The Beast of the East once again.
The Balance in the Bank:
Final Score: Ottawa wins 4-0
Ottawa goals: Heatley (39) on the PP after Alfie’s pass went off a skate, Eaves (14) with the blue-collar goal tipping in a Meszy point shot, Vermette (17) showing that his wrist shot is simply awesome and can sometimes be faster than Brodeur’s glove, Chara (14) convincing the opponents that a 5-on-3 to Ottawa is a bad idea because he’ll sit out front and will not be moved.
Making Sens(e): Emery, mostly everyone
Not much Sens(e): Arnason, although we still cut him some slack
It was over when: We put up three in the second period and won every single battle for the puck.
It was definitely over when: Emery robbed Elias late, preserving the shutout and putting the finishing touches on a dominating game.
Message in a Molson bottle: It turns out that the flight from Ottawa to New Jersey after last night’s game against the Sabres was more like a long intermission. These were two of the best games we have played all season, in my opinion, and I’d really like it if the playoffs could start today. Can they? Emery was stellar and we made Brodeur look human at the other end.
Courtesy Boxscore: http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=260319011
Grab a Timmy’s double-double and listen to what really happened:
Is there a goalie controversy in Ottawa?
Probably not, but Sens fans should be absolutely thrilled with the way that Ray Emery has filled in for Hasek since Torino/Turin/NorthBoot. He is now 9-1-1 since assuming the number one duties in net and last night was one of his best performances. Showing no signs of fatigue, he made those big saves at key moments that we always remember Dominator doing. Emery has kept it simple, too – he knows that he will be judged mostly on wins and losses right now so he’s doing what a normal goalie should and that is to let in fewer than we score on the other end. He doesn’t make spectacular gloves saves or go sprawling through the air to knock a puck away. Instead, he is just well-positioned and controls the rebounds and it is working very, very well. This kid right now could be our starter next season if Hasek hangs ‘em up.
Who doesn’t love a good powerplay?
Tried, tested, and true – nobody said powerplay goals had to be pretty. Case in point is that we looked sharp and set in going only 1 for 10 against Buffalo and Saturday, but looked frightened and confused and went 3 for 9 on Sunday in New Jersey. The three goals – a pass off a skate landed on Heatley’s stick, a tipped shot from the point, and a 6’9” ogre taking a slapper off the ankle and in. Nothing fancy, but definitely effective. Ideally, I think Coach Murray would like to see us get the puck to Alfie, Redden, Chara, and Meszaros/Pothier for point shots and stick Neil or Eaves in front of the net to screen and tip. These are the hard-working goals that separate the champions from the golfers. This past weekend, we were playing like champions and the hard work has put us atop the Eastern Conference.
It's official - we're a team
This game showed that we are one of the most cohesive units in the NHL. For the same reason that the Rangers had missed the playoffs for seven years, we showed that we have 12 forwards and 6 defencemen that play like one solid set of NHLers. Rebounds are cleared out quickly, the outlet passes make it clear through to the neutral zone, and we have three forwards cross the opposing blue line together. Our defencemen know when to pinch and our forwards know when to backcheck. Our penalty killers know when to go for the goal and when to simply clear the puck. All in all, the fact that we can play together as a team is by far our best advantage going into the postseason. "Team wins" are the ones that make the difference in May.
Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. Arnason isn’t very noticeable. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not. I think we can still cut him some slack as he gets used to something different called “winning” but at some point, we should all want to see what made him one of the top players on an NHL team, no matter how bad that team was. In 13 minutes in New Jersey, he recorded one shot.
2. Schuby-doo hits people really hard.
3. Smolinski had a second straight rock solid game as the ringer on the Fishing line. I can live with that.
4. You know that you are successfully rolling four lines out there when everyone on the ice has at least 10 minutes of ice time.
5. This patch of games right now is the most complete hockey I believe this team has ever played. Ever. Bold statements are free of charge today.
6. Chara and Gionta have a great rivalry going on and to make it more amusing on our side is that Gionta is tiny. Big Z probably wants to roll the little guy in smokey barbecue sauce and take a big Chara-lite bite out of him. Yum.
7. Don’t forget to check this site daily – http://www.northeasthockey.blogspot.com/.
Tuesday vs. Pittsburgh, 7:30pm
Friday at Buffalo, 8:00pm
Saturday at Flyers, 7:00pm Good back-to-back test here