Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sens Game Report - Ottawa @ Buffalo - 2.7.07

I don’t like Buffalo one bit.

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Buffalo wins 3-2
Ottawa Goals:
McAmmond (6) knocking in a rebound that got away from Biron on a Corvo shot
Schaefer (9, pp) picking up the garbage in front of the net on the PP
Making Sens: Neil, Spezza, McAmmond, Volchenkov (minus the one turnover)
Lacking Sens: Corvo, Redden, Fisher
It was over when: Redden takes the lazy hooking penalty with 5:30 to go and we give up the powerplay goal
It was definitely over when: A high stick on Schaefer went uncalled with a minute to play and we stayed shorthanded until it was too late to get a last minute rush
Message in a Molson bottle: This was the one game against Buffalo we were supposed to win as they were playing on no rest and should have lost their legs in the third. Instead, we looked like the lazy team in the last few minutes and showed the same tendencies that have been evident since the All-Star Break: spotty backchecking and suspect defence. Let’s be able to call this team out when necessary – our great run of 2007 hasn’t been so great since the Break and we are dangerously close to ninth place.
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: Thursday night hosting Montreal for a home and home (back end on samedi)

A pair of storylines to wow your friends over a Timmy’s double double:

A brief, sort of, periodic breakdown in judgment
Buffalo’s first goal was on a disgusting handoff from Volchenkov that was so simple that I’m sure Vanek was surprised to get it. Buffalo’s second goal was Afinogenov having an open one-timer because Comrie and Neil didn’t get back in time to backcheck. Buffalo’s third goal came while we killed off a very lazy hooking penalty from our highest-paid player. I truly believe that a lot (not all) of the Senators have bought into the blue collar mentality that Muckler had last summer and Murray has preached all year, but we abandoned that attitude too often tonight against a team that is best known for skating hard and fast. Letting up against the Sabres leads to goals against – three tonight, to be exact. This team needs backchecking from the forwards to win games. Volchenkov can't block every shot.

Whose Line is it Anyway?
Kelly started between Alfredsson and Heatley again. By the third period, everyone was playing with different linemates except the fourth line of Schubert, McAmmond, and Eaves (which was probably our most consistent). Murray has all the pieces a coach could want but so far, it seems like we’ve been unable to find the right combination to produce three consistent scoring lines. Spezza’s talent is wasted playing with a guy like Schaefer, who has been lollygagging since he signed his 4-year deal and always had a reputation for not shooting. Comrie needs more icetime than what he gets in a third line role (11:40 tonight). I’d like to see Comrie spend some time with Heatley and Alfredsson and let Spezza play with Vermette and Fisher for a bit. Match their talents. As Muckler said on the radio this afternoon - all the tools are there and there a ton of line combinations and we don't really have the luxury of spending the next 25 games finding what works. We're two losses out of being outside the playoff cutoff. Speaking of lines, don’t ask me what to do with Peter Schaefer because my suggestion would probably anger the NHLPA in some way. It would involve violence and BBQ ribs and a stern talking-to. “…but now you’ve got your damn unions.” Name the movie. In all seriousnes, I'm not a fan of Schaefer this season. Why are all of our long-term deals from the summer blowing up in our face?

Beavertail droppings:
1. Neil was one of our best players and he didn’t even get 8 minutes of icetime. I agree that the slow backchecking on the Afinogenov goal left a lot to be desired, but Neil is our energy player and when we should be outskating the tired team in the third period, it is a textbook Chris Neil shift that could turn it up a bit.
2. Mike Comrie needs to buy into the program and backcheck and skate hard. I like the guy a lot and I think he knows his role on this team, but we don’t want him to be the rich man’s Tyler Arnason. Get him in shape and get him working his ass off like Heatley does.
3. Mike Fisher has yet to return to his form that he showed right before the injury.
4. 33 Buffalo giveaways and we only had one even strength goal. Boooo.
5. Buffalo is either the worst team at balancing on skates or they’re divers. Since they are all NHL-caliber players, I guess that means they are all turning into little Derek Roys. I hate them all.
6. Spezza goes 20-10 in the faceoff circle; mindblowing.
7. The latest trade rumours have Ottawa looking at any of the following: Gary Roberts, Martin Gelinas, Chris Simon, Brent Sopel, Aaron Miller, Geoff Sanderson. No game breakers, but that isn’t what the team needs. Just a nice 7th defenceman and a forward with some playoff success. I’m in the majority that would love to see Roberts in Ottawa.


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