Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Between the Lines - 4.19.2006

Here are some sub-stories to follow in Round 1 for Ottawa:

Zdeno Chara vs. Vincent Lecavalier
Here's where home ice will show its biggest advantage - with the last line change, there will rarely be a moment in this entire series when Chara isn't on the ice shadowing Lecavalier. Zee showed off his style in the final regular season game when he went as far as to chase Jagr all around the Ottawa zone, even out to the blue line. How Chara and Lecavalier perform in this battle will go a long way to determining the outcome of the series. Follow this closely.

Is Chris Phillips ready?
It has been said by most that Phillips has been our most consistent defencemen over the past two or three playoffs. He hasn't played since March and rumours have him possibly coming back on Friday night. Paired with Chara, he'll have increased responsibility in front of the net as his partner chases Lecavalier around the rink. If he comes back too soon, we'll know it pretty quickly by the gaping hole in front of Emery.

When will Martin Havlat score?
He was absolutely flying in his second game back in New York on Tuesday. However, a lot of his scoring chances were either self-produced or coming off a feed from the blueline. He will need to reestablish his amazing chemistry with Schaefer that we saw in October and November. If the Pizza Line stays split up, then having Havlat in the lineup and flying gives us three different lines that have gamebreakers in them. Havlat scoring early will open floodgates beyond the imagination as Tampa Bay has to come up with three defensive pairings in shut down mode.

Dany Heatley's first playoff game
The X-factor in the trade last summer was that Heaters looks gritty. We are thrilled that he had such an amazing freshman year in Ottawa and popped in his 50th, but now it is time to end the comparisons for good. Heatley has an opportunity to earn the love of Hockey Nation forever by putting up numbers in the playoffs. Let's watch and see if he and Spezza continue their scoring in Round 1. They both enter the playoffs on a tear.

Mike Fisher the leader
Okay, so this is Spezza's breakout year, right? Well, right behind that is Mike Fisher's breakout season as the clear #2 centre. With Arnason in the pressbox and Smolinski seen as more of a two-way guy, this is Fisher's opportunity to convince management (although he already has, in my opinion) that it is HE that will line up for the faceoff on the second line. He is also showing a ton of leadership and grit and if he isn't Murray's favourite player yet, he oughta be after the postseason.

Who is the new rival this year?
Tampa Bay is our expansion cousin and beat us in the race to the Cup. But does this series have enough legs to become a real rivalry? Will we get the Habs in the second round for a new divisional rivalry? Can we get a crack at revenge against the Devils? And when did Darcy Tucker become a model?

1 comment:

dg22 said...

Damn, yesterday MSNBC said OLN would carry tonight's game in the States, but alas, I'm getting another game.