Photo: (AP Photo/CP, Jonathan Hayward), espn.comLet the reunion begin
The Balance in the Bank:
Final Score: Ottawa finally wins, 4-3 in overtime
Ottawa goals: Vermette (21) banging one in the rebound after Schubert’s hard work, Chara (15, pp) sitting in front on the 5-on-3 and popping in the idle puck, Kelly (10) with a half open net after Varada’s ‘how’s-she-going’ on an unsuspecting Bruins d-man, Chara (16, GWG) wraps the puck around the net in overtime and it finds its way over top of Thomas for the win
Making Sens(e): Chara, Alfredsson, Varada, Fisher, Redden just for being there
Not much Sens(e): Heatley (-2), Smolinski wasn’t strong
It was over when: Regulation ended and we realized that we had five minutes to score or we’d lose in a shootout.
It was definitely over when: We held the puck on our sticks for the entire 40 seconds of overtime before Chara put it in with a goal almost reminiscent of the tying goal against Toronto in Game 6 two years ago, although this time he stuck with the backhand.
Message in a Molson bottle: This just in – we get a lot of shots on net. This time we peppered Thomas for 44 of them and really need to find a way to make more than four of those get through, especially against a weak team with a goaltender that has been sent to so many places that he makes Willy Loman look like a stay-at-home dad.
Courtesy Boxscore: http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/boxscore?gid=2006041114
Grab a Timmy’s double-double and listen to what really happened:
1st period – And we’re baaaaaaaaack
Well, we’ve been saying for two weeks that we never would have given up that goal or lost that game if Chara and Redden were in the lineup. Tonight, they were in the lineup and it took us until overtime, along with the help of one of the returning d-men, to put away a team that has been morally eliminated from the playoffs since early November. While the scoresheet may not look the way we (at least I) expected it to, we were really in front of the Bruins the entire game. It is somewhat alarming that the return of Redden’s outlet passes and Chara’s physical presence were so badly needed to beat the Bruins just in overtime – what would have happened if Brad Norton was still getting 10 minutes of ice time? But guess what? Norton didn’t get ice time, Chara played 30 minutes and Redden nearly 26, and we won. To say it is great to see these two back in uniform is the understatement of the month thus far.
2nd Period – Goaltending controversy?
To be honest, that title was just to grab your attention. Our goalie situation isn’t so much a controversy as it is a bit of a problem. Hasek is still new to practice, Emery is banged up and tired, and Morrison looked like a guy recently claimed off waivers. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be put onto home ice after not playing consistently in the past 6 weeks, but Morrison’s three goals would all have been stopped by Emery (which means Hasek, too). So if you are Coach Murray, what do you do? We need these last three wins to clinch the conference (and yes, we want to clinch the conference), but you have a tired goalie, a shaky goalie, and a 42-year old goalie to choose from (can you guess which ones are which?). This is why I’m glad I’m not the coach. In a perfect world, you could shut Emery down until needed again, let Morrison play against an inferior Panthers team Thursday, and have the Dominator in nets in T-O. In a realistic world, Emery pronounces himself ready and plays out the season and lets Hasek start Game 1 as his rehab stint.
3rd Period – Where do all the good shots go? when will they ever learn…
Four goals tonight and all of them were from within ten feet of the net. The reason that we are always pushing passes back to the point is so that the defencemen fire a shot with eyes. There are quite a few different things that can happen as a result of that point shot: a) it goes straight in, b) it is tipped and goes in, c) it bounces off the goalie for a rebound, d) it is blocked by an opposing defenceman, or e) the goalie saves it and hangs on. By my count, three of those results are good things. The fact that we had 44 shots on net tonight would lead you to believe that we are getting pucks through from the point and that we are also getting rebound shots. You’d be right. This trend MUST continue for another two months if we are to be true to our goal. It is important to note that all of our defencemen have become much smarter when taking these shots, as well. Unlike during the middle of the season, our point shots aren’t taken carelessly with an opposing forward lined up for a block and potentially a breakaway the other way. We now know that our job is to do everything we can to make sure that puck gets as far through the traffic as possible and either tip it in or be ready to pounce on a rebound. Hey, it led to four tonight. Snazzy goals and playoff hockey aren’t necessarily like spaghetti and meatballs (or for Eastern Europeans, like lamb and tuna fish). Dirty bounces and hard-earned goals separate the hockey players from the golfers from now on.
Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. Hi, I’m Tyler Arnason, have we met? No? Well, I’m a great skater but would rather stand around and see what Alfie is gonna do next. To give you an idea of where Murray sees Arnason, only Varada and Schubert had less time among forwards (add Novak from the defencemen).
2. Meszaros back in the running for plus/minus title with a +2 effort tonight. This should be something that all of you keep an eye on through the weekend as our beloved rookie tries to make history.
3. Carolina gets one point for the overtime and so were are up a mere single point in the Eastern Conference standings, each of us with three games to play. We have Florida, Toronto, and the Rangers while they have a home and home against desperate Tampa Bay and then Buffalo. If we don’t win the conference, it is our own fault. Did you know that Tampa has dubbed itself Hockey Bay, Florida? I hope that creative thinking can find a way to get fans to come back after a pretty poor follow up year to the Cup winning season.
4. Havlat officially in for Saturday. Rumour has it that the final tests he underwent today involved Chara beating him senselessly with oversized barbecue ribs in his shoulder in front of a panel of doctors. While Havlat cried from flying bbq sauce in the eyes, his shoulder was still good to go. Thanks, Zee. Here’s your bib.
5. Boston’s first goal was a result of a Heatley turnover on our powerplay on the Boston blue line. I understand that Heaters has a heavy shot, but there was always a sense of comfort when we stuck Alfie on the point as he could stickhandle well, pass well, and defend well. At the same time, Heaters is the king of getting goals on the doorstep, so why have we switched these two guys?
6. Varada visits NxNE.com. After I had declared him to be unfit for playoff hockey, he puts in arguably his best performance of the season, even earning Murray’s confidence to be on the ice with 1:30 left and a one goal lead.
7. Cash this one in – we WILL have the opportunity to mathematically eliminate the Laughs on Saturday night in the Big Smoke. Will Darcy Tucker fall down? Probably. I know we didn’t play them tonight, but is Tucker the biggest diver in the league or the worst skater in the league? The correct answer – both.
8. Don’t forget to check this site daily – http://www.northeasthockey.blogspot.com/.
Thursday, 7:30 vs. Florida
Saturday, 7:00 @ Toronto
Tuesday, 7:00 @ NY Rangers