Photo from CP and www.tsn.ca
That about covers it – beaten every team in the Conference.
The Balance in the Bank:
Final Score: Ottawa wins 3-1
Ottawa goals: Alfredsson (36) unassisted on a turnover, Kelly (6) on a turnover, Smolinski (14) from a nice Arnason pass from behind the net.
Making Sens(e): Spezza, Alfredsson, Arnason, Smolinski, Emery
Not much Sens(e): Heatley, Redden
It was over when: Ottawa opened the first period with three goals in 5:02, putting this game out of reach before most Atlantites figured out the game had started. Of course, most people in the seats didn’t understand the game at all anyway, so what did it matter?
It was definitely over when: We refused to let them get shots in on Emery. They crossed the blue line but defensive pokechecks and terrible passing from Atlanta prevented any shot at coming back.
Message in a Molson bottle: A solid start to the game followed by 45 minutes of chippyness from a dirty Atlanta team – let’s take the win and feel good about they way we played.
Courtesy Boxscore: http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=260310028
Grab a Timmy’s double-double and listen to what really happened:
New Kids on the Block
Mike Morrison looked solid on the bench and may actually get some games in, I would think. But more importantly, you are all wondering how Tyler Arnason looked last night. From a first-hand experience (thanks for those amazing tickets, by the way), I report back with good news and bad news about Arnie. First, the good news: his hands are awesome, he is a very good playmaker and has solid poise with the puck. He will be a very good second line center now that he has actual NHL-caliber wingers. The bad news: he is as soft as that little Snuggles bear the mysteriously shows up in your laundry closet but is so small that doesn’t set off any motion detector-induced alarms or anything. Remember that cute little bear? That is what Arnie played like last night. From what we’ve heard on his scouting report, too, we shouldn’t expect to see him throwing the body around or mucking it up in the corners much, either. This might be okay if his playmaking skills continue to rise when he centers a Smolinski/Havlat line, perhaps. All in all, Mr. Muckler made a great move, in my opinion, and picked up another legitimate scoring center that will take some pressure off Spezza and take a ton of pressure off Fisher, who can now stick to flying by third line defencemen undetected. Bold prediction of the month: Arnason will be a point-a-game player for the rest of the regular season. Cash it.
Hip Hip Hoo-Ray for Emery
Remember back to when we talked about making solid saves at the right times? It ultimately falls on a goalie to prevent the trailing team from gathering any momentum off a weak goal, for example. In Atlanta, Emery made 16 great saves – laugh it off, that isn’t a lot of work for a goalie against a very skilled set of forwards. But what was most important is that Emery made the big saves at the big moments, such as a great save on a 2-on-1 shortly after Atlanta had shortened the lead to 3-1. A 3-2 game is very, very different than a 3-1 game, agree? Emery’s solid play since the break may keep Morrison off the ice and has certainly helped us sleep at night while Hasek is out. I’m not taking this next comment anywhere, but I really haven’t even asked when Hasek is supposed to be returning lately. I guess we all just figure that Hasek will be back sometime before April 20th and in the meantime, some other dude will stop pucks for us. Somewhere on a charter bus, Patrick Lalime cries quietly and plays the “what if?” game. Seriously, we have a good backup here with Emery and these games now are turning him into a future starter for us.
I sat proudly with my Dany Heatley jersey amongst thousdands of obnoxious and ignorant Thrashers fans that for some reason, still boo a guy that played his heart out for them for three years. To summarize the ridiculousness of the crowd last night, I quote one fan that said to me during an intermission, “Enjoy Heatley now because this summer he’s gonna demand a trade to Toronto.” Well, I’m not the world’s most intelligent guy but when he looked in my eye I nearly broke out and cried…with laughter. Now without being mean or calling names, it really seems to me that these people at Phillips Arena just didn’t get the big picture. I love that they are passionate about their team. I could do without the yelling at the refs for offside and icing calls that they the fans don’t really understand to begin with. But I am just so rattled that these people cannot understand the situation that was at hand. My ladyfriend pointed out that they even go as far as to cheer on Hossa’s name strictly for additional spite. I know Dany is a professional, but both games in Atlanta he has shown frustration. I would, too. His roughing penalty was bogus (PG-13 word, there) and unwarranted. As the seasons go on, we’ll just fall more and more in love with the player that Dany Heatley is and is becoming, and we’ll sit back and smirk while Atlanta continues to boo for him for a couple of home games before getting out their golf clubs every April. I wish I had a chance to tell the fans that I’d send a postcard from the playoffs and tell them all about it – but they probably don’t know what the playoffs even are. snap.
Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. Dirty game. Toronto has had ugly games with Atlanta and we had one, too. Ultimately, the rumours of Bob Hartley being a dirty coach may be quite true after all and not just the rants of that silly man down the 401 in TO. Hartley also took a penalty in the dying minutes of the game for verbally abusing the ref. Classy. Guys like that are banned from Baton Rouge, right Z?
2. Mike Fisher is really fast.
3. New lines had Arnason and Smolinski going back and forth taking faceoffs on Alfredsson’s line. Neither were great, but the line had some decent chemistry considering they had just met.
4. Vermette is a good, fast player, but he still doesn’t look like the right fit with Spezza and Heatley. Coach Murray’s most difficult task for the remainder of the season will be getting the right players together for the rest of the regular season and then doing that all over again when Havlat returns.
5. Defense was good, but I still thought Redden needs to be tougher in his own corners. Don’t take that as a bad thing, I still want Redden to be a Senators for life. Second bold prediction – Chara and Redden both re-sign.
6. Outshooting teams 35-17 is a good sign towards a win.
7. Try and catch the replay of Spezza’s hipcheck on Kovalchuk. Great stuff. Hey, if Ilya wants to point at Sidney after he goals (which I loved, by the way), then he needs to be prepared to take a little bit of it, too. So long as nobody gets hurt out there, I think it is great when stars can hit other stars.
8. Marc Savard ran by and clipped Emery shortly after Heatley was given a roughing penalty on Lehtonen on the other end. Brutal move – who’s the idiot that wanted to trade for that Savard guy, anyway?
9. Neil was the only one to not get a single second of powerplay ice time. Funny how things change like that, eh?
10. Don’t forget to check this site daily – http://www.northeasthockey.blogspot.com/.
Sunday at Washington, 3:00pm
Tuesday vs. Tampa Bay, 7:30pm
Thursday at Boston, 7:00pm
next Saturday vs. Buffalo, 7:00pm.
Let’s try and win all four.