Wednesday, May 16, 2007

rd 3 gm 4; buffalo @ ottawa; 05.16.2007

The better team lost tonight

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Buffalo wins 3-2 (Ottawa leads series 3-1)
Ottawa Goals: McAmmond, Schaefer
Making Sens: Alfredsson, Fisher, Volchenkov, Corvo
Lacking Sens: Meszaros, Heatley, Neil, Emery
It was over when: Heatley’s high sticking penalty with about 2:30 left meant we’d only get 30 seconds to put on the full press – not enough.
It was definitely over when: Miller grabbed the puck with about 8 seconds left and instead of freezing it and giving us a faceoff, he threw it to the corner and time ran out.
Message in a Molson bottle: Far too slow of a start. A terrible turnover to start the game and then sitting back to see what Buffalo would bring, just the complete opposite style we’d played all series. We kicked around for 30 minutes before showing signs of life and taking over the game. In the end, we had badly outplayed the Sabres but two blunders in the first half (Meszy’s turnover and Emery’s brutal handling of the Drury goal) put us in too deep of a hole. Hold your head up high, that Sabres team that played today won’t beat us again because we won’t show up with such carelessness to start the next one on Saturday.
Courtesy Boxscore:

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

Optimistic Ophelia
The lines were flying in the second half of this game and the fact that we DIDN’T tie this one up is a mystery. Redden, Fisher, McAmmond all had glorious chances to pot one; I’ll have nightmares about Redden in the slot on the powerplay in the third and completely missing the net. But let’s get back to Ophelia – we had goals from the second and fourth lines tonight and they probably generated far more chances than our top line. This is what we need, and if you couple that the top line playing like they have, and we could have won this one. It’s a nice sign that they’re scoring.

Pessimistic Patty
Emery looked awful tonight. Perhaps its my emotions running hot because I’m writing this just minutes after the final horn, but I thought he fought the puck all night. I don’t know how to explain this just because all he has to do is make the saves that he is supposed to make. Had he done that, we could still be in this game because the Drury goal was just hideous. I think Emery is enough of a fighter to bounce back from this one, but I imagine he’ll beat himself up over this one for a few hours. Again, all we need him to do is wear sharp suits and stop the routine shots. The other 18 will do the rest.

Upbeat Ursula
We showed resolve tonight. It doesn’t show much in the end result, but to fight back from that 3-0 deficit just for the sake of winning this series was a nice showing. After the Drury goal, we somehow settled back into our style of play and controlled the rest of the game. If we play like that through 60 minutes on Saturday afternoon, we’ll hopefully have a better result. In each series, we’ve broken off of our game plan for a period or so and we did the same thing tonight. On Saturday, it is back to business.

Debbie Downer
What the frig is up with Dany Heatley? At first, I thought he was snakebitten against Miller. Now, I think he is just in a funk. I love his assists and all, but he is the weak link on that top line right now, sad to say. I know, I know, we lost one game. I’m not going into panic mode and I still think we will win this series, but the dude potted 50 goals this year – don’t you expect him to find some in a game like tonight? Wait, stop. I guarantee a Heatley goal on Saturday. There, I said it.

Keys to the next game
- Take the crowd out of the game
- Focus on our system
- Take back the special teams

R.I.P. Buffalo

Guys, Dont worry. Buffolo is don on Saturday.
Bye Bye Roy

Monday, May 14, 2007

rd 3 gm 3; buffalo @ ottawa; may 14, 2007

Don’t let up, boys.

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 1-0 (Ottawa leads series 3-0)
Ottawa Goals: Alfredsson (GW)
Making Sens: Alfredsson, Volchenkov, Redden
Lacking Sens: Neil
It was over when: The Alfie goal, combined with our domination up until that point, would be enough for a team on a mission like this
It was definitely over when: Back to back penalties in the third period for Buffalo spelled the end – we weren’t going to let them tie this one up.
Message in a Molson bottle: The most dominating performance to date from the boys, this was wasn’t nearly as close as the 1-0 score. We outshot them 32-15 in a must-win game for Buffalo, and held them to 0-for-6 on the PP with one shot total. Those numbers tell the story – this was a one-sided affair that started from Emery and covered just about everybody on out. I sound like a broken record, but you have to lose before you can win and this team knows how bad it wants to win right now. Bias aside, no team has walked through their opponents in recent memory like we are right now. Finish the job, boys!
Courtesy Boxscore:

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

Optimistic Ophelia
You have to be lucky to be good, but more importantly you have to be good to be lucky. Some will say it was a lucky bounce that got us the goal tonight, and I’m telling you and all your friends that it was the hard work of the top line that led to that goal. I repeat, you have to be good to be lucky. We are getting the bounces and the opportunities because we are manufacturing them behind the curtain. That goal was a result of an absolutely amazing outlet play from our zone, some great passing through the neutral zone, and a result of the players knowing where to go on the rush. Brilliant goal from a brilliant line, now 1-2-3 in playoff scoring. Trade who?

