Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sens Game Report - OTT@BUF - 4.5.06

Photo: espn.com; (AP Photo/David Duprey)

Sloppy loss

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Buffalo wins 5-4 in overtime
Ottawa goals: Alfredsson (40) on a great looking play from Fisher and Spezza, Schubert (4, sh) on a blast up the left side, Eaves (18, pp) banging in the play in front of the net with some hard work, Kelly (9) taking a turnover up the right side and beating Biron far side
Making Sens(e): Meszaros, Pothier
Not much Sens(e): Heatley, Alfredsson, Norton
It was over when: Buffalo came back from two down in the second to tie it up – they never let go of momentum for a minute, including the moments after Kelly regained the lead for us.
It was definitely over when: Pothier took a hooking penalty in overtime and it became merely a matter of time before Buffalo put us out of our misery.
Message in a Molson bottle: It isn’t often that you look at one of our games, even a loss, and can’t name a single forward that played a solid game. What happened to the backchecking and helping our depleted defensive corps? During the rare moments that Meszaros or Pothier got some rest, we were immediately in danger of giving up another goal due to Peewee level defencemen and forwards waiting for the outlet pass from Redden, who is actually in a different time zone right now. Ugly loss and a strong argument why losing teams shouldn’t get a point – we flat out didn’t deserve this one.
Courtesy Boxscore: http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=260405002

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

Depth has its end points
Check this first: Andrej Meszaros started the year as our #5 defenceman – he logged 37:47 minutes of icetime, no typo. Brian Pothier started the year as our #6 defenceman – he logged 35:55 minutes of icetime. Our next guy started the year in the press box. The two after that were guys that the common fan had never heard of, including Brad Norton who a lot of fans still haven’t heard of! Norton isn’t very good. Novak has his limits. Schubert started the year in the stands for a reason. While our defencemen have been stellar in the games leading up to this one, the overachieving AHLers simply ran out of skill. But let’s give the credit to the top pairing – Meszaros was unbelievable in playing what I’d guess to be the most ice time any NHL player has seen this year, and Pothier continues to shock us as being a wall and a leader. Remember when we were just happy if Pothier didn’t lose the puck on the blue line on a powerplay? He has quietly racked up 33 points and is in the top ten in plus/minus. “Not bad for one has been and a couple of never-will-be’s, eh?” says Jake Taylor.

What happens when you don’t battle for pucks?
Take a look at the score. We might have found a way to pop four shots past Biron, but when a team consistently loses every battle and race for every puck at every moment of the game, then your chances of winning are severely limited. What is tough to fathom in this one is even with a 3-1 lead, we really were playing from behind because we just didn’t have it tonight. Dany Heatley went from being future captain of the Sens to master tenant in the Bryan Murray doghouse. He finished the night as a minus-2 and could have been worse, but he was instead in the penalty box for two additional Buffalo goals. He’s earned some slack for this one, but make no mistake – he was bad. I suppose a positive to take from this is that we played one of our worst games since the Olympics and still took our closest divisional opponent to overtime before finally running out of stink gas.

Where is everyone?
Alfredsson returned back to the lineup after a game away with the flu. Apart from taking a full round of shots on the unsuccessful 4-on-3 powerplay in the second and his nice goal at the end of the first, Alfie wasn’t very strong. Fisher came back after missing nine games with the sprained ankle – he didn’t have his normal get-up-and-go tonight and hopefully he gets his game legs under him soon. Arnason was back tonight after getting his bell rung on Monday, but apart from one series of nice moves along the side boards, he is still appearing very out of place in this lineup (about Arnason, isn't anyone wondering when this guy will at least tap somebody into the boards? Magnus Arvedson called, he wants his style of play back). Volchenkov sat out with a sore neck, Chara is out with the cairns-hand, Phillips is out with the strained MCL, Redden is out west for personal reasons, Havlat is out with the un-cleared shoulder, and Hasek is nowhere to be found. Three scenarios: one is that these guys are just banged up and we’ll have a healthy lineup in the postseason, just like the organization tells us. Two is that we are purposely keeping our top players out of the lineup so that they are healthy enough in late April and picked up some extra R&R while other teams beat each other up for position in the standings. Three is that the injuries are much worse than we originally estimated and we actually won’t have our top guys back for the first round – have we all been told a series of lies? You make the call in this week’s Sens Forum – will the Sens have a healthy lineup come Game 1 of Round 1?

Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. Nobody questions Emery’s play since he took over the starting duties, but perhaps he is due for a night off – the guy has to be exhausted by now and if by chance he has to open the first round, do we really want him coming off 25-odd straight starts?
2. What does it say about your fourth line when Meszaros had more icetime while killing penalties then they did in the entire game?
3. How did Buffalo’s Maxim Afinogenov have a 4-point night but finish minus-2?
4. Chara says he still can’t grip his stick well enough to take a shot, but the question that Ottawa really wants answered is if it is well enough to grip a rib and take a bite.
5. Don’t forget to check this site daily – http://www.northeasthockey.blogspot.com/.

Upcoming Games
Thursday, 7:30 vs. Montreal
Saturday, 7:30 vs. Buffalo
Next Monday, 7:30 at Montreal

1 comment:

hockeydan said...

Not the best time of year to play substandard hockey. We're better than this, but we have to prove it. Even some of the games we are winning we don't look good.

Hopefully it is just a little bump in the road and we'll turn it around soon.