Somewhere on a Barbados beach, a rich man cracked a smile
The Balance in the Bank:
Final Score: Ottawa wins 5-3
Meszaros (3) with a bit of a zinger that sneaks its way through the screen
Chris Kelly (3) sent in on a breakaway from Heatley shows some nice hands
Chris Neil (7, pp) scores a goal-scorers goal, backhanding it in high from the goal line
Daniel Alfredsson (6) showing that nasty wrist shot over the Fernandez shoulder.
Peter Schaefer (4, pp) finding himself with the puck and half a net on the powerplay
Making Sens: Emery, Neil, Fisher, Volchenkov
Lacking Sens: Schaefer, Redden had some cobwebs
It was over when: The Chris Neil gave us a 3-goal lead that just felt different this time
It was definitely over when: Our captain zinged one up high to put it out of reach.
Message in a Molson bottle: We let them back into this for a while and ended up giving a bunch of scoring chances, but we kept our cool and skated well. For the fourth straight game, Ray Emery gave us a chance to win and our skaters did the rest. These guys are finally playing as a cohesive unit and being accountable for one another. Whether it be playing with desperation or playing with talent, this team is starting to find its groove, just like Stella.
Courtesy Boxscore: http://scores.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=261120014
Next Game: Wednesday in Philly, starting a four-game road trip
Three storylines to wow your friends over a Timmy’s double double
A Ray-diant performance
42 saves. When we grew sluggish and allowed ourselves to be outshot 37-16 over the last two periods, it was Emery that kept this from becoming a game, if that makes sense. As was the case in the previous three games, we have a great lineup of skaters to the point that all we need is for our goalie to make the saves and give us a chance to play our game. I like Ray Emery and it will be very interesting to see how Martin Gerber performs next time he gets a shot, which will probably be at some point on this road trip.
Hammer and Neil
Mike Fisher and Chris Neil are statistically two of the top three hitters in the NHL. I didn’t make that up; it’s science. Mike Fisher, although snakebit for goals, is playing like a man possessed while flying through the neutral and offensive zones. Chris Neil is playing like an All-Star right now both in terms of what he is doing with the puck (scoring amazing goals) and what he is doing without the puck (hitting everybody in sight). Volchenkov also threw some outstanding open-ice hits, although skated out a bit too far in the neutral zone on at least two of them.
Almost looking like a team!
Disregard what I said last week about Coach Murray’s inability to bring this team together. Ken Hitchcock can deal with that mess in Columbus because we’re starting to play as one and buying into each other’s styles. Dany Heatley is backchecking, Antoine Vermette is playing in the corners, and everyone is starting to block shots. Get this, Gonzo: we blocked 27 shots tonight. Besides the fact that Minnesota would otherwise have wound up with over 70 shots, it seems like we’re all finally buying into this concept of working together. A defenceman pinches and a forward slides back to cover. It’s a thing of beauty.
1. Blocked shots: Volchenkov with 5, Phillips and Corvo with 4, Alfredsson blocked one of our own that is going to leave a mark on the ankle.
2. Volchenkov also led the way with 6 hits, most of them being great hip checks or huge open ice cracks. This kid looks like a million bucks out there. Funny, because he’s making more than that. He’s getting rewarded with icetime from the coach and airtime from the writers at NxNE.
3. Two high sticks into Patrick Eaves’ grill in the first went uncalled. Refs kept the whistles away for the most part of this one and at least it was consistent. The penalty shot call against Fisher for allegedly putting his glove on the puck in the crease in the third was kinda bush league.
4. Vermette at 28% in the faceoff circle isn’t too hot, especially when a handful of those are on the penalty kill. Winning the draw on the PK typically leads to a clear and a good 15-20 seconds off the clock.
5. We are a fantastic five-on-five team. To make things more amicable as we try and climb the standings (we jumped over Boston but have three games in hand, so…), our powerplay is showing signs of life. You CANNOT make a run for the playoffs without good special teams. Our PK has been restored and our PP is putting the puck in the net by moving our skates and moving the puck. Hooray!