Monday, April 24, 2006

ROUND 1 GAME 2 - Tampa Bay @ Ottawa - 4.23.2006

Sadly, we’ve turned this into a series. Also, before going on, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Redden family. (Photo from and AP Photo/Fred Chartrand/CP)

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Tampa Bay wins 4-3
Ottawa goals: Smolinski (1) firing in a rebound from the side after Grahame poorly played Volchenkov’s point shot, Havlat (2, pp) on a shot from the slot so quick the OLN cameras couldn’t keep up – Spezza beat out the icing and Heatley fed it in front to Marty, Schaefer (1) sliding in a wrist shot from the slot after Havlat put on some great moves inside the Lightning blue line.
Making Sens(e): Havlat, Fisher, Schaefer
Not much Sens(e): Alfredsson, Spezza, Emery, Volchenkov, Meszaros, Chara
It was over when: Martin St. Louis scored the second of their two unanswered goals in the third (both weak shots) and we responded with nothing.
It was definitely over when: The twenty minutes of third period play went by and we had mustered up a whopping two shots. Two.
Message in a Molson bottle: While admiring Schaefer’s goal to give us a third period lead that we are never used to giving up, the Lightning have turned this into a series. They made us look lazy, they made Emery look vulnerable, and they made the entire lineup look like it was full of Bonks and Hnidys instead of Alfredssons and Charas. This was not the third period that fans expected when we have an opportunity to go to Florida in the driver’s seat. Instead, defensive turnovers and heartless forwards are the headlines as Tampa takes over home ice advantage.
1st Courtesy Boxscore:
2nd Courtesy Boxscore:

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

1st period – Standing small on the blueline
Everyone has their opinion on why we lost this game. That includes me – and I hope John Muckler agrees with this. We are simply not the same team without Wade Redden in the lineup. Sure our top line isn’t matching their top line and sure Emery let in some weak goals (more on both), but I don’t think anyone can disagree with the fact that we would have won this game with the simple presence of Redds in the lineup. His 25 minutes of icetime would have eliminated at least one (maybe more, I’m not sure how Murray would have had them out there) of the defensive turnovers of Meszzy and Volchy that directly led to Lightning goals. It is no secret that Redden has the best first pass in the NHL, but he is an Olympian and All-Star also because he is simply one of the most solid and consistent defencemen in the league, as well. He’s back Tuesday with a heavy heart and fans should be thankful for his strength during this difficult time in his life.

2nd Period – Do the Lightning hate us?
Martin St. Louis says that yes, they do hate us. After watching Sunday’s game, the feeling is mutual – I detest Martin St. Louis for his scrawny stature and stupid peach fuzz and the way he hits Volchy and skates away while the other 9 skaters muck it up. It’s official - #26 in black is fair game now. In the meantime, people are starting to compare our top players with their top players. Spezza, Heatley, and Alfredsson were shown up last night by Lecavalier, Richards, and St. Louis, no question. At the same time, though, I don’t think it is quite time to bang the gong on our captain and company. If people are questioning whether or not Daniel Alfredsson will take this team on his back, stop it right now. Our expectations are that Alfie will see us through to the 16th win, not the second win. While I agree with everyone that it would be much nicer to see him lighting the lamp throughout the first round, I’d much rather he be at the top of his game in the third and fourth rounds. We are a good enough team that we should be walking through this series (yes, I’m overconfident) without worrying about whether or not Alfredsson and Spezza and Heatley are going to “finally” step up. For those that are still confident – great. For those that are ready to turn the captaincy over to Fisher and the alternate assignments to Havlat and Schaefer – listen to your captain’s words from before Game 1 and “relax”.

3rd Period – All we are saying….is give Ray a chance. Everybody now…
And on the same note as the last paragraph, let us not worry too much about a few weak pucks getting by Emery this time around. The dude won 23 games in half a season, breaking a couple of records and receiving a couple of awards and we still can’t let a game go by without throwing him to the wolves? While Emery could have come up with some timely saves on less than impossible shots in the third period, it is simply too soon to re-approach the training staff for a Hasek update. Emery is a confident young man with the confidence of his team. He played better than we asked him to on Friday night and a little worse than we wanted last night, but I’m sure for the remainder of this series and however far he might take us, he will give us the game that we need of him. That game is to keep us close and give our forwards, including Alfie, a chance to put one away. Chris Osgood, known through many circles as the worst goalie to win a Stanley Cup in the past 25 years, won his championship with a lineup much like ours – superior in every category over its opponent. Given the choice, I’d take the 2006 Ray Emery over the 1998 Chris Osgood ten times out of ten. Join me in supporting Ray Emery for every single minute of every game going forward.

Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. There goes another guarantee of us sweeping the first round. 0-for-2 and counting. Go Habs Go! Make one come true for me.
2. It is expected that Chris Kelly may not play tomorrow as Arnason was practicing today with the team. Also Vermette jumped up onto the Heatley/Spezza line. Could be fun to watch Vermie with the ice time again.
3. 2 shots in the third period. That is a storyline in itself.
4. Did anyone think that Martin Havlat would be the unquestionable leading player on our team after two games? He is absolutely flying out there.
5. Jason Spezza – 1 assist and 4 giveaways. When will be the day that he has one amazing pass for every bad turnover he gives up? The ratio is still way too far from the 1:1 that I’d like to see.
6. Richards turns it around and wins 70% of faceoffs, most against Smolinski.
7. Speaking of Smoke – I thought he was completely zoned in during the first period and was one of our top players. That was the first period.
8. Gone is the last line change and here is the dubious task of Chara hopping over the boards every chance he gets to match Lecavalier on the road. So far, I’d give the edge in this series to Vinny as Chara really hasn’t slowed him down too much. This needs to change ASAP or Baton Rouge will start closing early.
9. Don’t forget to check this site daily –

Upcoming Games
Tuesday @ Tampa Bay, 7:00
Thursday @ Tampa Bay, 7:00
Saturday vs. Tampa Bay, 7:00
Monday @ Tampa Bay, 7:00 (if necessary)
Wednesday vs. Tampa Bay, 7:00 (if necessary)

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