Friday, January 27, 2006

Sens Game Report - Montreal at Ottawa - January 27th, 2006

Wake up, sleepyheads

the Balance in the Bank (courtesy of Mr. Dale Craig)

Final Score: Ottawa wins 3-0
Ottawa Goals: Chara on an amazing how's-she-going on Souray, Alfredsson from the point, Alfredsson from the point again
Making Sens: Alfredsson, Redden, Chara, Heatley
Not much Sens: Neil, just for being inconsequential tonight and Hasek for only making 12 saves.
It was over when: Montreal showed up exhausted in Ottawa to play the NHL's best team.
It was definitely over when: Alfie potted his second goal and showed that even Huet couldn't keep the Habs in this one.
Message in a Molson Bottle (courtesy of Mr. Jonathan Cheek): This may have been Ottawa's most dominating performance of the year as we outshot the CH by a narrow 40-12 margin. Not competitive, not close, and definitely not much to talk about.
Your Courtesy Boxscore:

Here's what really happened:

It's a numbers game
Nary a game go by without our beloved Sens achieving another milestone this season. This time, we had three. First, Big Z scored his 50th career goal and did it by undressing Souray on a move down low. It's da ribs. Hey wait, isn't Souray still standing there naked from the number that Spezza did on him earlier this year? Also, Alfie popped in his 250th career goal (and 251st) and continues to make his case for the scoring title or Hart. Finally, Ottawa is the first team to hit the 200 goal plataeu this year, keeping us at a 4.2 goal a game rate. That is good, by the way. Honourable mention for milestones go to the whole team for almost breaking its shots allowed record. Montreal fired off two shots in the dying seconds of the game and alas, our record of 11 shots allowed in a game goes on unscathed after this performance tonight. Here's the long story short, and told through a math example: most goals for + fewest goals against = pretty good.

Huet has paid his Heating bill
Because Dany simply cannot score on this kid. The boxscore has him listed at 8 shots and no goals. This is due to a combination of hitting posts, hitting Huet, or simply being robbed, like on a point break snap shot in the first. Give credit to Heaters - he just keeps shooting, and his shot seems strong right now. I actually started a minor fire on the team1200 two weeks ago by saying Heatley's wrist shot had lost its edge. It's true - he was still getting on the scoresheet but his wrist shot looked weaker than October and November. Not anymore. When Alfie wasn't busy scoring five-hole, he and Spezza were feading their linemate all over the zone and Heaters just kept firing heavy shots on net. Heatley's shot, Spezza's passing, and Alfie just being there are all crucial components of our playoff run. This line must continue to click and so far since their reunion, I have rarely seen a single shift where they didn't have at least one scoring chance.

I like big backchecking and I cannot lie
Unbelievable backchecking and transition game tonight. As evidenced by Montreal's low shot total, you'd assume this, but here's one you can take on the road: there wasn't a single faceoff in the Ottawa zone for the entire second period. That means the puck was out of the zone as fast as it came in. Defencemen were great at getting the puck around and we just controlled the puck behind our goal line until the outlet pass was ready. It helped that Montreal had no interest whatsoever in posing an attack on us. I'll give their excuse - they looked absolutely exhausted from their game in Philly last night. The penalties they took were lazy stick penalties and their offensive rushes were borderline fictitious. But I still want to give credit to the fundamental work we did in getting the puck back to the neutral zone and creating offensive chances before the likes of Bonk realized the puck was out of the zone at all.

Gotta find a way to win those boring games
Face it - they happen. This game wasn't a sleeper because of traps or superb defensive play, but because we jumped out to an early lead againat a tired team and then we coasted for the second half. I'd rather we kept up the intensity instead of getting used to floating a bit, but it is always hard to complain about anything after a completely dominating win. While the playoffs won't have lopsided games like this very often, it is just another stepping stone for us as we learn to win at any style of game. I think you can also expect a drop in intensity after a two-game series with Toronto over the weekend and Montreal trying to end what has been an awful five-game road trip through five of the best teams in the NHL. The end result of this game was a necessity and we didn't blow it by coasting and snoozing, even though most of the fans may have been dozing off in the third.

How about some television noise?
I've been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to see NHL games on just about every different network this year and have to say I have a suggestion for the guys covering Ottawa games. Tonight was our 21st sellout of the season (out of 26 games) and when you are sitting in our building, it goes bonkers with every goal. But from South Carolina on televion, it sounds like a Florida Panthers game in there. What is up with the audio in our arena? Listening to both Boston games and Toronto games, it sounds like Backstreet Boys concert with every goal. Listening to Ottawa games, it sounds a little more like a Banarama Reunion Tour concert with every goal. I know for a fact that the our arena is a very loud place to be and have felt the stands shake during playoff games. I ask all of you to write to your local MP and ask that they look into this situation. Also, you must all be able to tell that there just isn't much to talk about after tonight's game, so I've taken the time to rant about the quiet television broadcast.

This Week
Skills competition Saturday, although the last three games have been kind of like that anyway
Hosting Boston next Monday and then at New Jersey (Wedn), Pittsburgh (Thurs) and Buffalo (next Saturday).

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