A depth win
The Balance in the Bank:
Final Score: Ottawa wins 4-1
Ottawa goals: Neil (16, pp) sitting in front of the net on the 5-on-3 to bang in a rebound, Eaves (16, pp) in front also on the 5-on-3 hitting in a rebound from Spezza’s shot, Heatley (43, pp) set up from Pothier, Schaefer (19) hitting in a rebound after Schubert’s slapshot came back off the glass
Making Sens(e): All defencemen, Neil, Alfredsson, Heatley, Arnason
Not much Sens(e): I guess Spezza for underachieving a bit
It was over when: Heatley’s PP goal restored the two-goal lead and we went into shutdown mode.
It was definitely over when: Schaefer iced the win banging in the puck just past the midway point of the third.
Message in a Molson bottle: You gotta be proud of this group for shutting down the league MVP while missing our three top defencemen and #1 goalie (and two of our top forwards, if you’re counting). This was an old-fashioned game that was centered around backchecking forwards that helped out the young and inexperienced defensive corps.
Courtesy Boxscore: http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=260330014
Grab a Timmy’s double-double and listen to what really happened:
The Meszaros Release Party
Two days after what was probably his toughest game in the NHL, Meszaros came out on top as this time as he was given two dubious tasks. The 20-year old had to first replace 6’9” Zdeno Chara, and second had to fill the role of shutting down Jaromir Jagr. Just another day at the office, I suppose, because Meszy was awesome. Jagr managed an assist and five shots on goal, but the fact that he was going against a rookie instead of a massive ogre with BBQ rib sauce foaming at his mouth made that easier. This battle goes to Meszaros as he blocked shots, tied up his opposing superstar, and kept him away from Emery.
12 Selke Candidates
For those that don’t know, the Selke Trophy is awarded to the league’s best defensive forward. After this game, we can nominate just about all of our forwards as the name of the game was backchecking. Arnason played better defence than just about any of the Rangers – when you think of Arnie, don’t just look at how he hasn’t scored a goal, but follow him on the ice and see where he plays. He spends a lot of time backchecking and that holds him up from getting down the ice for goals. Anyway, even Heatley broke up a goal in the third by coming back and helping out Emery. It is just so comforting to know that our coach can change a game plan for a night or two and immediately, everyone in the room buys into the plan and executes. This is why we have clinched a playoff spot and some other teams haven’t (let’s not name names). Great team win through defence first and then capitalizing on opportunities.
Special Teams are Special
If you can’t score on a 5-on-3, then you really hurt yourself in two ways. One is that obviously you didn’t make good from the opportunity, and two is that the other team gathers a lot of momentum from shutting you down. Tonight, Ottawa had two 5-on-3’s and scored on both. Again, that is why we have clinched a playoff spot – for the most part, we have excellent special teams. We finished the night 3 of 9 with the man advantage, but don’t lose track of the other half to the special teams. We killed off six more penalties tonight and again, did it without three of our top four defencemen. Think about how the Rangers would normally put their Jagr Unit out there and we’d counter with Kelly, Vermette, Chara, and Phillips. Now sub in Meszaros and Pothier there. That is a very different looking penalty killing unit, but it still performed at the highest level. Being able to score on the PP with regularity and being able to shut down the opponent on the PK consistently will lead to a lot of postseason games.
Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. Emery was solid again, making the big saves at the big moments. The goaltender of the future is here now and playing with a ton of confidence.
2. McGrattan gave Orr a nice little round
3. I hate to be mean, but I was happy not to see Varada out there much this game. His play recently hasn’t been up to par with his linemates and the rest of the team.
4. The Filip Novak Era is quickly joined by the Brad Norton Experiment. Quick, tell me, who is Brad Norton? Apparently, he is our sixth defencemen right now and racked up nine minutes of ice time. Not bad.
5. I didn’t mean that Spezza had a bad game, he just wasn’t playing his best out there. The burden of high expectations, I suppose.
6. News is that Chara and Fisher will be back soon. Havlat is out until April 10th, Phillips until at least the start of the playoffs, and Hasek…take a wild guess. I had heard the plan was to get him in there for the final four games of the season, but what do I know?
7. Don’t forget to check this site daily – www.northeasthockey.blogspot.com.
Saturday, 7:00 vs. Washington
Next Monday, 7:30 vs. Atlanta
Next Wednesday, 7:00 at Buffalo
Next Thursday, 7:30 vs. Montreal