What the hell… photo from tsn.ca and CP The Balance in the Bank:
Final Score: Buffalo wins 7-6 (OT) Ottawa goals: Spezza (3, pp) on a pass through the crease from Heatley, Smolinski (2) on a turnaround shot through Miller’s legs, Havlat (7) backhander on a breakaway pass from Schubert, Heatley (3, pp) banging away at the side of the net, Fisher (2) opening the third on a wrist shot off the rebound, Smolinski (3) on a pass from Alfie in a flurry of activity in the crease with what should have been the game winner. Making Sens(e): Fisher, Havlat, Spezza, Heatley, Schaefer, Smolinski Not much Sens(e): Emery, Meszaros, Schubert, Volchenkov. It was over when: Overtime struck and everyone and their dog knew that the first shot of the extra period would win. It was definitely over when: Drury shot 18 seconds into overtime. Message in a Molson bottle: An entire city at a loss for words tonight is pondering why our rookies played like rookies and how we can score six goals and not win. By far the worst NHL performance for Emery and Meszaros tonight capped off a game that we should have won no less than a dozen times. Whether it is pinching on a powerplay with a late one goal lead or simply falling on our faces when trying to break up a shorthanded two-on-one, this game was so ridiculous that while we outplayed and outclassed the Sabres, it is still up for debate whether or not we deserved this. Simply embarrassing. 1st Courtesy Boxscore:http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/boxscore?gid=2006042914 2nd Courtesy Boxscore:http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=260429020
Grab a Timmy’s double-double and listen to what really happened:
1st Period – How to lose a game in 10 seconds Throughout the course of this past regular season, the Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t have as many opportunities to win a hockey game than we did in tonight’s game alone. Meszaros pinches in to the halfboards on a powerplay with a one goal lead in the last two minutes and naturally loses the puck, leading to a shortie the other way to tie it up. Someone keep an eye on Coach Murray. Alfredsson has the puck in the Sabres zone with his back to an empty net and decides to play keep away and fires the puck back to Phillips instead of trying to create a scoring chance and ice it. Phillips also opts to not shoot for the open cage. Do we have doctors on standby to talk Coach Murray off the ‘S’ in Scotiabank Place? Instead of putting his glove on top of the puck to freeze it with ten seconds remaining, Ray Emery chooses instead of push it out through the legs of his forward, Smolinski, to give Buffalo yet another opportunity to score and tie it up in the dying seconds. Call the Fire Department and set up one of those trapeze nettings below the building just to be safe. Emery continues with the mindset that making saves are not good for team morale and lets in the first puck he sees in overtime. Okay – now its ME that needs the counseling! For a team that won 52 games in the regular season, we looked like a bunch of idiots out there that had no clue how to protect a lead. Were the defencemen trying to bail their teammates out by making sure they ALL had a chance to blow the game? Experts would say that the Senators should win every game when they score six goals – I guess they aren’t experts anymore. Is anyone else pacing the room right now wondering whether you should drink, take a 72-hour walk, throw a chair, or rip apart the Yellow Pages? Comment below – how did you respond to this debauchery?
2nd Period – Where to go from here I debated since the end of this game until now whether or not I should try and make note of positives tonight so that we could look forward to Monday’s game. While I don’t want to give any of us a reason to be happy, there are a couple of things that must be said so that we don’t completely snap when someone runs into Alfie and his son, Hugo at the Dora show on Saturday night. With great reluctance, I point out the following: 1) we scored six goals that were all somewhat manufactured. Buffalo’s defence wasn’t very good tonight, but all of our goals are tallies that we can realistically expect to score again in future games, something that shouldn’t be said for them; 2) Alfie and Smolinski found some goals. These two haven’t really fed off each other to date but they had a couple of solid forechecks and scoring chances tonight. This is crucial at giving us three scoring lines; 3) Phillips and Chara were good; 4) Spezza, Heatley, and Havlat are still on fire. They did not get rusty over the break and continues on their torrid pace; 5) Ryan Miller was just as terrible as our goalie and it will now just depend on how the forwards and defencemen react in the next game – I’ll bet that after Murray’s postgame speech, our rookies will be playing quite a bit smarter on Monday.
3rd Period – N/A Based on tonight’s precedent, I don’t want to do a third period. Chances are I’d start well and make everyone laugh but would probably blow it at the end with careless words and my weakest finish yet. I’d rather skip the whole process.
Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less 1. 19 giveaways from the home team. Humiliating. 2. Derek Roy just had a five-point night. Every one of us should take a long look in the mirror and shake our heads at this fact. I’m going to handle it by starting and finishing a bottle of Canadian Club and walking to the closest Waffle House to drown my sorrows into a plate of hash browns and the caring ears of Loretta-Anne and Biff the cook, who between the two of them will come close to a full set of teeth. Make that a double order of hashbrowns, please, Loretta-Anne, my dear. 3. Wade Redden’s line – 0 goals, 3 assists, minus-4. How do you manage to do that, Redds? Oh I get it, you can pass the puck across the length of the ice but you can’t lift a Sabres stick that is right beside you that is about to score a goal past your absentee goalie. Glad we got that one straightened out. 4. Hi, I’m Andrej Meszaros, can you hand me that towel and that bar of soap so I can wash Coach Murray’s spit off my face? Then hand me that book called ‘Protecting a Lead for Dummies’ so that I can have it read before I’m allowed back on the ice. 5. Hey Rayzor, Andre “Red Light” Racicot called and he said you can borrow his nickname for tonight but he suggests that you should try and give it back before Game 2 because it just isn’t a good career marketing move. Red Light Ray, that’s got a ring to it. 6. Hey Ray, Grant Fuhr called and he said he used to let in four goals a game to win the Cup, not seven. He went on to add that he also knew how to make a key save at a key time and sent you a PowerPoint to your hotmail account to read more about it. Apparently its got some colourful graphs about what happens to your team with the more goals you let in – rocket science, I know. 7. Ray Emery’s save percentage tonight - .695. At the time of print (11:30ish Friday night), I guarantee that either the Sun or Citizen tomorrow mentions the name, Dominik Hasek. I know I just did. 8. Sarcasm can be the loser’s closest friend. Tonight, we’re very close. 9. Let’s shake this nonsense and win the next four. It’s official – I’m restarting my playoff beard. Also, I want to point out that while Emery was very bad, his defencemen were absolutely terrible and a lot of Sabres goals were banged into an open net because of a total lack of backside protection. Defensive positioning tonight was a f@#$%^ing joke. 10. Don’t forget to check this site daily – http://www.northeasthockey.blogspot.com/.
Upcoming Games Monday in Ottawa Wednesday in Buffalo Thursday in Buffalo Saturday in Ottawa Monday in Buffalo Wednesday in Ottawa
Dora Photo: http://kiddie.netspecialists.com/ContentImages/Dora%20Alone.GIF This just in - I'm a fan of that little girl and whatever it is she does with her life. The NHL has set dates that playoff series will start and apparently Round 2 must start either on Friday or Saturday. With Dora being at the arena on Saturday, we'll likely get Game One on Friday night. To finally make my point, our opponent is still TBD and might have to be playing a Game Seven of their first round on Thursday night and turn around and play against a well-rested Sens team in Hockey Country the very next night. Advantage Ottawa. Gotta pull for Philly on Tuesday to extend that series.
Final Score: Ottawa wins 3-2 (wins series 4-1) Ottawa goals: Schaefer (2) on such an amazing pass from Havlat that it was impossible for Schaefs to not put this in, Meszaros (1) silencing the boos after Schaefer’s disallowed goal by blasting one in from the point, Havlat (6, pp) taking Heatley’s perfect pass in front of the net and showing elitist patience before roofing it in for the game-winner. Making Sens(e): Emery, Havlat, Schaefer, Heatley, Spezza, Redden – same as every game this series. Not much Sens(e): hard to put anyone in here It was over when: Havlat roofed it over Burke late in the second period for a 3-1 lead – we’ve been trapping with a third period lead it has worked every time but once. It was definitely over when: Upper- and lower-body injured Chris Kelly blocked the last shot of the game with the Lightning on a powerplay. Message in a Molson bottle: Exciting playoff hockey with a great crowd and a great performance. Heaters, Spezz Dispenser, Hav-so combined for 30 points (each of them broke Hossa’s record of eight points in a playoff series as they each had ten). Complete effort with effective powerplay, stifling penalty kill, solid transition and neutral zone game and great goaltending. Leave the rest to the offensive youth to handle the rest. 1st Courtesy Boxscore:http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/boxscore?gid=2006042914 2nd Courtesy Boxscore:http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=260429020
Grab a Timmy’s double-double and listen to what really happened:
1st Period - Forwards We have two unbelievable scoring lines right now. Spezza and Heatley each put up ten points (Havlat, too) and were as strong as they could be. They backchecked properly and their passing was incredible. Putting Vermette up there gives them a third scorer that also has a defensive conscience. Our best line was Fisher with Schaefer and Havlat. Did you ever expect that Fisher would have by far the least amount of points on his line? No knock on Fish as he has still be his reliable self and doing it with only one eye. Havlat has his timing back and reestablished his chemistry with Schaefer, who has also raised his game. Eaves and Alfredsson are a solid duo that spend most of their time in the neutral zone – Alfie has done an amazing job at slowing down opposition attacks and creating chances the other way. Smolinski, well, has been great in the faceoff circle but needs to use the body more on the forecheck, in my opinion. The fourth line is a revolving door of Kelly, Neil, Varada, and Schubert that uses the body well and gives our top lines the rest they need and the motivation to pour it on again.
