head with a danish while having breakfast at the Brookstreet after the loss to the Sabres last playoffs. Whatever the case is and whether or not that campfire story is true, Alfie is playing with his heart on his sleeve. It seems to have started around the time that he was supposedly being traded to LA. Right.
4. Only three players (all defencemen) logged over 20 minutes tonight, telling you that we had the opportunity to roll out the fourth line a lot.
5. Volchenkov blocked another five shots tonight. And smiles when he does it. In fact, all of the guys are smiling a lot which is nice to see they appreciate one another’s effort and enjoy winning. It makes me laugh when people say Ottawa lacks “heart” in the playoffs. Does anyone think these guys don’t love to win? Find some other answer on why they haven’t been a successful playoff team, but cross off lack of grit and cross off lack of heart.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sens Game Report - Ottawa @ Carolina - 11.28.06

Good road trip, exorcised some demons

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 4-1
Ottawa Goals:
Eaves (4) hitting in a rebound into an open net after some work by Fisher
Schubert (2) with a blast from the point, glove side with Spezza as a screen
Fisher (5) on a pass from Alfredsson that only Alfredsson can make
Neil (8, pp) tipping in a Heatley shot after a weird turnover left us alone in front
Making Sens: Fisher, Alfredsson, Gerber
Lacking Sens: Meszaros had trouble early
It was over when: Fisher’s goal was the two goal lead that Gerber needed to settle in, unlike his previous starts.
It was definitely over when: Killing off the suspect penalty call on Vermette late in the second period meant we’d go into the third period with a two goal edge and a lot more momentum. It held up.
Message in a Molson bottle: This was the type of win that everyone on the team needed. They’ve been on the road for a week and put their embattled goalie out against his former team. Those are enough excuses for them to have called this one in, but they came together around the five minute mark of the first and dominated the next 55 minutes. Gerber was sharp in the second period and the third period was a formality.
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: Thursday hosting Florida. Who will be in nets?

Three storylines to wow your friends over a Timmy’s double double:

Gerber is no baby
I hesitated before putting him as one of the top three players tonight simply because I don’t want to jump in and blow smoke up his arse for the sake of his confidence. But the more I thought about the game itself, the more I realized that he really was solid in this game when we needed him most. Now I will admit that at no point was this game really in jeopardy of being lost to the lifeless Hurricanes, but nevertheless, Gerber made the necessary stops in the second period when the game was still a game. As a nice byproduct, this win will hopefully do a lot for his confidence. The fact of the matter is that Gerber really was a different goalie tonight, challenging shooters, using his natural instinct for saves and lateral movement, and just looking far more comfortable in there. That is, if you don’t count the way he looked on the Carolina goal…

The Spicy Swedish Meatball
Daniel Alfredsson was our best forward tonight. He has been one of our top forwards ever since we took the two games from Buffalo as he is skating hard and skating towards the puck, no matter where it is. Tonight was no different and to add some spice to his game, he was throwing his body around a bit. While I don’t agree with everything that Pierre McGuire says (he still says every morning that Ottawa is not a fast team), he did point out that your best players on paper need to be your best players on the ice. Alfie was our best on the ice.

Whoa, that’s deep
The Senators started to showcase their depth on this road trip and tonight was another fine example. The first goal was a result of some great work by our #6 defenceman, Tom Preissing before getting it to Fisher, who fed Eaves. The second goal was from our #7 defenceman, Christoph Schubert. Vermette and Schaefer look terrific playing with Alfredsson, McAmmond is certainly one of the better fourth liners in the league, and Gary Bettman is turning down other GMs that are attempting to clone Chris Neil. People said that the early season losses might teach the Senators how to play with some fire in the face of adversity and those people appear to be right. Mike Brophy said it perfectly before the game when he said that for the first time in a while, our players have learned just how hard they have to play each night to win in this league and this landscape.

Beaver Droppings
1. Spezza and Heatley did very well playing across from the quarter-point NHL MVP, Rod Brind’Amour.
2. How about Fisher and Neil leading the team with 6 and 7 shots on goal, respectively? What were we just saying about depth?
3. Three giveaways is all we offered tonight. That’s an outstanding road statistic and something to cheer about on the plane ride home.
4. Seriously, who will Coach Murray put in goal on Thursday night?
5. Quote of the night was Dean Brown pointing out that the patches of fans in attendance seemed to boo their displeasure every time Eric Staal was touched. I think Staal is a very talented player, but I just think he is a bit of a whiner and falls down far too easily for someone his size.

Gerber Update - After 20 minutes...

After 20 minutes in Carolina, my last post looks ridiculous. But not as ridiculous as Martin Gerber. A bad goal and some shaky footwork hasn't helped in backing my assertion that Gerber will be back in 38-win form.

But I stand by my words - Martin Gerber will step it up. Hopefully the game-tying goal by Eaves in the first gives him some confidence and he just starts playing fundamentals again. What's with the basketcases we get to play in nets in Ottawa, anyway?

Monday, November 27, 2006

White Elephant? C'mon now.

Absolutely not. Say what you want about the performance of Martin Gerber as a Senator this season and what John Muckler and Bryan Murray should do with the embattled goaltender, but I assure you that Ottawa's goaltending tandem will be envied by the All-Star Break. We wouldn't have fiinished atop the Eastern Conference with 113 points last year if we didn't have two serviceable goalies and you will see that this very same situation will get us back in the top half of the playoff picture soon, as well. While Gerber's performance to date has been sub-par, it is far too soon to write off his career in Ottawa. In fact, I still predict that we will be singing his praises before the end of this season and the majority of Hockey Country will eat the words they are muttering while they read this.

Again, I do not argue that Gerber has been a small touch above awful so far this season. But Martin Gerber won 38 games last year, a lot of them by standing on his head and actually stealing wins. He certainly drove our forwards crazy when Carolina won the first two matchups. The same was the case over in Italy when he led the Swiss team to a startling shutout of the supposed powerful Canadians. While one may argue that the expectations for him in both environments was rock bottom, the fact of the matter is that he has the ability to win games and win games when they count. He hasn't done it yet since Opening Night in Toronto, but you will see that Gerber will pull his socks up and steal some games for us soon.

