Friday, March 17, 2006

Sens Game Report - Ottawa at Boston - 3.16.2006

photo from CP and
I hate shootouts

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Boston wins 3-2 in the shootout
Ottawa goals: Spezza (18) sent in alone by Heatley, Vermette (16) left alone in front after a feed from Smolinski
Making Sens(e): Emery (except for one play),
Not much Sens(e): Smolinski
It was over when: Bergeron scored past Emery as the first of Boston’s shootout lineup.
It was definitely over when: Alfie, Heatley, and Spezza all tried the exact same terrible move on wondergoalie Tim Thomas and all three were denied. Brutal that some of the best players in the world can’t find a way to beat a guy named Tim Thomas in a shootout. Tim Thomas was probably working at the Harvey’s where these three had a burger one day and now he is winning games against us. That’s precious.
Message in a Molson bottle: Another 2-goal comeback, but this one falls short in the extra session – at least there aren’t shootouts in the playoffs. Sloppy stickwork throughout the entire game and we never really found our true groove until the third period. Sloppy stickwork like the sloppy bbq sauce all over Zdeno's face.
Courtesy Boxscore:

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

Mike Fisher’s ankle
If you have not yet seen the replay of what happened to Fish’s ankle, don’t go looking for it. It will make you cringe and possibly cry as our most consistent forward folds into the boards on what I would call a dirty play from Boston’s Marcu Sturm. Fisher led the chase behind the Boston net for the puck (we were short-handed) when Sturm, a step behind, jabbed his stick into Fisher’s far skate and pushing it to the side until Fish went down. The ensuing crash into the boards led to Fisher’s ankle folding sideways as he went in feet-first. He was helped off the ice on one foot and all the indications from my point of view, which is apparently not the same as a doctor, was that this was a very bad thing. It turns out that it is an ankle sprain and that x-rays show it isn’t broken. Nevertheless, we won’t be using #12 for a while, so all the more thanks to Muck Muck for bringing in Arnason – now we just need him to play on that line and get things done! Playoffs are a month away and I would think Fish will be back by then. The problem now is that we are without two of our best forwards and our top goalie and we’re trying really hard to win the division and not get into that dreaded 4 vs 5 matchup.

We can come back in the third
Don’t worry about us losing in the shootout - those aren’t in the playoffs anyway. What we should take from this game is that two games in a row now, we have been down by two goals either late in the second or into the third and we have found a way to come back into the game. This is huge. In the postseason, we aren’t always going to jump out to a nice big lead and then put up our magical four goals where we never lose. There will be times when the opposition takes a lead and hangs on to it for a while. But to know that we don’t panic, we stick to our game plan, and we exploit every one of our opponent’s mistakes is a good feeling. We will need this same mentality, poise, and even adversity come April and May. There is still a sense of urgency out there because we know the importance of getting one in the last minute of a period, for instance, or the first minute of the third. Those are momentum stealers. Even the Boston announcers, as delusional for thinking Boston has a shot at the playoffs, pointed out how much strong Ottawa played after they scored – “it’s as if they sense blood or something.” I like that and I want the other team to be intimidated by our attack.

Shoeless Joe said, “No, Ray. It was you.”
How strange that it was Emery’s fault that we were tied at the end of regulation but it was the same Emery that kept it a tie! Even Steven. Emery misplayed a puck off the boards and ended up knocking it into our own net for Boston’s second goal, giving them that 2-0 lead. But Emery also made some unbelievable stops from point blank range to keep us close going into the third. Just like we talked about last week, Emery made the big saves at the right times. Good stuff. He has found a way to just focus on his game lately and not worry about Hasek taking his first skate earlier in the day or Muck Muck bringing in Mo Mo to back him up. A sharp guy, that Rayzer Ray Emery. I would like to see, however, Morrison get in the game sooner or later, perhaps Sunday night in New Jersey after what will be a playoff game Saturday hosting Buffalo. Emery needs a rest after playing the last nine games (Saturday will make ten) and Morrison is an NHL-caliber goalie. I know because he used to live below me here in Greenville and seems like a nice guy – let’s give him a shot and give Emery some rest. Speaking of Buffalo, they are on our tail and we play them four times in the next month. Saying that there are playoff implications is an understatement. Good thing Emery is solid.

Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. We kill penalties- that’s what we do. The double minor called on Smolinski in overtime was bush league.
2. Vermette is fast and fun to watch and has a lot of heart out there, too.
3. Schuby-Doo stepped in for Varada tonight to get some game work, although he almost spent as much time in the penalty box as he did on the ice.
4. Chara had 5:00 minutes of ice time in the five minute overtime. Wow. During Boston’s four minute 4-on-3 in OT, Alfie and Kelly went back and forth as the lone forwards and were great.
5. Boston is the only team in the NHL to beat us more than twice – and they’ve now won the last four!
6. Don’t forget to check this site daily –

Upcoming Games
Saturday vs. Buffalo, 7:00pm.- gonna be like a playoff game!
Sunday at New Jersey, 7:30pm
Tuesday vs. Pittsburgh, 7:30pm

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sens Game Report - Tampa Bay at Ottawa - Tuesday March 14 2006

photo from CP and

And we can have comeback wins, too

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 4-3
Ottawa goals: Neil (14) tipping a Heaters shot on the PP, Meszaros (6) with an awfully soft wrist shot that made its way in, Heatley (38) on a PP pass through the crease from Spezza, Alfredsson (37) on an amazing tic tac toe from his Pizza-mates with 7 seconds left.
Making Sens(e): Spezza, Heatley, Fisher, Alfredsson, Kelly, Vermette
Not much Sens(e): Schaefer (at times)
It was over when: Heatley tied it up early in the third after we killed off Alfie’s double minor. Sometimes you just get that mo and you know you can’t lose.
It was definitely over when: Alfredsson tipped in a glorious Spezz Dispensed pass in the dying seconds of the game.
Message in a Molson bottle: Playoff atmosphere and a very solid effort from the boys tonight. Emery was somewhat sharp, defense stood up when it had to, and the reunion of the Pizza Line put it away. Shaky Tampa goaltending helped, too.
Courtesy Boxscore:

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

The ace up our sleeve
Coach Murray is a very smart man. He has found ways to motivate this team in a new fashion, push them in a different direction, and discover the best talents in each one of his players. For the last three games, Alfredsson was tasked with running the Arnason/Smolinski line to find out what Arnie was made of. Arnason has talent – more on that later. But what makes Murray so freaking brilliant is that he knows exactly when to shuffle his lines. He did it on October 5th in Toronto and he did it again on March 14th (tonight, before you look at your time stamp). With a minute left in a tie game that we definitely deserved to win, the coach reunited his Pizza line for 60 seconds in which the only tension was trying to figure out at what point we would score. The momentum was so strong that there wasn’t a doubt that one of those three would find the twine at some point in that magical minute. Sure enough, Heatley threw it across to Spezza, who threw it onto Alfie’s stick in the crease for the winner. It is great that we can split up our scoring lines throughout the entire game and force the other team to defend three different lines that can all beat you, and just when you think you’ve got it figured out, we put together an All-Star line that is just so juiced to burn you that you don’t stand a chance. Momentum is a wonderful thing when it is in your pocket.

Tyler Arnason and Mike Morrison – unbeaten Senators
Since acquiring Arnie in the waning minutes of the trading season, Ottawa hasn’t lost a game. The question becomes, why didn’t we get him earlier? Just kidding. It is tough to attribute the three wins to Arnason, but the indirect effect of having Alfredsson and Arnason on a second line means that our best player will be coming down on our opponent’s 3rd and 4th defencemen. While Morrison hasn’t seen game action in a Sens uniform yet, we’ve had a decent chance to see the type of player that Arnason will be for us going down the stretch. First off, don’t ever expect him to hit a man in the corner – he is the type of guy that will skate by and poke the puck out. It isn’t the Mike Fisher way, but let’s not going changing a guy in his first week. Arnason also has some great moves in his sock drawer that he has pulled out on occasion. It would be nice to see him do that ever shift, but again, he hasn’t been here a week yet. As you would expect, he is still feeling his way around our lineup and is adjusting to the tempo at which we play. Not to take away from Chicago and their absolutely terrible season, but I would guess he may be a little star-struck trying to follow what we are doing since we’ve been mixing it up for 64 games now to his 3. He’ll come around this month and I imagine will see ice time with Havlat in April as his setup man. Could be lethal. In the meantime, Mo and Arnie are unbeaten!

Taking penalties on purpose
It is almost worth doing because our penalty kill is so much fun to watch right now. Chris Kelly and Antoine Vermette create more chances on the PK than our opponents do on their powerplay. It is a blast to watch because every time we gain possession of the puck, one of them streaks up the ice (through the quad to the gymnasium – We’re Streaking!). A lot of times, our d-man will just dump it down the ice, but once every three or four times, he’ll find the flying forward and send him in on a breakaway or a two-on-one will ensue. Vermi and Kelly had four solid PK chances last night. To make things even more interesting for us, Schaefer and Fisher create similar chances with their unit, and Alfredsson and Heatley are always dangerous, too. Last night, Alfie took a very odd double-minor (a phantom holding call and then an unsportsmanlike conduct because he dropped his glove and stick in disgust at the call – nothing like refs trying to take the game in their own hands, eh?), and in Tampa’s extra-long powerplay that ensued, we ended up having more scoring chances than they did. It almost makes you want to take penalties on purpose, just to pop another shortie (our 20 lead the league, by the way).

Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. Schubert and McGrattan once again in the stands. This means we have a healthy lineup (sans Havlat).
2. We took 8 penalties – hadn’t had that many in a while, including five in a row through the middle of the first period until late in the third.
3. Lines were rearranged a lot last night, sometimes because of changing on the fly, other times because of the coach. Eaves was in and out of the top line and it sometimes looked like each player was getting a chance to play on every line, kind of like that teeball game where first one out to shortstop gets to be shortstop that inning. I always liked being the rover. I guess that is what Spezza is, eh?
4. Zdeno Chara is the focus of every single visiting team’s broadcast. Everyone in the league now knows who this guy is and likes to constantly point out that he is tall and strong. Must be doing wonders for his ego. Should we make his ribs commercial available for podcast or something, too?
5. Emery held is own and didn’t lose his head after allowing the two quick goals in the second. Great job.
6. Neil on the PP has now created three goals in the past two games. Again, we have a smart coach.
7. Don’t forget to check this site daily –

Upcoming Games
Thursday at Boston, 7:00pm
Saturday vs. Buffalo, 7:00pm.- gonna be like a playoff game!
Sunday at New Jersey, 7:30pm
Tuesday vs. Pittsburgh, 7:30pm

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

People to Watch

Well my friends, now that trade rumor season has officially come to an end, Geoffrey and I have been racking our brains as to what I will write on next. After many a sleepless night I bring to you the "People to Watch" series. Twice weekly I will make an update of the front runners for the major awards categories. I encourage you to submit your own names and to let us know if we are way off. I am happy to edit my entries if the public sentiment is overwhelming. As of right now there are very few locks on any of the major awards so the list is likely to change from post to post.

1. Peter Laviolet
2. Lindy Ruff
3. Barry Trotz
Winner: Laviolet

1. Niklas Lidstrom
2. Sergei Zubov
3. Lubomir Vishnovsky
Winner: Zubov

Jaromir Jagr
Alexander Ovechkin
Daniel Alfredsson
Winner: Jagr

Alex Ovechkin
Dion Phaneuf
Sidney Crosby
Winner: Ovie

1. Mikka Kiprusoff
2. Henrik Lunqvist
3.Dominik Hasek
Winner: Kipper

1. Brendan Morrow
2. PJ Axelson
3. Scott Walker
Winner: Morrow

Monday, March 13, 2006


Topic: 2005-06 Playoffs
Question: In the first round of the playoffs, who would you most like to see face off against our beloved Ottawa Senators and why? FYI - if the season ended today, we'd play Montréal.

Current Standings:
1. *Carolina - 92pts (18 Games Remaining)
2. *Ottawa - 91 pts (19 GR)
3. *NY Rangers - 82 pts (18 GR)
4. Buffalo - 89 pts (19 GR)
5. Philadelphia - 80 pts (17 GR)
6. New Jersey - 74 pts (18 GR)
7. Montréal - 71 pts (19 GR)
8. Tampa Bay - 70 pts (18 GR)

9. Atlanta - 68 pts (17 GR)
10. NY Islanders - 64 pts (19 GR)
11. Toronto - 64 pts (19 GR)
12. Florida - 61 pts (18 GR)
13. Boston - 60 pts (17 GR)
14. Washington - 51 pts (19 GR)
15. Pittsburgh - 44 pts (17 GR)

Please post your thoughts below...and pass on to your friends for even more insight and opinion.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sens Game Report - Ottawa at Washington - Sunday, March 12, 2006

photo from Getty Images and
Must win the must-wins

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 5-2
Ottawa goals: Eaves (13) banging in a rebound, Redden (10) with a floater from the point, Spezza (17) sent in alone by Heatley, Neil (13) banging in front on the PP, Heatley (37) on a 2-on-1 pass from Spezza.
Making Sens(e): Spezza, Heatley, Eaves, Emery
Not much Sens(e): Alfredsson (one bad shift), Redden, Chara, Kelly
It was over when: Ottawa ended their 0-for-17 powerplay streak with Redden’s goal, thus eliminating our final flaw.
It was definitely over when: Neil put in the 4th goal, making us now 38-0 when scoring four.
Message in a Molson bottle: Solid game beating up on a fast team with nothing to lose. Ended the five game road trip on a high note and won a game that we had to win.
Courtesy Boxscore:

