What cheers up the Spartan Spirit gang? The perfect road game!
The Balance in the Bank:
Final Score: Ottawa wins 5-1
Ottawa goals: Eaves (20) on a lightning fast give-and-go with Alfie, Alfredsson (43, pp) picking the top corner on a rebound from Redden’s point shot, Meszaros (10) in four-on-four play after Heaters gave him a great backhanded saucer pass, Fisher (22, sh) in a goal that you must see a replay of during this shorthanded 3-on-4, Heatley (50, pp) after the whole gang started zoning in on him to watch him drop a blast from just inside the blue line – Havlat retrieved the puck out of the net as Heaters is the first 50-goal scorer in team history.
Making Sens(e): The names you want to see here – Alredsson, Heatley, Redden, Meszaros, Havlat, Fisher, Eaves, Emery
Not much Sens(e): Can’t think of anyone
It was over when: Meszaros opened the third period and restored our two-goal lead with what can be considered by some to be a weak goal on Lundqvist.
It was definitely over when: Fisher pulled two amazing moves while battling shorthanded and wrapped it around Lundvist to ice this game for good. Heatley’s Hammer was just icing on the cake.
Message in a Molson bottle: Everything that we wanted to have happen tonight, happened tonight. Emery played solid in nets, our stars were stars, our role players were role players, and we didn’t allow a single odd-man rush shot. That is because our defencemen pinched perfectly and our forwards backchecked consistently. Before the game, Hockey Nation in Ottawa was ready to blow up the team and fire the front office. After the game, we’re the Eastern Conference regular season champs and host the Lightning to start the second season. Cheers, boys!
Courtesy Boxscore: http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=260418013
Grab a Timmy’s double-double and listen to what really happened:
1st period – Um, hi. Does that captain come in blonde and curly?
He’s back and he’s ready to go. Daniel Alfredsson played probably his best game since the Olympics in putting up three points and breaking up so many Rangers rushes that he might as well have been playing on defence. Alfie did tonight what captains do in the crucial games – he led his team to victory. And no better time to do that than the 82nd game of the season going into the playoffs with his top-shelf performance in tact. Without getting a haircut since September and no guarantees made in two years, Alfie has the table set to be the first European-born captain to win a Stanley Cup. Will he sit down to eat? Get your tickets now.
2nd Period – Winning on the road is fun
The Sens played the perfect road game tonight, barring Straka’s quick goal in the second. The first period was played patiently without many turnovers, sending a couple of guys in to forecheck and waiting for the Rangers to turn the puck over. After a scoreless first, the Rangers started to grip their sticks a little tighter and the Sens started to pick up the tempo even higher than its playoff-like first period. Each Ranger turnover now became a better scoring chance. And then those scoring chances became goals. All the while, we kept our defencemen back and a forward within reach to thwart any opposition attacks before they even started. This performance is exactly what will be needed in every third, fourth, and possibly sixth game of the first three rounds of the playoffs if we want to see the fourth round. If there was ever a shot that Emery didn’t see, it was because there were two Sens players blocking it. It brings a smile to your face.
3rd Period – And then there were 16…
So we wanted to win the conference and play against the eight seed. Let’s stop talking about it there. Watch carefully how none of the Sens will say a thing about how they were hoping to play the Lightning (4-0 against them this year, outscoring them 16-6) instead of Montreal, who has a hot goalie and would present us with a much more passionate series. The players won’t say a thing about it because from now on, each quote from one day becomes a locker room posting the next. The Sens know what is at stake here and don’t need to acknowledge pressure, expectations, past playoffs, or available tee times. Leave the taunting to Andrew Peters and the Sabres – we’ve got a job to do now and we’ll watch quietly as we go out about our business. Phillips might play in Game 1, Hasek probably will not. Chara will sit quietly in a booth at the back corner of Baton Ridge and peacefully taste the sauce on the house recipe ribs. Make no mistake – the boys are ready.
Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. Looks like my first guarantee might be wrong already – I said Varada would be the odd man out in Game 1 but Arnason has been benched the last two games. This might change since the Lightning are more of a speed team and less of a physical team. In other words, maybe Murray will see something in Arnason this week that makes it more useful in this type of series than Varada.
2. Kelly was on the top line with Spezz and Heaters; Fisher centered Schaefer and Havlat; Smoke was in between Eaves and Alfie; the pot-pourri line was Neil, Varada, and Vermette.
3. Poor Vermie – his ice time will see a big hit with Havlat back in the lineup.
4. Have we seen the last of McGrattan? Here’s why we hope so – the only way he gets back in the lineup is three injuries to forwards (Arnie and Schubert will be brought in as replacement forwards first).
5. Havlat was flying tonight. He couldn’t have played a better game without scoring a goal than he did tonight. He also rang a breakaway shot off the post in the first 30 seconds of the game.
6. Smolinski and Spezza sucked in the faceoff circle and that has to change.
7. Don’t forget to check this site daily – www.northeasthockey.blogspot.com.
Friday vs. Tampa Bay
Sunday vs. Tampa Bay
(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)