I will also not argue that salaries are irrelevant. I'm completely aware of the amount of money that is sitting on our bench right now as we ride the hot hand oh our 'backup', Ray Emery. Johm Muckler knew we needed a bona fide number one goaltender and he paid what he had to in order to secure the guy we wanted. Our playoff shortcomings have always been in between the iron and Gerber was our solution - our most expensive solution to date. But Bryan Murray does not look at our payroll when he sets the starting lineup for each game. When Ottawa fell into a deep slump, the coach used the guy that had the confidence of his teammates and had the ability to make the big save. As of this moment, that man is Ray Emery. But guess what - at some point in the future, that man will be Martin Gerber. Don't think for a second that Gerber won't fight for his job back.

What I will argue, though, is that I am betting on Martin Gerber to come into his next start hungrier than ever. I hope it is Tuesday night against his old team in Carolina and he shows his coach, his teammates, and his fans that he may still be our goaltending solution after all. If he comes in there and plays lights out hcokey, then we know we have the right guy. If he starts letting in the Nieuwendyks again like he did in his most recent string of games, then I'll join you in calling for his head! In other words, I am calling Martin Gerber's next start THE MOST IMPORTANT GAME OF HIS CAREER! Sound the scary intense music.

I guess my whole point is that I am just a little dismayed at so many fans and even some media that are crying out that Muckler made a terrible move and Gerber is the white elephant on our books. By my count, he still has about 223 games left as an Ottawa Senator, so people can get busy rooting for him to step up his game, or can sit back and complain for the next three years. I choose to drive his bandwagon and will consider letting some of you on when Gerber becomes the number one goalie in Ottawa again.


PS - sorry for the missing game reports over the past few days - I was recovering from my first ever deep fried turkey and WebMD recommends that you sit still for 72 hours in order to come to terms with what you've just put in your body. I'll make up for it this week.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sens Game Report - Minnesota @ Ottawa - 11.20.06

Somewhere on a Barbados beach, a rich man cracked a smile

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 5-3
Ottawa Goals:
Meszaros (3) with a bit of a zinger that sneaks its way through the screen
Chris Kelly (3) sent in on a breakaway from Heatley shows some nice hands
Chris Neil (7, pp) scores a goal-scorers goal, backhanding it in high from the goal line
Daniel Alfredsson (6) showing that nasty wrist shot over the Fernandez shoulder.
Peter Schaefer (4, pp) finding himself with the puck and half a net on the powerplay
Making Sens: Emery, Neil, Fisher, Volchenkov
Lacking Sens: Schaefer, Redden had some cobwebs
It was over when: The Chris Neil gave us a 3-goal lead that just felt different this time
It was definitely over when: Our captain zinged one up high to put it out of reach.
Message in a Molson bottle: We let them back into this for a while and ended up giving a bunch of scoring chances, but we kept our cool and skated well. For the fourth straight game, Ray Emery gave us a chance to win and our skaters did the rest. These guys are finally playing as a cohesive unit and being accountable for one another. Whether it be playing with desperation or playing with talent, this team is starting to find its groove, just like Stella.
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: Wednesday in Philly, starting a four-game road trip

Three storylines to wow your friends over a Timmy’s double double

A Ray-diant performance
42 saves. When we grew sluggish and allowed ourselves to be outshot 37-16 over the last two periods, it was Emery that kept this from becoming a game, if that makes sense. As was the case in the previous three games, we have a great lineup of skaters to the point that all we need is for our goalie to make the saves and give us a chance to play our game. I like Ray Emery and it will be very interesting to see how Martin Gerber performs next time he gets a shot, which will probably be at some point on this road trip.

Hammer and Neil
Mike Fisher and Chris Neil are statistically two of the top three hitters in the NHL. I didn’t make that up; it’s science. Mike Fisher, although snakebit for goals, is playing like a man possessed while flying through the neutral and offensive zones. Chris Neil is playing like an All-Star right now both in terms of what he is doing with the puck (scoring amazing goals) and what he is doing without the puck (hitting everybody in sight). Volchenkov also threw some outstanding open-ice hits, although skated out a bit too far in the neutral zone on at least two of them.

Almost looking like a team!
Disregard what I said last week about Coach Murray’s inability to bring this team together. Ken Hitchcock can deal with that mess in Columbus because we’re starting to play as one and buying into each other’s styles. Dany Heatley is backchecking, Antoine Vermette is playing in the corners, and everyone is starting to block shots. Get this, Gonzo: we blocked 27 shots tonight. Besides the fact that Minnesota would otherwise have wound up with over 70 shots, it seems like we’re all finally buying into this concept of working together. A defenceman pinches and a forward slides back to cover. It’s a thing of beauty.

Beaver droppings…
1. Blocked shots: Volchenkov with 5, Phillips and Corvo with 4, Alfredsson blocked one of our own that is going to leave a mark on the ankle.
2. Volchenkov also led the way with 6 hits, most of them being great hip checks or huge open ice cracks. This kid looks like a million bucks out there. Funny, because he’s making more than that. He’s getting rewarded with icetime from the coach and airtime from the writers at NxNE.
3. Two high sticks into Patrick Eaves’ grill in the first went uncalled. Refs kept the whistles away for the most part of this one and at least it was consistent. The penalty shot call against Fisher for allegedly putting his glove on the puck in the crease in the third was kinda bush league.
4. Vermette at 28% in the faceoff circle isn’t too hot, especially when a handful of those are on the penalty kill. Winning the draw on the PK typically leads to a clear and a good 15-20 seconds off the clock.
5. We are a fantastic five-on-five team. To make things more amicable as we try and climb the standings (we jumped over Boston but have three games in hand, so…), our powerplay is showing signs of life. You CANNOT make a run for the playoffs without good special teams. Our PK has been restored and our PP is putting the puck in the net by moving our skates and moving the puck. Hooray!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sens Game Report - Buffalo @ Ottawa - 11.18.06

Add Buffalo to the list of teams that we want to play 82 times (with Toronto)

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 4-1
Ottawa Goals:
Peter Schaefer (3, pp) chipping in a rebound in front of Miller
Dany Heatley (11, pp) with that textbook tap in beside the net from Spezza that we have been missing all year.
Antoine Vermette (8) with a nifty backhander from the slot that made it through.
Chris Phillips (2) with an awesome backhanded deke on a breakaway coming out of the penalty box.
Making Sens: Heatley, Neil, Fisher, Phillips, Volchenkov, Emery
Lacking Sens: hard to pick anyone here
It was over when: Vermette giving us the two goal lead just felt right, didn’t it?
It was definitely over when: The Phillips goal was a beauty to ice it.
Message in a Molson bottle: The way we get “up” for the Buffalo games this year is the way everyone got up for games against us last year. We need to show this kind of intensity and drive every night to be successful. We aren’t going to win games by phoning them in anymore and this will only make us a better team come April and May. Nice effort tonight, hard skating and hard hitting, drawing penalties and getting shots on net.
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: Monday hosting Minnesota, the fourth straight game against a division leader.

