Saturday, March 25, 2006

Sens Game Report - Ottawa at Buffalo - 3.24.06

Photo: (AP Photo/David Duprey) espn.com
After further review...

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 3-1
Ottawa goals: Alfredsson (39) on a feed from Arnason who had worked hard to get in front of the net, Vermette (19) on the touch pass from McGrattan, Eaves (15) showing a mean ole wrist shot from the slot.
Making Sens(e): Alfie, Arnie, Spezza, Redden, Meszaros, Pothier, Schaefer
Not much Sens(e): Heatley, Powerplay
It was over when: A 5-minute review of Grier’s non-goal in the opening minute of third overturned the call on the ice, preserving Ottawa’s 2-1 lead. (It wasn’t a goal, by the way)
It was definitely over when: Eaves shelfed one about four minutes later to restore the two-goal lead in the third. We don’t blow two-goal leads in the third.
Message in a Molson bottle: Evenly matched game and a playoff atmosphere, this one was fun to watch. Emery did his job of keeping his team in the game and the forwards did the job of putting the puck in the net when we had the opportunity. We’re clicking right now and depth is evident with the number of injuries we have.
Courtesy Boxscore: http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=260324002

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

Report: The Filip Novak Experiment
Recently an AHL All-Star, Novak made his NHL debut last night filling in for the banged up blueliners (Chara and Volchenkov) and while his icetime was limited to less than McGrattan’s, he finished with an even plus/minus. As we have seen with most players from the hockey hotbed of Ceske Budejovice, Czechoslovakia, Novak was nervous. But the real kudos here needs to go out to the entire defensive group for filling in so well in the absence of its stars. Think about the fact that Chara grabs about 28 minutes of ice time each game and Volchenkov is a solid 5th blueliner that also sees around 12-14 minutes a game. Take that away and all of a sudden, guys like Pothier (20:40), Phillips (24:16) and Meszaros (team leading 25:18) are going to see a lot more of the ice. They were awesome. And Novak gets to see another day in the big leagues. The Filip Novak Era has officially begun in Ottawa – how long will it last? Ask Chara’s hand or Volchenkov’s head…A more important question would be to ask if Zdeno’s hand can still grip around a rack of ribs.

The Power went out
Not literally, but fundamentally. Our powerplay was atrocious, and we can’t keep writing off problems to the injuries because Fisher is on the second unit, Chara is on the second unit, Volchenkov doesn’t play on the PP, Hasek is a goalie, and Havlat hasn’t been in the lineup since the 90’s, it seems. I hope that this game’s powerplay problems were a one-time thing since we have had recent successes on the first unit by sticking the fire hydrant out in front of the net. We just didn’t get it set up this time around and I wouldn’t be surprised if Buffalo had more shorthanded shots than we did powerplay shots. Every team has a different defensive setup to counter our PP, so we just know now that we need to try something new against the Sabres, who we play twice more this season.

Speed sans Keanu Reeves
These guys are fast. Both teams showed what the NHL has become and that is one of timely hitting, defensive discipline, and a ton of speed. If you look up and down Buffalo’s lineup, they don’t really have a standout star, at least by Ottawa standards (ahem, excuse me). But what has made them successful is a combination of speed and playing Toronto, who they own as much as we do. Buffalo wins games against other teams because they have solid goaltending and their speed allows them to win races to the puck and create odd man rushes. Ottawa beats Buffalo because we are just as fast they are and we are better in the other departments, too. These games will always be fun to watch because the speed of both teams kind of washes out and the result is then in the hands of secondary scoring and defence. Conclusion: I wouldn’t mind getting Buffalo in the playoffs somewhere along the line. Buffalo is pretty much locked into the dreaded 4 vs. 5 matchup now as we opened a nine-point lead on them last night.

Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. Arnason showed great skill setting up that first goal, going straight at the two defencemen and drawing them both away from Alfie. Bad things happen when you leave Alfie alone in front with someone talented enough to pass the puck to him. And a bad thing happened, if you are Buffalo
2. I was just thinking to myself that it has been a long time since I saw a shot hit off both posts and go out. Got that taken care of last night thanks to Brian Campbell.
3. Injury update: Hasek (who knows), Havlat (meeting in Cleveland on Monday to get clearance for contact), Chara (hand might be worse than we thought and it might be a couple of weeks), Volchenkov (hopefully next week), Fisher (don’t know, but I would expect still at least a week, maybe two).
4. Kelly and Vermette killing a penalty is so fun to watch because you are almost disappointed when the decide to just clear the puck instead of trying to find a breakaway shorthanded goal. This is a luxury that other teams don’t have, so let’s not take this for granted.
5. Alfie, Arnie, and Varada were a decent line that at least kept the puck in the zone. Heatley, Spezza, and Eaves have found some chemistry, too, as Eaves is the workhorse out there buddying up to the older guys like Heatley and Spezza, who are what, 24 and 22 respectively? Can this line even get into a bar? Phillips, go hail them a cab, oh wait, that one’s been taken a by a slick young man from Kanata!
7. The radio said that the 8:00 puck drop was because they like to give a chance for Canadians to make the trip down to the Armpit of America after work on a Friday. Nice guys, those Buffalans, or Buffalites, or whatever. Wait – Buffalonians, that’s it. San Diegans.
8. Don’t forget to check this site daily – http://www.northeasthockey.blogspot.com/.

Upcoming Games
Saturday, 7:00 at Philadelphia
Tuesday, 7:30 vs. New Jersey
Thursday, 7:30 vs. NY Rangers
Next Saturday, 7:00 vs. Washington – Capitals versus Senators on a Saturday night, I wonder if that will make it on the Hockey Ni

2 comments:

pynch said...

Kudos to Duffy for including yet another reference to Chara and ribs even while he's out of the line up. You've inspired Mama Pynch to make ribs for my last night in Ottawa.

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