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

Why did Washington score twice?
I don’t want to pick on our players here, but each of the opponent’s two goals came from lousy defensive work from our top blueliners. The first goal was on a sharp pass from Zubrus across the crease to a wide open Chris Clark, with Redden completely out of position. The second goal, a soft one from the point, should never have been possible had Chara not gotten frustrated after Ovechkin knocked him over. It was as if his pride was hurt or his ribs were served cold and he just started hitting anything near him, leaving his post at the net and as a result, a shooting lane. These are our best players and we always notice when something goes wrong, so for every poor play like this, they make 20 great outlet passes or breakups that we DON’T talk about. But I’ve never seen Chara get that careless or Redden be so out of position. I just wanted to let you know this in case you were wondering why Washington scored two, that’s all.

Raymond – Distinguished Goaltender Emery-tus
Another solid effort from the Emery this afternoon. Muckler and Murray are right – he gets better and better the more he plays. In fact, his coverage post to post is the best it has been all year. His positioning in January was atrocious, but he is now square to the shooters and rarely does a rebound pop to exactly the wrong place like it had been. During his slump, people forgot about how this was the same kid that had just set the record for consecutive wins to start a season. Now that he has been terrific since the break, people have forgotten that they were demanding Muckler find a suitable replacement for the stretch run. Keeping this nucleus in tact over the next few years will allow Emery to shine and become a #1 goaltender in the NHL. His confidence grows with each win, something that other young goalies never have had a chance to do (Marc-Andre Fleury, Rick DiPietro, etc). We are all still waiting to hear when Hasek will be back (maybe in a week, maybe more), but we are once again comfortable with the temp taking his place.

Dany On Fire-ley
Heaters and Spezz Dispenser are officially linemates again. Each with 3-point nights, they looked as magical as ever this afternoon. Maybe I blinked for a second, but I also have seen Spezza make any ridiculously bad passes or turnovers lately, either. Smart, tight hockey equals strong, well-deserved wins. Murray told the entire team that they need to play more in their own end during this stretch run and that is exactly what we are doing. Spezza and Heatley have gotten that chemistry once again and if they can just keep it for, say, another 40-45 games (I’ll save you the math, it would mean winning the Cup) then I’ll be happy. Eaves had his turn on the top line this afternoon and fit in well. He is fast enough to skate with them and gritty enough to get the pucks out of the corner for them, but I just don’t think he has that amazing scoring ability that the other two are used to having with #11 up there. It didn’t hold them back at all, but in my mind there is only one Pizza Line. Does anyone have an issue with Heatley/Spezza/Alfredsson, Smolinski/Arnason/Havlat, Schaefer/Fisher/Neil, and Vermette/Kelly/Eaves? Varada, McGrattan, and Schubert will get their turn if someone goes down, but those four lines of forwards look pretty sweet to me. Summing up, Heatley and Spezza are great again and I can only laugh at the thought of what Alfie would do as the third up there.

Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. Ovechkin held without a point. Great job on the matchups by Chara, Phillips, and Coach Murray. Hard to keep that up on the road without the last change.
2. Go figure – Neil goes back on the powerplay and scores one and screens on the other. Our 0-for-17 powerplay draught ends when Neil is back out there.
3. Speaking of the PP, Arnie saw some time on the second unit but really didn’t have a great game. My hope is that now that he is out of the spotlight, he can work on his game and become a cross between Smolinski and Fisher – the poise of Smolinski with the desire of Fisher, and the natural talent of himself. That would make a great second line center for a long time here. FYI – he is a RFA this summer. I hope we can get him for a few years and help him develop properly.
4. Did you know that Meszaros is one of the five youngest players in the NHL? Not bad for the runaway plus/minus leader.
5. Schaefer left the game in the second. Not sure why.
6. Vermette was minus-2 with two giveaways. One game mulligan.
7. Arnason took almost all of the draws for the second line this time. I guess that makes it official that Smoke will play the left side so long as that line is together.
8. It was Fisher and Schaefer that didn’t see powerplay ice time today. Weird. I guess that was why Neil was OFF the PP for so long, allowing these two to man the second unit.
9. Don’t forget to check this site daily –

Upcoming Games
Tuesday vs. Tampa Bay, 7:30pm
Thursday at Boston, 7:00pm
Saturday vs. Buffalo, 7:00pm.

TB and Boston are in freefall and Buffalo is on our tail, so let’s shoot for three here.