Three storylines to wow your friends over a Timmy’s double double

I’d rather be Fishing
Can I say that the Fisher line looked 150,000% better this game? Not only was Chris Neil up to his usual tricks of working his ass off for 60 minutes, but Mike Fisher finally followed suit and put in a beauty of a performance. Maybe he heard Pierre McGuire say for the 20th time that he thinks Ottawa is a slow team, because Fish was flying down the wings and certainly throwing his body around, leading both teams with 9 bodychecks. It’s his effort in games like this that make us want Fish to be a Senator for life.

Saturday Night RAY
What I like about Ray Emery this year is that he is giving us a chance to win a hockey game. I’m not trying to get into any kind of goalie dispute over Gerber and Muckler and Hasek and all that jazz; I’m just enjoying the fact that it is now up to the skaters to win or lose the game, not the goalie. As a byproduct of Emery’s performance, it will make Martin Gerber hungrier to win when he gets back in there. Hear this: Martin Gerber is a great goalie and he will find his game at some point. In the meantime, there is nothing wrong with having two serviceable goalies. We will use Emery now as the hot hand and at some point, we’ll be using Gerber as the hot hand. Salaries aside, we need to be satisfied in knowing that we’ll always have a second goalie that we can turn to, both now and in the playoffs. As Ricky’s father, Ray, said about the Trailer Park Boys having to go to midnight mass at Sunnyvale, “way it goes, boys.”

Should we make everyone trade bait?
Remember how some of our trade bait this off-season included Emery, Volchenkov, Phillips, and Vermette? Besides the fact that Emery and Vermette are playing well, Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov have been playing lights out hockey over the past two weeks. Phillips looks like the leader that he needs to be and is returning to his stellar defensive play that we had become accustomed to. Anton Volchenkov is just phenomenal lately blocking shots all game and hitting anything in range. To be honest, he was disappointing last year and you had to start wondering why a $1.5M defenceman like this was still on our team. He is earning his colours once again with his all around game. Perhaps we should start a rumour that Spezza and Schaefer are up for grabs!

Beavertail toppings
1. Outshot them 41-24 and outhit them 38-27. That should win you the game. These numbers include outshooting them 32-13 over the last two periods. SNAP.
2. How about Heatley with a goal, assist, and 6 hits. Heatley’s best game of the season, by far. When we traded for him, everyone was excited about the “Canadian boy” coming home because he’d play with an edge. Last night was the player we hoped we were getting. Keep it up, Dany Boy.
3. Decent tilt between Peters and McGrattan in the first.
4. Remember when I said Dean McAmmond was a difference maker here? He didn’t do much with his 6 minutes of icetime on the fourth line. He’ll show up again at some point.
5. They blocked 22 shots, we blocked 12. Their forwards blocked 12 shots, our forwards blocked 5. I’d love it if our forwards 1 through 12 blocked shots like Buffalo’s guys. When the Sabres see their captain, Chris Drury lay out and block two shots, it pumps them up. Shot blocking can be as motivating as a good fight or a great forecheck. I’d say we should let Volchenkov lead practice for a day.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sens Game Report - Ottawa @ Buffalo - 11.15.06

Now that was an effort you can hang your helmet on… Down 2-1 in the third and finally fighting back.

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 4-2
Ottawa Goals:
Neil (4, pp) after some great forechecking from Fisher roofing it over Biron
Spezza (9) tipping in the Meszaros shot to tie the game in the third
Schaefer (2) tipping in the Alfredsson shot to take the lead. What? Take the lead?
Phillips (1, sh, en) banking in an empty net goal killing a penalty in the last minute. Philly deserved a goal in this one.
Making Sens: Fisher, Phillips, Neil
Lacking Sens: Meszaros had trouble early, Heatley still can’t stickhandle
It was over when: The Phillips empty-netter was the first time Ottawa fans could take a breath since the start of the third period.
It was definitely over when: Emery and the defencemen collapsed the net in the dying seconds to maintain the two goal advantage.
Message in a Molson bottle: If this team can put forth the kind of effort that they showed tonight, then I can be proud to cheer for this team (for the record, I’ll cheer for them no matter what). Their intensity and drive picked up every minute of this game, leading to our best third period of the season and our first come from behind win of the year. What is necessary now is to enjoy this win tonight and take the positive message out of it, which is, “play your ass off from the start of the game until the final horn and you can beat the best team in the NHL.” Have fun tonight and get back to work tomorrow.
Courtesy Boxscore: Disregard the blatant mistake in handing out the three stars in this boxscore. How any of these three received a star surely leads one to believe that someone wasn’t watching. I’d have it as 1) Fisher, 2) Phillips, 3) Emery. No Sabres in the top three.
Next Game: Friday in New Jersey, the second of four straight games against division leaders.

Grab a Timmy’s double double and listen to what really happened:

The Good
- Mike Fisher and Chris Phillips finally showed why they are wearing the ‘A’. Fisher played his most solid game of the season, leading to the Neil goal in the first, drawing a hooking penalty in the second, and blocking shots in the third. Phillips was physical and smart and was rewarded with his first goal. Great game from both, really picking up the pace and leading by example
- Ray Emery was a star tonight. A few huge saves, coupled with a solid 60 minutes, gives us the backstopping we needed. To say we needed this kind of an effort from our ‘goalkeeper’, as Muckler calls it, would be an understatement.

The Bad
- Andrej Meszaros had a rough start to the game by taking a hooking penalty early from being flat-footed and then turning the puck over onto Briere’s stick, which naturally ended up in our net a second or two later. The defence came around during the game, but Meszaros has to be better given the icetime he gets.

