photo from CP and tsn.ca
And we can have comeback wins, too
The Balance in the Bank:
Final Score: Ottawa wins 4-3
Ottawa goals: Neil (14) tipping a Heaters shot on the PP, Meszaros (6) with an awfully soft wrist shot that made its way in, Heatley (38) on a PP pass through the crease from Spezza, Alfredsson (37) on an amazing tic tac toe from his Pizza-mates with 7 seconds left.
Making Sens(e): Spezza, Heatley, Fisher, Alfredsson, Kelly, Vermette
Not much Sens(e): Schaefer (at times)
It was over when: Heatley tied it up early in the third after we killed off Alfie’s double minor. Sometimes you just get that mo and you know you can’t lose.
It was definitely over when: Alfredsson tipped in a glorious Spezz Dispensed pass in the dying seconds of the game.
Message in a Molson bottle: Playoff atmosphere and a very solid effort from the boys tonight. Emery was somewhat sharp, defense stood up when it had to, and the reunion of the Pizza Line put it away. Shaky Tampa goaltending helped, too.
Courtesy Boxscore: http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=260314014
Grab a Timmy’s double-double and listen to what really happened:
The ace up our sleeve
Coach Murray is a very smart man. He has found ways to motivate this team in a new fashion, push them in a different direction, and discover the best talents in each one of his players. For the last three games, Alfredsson was tasked with running the Arnason/Smolinski line to find out what Arnie was made of. Arnason has talent – more on that later. But what makes Murray so freaking brilliant is that he knows exactly when to shuffle his lines. He did it on October 5th in Toronto and he did it again on March 14th (tonight, before you look at your time stamp). With a minute left in a tie game that we definitely deserved to win, the coach reunited his Pizza line for 60 seconds in which the only tension was trying to figure out at what point we would score. The momentum was so strong that there wasn’t a doubt that one of those three would find the twine at some point in that magical minute. Sure enough, Heatley threw it across to Spezza, who threw it onto Alfie’s stick in the crease for the winner. It is great that we can split up our scoring lines throughout the entire game and force the other team to defend three different lines that can all beat you, and just when you think you’ve got it figured out, we put together an All-Star line that is just so juiced to burn you that you don’t stand a chance. Momentum is a wonderful thing when it is in your pocket.
Tyler Arnason and Mike Morrison – unbeaten Senators
Since acquiring Arnie in the waning minutes of the trading season, Ottawa hasn’t lost a game. The question becomes, why didn’t we get him earlier? Just kidding. It is tough to attribute the three wins to Arnason, but the indirect effect of having Alfredsson and Arnason on a second line means that our best player will be coming down on our opponent’s 3rd and 4th defencemen. While Morrison hasn’t seen game action in a Sens uniform yet, we’ve had a decent chance to see the type of player that Arnason will be for us going down the stretch. First off, don’t ever expect him to hit a man in the corner – he is the type of guy that will skate by and poke the puck out. It isn’t the Mike Fisher way, but let’s not going changing a guy in his first week. Arnason also has some great moves in his sock drawer that he has pulled out on occasion. It would be nice to see him do that ever shift, but again, he hasn’t been here a week yet. As you would expect, he is still feeling his way around our lineup and is adjusting to the tempo at which we play. Not to take away from Chicago and their absolutely terrible season, but I would guess he may be a little star-struck trying to follow what we are doing since we’ve been mixing it up for 64 games now to his 3. He’ll come around this month and I imagine will see ice time with Havlat in April as his setup man. Could be lethal. In the meantime, Mo and Arnie are unbeaten!
Taking penalties on purpose
It is almost worth doing because our penalty kill is so much fun to watch right now. Chris Kelly and Antoine Vermette create more chances on the PK than our opponents do on their powerplay. It is a blast to watch because every time we gain possession of the puck, one of them streaks up the ice (through the quad to the gymnasium – We’re Streaking!). A lot of times, our d-man will just dump it down the ice, but once every three or four times, he’ll find the flying forward and send him in on a breakaway or a two-on-one will ensue. Vermi and Kelly had four solid PK chances last night. To make things even more interesting for us, Schaefer and Fisher create similar chances with their unit, and Alfredsson and Heatley are always dangerous, too. Last night, Alfie took a very odd double-minor (a phantom holding call and then an unsportsmanlike conduct because he dropped his glove and stick in disgust at the call – nothing like refs trying to take the game in their own hands, eh?), and in Tampa’s extra-long powerplay that ensued, we ended up having more scoring chances than they did. It almost makes you want to take penalties on purpose, just to pop another shortie (our 20 lead the league, by the way).
Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. Schubert and McGrattan once again in the stands. This means we have a healthy lineup (sans Havlat).
2. We took 8 penalties – hadn’t had that many in a while, including five in a row through the middle of the first period until late in the third.
3. Lines were rearranged a lot last night, sometimes because of changing on the fly, other times because of the coach. Eaves was in and out of the top line and it sometimes looked like each player was getting a chance to play on every line, kind of like that teeball game where first one out to shortstop gets to be shortstop that inning. I always liked being the rover. I guess that is what Spezza is, eh?
4. Zdeno Chara is the focus of every single visiting team’s broadcast. Everyone in the league now knows who this guy is and likes to constantly point out that he is tall and strong. Must be doing wonders for his ego. Should we make his ribs commercial available for podcast or something, too?
5. Emery held is own and didn’t lose his head after allowing the two quick goals in the second. Great job.
6. Neil on the PP has now created three goals in the past two games. Again, we have a smart coach.
7. Don’t forget to check this site daily – http://www.northeasthockey.blogspot.com/.
Thursday at Boston, 7:00pm
Saturday vs. Buffalo, 7:00pm.- gonna be like a playoff game!
Sunday at New Jersey, 7:30pm
Tuesday vs. Pittsburgh, 7:30pm