The sleeping giant has awakened.
The Balance in the Bank:
Final Score: Ottawa wins 4-1
Ottawa goals: Havlat (1, pp) on a deke down low that only he could pull off, Spezza (1, pp) on one of his nicest wrist shots of the season picking the short side top corner, Fisher (1, sh) icing the game on a two-on-one break on Schaefer’s saucer pass, Alfredsson (1, en) with an empty netter at the 18:58 mark that still winds up in the scoresheet.
Making Sens(e): Emery, Redden, Havlat
Not much Sens(e): All forwards were sleepy through 40 minutes, especially four names that made it right – Havlat, Spezza, Fisher , and Alfie were noticeably weak through two periods. Funny what a goal can do to one’s opinion of a player.
It was over when: Dare I say, even Havlat’s goal to tie it up in the third drove the crowd crazy and woke the team up for good.
It was definitely over when: With the score 2-1, Fisher put in a shortie that just sent the arena into hysterics.
Message in a Molson bottle: Watching the first two periods, we all knew that it was just a matter of time before the boys took over – we just hoped it was sometime in Game 1 that they did this and not Game 3 or 4! This game was eerily familiar to the very first game of the regular season where the fans sat around for 40 minutes wondering why we were losing 1-0 to an inferior team. But just like they did in October, the better team took over – and this one didn’t require overtime! Defence did a solid job shutting down their forwards and our powerplay took a few tries to get going but was eventually the difference maker. Our first PP unit is just gross to watch with Havlat joining the bunch. Let's eat ribs to celebrate this occasion!
1st Courtesy Boxscore: http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/boxscore?gid=2006042114
2nd Courtesy Boxscore: http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=260421014
Grab a Timmy’s double-double and listen to what really happened:
1st period – Championship teams start from the goalie out – and so does this report
Simply outstanding. If Emery had butterflies going into the game, he certainly found a way to turn them into great positive energy because he played exactly like we needed him to play. We don’t necessarily need Rayzor to steal games throughout the tournament, we just need him to not lose any. Tonight, Emery was making the saves he needed to make and it kept us in the game while the forwards continued their pre-game nap through the first two periods. Emery did his job for 60 minutes and it earned us the win. If he keeps this up, maybe all the pessimists will find something else to dwell on.
2nd Period – How Gary Bettman touched this game
Referees are expected to call penalties like they were in October. Says the former assistant commissioner of the NBA, “if the referees put the whistles away, we’ll put the referees away.” As a result, tonight’s game featured a combined 15 penalties (9 for them), leading to four special team goals out of the five (and that fifth was an empty netter). While our powerplay finally came alive in the third with the Havlat and Spezza goals, let’s keep in mind that Richards on the point of Tampa Bay’s powerplay is why they are the defending champs. If we want to make quick work of this series, we need to get our sticks down again and out of the Lightning armpits. Heatley took two lazy penalties that, while they may not have been called down the stretch of the regular season, are still enough to be called now – and all he was doing was sticking his blade into the opponent’s armpit. Unless we want to have a 33% powerplay all series, let’s not let special teams take over this series because Tampa has enough shooters to put a few in on their own.
3rd Period – Was this a must-win game?
I think you can argue either side here, but I’m going to explain why the answer is yes. Tampa Bay and their Fonz-like coach conveniently labeled themselves as the underdogs that aren’t even supposed to be in the playoffs. As the experts have said (Williams and I), the pressure on Ottawa will DECREASE with every win. If we had lost this game, the depressed Ottawa fans would have found a way to blame the loss on Emery, blast Alfredsson, and cancel their season tickets in the first few minutes after the final horn. Furthermore, it gives Tampa Bay just a bit more hope in hanging around in this series. Tampa is not good enough to make this into a long series and if we had given them the chance to do that, it would just lead to more games. By taking this first game, we remind the Lightning that we have dominated them over the past four years and that will remain in the heads through next week. Too many people in the city would give up on this team if we had lost, and so many people will jump back on the bandwagon because we won. And now Emery just has 15 more to win!
Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. I’m still predicting a first-round sweep, by the way.
2. First period – our best line was Vermette, Neil, and Varada. Tons of hitting and energy from this hodge podge group. I don’t even know what they’re supposed to do out there – hit people, shoot, or just kill time. They did all three.
3. Tough night for Tampa when Richards and Lecavlier went a combined 10 of 29 (34%) in the faceoff circle.
4. Only Meszaros and Pothier DIDN’T have a shot on goal. That’s good. Early on, though, we weren’t doing a great job of moving around the blocking forward and instead just fired pucks into their legs.
5. One of the highlights of my night is seeing Martin Havlat’s excitement after his game-tying goal. I don’t like to think that there is truth to the theory that Europeans don’t care about the Cup, but it is still nice to see them so passionate.
6. Don’t forget to check this site daily – http://www.northeasthockey.blogspot.com/.
New for the Playoffs: THE MAN WE COULDN'T LIVE WITHOUT: Ray Emery. If he doesn't make key saves in the first period, we don't have as quick a comeback in the third period. Cheers, Ray!
Sunday vs. Tampa Bay 6:00
Tuesday @ Tampa Bay, 7:00Thursday @ Tampa Bay,