The Ugly
- I know he is on the Team1200 every single morning and is a very smart analyst, but I was pretty sick of Pierre McGuire constantly talking about how slow the Ottawa Senators are. The guy praises us all last season and early this year, then starts calling for a blockbuster trade and says every single morning how slow the Sens are. He mentioned it again 6-8 times in this game, including on the Vanek goal. Vanek didn’t score that one because the Sabres are faster (they are, but…), we had two forwards all the way back in the zone that just didn’t know what they were doing. Schaefer made it back and then mysteriously peeled off to the side as Vanek took a rebound and popped it into the open net. Mr. McGuire, don’t say the Senators are a slow team. We’re very, very fast; we just float far too often. Perhaps I’m just sick of listening to the Sabres bandwagon…

- Derek Roy is a diver. I’d rather have Darcy Tucker on my team than Roy, if that tells you how much I dislike Roy.
- Why can’t we score on a 5-on-3? We killed one off and that was a lot of fun, and we netted a pair of powerplay goals, but we have yet to find a group of five that guarantees a goal. If the Spezza to Heatley pass on the doorstep is gone, we need to find Fisher or Neil or whoever in the slot. We need to be scoring on 100% of the two-man advantages.
- I thought we had a frantic and solid second period, but we only had four shots.
- Volchenkov looked terrific and is turning into a nasty Russian version of Jay McKee meets Scott Stevens. Not quite that good, but he hits people like the dickens and he blocks shots like the balls. He also doesn’t look nearly as stupid out there as he and Phillips did in the first week or two of the season.
- Who is responsible for us taking a too many men penalty while on the powerplay?
- Denis Hamel on the first powerplay unit was fun, and well deserved given the sacrifices this guy takes standing in front of the net, both tonight and this past Monday against Montreal.
- Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza refuse to hit anyone. Pacifists…They combined for five giveaways, too.
- Eaves had the quietest ten minutes of the night.
- Wait, what? No shorthanded goals allowed? No powerplay goals allowed? And we scored two on the powerplay? And we scored shorthanded? Who are these guys?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Million and One Questions

I know it has been a while since I posted but let's be honest for a second here. There has been nothing to write about. Wait a second, there has been one thing to write about - the fact that the Sens are an absolute horror show on ice. How to approach this???? Do I hit the panic button? No Cheeko will get mad. Do I hit the positive button? No that's not in my nature. What about a Q and A session with myself, moderated by myself? That works.

1. Is it too early to do anything drastic?
We are roughly a quarter of the way through the season. At this point in time you have a general idea of how the team is playing and what you can expect going forward. We are past the point of any trend being an anomaly. What you see is what you get.

2. If no, should Bryan Murray be fired?
Me and Mr. Cheek have had considerable debate over this one. To me, Murray isn't the problem. He seems to have turned around Spezza and Heatly but he is dealing with two very difficult situations. First is the Gerber factor. Martin Gerber has been terrible at the best of times and his confidence is shaken. He is also showing no signs of picking up the pieces. Nobody can tell me that a new coach would magically turn around our goaltending woes. Second is the dreaded Daniel Alfresson whose playoff futility has finally caught up to him. Alfy has not been the same player this year and there is no coach out there who can erase the past. Alfy's confidence is shot and he wont be getting it back with this organization regardless of the coach.

3. Has Muckler done what he could?

Mucks is not the problem in Ottawa. Outside of landing a seasoned veteran leader (no, they don't grow on tree's) and picking up a goalie last year his moves have been good. He did what he had to do this off-season and although I would have liked him to keep Chara and ditch Redden I understood why he made the move he did. The Heatly for Hossa deal is a wash and Muckler's small moves like acquiring Smoke and Shaeffer have been commendable.

4. Is it time for Alfy to get shipped out?

Yes, Yes, Yes. Alfredsson has been such a great Senator and has been loyal beyond what we could have ever expected from him. That said, he is what he is - A playoff underachiever whose confidence has completely eroded. If there is ever a chance to get a healthy return on Alfredsson now is the time to part ways.

More questions coming tomorrow.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sens Game Report - Montreal @ Ottawa - 11.13.06

It’s official – we’re very bad. Let me ask you this, fellow Ottawa fan: what is the identity of this team? With Jacques, we were a defensive team that had great neutral zone speed on turnovers. Lindy Ruff's Sabres are fast. MacT's Oilers have heart, Hartley's Thrashers are all offence. What is our identity? Maybe we should try and define ourselves as something, besides being a graet paper team, of course.

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Montreal wins 6-3
Ottawa Goals:
- Hamel (3) tipping in a Meszaros shot
- Eaves (3, pp) on a nice individual effort when the team was down
- Vermette (7, pp) standing in front and banging in a rebound
Making Sens: the Vermette/Kelly/Eaves line was okay
Lacking Sens: Schaefer was particularly bad, and the rest weren’t far behind. The top line wasn’t strong, either. Gerber’s performance leaves us wanting Lalime back.
It was over when: Two powerplay goals scored 31 seconds apart to open the third period was the end of it.
It was definitely over when: The Mike Johnson shot from inside the blue line after we had cut the lead to one that made its way past the Swiss Miss was the backbreaker. Again.
Message in a Molson bottle: See the recap of every other game for the same sports clichés: not playing the entire 60 minutes, not helping each other out, getting lazy in all ends of the ice and all aspects of the game. This group of underachievers can’t possibly be allowed to carry on like this for much longer
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: at Buffalo on Wednesday.

Grab a Timmy’s double double and listen to what really happened:

The Good
- Powerplay netted a couple.
- Volchenkov, who is third in the NHL in blocked shots, had five more tonight.

The Bad
- Martin Gerber refuses to make a timely save, which is amazingly frustrating to watch. He even had some amazing saves in this game early, but as the team was coming back from a 4-1 deficit to make it 4-3, he lets in a Lalime-esque shot from inside the blue line from perennial non-scorer, Mike Johnson. He is currently in the middle of the worst stretch of goaltending that we’ve seen since, um, I don’t know. Maybe Craig Billington’s 11-41-4 record 12 years ago. The guy is a basketcase and we’ve gotta start wondering who is going to help him out of it.

