12 more Photo: espn, (AP Photo/Tom Hanson,CP)
The Balance in the Bank:
Final Score: Ottawa wins 3-2 (wins series 4-1)
Ottawa goals: Schaefer (2) on such an amazing pass from Havlat that it was impossible for Schaefs to not put this in, Meszaros (1) silencing the boos after Schaefer’s disallowed goal by blasting one in from the point, Havlat (6, pp) taking Heatley’s perfect pass in front of the net and showing elitist patience before roofing it in for the game-winner.
Making Sens(e): Emery, Havlat, Schaefer, Heatley, Spezza, Redden – same as every game this series.
Not much Sens(e): hard to put anyone in here
It was over when: Havlat roofed it over Burke late in the second period for a 3-1 lead – we’ve been trapping with a third period lead it has worked every time but once.
It was definitely over when: Upper- and lower-body injured Chris Kelly blocked the last shot of the game with the Lightning on a powerplay.
Message in a Molson bottle: Exciting playoff hockey with a great crowd and a great performance. Heaters, Spezz Dispenser, Hav-so combined for 30 points (each of them broke Hossa’s record of eight points in a playoff series as they each had ten). Complete effort with effective powerplay, stifling penalty kill, solid transition and neutral zone game and great goaltending. Leave the rest to the offensive youth to handle the rest.
1st Courtesy Boxscore: http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/boxscore?gid=2006042914
2nd Courtesy Boxscore: http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=260429020
Grab a Timmy’s double-double and listen to what really happened:
1st Period - Forwards
We have two unbelievable scoring lines right now. Spezza and Heatley each put up ten points (Havlat, too) and were as strong as they could be. They backchecked properly and their passing was incredible. Putting Vermette up there gives them a third scorer that also has a defensive conscience. Our best line was Fisher with Schaefer and Havlat. Did you ever expect that Fisher would have by far the least amount of points on his line? No knock on Fish as he has still be his reliable self and doing it with only one eye. Havlat has his timing back and reestablished his chemistry with Schaefer, who has also raised his game. Eaves and Alfredsson are a solid duo that spend most of their time in the neutral zone – Alfie has done an amazing job at slowing down opposition attacks and creating chances the other way. Smolinski, well, has been great in the faceoff circle but needs to use the body more on the forecheck, in my opinion. The fourth line is a revolving door of Kelly, Neil, Varada, and Schubert that uses the body well and gives our top lines the rest they need and the motivation to pour it on again.
2nd Period – Defencemen
Wade Redden is back as our #1 defencemen. The upcoming week off (or longer) is a much-needed rest for Wade to get off this emotional rollercoaster and take a deep breath. I still can’t imagine what he is going through right now but would guess that it will be a tough, but necessary week to get through. Chara’s icetime is still up nice and high as he is our shadow. Tampa’s first goal last night was scored with the big guy trying to get back to the net after following Lecavalier to the blue line again. His role next round will depend on who wins between Philly and Buffalo, but his consistency is counted on going forward. Phillips will use the week off to get his knee back in game shape and return opposite Zee and maybe throw a few more pucks into the top corner from time to time. Meszaros started with a couple of subpar games but really found his playoff game in the second half of the series. Playing along side a guy like Redds has taken away his fear of making a mistake and allowed him to focus on playing his game again. Volchenkov is a #5 defenceman on this team – he uses the body and breaks up plays with a touch or regularity but rightfully limit his icetime. Schubert and Pothier have rotated as our sixth man and both bring a different element to the game – Schubie is crash and bang and Pothier is more comfortable with the puck. Murray will continue to use which ever one is required based on the tone of the previous game. In other words, Schubert will be out there when we need the excitement of big hits. It’s nice to know that we have the best blue line depth in the playoffs.
3rd Period – Goaltending and Coaching
What can you say about Ray Emery? Tim Taylor returned the Game One puck to him after the game and said he was just keeping it to get a playoff edge. Rayzor showed his appreciation and interest by giving the puck away a few seconds later. Some rookies are just thrilled to play a game or to win a series – ours doesn’t care about his number of wins until he has 16. He is confident and is giving us a chance to win each and every game – which is all we are asking of him. Here’s a name you haven’t heard in a while – Dominik Hasek.
Coach Murray is awesome. Teams that win the most playoff games are the ones that can adjust to a loss or to a bad period. We had one loss and we had a couple of bad period and in each case, our weakness became a strength. Our gaps in the neutral zone disappeared and our backcheck began taking over. He finds chemistry in his forwards and consistency in his defencemen, all without dropping the f-bombs that the Fonz was using in Tampa’s dressing room and press conference and most other places the Lightning went. This is a different team now and led by a different genius.
Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. Round Two can’t start until the following Monday as our building is occupied for the whole weekend with Dora the Explorer. Why have we booked the building for two the first three Saturdays in the playoffs? Why can’t Dora go explore the ACC or something?
2. Varada left the game with what looks like a shoulder injury. Again, the eight or nine days of rest will do wonders for this team – Chris Kelly, too.
3. Would it have been a different series if Sean Burke had been the starter? Probably not – there was no pressure on Burke as they were supposed to lose this game anyway. Every save he made (and there were some great ones) were more than the Lightning were expecting.
4. It won’t do any good to think about it now, but we will need to re-sign Havlat and Spezza this summer, on top of the big guys on the blue line. Havlat missing 58 games would have allowed us to keep his raise in check. Havlat being our best player is a different story. But as I said, let’s focus on the task at hand now and win twelve more.
5. Smolinski was 12-2 in the faceoff circle – that’s pretty good.
6. Don’t forget to check this site daily – http://www.northeasthockey.blogspot.com/.
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