Monday, June 04, 2007

rd 4 gm 4; anaheim @ ottawa; 6.4.07

That’s what happens when you take your boot off their throat.

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Anaheim wins 3-2 (Anaheim leads series 3-1)
Ottawa Goals: Alfredsson, Heatley
Making Sens: Volchenkov, Phillips, Fisher
Lacking Sens: Redden. Heatley, Meszaros, more
It was over when: The first few minutes of the second period. It was clear our edge was gone and we handed them the keys to take back the game. They did.
It was definitely over when: McDonald’s second goal (in one minute) gave them the lead, silenced the crowd, and forced our boys back into their timid style they’ve played all series.
Message in a Molson bottle: It pains me to no end that we can come out flying in the first period, take the lead, and then just walk away for the final 40 minutes. Sure, we had some pressure and a game-tying goal late in the second period, but we are a scared team. Our top players are terribly intimidated by their team, and it rubs off on the rest of the boys. We’ve become so hands-off (with notable exceptions like Fisher) and basically wear our fear on our sleeves. The result, against a dominant team like Anaheim, is this shitestorm we allowed over the final two periods, and our first elimination game of the playoffs.

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

Optimistic Ophelia
Mike Fisher’s status as an underrated player in the league is over – everyone notices him now. He has been the absolute heart and soul of Ottawa over the course of the fourth round, partly because he plays such an inspired game and partly because our old stars are out of their element this round. Mike Fisher represents everything you need to be a champion – skill, speed, tenacity, and a city’s worth of heart. How his teammates can watch a shift of his and then not respond the same way is frightening. The most painful thing about this 3-1 deficit right now is that Mike Fisher deserves better and nobody is helping bring that fate.

Pessimistic Patty
I don’t care who scored our goals tonight, our top players are soft. We don’t have a top line crusher, like a Rod Brind’Amour, and we don’t have a game-changing blue liner like a Scott Stevens. In this particular series at this particular time, it is unraveling our team in front of the world. We were one of the most physical teams in the Eastern Conference. Apparently, the Western Conference is far tougher because besides just a few guys, our entire team looks terrified and rattled each and every shift. Dany Heatley was supposed to be the North American difference maker, the anti-Hossa, but you can’t really tell a difference right now, can you? Even Alfredsson and his ass-first hits on the dump-in are gone. Why do we choose to stick-check the hell out of everything instead of using our body? Why, when approaching an oncoming winger, do we take an angle alongside the guy so we can poke it away instead of taking the angle to knock his head off? We look physically pathetic and it isn’t because we’re smaller, its because we don’t want to play that style. Guess what, boys, it’s too late. Anaheim wrote the prologue at home in the first two games and you have NOT answered the bell. Frigging stick-checking everything.

Upbeat Urusla
Have I talked about Mike Fisher yet? Other than that, I can’t take a positive out of this game yet. Perhaps emotions are still boiling over at having crapped the bed in a game where they missed their top player and their lower-tiered defencemen looked completely awful. Perhaps we really did play that timidly over the last 40 minutes that there is nothing to be happy about. Hey, did Heatley get his first point of the series? Great. We lost. What have you done for me lately, Eddie?

Debbie Downer
I don’t want to sound like a Debbie Downer here, but it is going to take all of our might as fans to analyze how we can come back in this series. Even last year when we were down 3-0 to Buffalo, we could conceivably put a plan together to win the series. Down 3-1 now, I really don’t think we’re a couple of line changes from winning. While all three losses have been in one-goal games, they’ve been in games where we just rolled over and played dead. For God’s Sake, the biggest game in franchise history and Wade Redden plays like a total pansy. How the balls are we going to regroup and beat these guys three times when Redden is our man and some buffoon named Meszaros skates beside him? Don’t get me wrong, I’ll try and figure out a way of how we’ll come back and win this on the road in seven, but the way we’ve played through four games, we’re somewhat lucky we got a fifth game out of it, in my opinion. Am I overreacting to the loss? Speak to me.

Keys to next game
Hit their heads off, for crying out loud
Traffic in front of Giguere
Leave it on the ice and have no less than a dozen cuts and bruises. You don’t know when you’ll be back here.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

rd 4 gm 3; anaheim @ ottawa; 6.2.07

Tonight we spell redemption M-lower case c-upper case A-M-M-O-N-D

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 5-3 (Anaheim leads series 2-1)
Ottawa Goals: Neil, Fisher, Alfredsson, McAmmond (GW), Volchenkov
Making Sens: Volchenkov, 3rd and 4th lines
Lacking Sens: Redden. Heatley, Emery
It was over when: Getzlaf’s offsetting holding penalty negates a key Ducks penalty and keeps momentum in our favour.
It was definitely over when: Our boys hold the Ducks to 3 shots in the third period and smother them for the final ten minutes until time expires.
Message in a Molson bottle: To play better tonight wouldn’t have been good enough – a win was the only thing that mattered. With the help of our third and fourth lines, we were able to gain back a bit of momentum. The turnaround wasn’t evident until Alfie’s game-tying goal in the second when we came back for a third time, this one giving us enough push to take over the game. The positives here were that we were a bit better in the faceoff circle (still getting killed there), a bit more physical, and created a bit more space on the ice to attack. Still, we have far too many non-players dressed in the jerseys of our highest paid players and all they did was get bailed out by our lowest paid guys.
Courtesy Boxscore:

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

Optimistic Ophelia
Hey, a win is a win is a win, right? We didn’t get much from Redden or Phillips, Heatley was invisible, Spezza was soft, and even Alfredsson wasn’t terrific. What we did see was some top-flight effort from guys like Chris Neil, Antoinne Vermette, Dean McAmmond, Oleg Saprykin, etc. They say we couldn’t win if we didn’t have our top line clicking – we proved them wrong in a big way, potting five behind their Conn Smythe candidate. It was this four-line effort that we said was one of our strengths coming in. Now let’s get the big boys to follow suit and hit something.

Pessimistic Patty
Speaking of our top players, they look lost out there. It isn’t that they aren’t trying, but it just seems like they aren’t willing to fight for pucks like they did before. Spezza and Heatley still look timid, Alfie isn’t driving towards the net for goals like the previous series, and Redden just needs to be taken out back and beaten with a rubber hose. If Chara were still in town, he’d eat Redden for lunch, just to prove a message. But seriously, our top players are just not in this series yet and it is getting to the point where they can either get on the bus or watch it go by. This series hits the halfway point now and there is still no real sign of our four highest paid guys. Ding ding, all aboard.

Upbeat Urusla
This was an alley fight. We went down three times by a goal and three times we fought back. This was also the first time we fought back physically and for the first time in nine periods, there is some hatred between these two. The Pronger hit on McAmmond (for which he has just received a one-game suspension) was the icing on the cake of this battle and if you think about it, we play our best when we hate our opponent. Our best regular season and playoff games were against none other than Buffalo, a team that we despise. If we can build up the same kind of hatred towards the Ducks, it definitely neutralizes their physical style and brings the fight into the alley, a place where we know we can be successful.

Debbie Downer
I don’t want to knock on our penalty killers because they still do a great job, but we don’t have that same kind of swagger we did in the first three series. We are aggressive penalty killers and it actually worked against us on their PP goal this time around as we just didn’t cover the holes on the ice. It is not fair to ask that they score shorties night in and night out, but I don’t think we have such an obvious special teams advantage anymore, even though I am flip flopping on what I said after game one.

Keys to next game
Take this game into the corners
Get first line swagger back
Dump and chase and hit