The Ugly
- This team completely folds when the going gets tough. There is absolutely no adversity. Yes, they scored a pair when they needed goals, but then the goalie folded and it was back to our losing ways. I don’t know what we work on in practice, but it lasts about 10-15 minutes in each game before we start floating and playing as individuals.
- Peter Schaefer was ridiculous tonight. I’ve never seen a player in this league skate away from so many loose pucks ever. Fisher and Neil have no chance to do anything out there because it is as if they’re shorthanded! Whether it is his comfort with the new contract or if we overvalued Schaefer’s interpretation of forechecking, he was more harm than help tonight. What the frig was he doing skating away from Perezhogin on the Bonk goal when all he had to do was stick check the guy? A laugh.

- Spezza continues to dominate in the faceoff circle. He also showed some jump in the game. I know the comparisons are already being drawn, but Scotty Bowman took a similar player (all offence, questionable team-first commitment…) and made him into one of the best two-way players. Steve Yzerman won a few Cups as a result. I think with the right tutelage, we might see the same in Spezza at some point. Its easy to forget that he has years and years ahead of him to develop into a leader of this team.
- Alfredsson worked hard but his stickhandling was noticeably poor tonight.
- In all seriousness, how much longer can we possibly keep going like this? Ken Hitchcock is supposed to be on the short list for Columbus, so perhaps we need to move quick…I’m just saying…

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sens Game Report - Ottawa @ Atlanta - 11.8.06

So THIS is what it is like being a Cubs fan...

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Atlanta wins 5-4, with Ottawa blowing a two-goal lead for the third straight game (Monday was a three goal lead...)
Ottawa Goals:
- Spezza (6) tipping a Corvo shot
- Alfredsson (4, pp) showing that his wrist shot is still incredible
- Kelly (2) banging in a rebound on an excellent forechecking shift
- Vermette (6, sh) using his speed shorthanded to get one past Hedberg on the near side
Makins Sens: Alfredsson, Spezza, Redden, Kelly, Vermette
Lacking Sens: Heatley, Schaefer, Fisher, Meszaros, oh yeah, Gerber
It was over when: Kozlov's second goal late in the second period made it 4-3 Ottawa and as has been the case lately, it was just inevitable that we'd lose.
It was definitely over when: Kovalchuk sent the somewhat interested crowd into a frenzy with the tying goal early in the third period. Kozlolv's hat trick game winning goal was really just a formality because we were done.
Message in a Molson Bottle: We stink when we're ahead and we stink when we're behind. The sad part is that you can actually pick out the moment in the game when the team self-destructs. When Atlanta brought the score to 4-3, I actually would have felt confident making bets that we'd lose by on because this team has lost its ability to compete in the third period. This is no longer a matter of not getting the bounces or waiting for someone to break out. By the looks of what happened in the second half of this game, the Senators almost look like they're in some kind of freefall.
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: Friday in Pittsburgh. We used to beat up on them last year.

Grab a Timmy's doube double and listen to what really happened:

The Good
- Alfredsson is the hardest working guy on our team. He has his vision back, skates to the puck instead of skating away from it, and his shot is still there. If this team is planning on making some personnel moves, they cannot include him. It does concern me, however, that not everyone on the team seems to feed off his play like they used to.
- Kim, my girlfriend, had a really tasty coffee in the third period at the game. Yum.

The Bad
- Where to put Martin Gerber? I mean, he was downright ugly last night. He looked a bit shaken up after taking a shot up high in the chest or neck, but it seemed any shot taken in the third period had a chance to get by. His rebound control was awful meaning an innocent wrist shot taken as a dump in ended up being a scoring chance on the second shot. It is now okay to question whether or not this is the right guy for us.

The Ugly
- I'll tell you what is ugly - this losing streak. At no point during the stretch of five games has this team appeared ready to break out of it! That's the worst part. We come out and score early and at the start of the second period, we saym "uh oh, we're not that good in the second period." Then at the start of the third period, we say, "uh oh, we're not that good in the third period lately." Well I'm no coach, but I've heard from reliable sources that you should be a decent team in the second and third periods to win games. Jus ta thought. Whether the players aren't buying into a system to control a lead or they are in the worst psychological funk known to professional sports, this team needs help. I am not saying we need to trade for Conroy or we need to hire Ken Hitchcock, I'm just saying that this team needs a shakeup because I can't imagine how this group of players with the current mentality in that dressing room is going to find at least one win in the next 72 hours in Pittsburgh and Boston.

- 30 takeaways by Atlanta. That's not goign to be good for business
- How about the portly fellow in the Thrashers leather jacket that I had to sit beside last night? This spherical-like gentleman's jacket smelled so awful that I'd rather stick my nose inside of a used hockey glove for a while to get away from it. Since the Thrashers aren't that old of a team, you just know that this jacket has probably seen and done some strange things that jackets aren't supposed to do. But hey, this is Georgia, people. Draw your own conclusions.
- Fisher/Neil/Schaefer line was irrelevant because they spend their entire shift on the boards and in the corner. They will go an entire 45 second shift and not have one scoring chance because not one of them heads to the front of the net. Even getting the puck back to the point doesn't do any good because the ensuing shot from the defenceman doesn't go through any traffic.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sens Game Report - Ottawa @ Washington - 11.6.06

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Washington wins 4-3 in overtime, coming back from a 3-0 deficit.
Ottawa Goals:
- Alfredsson (3) in a line change taking a pass from Spezza
- Vermette (5) using his speed and finding some power to get around the d-man and cut back around Kolzig
- Heatley (8) walking in on the left side and tucking one away to spell the end of Kolzig’s night.
Making Sens: Spezza, Alfredsson, Volchenkov, Neil
Lacking Sens: Schaefer, Schubert
It was over when: Phillips taking a penalty in the last minute put us on a 4-on-6 and it just had an eerie feeling to it.
It was definitely over when: Clark tipped in a Semin shot, giving Washington four goals on four deflections. Awesome.
Message in a Molson bottle: We played well early, didn’t turn the puck over, backchecked, started to trap a bit in the second half of the third period, and then remembered, “wait, we don’t win close games!” After they recovered from this brief lapse in memory, we got back onto our self-destructing ways by giving up a goal with 24 seconds left in the game and then another one 1:33 into overtime. These losses in one goal games are WAY to familiar to all four losses to Buffalo in May and it is making me want to puke, to be quite honest.
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: Wednesday in Atlanta, and I’m hoping to be there to take on the brunt of boos in my Heatley jersey.

