Photo from CP and www.tsn.ca
That makes seven thus far, Shooter.
The Balance in the Bank:
Final Score: Ottawa wins 4-2
Ottawa goals: Eaves (12) lays a bodycheck behind the Toronto net and walks in front to bang in a rebound, Pothier (4) for his third in three games with a shot from the point, Heatley (36) with the game-winner, a one-timer from his Pizza linemate that showed flashes of brilliance, Chara (12) with a short-handed empty netter to cap it off.
Making Sens(e): Spezza, Heatley, Emery, Eaves
Not much Sens(e): Redden, Alfredsson
It was over when: Heatley blasted a shot high side before Belfour moved, putting us up for good.
It was definitely over when: Fisher’s faceoff win to Chara in our zone was lifted into the empty net for a short-handed goal to ice the win.
Message in a Molson bottle: At times a lackluster effort, the Sens did just enough to put the once-rival Leaves away with solid goaltending and timely goals. Solid Toronto effort wasn’t enough, showing that we can occasionally win games with an average performance.
Courtesy Boxscore: http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=260304021
Grab a Timmy’s double-double and listen to what really happened:
Muckler calls off goaltender issue
Three games have passed and our brutally honest GM has officially called off any question about finding a new backup goalie. And rightfully so. This was the biggest game of his young career and he gave us the best performance of his young career. This game was never more than a one-goal affair, and Rayzer kept us in it throughout with timely saves and excellent composure. The Emery of January gave up goals in bunches (or as some of his teammates referred to it, in racks of ribs), often letting one bad goal lead to a mental breakdown. This time, he stuck with it and refused to let the pressure of playing a Hockey Night in Canada game in Toronto negatively affect him. Some reports show Hasek coming back in a week, others say it might be longer, but the last three games have proven that so long as it is before the playoffs, we’ll be fine. Great job, Rayzer.
Sometimes Alfie can’t make it on his own
As I have repeatedly said in the past, I hold Alfredsson, Chara, Redden, Hasek, Spezza, and Heatley to a higher standard than everyone else. These are our best players and since they are Senators, doesn’t that make them some of the best in the NHL? No bias there, eh? But seriously, it is always easier to notice Alfredsson and Redden on an off night then it is, say, Schubert and Varada. Alfredsson had shots stopped that usually go in. He plays his heart out each and every game but sometimes he just doesn’t find the back of the net – that’s okay because we have the depth for others to pick up the goals. No major statements here other than that Alfie usually scores on those same shots that were saved in this game. Moreover, I thought Redden lost way too many battles in our corners tonight. I understand he isn’t a physical defencemen like Chara and Phillips, but he was very soft this game and I hate to say it, but this has been too regular lately. Redden in one of the best d-men in the league and is in for a huge raise, I just expect him to be at his best and strongest in these final games leading into the playoffs. Both of these guys will be fine in the post-season, but I just wish they’d be at the top of their game for a HNIC in Toronto appearance.
5 Keys to a Long Playoff Run
Since the Battle of Ontario doesn’t have much left to talk about, here’s a new idea. Let’s really break down the five keys to a successful journey to 16 playoff wins. Please let me know whether you agree or disagree with any of these points in the comments box.
1. Hasek’s best performance ever. Dominik won a Cup with Detroit on a team that was so much better than everyone else. Frankly, I could have backstopped that lineup to at least the Conference Finals. This time around with competition tough in both conferences, Hasek will need to play the best hockey of his Hall of Fame career, bar none. He is the hardest working man in sports and will come back 110%, and then the burden is on his shoulders to stand on his head from April until June.
2. Pizza Line feeding Ottawa fans regularly. It is no secret that when these guys score, we win games, and when they are bad, we lose games. The Spezza-Heatley game winner last night was exactly what we will need going through the post-season and let’s hope that their early season chemistry will re-appear again in time to win us some slices of ‘zza. In a related story, Baton Rouge will begin offering a free bbq rib everytime Chara has six bodychecks and the Sens win.
3. Fisher to earn the ‘A’. Without offending Redden and Chara (and I’m still convinced we re-sign them both), I would love to see Mike Fisher wearing the A next season. He needs to earn it in the playoffs. He has always been a solid performer in the postseason and this needs to be his best ever. He is our second line center right now (trade deadline is Thursday at 3pm), and is becoming a leader in the dressing room. His passion and drive is a motivating force for his line and his team and he truly has the ability to turn a game around. That’s right – I just called
Mike Fisher a gamebreaker in the playoffs. Dig it.
4. Rookies grow up fast. Meszaros has already been promoted to be Redden’s partner. Eaves was told to get a place in Ottawa. Emery is once again the future of the Sens goaltending. Schubert plays well enough to be a forward or a defencemen. Kelly is on the top penalty-killing unit. Even McGrattan can be stuck on the ice in the third period of a close game without the fear of making a mistake! The composure of these rookies must continue to increase in the postseason as they have proven to give us such depth when the top line slows down and picked up the heat when the defensive leaders go soft.
5. Alfredsson must win the Conn Smythe. You didn’t think I could get through five of these without touching on Alfredsson, did you? As I have said before, only one non-Canadian captain has ever won the Stanley Cup – that was the American, Derian Hatcher with Dallas. That will all change this year when the Super Swede takes what he learned in Torino and applies to the greater goal, Lord Stanley. Alfredsson has been getting better and better each year and this will definitely be his finest moment in hockey. His leadership is among the top in the NHL and the same can be said about his raw skill and talent. He can take over a game in one shift, he can calm his entire team, and he can score before you even know the game has started. #11 has to be our best player until mid-June and has to be there to shake Bettman’s hand for the Cup and for the Conn Smythe. Fill out your deposit slip and take that to the bank. Or use your bank card, either way.
Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
- Physical game – 70 total hits.
- Toronto is now 7 points out of the playoffs and has to go 16-6 to get to the magical number of 90 points that is said to usually ensure a postseason berth.
- That tribute to Tie Domi was ridiculous. He made a longer speech for playing his 1000th game than LaFontaine did when they retired his number the night before. I’m going on strike if the CBC doesn’t give me those 15 minutes back. On the other hand, it is truly amazing that such a terrible player lasted that long.
- Havlat is said to be back for the first week of April
- While my co-blogger Matt Williams is the trade expert, my two cents is that Keenan finally caves in and trades Jokinen to us for a 1st and 2nd round pick on a pure rental basis. The reason we get him is because Muckler is the only GM to agree to not go after Jokinen in the off-season. With the promise that Jokinen will return to Florida in the summer, we rent him for a few months at the expense of draft picks. We also get Barnaby and Derek Morris and sadly, Schubert and McGrattan take to the press box.
- Chris Kelly made his first major bonehead turnover of the year that led to Toronto’s second goal. He has earned the mulligan and all is forgiven.
- Don’t forget to check this site daily and post your comments and arguments– http://www.northeasthockey.blogspot.com/.
Monday at Tampa Bay, 7:30pm
Wednesday at Florida, 7:00pm
Friday at Atlanta, 7:00pm – should I go? Vote now at americanidol.com