(AP PHOTO/CP, Ian Barrett)Revenge is a dish best served in four games…see you in 11 days, Habitants.
The Balance in the Bank:
Final Score: Montreal somehow wins 3-2
Ottawa goals: Spezza (20, pp) on a shot with eyes from the point that found its way through, Heatley (48) on the doorstep banging it in and getting the credit for Eaves’ hard work.
Making Sens(e): Alfredsson, Volchenkov, Smolinski
Not much Sens(e): Schubert, Schaefer
It was over when: A Meszaros shot dribbled wide off of Aebischer’s glove late in the third and time wound down to zero.
It was definitely over when: They announced the three stars and the zamboni came out.
Message in a Molson bottle: This one was probably more frustrating to lose because we really should have come out on top. Solid game by the forwards, plenty of opportunities, and we used speed and the body to win battles. The dark side is that we just lost our fourth in a row, the bright side is that this was a win that got away and we won’t let that happen again.
Courtesy Boxscore: http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=260410010
Grab a Timmy’s double-double and listen to what really happened:
1st period – Dany Heatley pros and cons
After having the opportunity to watch the talent of #15 for 78 games now, I think it has been long enough to discuss what he does well and what are areas better left to Alfie and Spezza. We call this a verbal sandwich and the bread slices will be praise and the meat part will be some constructive criticism. Okay, Dany, are you ready? You have 48 goals now, a Senators single-season record, which is amazing considering that those goals are scored after the puck has been on your stick for less than one second on each one of them. That was a slice of praise bread. Now, Dany, your stickhandling is comparable to Brian McGrattan or Dennis Vial and I think you’d be much MUCH more effective at getting the puck in the zone if you’d just dump it in and follow it instead of trying and failing at handling it around an NHL-caliber defenceman. That was the constructive criticism meat. And Dany, I think you have stepped up as a leader of this team when we need you and I believe you will be a wonderful asset going forward in the playoffs, where we will see your best hockey of the season. Good sandwich. So keep scoring and being a leader, but let Alfie and Spezz stickhandle the puck in now. Sweet. Sweet. Alright.
2nd Period – Are we too good to lose?
In a word – yes. This is a game that we will win in the postseason and a game that we should have won tonight. When the forwards skate hard on the forecheck, we create chances and those chances will be goals. Tonight, we followed the game plan of going in and getting the puck out of their corners and putting it in front of Aebischer. On this night, and in past playoff games, we couldn’t get the puck into the mesh. In all honesty, do you believe that we will have trouble scoring goals in the playoffs? We are simply too strong in too many areas to have outcasts like David Aebischer, Christobal Huet, or John Grahame upset us. Don’t call this game a moral win – we only count the wins that show up in the standings the next morning. But understand that if our forwards play like they did tonight and we stick a couple of familiar faces back on the blue line and perhaps some old fart in between the pipes, then I’m a confident young lad going into the postseason and I suggest you be the same.
3rd Period – Five Predictions that may ruin my short and not very promising career
Below are five thoughts that I have somehow turned into guarantees. It is probably best to keep my mouth shut, but if Eklund can make a website and post blasphemy daily and still attract readers, all I need to do is get one right per year and I’ll be on that fast-track:
1. We have an entirely full lineup for Game 1 of the playoffs. I know this isn’t completely off the wall, but I believe that Phillips will be ahead of schedule and for the first time since mid-December, we will dress our ideal roster – guaranteed.
2. Ottawa will sweep the first round of the playoffs, regardless of whether it is Tampa Bay or Montreal. I’ll take this one step further and say that I would choose to play Montreal and put them in their place. I might just be fired up because I thought we should have won this game, but we are a better team in all facets of the game and that will take over in the postseason – guaranteed.
3. Vaclav Varada is the odd man out when Havlat returns. Some may argue this isn’t a stretch, but remember that it was Eaves that filled in for Mach 9 and it was Varada who was Muckler’s early playoff sandpaper. Varada has been basically irrelevant to our team’s success this year and I don’t think we lose an ounce/gram of sandpaper with him out of the lineup. We are officially a tough team with heart and you simply cannot take Patrick Eaves out of the lineup right now. With a full plethora of weapons, Varada is the odd man out – guaranteed.
4. Carolina is eliminated in the first round. I’ve had enough of the hype surrounding these clowns and am ready to see them go away by the end of April. They are simply not the same team without Eric Cole and they aren’t the same team by adding aging slowpokes Weight and Recchi, both of whom aren’t fitting in and are likely to return to their original teams in the summer. Gerber is nothing more than a hot goalie headed to the Arctic cold and will lead his team to the fine golf courses of Raleigh before the 1st of May – guaranteed.
5. Daniel Alfredsson is the playoff scoring leader. I know the terms ‘Alfredsson’ and ‘playoff guarantee’ isn’t always a smart thing, but this guy is in his absolute prime right now and is one of the best leaders in the NHL. He knows what it feels like to lose and he knows what it takes to win. He also knows the importance of playoff success to the loyal fans of Hockey Country and he will deliver. A reunited pizza line will mean that Captain Alfie will be the leading scorer by the end of the fourth round – guaranteed.
Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. Arnason. I’ve got nothing to add here. Apparently, neither does he.
2. Brad Norton threw many more punches in his first period fight this time around, considering he didn’t throw a single one last time. Kudos to the towering goof for sticking up for the hit from behind on Volchenkov. But you’re still going back to Bingo tomorrow.
3. On that note, Redden is on his way back to town and is playing tomorrow and Muck Muck said there is a slight chance Chara joins him in the lineup - and thus returns to a full rack of ribs instead of just the half rack while his appetite was down. Phillips is still skating ahead of schedule and let’s just hope he’s back for Game 1. Mucks went on to say that he hopes Hasek can try and play the Toronto and NY Rangers games to end the regular season. I’d be fine with Dom being Dom for Game 1.
4. Volchenkov was our best defenceman tonight, including timely pokechecks, backchecking, and hits.
5. Too many penalties called in the second period as Don Koharski couldn’t keep the whistle out of his mouth. If he still had that Don Koharski’s All Sports Centre at the Kanata Town Centre, I’d go in there and lower the basketball net and then slam dunk on it in protest, just because I knew it would make him upset. Or maybe steal the air hockey puck. Take that, Koho!
6. Missed a couple of half open nets and hit a couple of posts. Would have liked them to go in.
8. Don’t forget to check this site daily – http://www.northeasthockey.blogspot.com/.
Tuesday, 7:30 vs. Boston
Thursday, 7:30 vs. Florida
Saturday, 7:00 @ Toronto
Tuesday, 7:00 @ NY Rangers