Grab a Timmy’s double double and listen to what really happened:

The Good
- Alfredsson has scored legitimate goals in the past two games and is skating very well. He and McAmmond were flying tonight and if it weren’t for the laziest forward of the night, Peter Schaefer, they might have found a few more goals. Vermette would be fun on this line.

The Bad
- The powerplay is ridiculous right now. The first one at least produced chances, but once again we lost the game on special teams. We didn’t convert on our chances, they scored on two (three if you count the one when the penalty door opened and Heatley had yet to step back on the ice). As I said last week, I’m looking to Coach Murray to straighten this out. Whether that is fair or not doesn’t really matter at this point, does it? These units need to score goals or we will continue to lose.

The Ugly
- When it rains, it pours. We eagerly anticipate a four-game road trip to get out of Dodge and focus on hockey for a while. Then we blow a three goal lead on four deflection goals to a lesser team (say what you want, they just shouldn’t be able to play with us). It doesn’t matter that this loss was out of the school of hard knocks because it goes in the books as us blowing another lead and losing another one goal game. Here are two things that Ottawa fans don’t want to hear but ring the truth: 1) Jacques Martin almost always held onto a one-goal lead, and 2) Toronto wins close games like this. If our coach can’t figure out a system that is conducive to winning in games like this, then perhaps our changes don’t need to be the guys on the bench..

- We had five giveaways to their eighteen. Apparently that is irrevelant.
- At least Pothier didn’t score the winner – he was their leading ice time guy again.
- Phillips looked to be playing a great game early and kind of fell of late, culminating in the tripping penalty late.
- Volchenkov actually didn’t a decent job shadowing Ovechkin, hitting him whenever possible but still didn’t live up to Chara’s record of completely shutting the kid down.
- Volchenkov also blocked eight shots tonight and led the way with four hits. As I said, apart from the Ovechkin goals, he rose to the occasion.
- I’ll continue to dismiss the ridiculous Alfredsson rumours. He was our best player tonight and it is hockey suicide to try and change the culture of your franchise mid-season. That doesn’t mean I don’t think something big needs to happen to this team.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Oh Captain, My Captain

I tuned into the Team1200 this afternoon upon a frenzy of news reports that Kings scouts were watching Alfredsson in Montreal on Tuesday night (Muckler refuted the rumour before most people even knew it existed). As always, there is one buffoon that calls in and claims that Ottawa can't win the Cup so long as it has a European captain. We're supposed to be knowledgeable in hockey, but there is always an army of simpletons that think the only way you can win a Cup is by putting a letter C on an aging Canadian. So I took to the books (read: wikipedia) to uncover the truth behind this myth. Let's call this next blog a mythbuster. Here are the key facts that I found. ALL RESEARCH IS FROM 1950 - PRESENT

1. Since 1950, there have been 361 different captains in the NHL. 306 of them have been Canadian, 26 have been American, and 29 are European. That means since 1950, 85% of the captains in the NHL have been Canadian, 7% American, and 8% European.

2. Of those 29 European captains in the past 50 years, 13 of them are currently the captain of their team (9 in the East, 4 in the West).

3. Of the 55 Stanley Cup Championships since 1950 (mind the lockout), there have been 24 different captains to be the first to raise the Holy Grail. 23 were Canadian, Derian Hatcher is American.

I understand there doesn't seem to be much meat in this sandwich, but please take note of the incredibly weighted statistics before you say a European captain can't win the Cup because it has never happened before. 85% of captains in the past 55 years have been Canadian - that is kind of a factor in Canadian captains winning Cups. Remember that in the past 55 years, only 24 captains have WON a Stanley Cup. So let's all take it down a peg or two and instead discuss who will be the first European to lead his team to a championship, because with 13 European captains, it is inevitable that it will happen soon. Quit throwing proverbial danishes at the head of our captain and let's just hope that he starts scoring in bunches or at least finds a scoring centre to play with!

Other interesting facts I came across that you can use at your local Royal Oak Pub:
- Scotty Bowman lost three straight Cups as coach of the Blues, two of them to Montreal. His solution? He took over as coach of Montreal and won four of the next seven.
- Of the 24 captains to lead their team to the Cup, 14 of them did it multiple times.
- The only two Stanley Cups that Boston has won since 1950 had no captain.

Come back on Friday as Matt and I issue our first ever POINT / COUNTERPOINT where we debate three current topics involving the Senators.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sens Game Report - Ottawa @ Montreal - 10.31.06

Here's a scary Halloween thought - we stink.

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Montreal wins 4-2
Ottawa Goals:
- Spezza (5) on a seeing-eye puck that almost gave us a chance to think we could we win
- Preissing (2) with 9 seconds left....yaaaaaaay
Making Sens: Alfredsson (I'll defend this one in a moment)
Lacking Sens: Defencemen 1 thorugh 5, Coach Murray
It was over when: Kovalev's goal at the end of the second put us out of our misery
It was definitely over when: Markov threw one at the empty net when we started to press to ice it
Message in a Molson Bottle: This just in - we kinda suck. Our powerplay is absolutely atrocious to the extent that when I said two weeks ago that we should actually just tell the refs we'd rather keep it five-on-five, it has become something we really need to think about. Our defencemen phoned this one in and all they were really missing was having Redden out there to go minus-3 or something. We didn't even deserve the opportunities we did have with the terrible skating we showed tonight.
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: Saturday at home against Carolina.

Grab a Timmy's double double and listen to what really happened:

The Good
- This may be a stretch to find something positive out of this game, but I really liked the effort level of Alfredsson tonight. He was trying to lead by example, but unfortunately the rest of the team must have been full from their $2.99 poutine from the Peel Pub down the street or something, because this one was ugly. The worst part about Alfie's night is that he is the only forward that showed up and he finished a minus-4. I'm usually a strong proponent of what that statistic means, but this one isn't justified. The few opportunities we did have to score goals and to move the puck well were created by the captain. I hope he has a temper and throws some chairs, because he's gotta be just steaming inside right now at his stats and his team's record.

