Friday, February 03, 2006

Sens Game Report - Ottawa at Pittsburgh - Feb 2, 2006

Good morning. This is your wake up call…

photo credit: Pittsubrgh Penguins

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 7-2
Ottawa goals: Vermette shorthanded putting in the garbage, Fisher shorthanded on a wrister 5-hole, Chara on the powerplay alone in front, Volchenkov hitting in a rebound to start the third, Alfie on the powerplay bank shot, Heatley on the powerplay on a setup from Spezza, and Alfie shorthanded on the breakaway while drawing a hooking penalty. Pfffffffff.
Making Sens(e): Alfie, Heatley, Redden, Chara, Phillips, Spezza. That’s more like it, eh?
Not much Sens(e): Smolinski, Schubert before being KO’d
It was over when: Someone came up to us when we were trailing 2-0 after 30 minutes and whispered in our ear, “you’re playing the *@#$%^&ing Penguins.”
It was definitely over when: We scored seven unanswered goals.
Message in a Molson bottle: Hey, it only took playing asleep for another 32 minutes before we remembered that we are supposed to win these games. Last half of the game showed us again how dominating we can be when we choose to do so.
Courtesy Boxscore:

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

Remember that time when we were good?
Well, we showed signs of it again tonight. The good news is that we put up another converted touchdown and that typically wins games. The bad news is that it still took an embarrassing 32 minutes until we began to play our style of game. There is plenty of reason to be happy with the offence and the defence and the goaltending, but I still think it is a minor cause for concern that we can play lackadaisical for so long – the better part of 8 periods! The next games leading to the Olympic Break will tell us a lot about how we respond to a span of poor play. Will we keep the pressure up and dominate the games before the break? Stay tuned. But back to the second half of tonight’s game – so much fun to watch when this team is clicking. I’ll start feeling better when we can start doing that to the premier teams of the league instead of just the Toronto’s and the Pittsburgh’s of the conference.

Special teams are special
Here’s a funny quote from the Penguins broadcasters as we began killing off Schuby’s holding penalty: “The Penguins have a chance to put this game away. But, the last thing they want to do right now is give up a shorthanded goal to the team that leads the NHL with 14 of them.” That was like a jinx. Vermette and Fisher both scored shorties on the same penalty kill and while the score became 2-2, most people following the game realized that it was all of a sudden headed to a blowout. We ended the night with three shorthanded goals and three powerplay goals – a nice change from our past two contests. Don’t kid yourselves – special teams win hockey games, so the fact that we had 6 goals on special teams is a strong sign that we’ll have a positive result in the game. I love watching us kill a penalty against an inferior opponent. They seem to be playing more defence than we do since we rarely dump a puck without first looking for a streaker – and I’m not talking about that ugly Golden Palace Casino guy.

Chara took a good ribbing and cleaned up his act…with a wetnap.
My personal highlight of the night was our defensive play in the third period. We crashed our own net like we were protecting a small child. On a side note, Bochenski wasn’t there. Anyway, the few Pittsburgh shots that did get through in the second half of the game were either blocked or cleared out immediately, even if Hasek was still out of position and out of the play. This simply didn’t happen in our previous two games. So I give kudos to the defensive work of Zdeno and Phillips, as well as the rest of the group. Their performance was a night and day difference over the course of the game and we finally showed why we have the fewest goals allowed in the league. I again ask, though, what were we doing in the first half of the game? Luckily we were playing the worst team in the conference and they didn’t manage to score more than two. But we need to see that sense of urgency and play like the best defencemen in the league for 60 minutes a game.

The Loblaws Express Lane
- Top two lines were restored tonight and I loved it. The way I see it, it is very rare that a team can completely shut down our top line. When that does happen, we’ve got a solid enough second line that we can sneak out a few goals. Pizza and Fishing lines should remain untouched.
- Smolinski is in some trouble. For the umpteenth time he fanned on an open net. It isn’t as noticeable when we put up a 7-spot, but I’m starting to realize that he has earned every single one of his 11 minutes of ice time…and nothing more. Calling Marc Savard, come in, Mr. Savard, do you read me? You are needed in Ottawa by March 9th. Come on home, little buddy.
- There is an old Chinese proverb that translates to: a team that scores seven unanswered goals usually wins the game.
- Who’s this clown by the name of Guillame Lefevre, a pointless rookie, that went after Redden in the dying minutes of the game? Sending a message before these teams play in Ottawa on Monday? The message is clear, little fella, go after a tough guy, not the Olympic defenceman. Where’s McSorley when you need him, eh?
- Important win tonight at the expense of Emery’s self-confidence. He was expected to start until Coach Murray decided we needed a win badly and that was no guarantee with Sugar Ray in there. That’s fine with me – the team’s success must come before one person’s own psyche. If Emery can’t handle the adversity of an entire city calling for his demise, then perhaps the Spelling Bee is taking contestants in that age group. I like the kid a lot, but it’s game time, baby – where’s your head at? I would guess he’ll get a crack at Pitt on Monday night after Dom tries to slow down Buffalo again.

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