Pessimistic Patty
Hard to point anything out right now, but Chris Neil might be in over his head right now. He hasn’t brought much to this series, though I’ll say that sometimes his job as our third line winger is just to control their third line. He just seems tentative to hit someone on the forecheck for fear of taking a dumb penalty or something. The stakes are higher right now and I just hope someone settles Neiler down and gets him back into his groove as the NHL hits leader. Remember that he won that?

Upbeat Ursula
What can you say about our penalty killers? We killed off six more tonight and held them to one shot. That means, mathematicians, that they had five powerplays where they didn’t have a single shot. Pairings were Kelly/Vermette, Alfredsson/McAmmond, and Fisher/Schaefer and I’ve never been so amazed at a dominance of special teams like this. Remember last year when we kept giving up shorthanded 2-on-1s? Remember how awful it felt? Now go hug a Sabres fan, cause it has gotten that bad for them now to the point that they’d rather decline a powerplay. We had more scoring chances on their PPs than they did, including a 2-on-0 where Meszaros rang one off the post.

Debbie Downer
Nothing, just make sure you come out like the balls on Wednesday. Comparisons to last year are funny, but who wants to go back to Buffalo for game five? Attack them like a Chara on a Baton Rouge rib, like a Havlat on an injured list, like a Pothier on an overpaid contract, like a Hasek on shitlist. Let’s take care of our business Wednesday.

One last note, I’m off to see Wayne Gretzky at the BMW Charity Pro-Am golf tournament in Greenville, SC on the weekend. Anybody have suggestions on clever quips to try and make the Great One laugh? Last year, when he had a 7-iron shot coming up from off the cart path, I told him that he’d put it in from trickier angles than this. He replied, “yeah, but I was a lot better on skates.” That comment is only cool because Gretzky said it. Post a comment and let me know what I should try and say to him this time around.

Keys to the next game
- Don’t let up
- Shore up the PP (0-for-7 tonight)
- Dominate the neutral zone again

Sunday, May 13, 2007

This about that

It is too difficult to find the right words to describe the roller coaster of emotion in this game last night. To go down two goals in Buffalo, to score three straight after that, to give up a tying goal with 5 seconds left, to win a game on the road in double overtime. For anyone that missed the game, this was a doozie. To see how this team has evolved from year's past, you need only watch a single playoff game this year because the evidence is everywhere. After the Briere goal to tie it up, it was said that the core of the team went to the locker room and calmed everyone down, told them to refocus, and get back to work. You have to lose before you can win because you need to know how terrible it feels to drop an overtime game, to let a series lead slip away at the last moment. That's what has made this leadership that much better.

All I wanted to mention today was a response to listening to Lindy Ruff's post-game comments. In 4 minutes, he said he was upset about Alfie's hit on Tallinder not being called, the Vanek punch-in goal being overturned, and the fact that Ottawa keeps getting 5-on-3s and Buffalo doesn't. I believe he was just short of bringing up Brett Hull's skate, too. I don't know how this series will turn out, Buffalo is a great road team and they have shown all year that they know how to win games. But regardless of the outcome, you just get the feeling that the Sabres have yet to learn how to deal with losing. I think you need your coach to be a voice of reason, to teach the young kids (Buffalo is a pretty young team) how to shake off a loss and get back to work. But if you are a second-year player on the Sabres and all you hear after the game from your coach is how the other team is getting better powerplays and the refs cost you the game, you really don't a single thing from the loss. I believe it is for that reason that Buffalo is not quite ready to be a champion and until they learn how to learn and adjust from a loss instead of making excuses as to why it didn't work out, they'll continue to bring up Hull's skate and complain.

It should be an amazing game on Monday night. As has been the case with each of the 12 previous ones, this is the biggest game of the season for Ottawa. Win this and you can get your boot on their throat on Wednesday. Keys to the game are to stay out of the penalty box, clear out rebounds, and hit them like hell. I know those sound obvious, but 1) I don't want to give them a chance to discover their powerplay, 2) Buffalo is a team that pounces on rebounds, the less of them there are, the less goals we give up, and 3) we've been outhit in the first two games and it would send a strong message if we bring our crowd and our physical play to them as hard as we can, keeping in mind the first key there - be smart and stay out of the box.