The Bad
- Hi, I'm the puck. Whoa, wait, you just skated over me. Peace out. Where in the dickens were we skating tonight? We'd either pull up way short of the puck or skate far past it. Now I'm somewhat partial to the Senators and usually like to argue that we can match the Sabres in terms of speed and skating, but they sure didn't back my argument tonight.
- More on the powerplay later, but the work we did on the 5-0n-3 in the second period when we were only down 1-0 was a joke. We pass the puck around the perimeter and set up the hulking Daniel Alfredsson in front of the net and maanged one shot from the point with no traffic. I think we need to score on 100% of our two man advantages. On the bright side, at least we didn't give up a shortie n that powerplay! Hooray.

The Ugly
- For the sake of time and space, I'll only focus on two. First, our defencemen were halfway to humiliating tonight. Preissing was left standing naked by Higgins, Meszaros coughed it up a handful of times, Phillips and Volchenkov looked as stupid as they did in game one, Corvo was a bit overanxious, Schubert, our number seven defencemen, was just the cat's meow tonight, the only guy that had a half decent game.
- I'm going to point a finger here for a second, at Coach Murray. Why is our powerplay so bad? Why is our defensive coverage so bad? Why do we have trouble moving the puck through the neutral zone with the lineup we have? As much as we can single out different players that screw up regularly, one has to start to wonder what the hell we're doing in practice when we show zero improvement in so many key areas each game. I love our coach and think he can fire these guys up pretty good and proper, but he said it best himself when he said there hasn't really been an improvement in this team from the time he took over last year until now. Why is that? At some point, fair or not, this becomes the responsibility of the coach. Our powerplay is garbage and has been for some time - why hasn't that been fixed so we're at least giving the appearance of having scoring chances?

- Not much else to say. This is one where you have to let it sting for a few days to learn the lessons, and then get ready for the Cup Champions.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Sens Game Report - Toronto @ Ottawa - 10.26.06

Raise your hand if you didn't score tonight...

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: We’re good, Ottawa wins 7-2
Ottawa Goals:
- Fisher (2) from his knees banging in a rebound
- Vermette (4) floating a wrist shot on from the left side that finds its way in
- Heatley (4) on the first of two great feeds from his boyfriend
- Corvo (2), zinggggg, blasts one in from 20 feet out
- Heatley (5) with another great feed from Spezza
- Heatley (6) continues kills the Leafs banging on in from the slot after fishing out the rebound in his skates
- Spezza (4) with a naughty little move on Raycroft fires on in from an impossible angle.
Making Sens: Spezza, Heatleym Fisher, Neil, Corvo, Phillips, Volchenkov, Eaves
Lacking Sens: Alfredsson, Redden
It was over when: Heatley giving us a 3-0 lead really was a backbreaker for the blue and white.
It was definitely over when: Toronto got two back and made it close, but Corvo’s blast spelled the end of this one and the rest was just a race to the stick rack.
Message in a Molson bottle: Any of you that questioned the character of this team, shame on you. This team has put up 21 goals in its last three games and dominated in every facet. Tonight was no exception as the Leafs big guns were invisible and ours were scoring hat tricks. Great showing and it restores our place as owners of the Leafs. Toronto has far more problems then their first 6 games would have you believe.
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: Saturday in Boston, and we’ve been asked to bring takeout from Baton Rouge.

Grab a Timmy’s double double and listen to what really happened:

The Good
- As modest as I’m not, I’ve gotta toot my own horn here for a minute. One week ago in this very space, I told you that Joe Corvo would be a major difference maker for this team and would be a favourite in no time. His 5-point performance should have won the hearts of every single Sens fan. He plays hard every shift and has a hell of a shot. This guy is going to be THE biggest impact player on our blue line this year. Write that down.
- Spezza and Heatley didn’t play fair tonight. It is hard to tell if they backchecked at all because the puck was never in the Ottawa zone when they were on the ice. Chemistry class is back in session here, folks. Watch out.

The Bad
- Powerplay was 1-for-8. While it is hard to call anybody out in a win like this, I was very disappointed with the performance during the 1:20 or so of 5-on-3 time we had. I’m of the belief that a team like Ottawa should be scoring at 100% when they have at least a minute of a two man advantage. Instead, we lollygagged in our own zone and before you knew it, we needed Emery’s pads and Phillips backcheck to break up a Kaberle chance out of the box. Just score on these opportunities, guys.

The Ugly
- Are you ready to have your mind blown? In the 13 goals we’ve put up against Toronto in the past 72 hours, Daniel Alfredsson has zero points. It isn’t a that hard to believe if you watched his presence tonight. He was often skating away from the play and floating in the neutral zone, in my opinion, and really sat back and enjoyed the scene. Now if Alfie is the type that will carry the team on his back in a one-goal game and then lets everyone else have the fun in a blowout, that’s one thing. But given the start this team had and the fact that Alfie has one empty net goal to his name this season, I reckon it is time this guy started to pop a few in there


- Fans eat pizza twice in a week.
- Gratts and Kaiger didn’t see the ice until the third period. Somewhere, Jacques Martin groaned at the three-line operation.
- McGrattan, Volchenkov, and Neil all blocked slapshots from the point in the dying minutes of a 7-2 game. That’s awesome. Believe this – we are becoming the blue collar team that our management promised.
- Corvo leads the team with 8 shots on goal. Outstanding. This guy is fantastic.
- Speaking of total domination, Spezza wins 18 of his 20 faceoffs, and we hold specialist Michael Peca to to 45% in the circle.
- Nothing came of the Tucker/Belak/Neil/McGrattan hype, as expected. Maurice must have told them something in the second intermission about how ridiculous they’d look trying to fight after the embarrassing performance they were putting out.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sens Game Report - Ottawa @ Toronto - 10.24.06

If we win on Thursday, that's called a winning streak. It has happened before.

