Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Sens Game Report - Pittsburgh at Ottawa - Feb 6, 2006

No pizza? Terrible

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 5-2
Ottawa goals: Schubert on a nice 4th line charge, Chara streaking for a rebound, Smolinski tipping in Meszy’s point shot, Shaefer on the powerplay, and Shaefer again going down low on Fleury.
Making Sens(e): 4th line, Shaefer, Smolinski, defence
Not much Sens(e): Neil, Alfie (sort of)
It was over when: Schuby scored in the first and we only let ourselves get down one goal before taking over.
It was definitely over when: the Penguins continued to pay for undisciplined penalties in the second, leading to two powerplay goals in just over one minute.
Message in a Molson bottle: a must-win for Emery and a must-win because it was the Penguins, the Sens just played a solid all-around game tonight.
Courtesy Boxscore: http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=260206014

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

How to win a game without good goaltending
Make no mistake, Ray Emery wasn’t that great tonight. The first shot the Penguins took made it through Emery before Malone banged it in. Later, scoring juggernaut Eric Boguniecki crossed the blue line and put a slapshot over a poorly positioned Emery to bring Pittsburgh to within two. However, I would expect that this win would do a ton for his confidence and he’ll be back eating cockroaches again before you know it. The big question is when he’ll play next – Wednesday against division leading New York, Thursday against the Atlanta team that lit him up for eight to start his negative trend, or Philly, the only Eastern Conference team we haven’t beaten this year. I wouldn’t mind giving him the chance to shut down the struggling Thrashers on home ice on Thursday. The defencemen had bailed him out a lot throughout the night when rebounds kicked aimlessly off his pads. His positioning still leaves a lot to be desired but this was definitely a step in the right direction.

How to win a game without your top line
Here’s an analogy to explain the Pizza line, if you’ll just bear with me. To make pizza, you need dough, tomato sauce, cheese, and any toppings you like. Now imagine Alfie as the dough, Heatley as the tomato sauce, and Spezza as the cheese. If you eat any one of these three on their own, it isn’t much of anything. But put them together and you have a lovely pizza pie. This was the case tonight. In the rare instances that the three of them played together to form a delicious pie, they created chances and skated circles around the Penguins. But for the better part of the game, the cheese went in alone or the dough stickhandled his way into nowhere or the tomato sauce tried to go inside out and missed. Our top line is best when it performs like a pizza, not a bunch of individual ingredients. Not to worry tonight because the Smolinski line (with Shaefer and Neil) and the Martins line (with Varada and Schubert) carried the play.

How to win a game without Mike Fisher
With Fish out with the flu, our secondary scoring had to fill his ever-growing shoes. But if Fisher IS our secondary scoring, does that make Vermette and Shubert our tertiary scoring? Would we then become the only team with tertiary scoring? Once again, I digress. Shaefer played his best game of the season, bar none, and showed that he deserves to be on the second line. His wrist shot is lethal and with the duties of the second line catalyst, his game rose to a greater level. Smolinski also filled in admirably and fired six shots on net. Vermette is out of my doghouse (you NEVER want to be there) and is earning every minute of additional ice time he’s been getting. Funny what a little extra confidence can do for these depth players. And Schubert is still one of the hardest hitters on our team. Loving him out there!

The Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
- I believe this was the first game all season that Varada was finally rewarded by drawing a penalty. He took a sucker punch in the mouth from Andre Roy and reminded us of why we picked him up a few years ago.
- Outshot the Penguins 46-24. That typically wins games.
- Neil continues to be very sloppy out there. Poor passing and a general lack of purpose is making us forget about the little sparkplug that scored with ease in the first half of the season.
- Chara completely shut down Wunderkind Crosby. Sid even managed a terrible turnover that led to Chara’s goal and instead of getting back in the play to make amends, the kid skated off on a line change. Please, Wayne, don’t give in to the media. Crosby is good but he’s not ready for an injury replacement spot in Italy. Meanwhile, off in the distance, a 6’9” Slovak demolished a plate of ribs.
- Phillips continues to make a solid case for a taxi squad position. He stays back at the right times and he pinches in on the rush at the right time. He has finally adapted to the new style of the NHL and is in fact starting to take over. Good timing, buddy, but you still missed that cab in 2002! That one was mine, sucker.

Games this week
Wednesday in New York vs. the Rangers. I’ll be at the Bon Jovi concert in Greenville, SC wearing a jean jacket and mullet wig and taping the game. Where will you be?
Thursday hosting Atlanta
Saturday hosting Philly
That’s it before we cross our fingers that everyone makes it back healthy from the country that resembles a boot.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice insight.