2nd Period – Defencemen Wade Redden is back as our #1 defencemen. The upcoming week off (or longer) is a much-needed rest for Wade to get off this emotional rollercoaster and take a deep breath. I still can’t imagine what he is going through right now but would guess that it will be a tough, but necessary week to get through. Chara’s icetime is still up nice and high as he is our shadow. Tampa’s first goal last night was scored with the big guy trying to get back to the net after following Lecavalier to the blue line again. His role next round will depend on who wins between Philly and Buffalo, but his consistency is counted on going forward. Phillips will use the week off to get his knee back in game shape and return opposite Zee and maybe throw a few more pucks into the top corner from time to time. Meszaros started with a couple of subpar games but really found his playoff game in the second half of the series. Playing along side a guy like Redds has taken away his fear of making a mistake and allowed him to focus on playing his game again. Volchenkov is a #5 defenceman on this team – he uses the body and breaks up plays with a touch or regularity but rightfully limit his icetime. Schubert and Pothier have rotated as our sixth man and both bring a different element to the game – Schubie is crash and bang and Pothier is more comfortable with the puck. Murray will continue to use which ever one is required based on the tone of the previous game. In other words, Schubert will be out there when we need the excitement of big hits. It’s nice to know that we have the best blue line depth in the playoffs.
3rd Period – Goaltending and Coaching What can you say about Ray Emery? Tim Taylor returned the Game One puck to him after the game and said he was just keeping it to get a playoff edge. Rayzor showed his appreciation and interest by giving the puck away a few seconds later. Some rookies are just thrilled to play a game or to win a series – ours doesn’t care about his number of wins until he has 16. He is confident and is giving us a chance to win each and every game – which is all we are asking of him. Here’s a name you haven’t heard in a while – Dominik Hasek. Coach Murray is awesome. Teams that win the most playoff games are the ones that can adjust to a loss or to a bad period. We had one loss and we had a couple of bad period and in each case, our weakness became a strength. Our gaps in the neutral zone disappeared and our backcheck began taking over. He finds chemistry in his forwards and consistency in his defencemen, all without dropping the f-bombs that the Fonz was using in Tampa’s dressing room and press conference and most other places the Lightning went. This is a different team now and led by a different genius.
Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less 1. Round Two can’t start until the following Monday as our building is occupied for the whole weekend with Dora the Explorer. Why have we booked the building for two the first three Saturdays in the playoffs? Why can’t Dora go explore the ACC or something? 2. Varada left the game with what looks like a shoulder injury. Again, the eight or nine days of rest will do wonders for this team – Chris Kelly, too. 3. Would it have been a different series if Sean Burke had been the starter? Probably not – there was no pressure on Burke as they were supposed to lose this game anyway. Every save he made (and there were some great ones) were more than the Lightning were expecting. 4. It won’t do any good to think about it now, but we will need to re-sign Havlat and Spezza this summer, on top of the big guys on the blue line. Havlat missing 58 games would have allowed us to keep his raise in check. Havlat being our best player is a different story. But as I said, let’s focus on the task at hand now and win twelve more. 5. Smolinski was 12-2 in the faceoff circle – that’s pretty good. 6. Don’t forget to check this site daily – http://www.northeasthockey.blogspot.com/.
Please note that there are numerous photos being used in this blog from various sources across the Internet. These are not attempts at republishing pictures without consent, but merely a chance to add a face to a name.