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 6-2
Ottawa Goals:
- Fisher (1) flying in on a two-on-one with Preissing moves it to his backhand and in around Raycroft.
- Meszaros (1) with a shot from the point
- Eaves (2, pp) on a great 360 move from one knee in front of the net
- Vermette (3, pp) on an amazing pass from Fisher to the front of the net
- Heatley (3) cashing in on Spezza’s work behind the net
- Chris Neil (2) icing it by tipping in a Meszaros wrist shot
Making Sens: Spezza, Heatley, Meszaros, Neil, Fisher, Redden
Lacking Sens: Schubert had trouble moving back to the blue line after Volchenkov left the game.
It was over when: Heatley’s goal did them in. Best forechecking shift of the season.
It was definitely over when: Neil’s goal was the ultimate momentum shift after Toronto came out hard in the third with a goal and then a disallowed goal.
Message in a Molson bottle: For some reason, this game at times seemed closer than the score. We put up the five-spot and then seemed to let them change the style of the game to a more physical tone and we were back on our feet a bit more. But solid puck movement and constant pressure kept this one to what should be called a blowout.
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: Thursday hosting Toronto to close out the home-and-home.

Grab a Timmy’s double double and listen to what really happened:

The Good
- Our penalty killing is our best asset right now. It was there for us when the powerplay was struggling and it is there for us now that we’re starting to click. Bounces went our way tonight and that was part luck and part hard work. Let’s keep up the hard work on this and we’ll continue to get at least half the bounces, right?
- Redden and Meszaros read NxNE! The two combine for 3 points and a plus-6. Great work from the two behind the circles for us tonight.
- Who doesn’t love Chris Neil right now? The guy has been our best player this week and is a great all-around player right now considering the different roles he can play for us.
- Powerplay at 2-for-5 (the last one lasted 12 seconds in the third) seems to have found some mojo.

The Bad
- Chris Kelly’s has hands of stone. I love the kid on the PK and the fourth line, but he is very far out of place with Alfie and McAmmond. Alfie makes some guys better players, but I don’t know if Kelly could score a point between Mario and Wayne. That’s fine, just keep him at a low salary and plugging away on the fourth.

The Ugly
- Toronto’s second goal almost drove me to the bottle, which is exactly where I was in 2004 when Lalime let in the same goal. Twice. To Toronto. Gerber was good tonight, but not great. He leaves some rebounds and is still working on covering pucks, but he was good enough tonight.

- Like I said earlier, Heatley’s goal came on the best forechecking shift any Ottawa line has had all season. The puck never had a shot of leaving the Toronto end without the help of McCreary picking it out from behind Raycroft (Aubin played the third).
- Sad moment on the TSN Leafs coverage when Harry Neale said, and I quote, “Mike Fisher and Darcy Tucker are cut from the same cloth.” Except one piece of that cloth is in mint condition and sewn into fine garments while the other piece of fabric has been doused in urine and ketchup and is lying in a gutter near the Humber. That was the second half of Harry’s comments, I would hope. I’ll take Fisher playing in one of those metallic uniforms from Medieval Times before I take Tucker. The guy is a disgrace, once again proven when he runs over Patrick Eaves, forces him into a fight, and then tries to call him a turtle. For those that didn’t catch this game, McGrattan and Belak had a go at it earlier and Gratts pointed out to Belak in the penalty box that he seemed to cover up early. Long story short, Darcy is an idiot.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sens Game Report - New Jersey @ Ottawa - 10.21.06

If we win Tuesday in Toronto, that would be two in a row…
I also want to give a shout out to co-blogger Matthew for amazingly predicting the immediate firing of Hitchcock mere hours before it became a reality. We all knew there was unrest in Philly, but nobody came out and said it would happen so soon. Street cred for NxNE!

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 8-1
Ottawa Goals:
- Spezza (3) on the powerplay with a zinger over Brodeur’s glove
- Heatley (2) tipping a Preissing wrist shot through the five-hole
- Vermette (1) banging in a rebound and getting nailed on the play
- Corvo (1) receiving and releasing an Alfredsson pass into the slot
- Preissing( 1) on a squirrelly wrist shot coming down the boards
- Vermette (2) tipping a Volchenkov point shot
- McAmmond (2) hitting rebound off a defender’s skate and in
- McAmmond (3) knocking a bouncing rebound over Clemenson
Making Sens: DMac, Corvo, Vermette, Neil, Spezza, mostly everyone
Lacking Sens: hard to call anyone out after a win like this
It was over when: Vermette and Corvo scored 50 seconds apart to put this away and the rest was just padding on the stats and a confidence boost.
It was definitely over when: Brodeur was pulled after the sixth goal. That typically means things aren't going well for the Devils.
Message in a Molson bottle: We converted on the first powerplay, didn’t give up a shorthanded goal, skated hard and won the battles for loose pucks. This one brought back the memories of last year when we made opponents pay for every misake.
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: Tuesday starts a home and home in Toronto (we host them on Thursday)

Grab a Timmy’s double double and listen to what really happened:

The Good
- Dean McAmmond and Daniel Alfredsson looked awesome together. DMac’s speed and Alfie’s vision will work very well together. I think Kelly being on that line is a bit of a wasted opportunity, but Alfie and DMac can be great producers on that line. Can Kaigorodov play the wing? That would be an interesting experiment.
- Chris Neil deservedly was awarded the first star. As the New Jersey announcers kept pointing out with amazement, Neil has really redefined his career while at the same time remembering what got him here. He makes the right plays and still manages to be a pest. A good contract there. More on this night later.
- Two goals straight off defencemen’s sticks and another two were deflected on the way. Good things happen when you get shots through from the point as it resulted in four of the goals.

The Bad
- Nothing really to point out here. Fisher had a bad turnover in the neutral zone that led to the Gionta goal, but the whole team regrouped after that. Pass from Meszaros was in his skates and Gionta's shot was unstoppable. It still gave a quick reminder about the importance of moving the puck through the neutral zone.

The Ugly
- Meszaros and Redden still managed to be a minus-1 tonight. That blows my mind. With the way Corvo has fit in and played in his two games, expect to see a lot more of him and the defensive minutes being spread out.

- Kaigorodov centering the fourth line went a whopping 1-7 in the faceoff circle. I know he is better at centre, but I wonder what he’d look like on the left wing of McAmmond and Alfredsson.
- Chris Neil had 11 hits, seven more than Fisher’s four (our second biggest hitter last night).
- Neil also led the team with 6 shots on goal.
- A telling sign that the defence is different in Ottawa this year is that Joe Corvo led the team in icetime with 22:23.
- This is a start in the right direction as the team is rewarded for playing hard. Hopefully this feeling will stay with them and they’ll understand that if they do what they’re supposed to do, they win games and people eat pizza.