Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sens Game Report - Hockey Bay @ Ottawa - 12.02.06

At least we can hold four-goal leads

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 5-2
Ottawa Goals:
Eaves (5, sh) taking a turnover and putting it over Bryzgalov on the backhand, bang bang.
Corvo (3, pp) with a wrist shot on the point making it through
Vermette (10) with a goal so great you have to track down the highlight on tsn.ca
Spezza (12) on some lazy play from the Lightning and some hustle by Kelly to get him the puck
Vermette (11) to ice it on the breakaway in the third
Making Sens: Vermette, Preissing, Fisher
Lacking Sens: Schaefer, Alfredsson, Heatley
It was over when: Getting out of the second period without completely blowing the fout-goal lead, which was entirely possible with the way the Sens played back and the Lightning came at them.
It was definitely over when: Vermette eased all fears with his second
Message in a Molson bottle: A great opening twenty minutes and then settling back apparently works better than those times where we’d dog it for two periods and try and come back in the third. All of our highlights came in the first twenty minutes and then we let the clock and the occasional clearing of a rebound do the rest. Not the prettiest win. Redden’s transition game was sorely missed.
Courtesy Boxscore: http://scores.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=261202014
Next Game: Tuesday in Long Island

Three storylines to wow your friends over a Timmy’s double double:

Early and often
Even during the slump that we experienced in October, we were scoring early and making teams look silly. Tonight was no different as we opened up a four goal lead that looked like Thursday’s game against Florida was just replaying itself. Two months ago, we were blowing these games. Tonight, we held on. It takes consistent goaltending and awareness from your forwards that helping on defence becomes more important than scoring a fifth goal. Spezza did some decent backcehcking on a particular Richards shift and was a huge help behind the net. Scoring early kind of lets us work on the backchecking and defensive awareness. Jacques would be so proud of his little protégé.

I wanna get physical…physical
Pardon the reference, but what a difference it is when your players finish their checks. If you ask Randy Lee to see some game tapes of when the Senators were losing, you will see our forwards skating around like little Magnus Arvedsons in the corners and trying to catch clearing attempts with their supercharged spirits or something. Nowadays, we have guys like Neil and Fisher, and even Heatley and Alfredsson that go hard into the corners and make the opposing defencemen actually work to get the puck out. The difference goes deeper than the turnovers we create. It actually takes a physical toll on those defencemen and we can take advantage of their condition late in the game Case in point is figuring how the hell Vermette was so wide open for that breakaway in the third!

You guys are special
The Tampa Bay announcers brought up an interesting point during the broadcast tonight - the Senators have only won once when they failed to score a powerplay goal. I don’t have a PhD or anything, but I guess that means we should score powerplay goals if we want to win. Tonight, we scored once with the man advantage and we scored once when we were killing off a Schaefer penalty. I guess what I’m trying to say is that once again, special teams were the difference. A few weeks ago, we had a powerplay less than 10% and we were in 14th place. Now the powerplay is clicking a bit and we’re doing much better. The changes are obvious when you see how the forwards are constantly moving on the powerplay and the defencemen have started to walk the blue line a lot more to find a lane instead of firing it into an opposing forwards legs. Joe Corvo is great at this, Meszaros is much better, and Preissing has a knack for it, too.

Beaver Droppings

1. How about Volchenkov leading the team in icetime and Fisher being second? If you think this 4-0 lead seemed comfortable, then try and explain why we had these guys out there so much. Truth be told, it got a bit scary in the second when Emery was getting peppered by their talented forwards.
2. Although Emery was great in stopping 34 shots, I thought there were a handful of scoring chances to the Lightning where he just looked a bit slower than usual. I seriously hope that Coach Murray understands the importance of getting Gerber back in there again as we’re on the road in New York and Washington. Let him face the Yashin-less Islanders.
3. Speaking of slow, Alfredsson looked tired tonight. His passes were off and he didn’t seem interested in shooting. Neither did Heatley, but that is because he never was close to the puck in the offensive zone. Yes, we pick on the team even after a 5-2 win – welcome to hockey in Ottawa.
4. Pressing was good again in his own zone and he has started to get his name out there on offence.
5. Fisher, Neil, and Volchenkov with six hits each. Add in Volchenkov’s blocked shots and Fisher going 64% in the faceoff circle against Lecavalier and you’ll realize which guys have had the most impact on this team’s turnaround over the past few weeks. Zing.
6. Schaefer is lazy and seems disinterested. Furthermore, unless he is on a shorthanded two-on-one break with Fisher, Shaefs looks content to not create a single scoring chance.

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