Friday, December 16, 2005

Dallas 2 Ottawa 0

THE GOOD:

Taking the body. Physically, Ottawa dominated the Stars from start to finish, and by the end, you could tell that Dallas was feeling it as they were more reluctant to go into the corners after lose pucks.

Antoine Vermette. Vermette showed more vigor last night than any other game in a while, and made a case that he deserves to be promoted back up to a line that gets more ice time. A case could be made that he was Ottawa’s best forward. He was strong on the forecheck, played the body and finished all his checks, and was skating very well for the majority of the game and was a big part of the penalty killing unit.

THE BAD:

Bad officiating. Just read what I’ve written for the past two weeks. I’ve grown very tired of repeating myself and even more frustrated that it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

Too many penalties. Tied into above, and the same applies.

Missing the net so often. I don’t think the NHL tracks missed shots, but without looking at any statistics, I think it’s safe to say that last night Ottawa was firing more errant shots than ever. Dany Heatley in particular had to have missed four, including two that would’ve been great scoring opportunities, but he was not alone, as other Senators forwards were missing their mark with regularity. Maybe Bryan Murray needs to break out those shooting targets we all used as kids because this group sure looks to need it. I also blame those fucking composite sticks, as guys have so much power at their disposal they take basic wrist shots and the puck ends up in hitting the glass. If Ottawa was getting more pucks on net, maybe they would’ve gotten the breaks Dallas did with their goals.

The broken coverage on the goals Dallas scored. Neither one of the Stars’ goals were particularly good, but rather the result of hard work from their forwards, going heavy to the net, and the Senators players losing track of who they were supposed to take. I felt bad for Ray Emery on the first goal because it was just a bad break, and he deserved better than that, but the second was not one he’d be proud of.

Lack of finish from the supporting cast. These guys didn’t do much to strike down the notion that John Muckler needs to trade for some secondary scoring, which was disappointing because a lot of them were quite good Monday night in Colorado. Now it has to be done with some consistency.

THE OPPOSITION:

Having come off a loss the night before against the red hot Buffalo Sabres, you could see Dallas lacked that extra jump in their stride that’s been there during their recent success. In that sense, they did not live up to the hype as being among the Western's best.

That said, a win is a win is a win, so you cannot be too critical, especially when a team comes into Ottawa and gets the W. But last night was a perfect example, to me anyway, of a club that scratched and clawed and held on for dear life. The Stars got a lucky break on a first goal as far as the puck going in, but deserve credit for the second effort of getting to the net, and once they got that lead, they fell back and played some of the most conservative hockey I’ve seen a top team play this season in My NHL. It wasn’t quite the Jacques Lemaire Trap, but they only had one forechecker for most of the game and often it wasn’t an aggressive persuit.

They finished with 29 shots on goal, but I imagine that statistic is somewhat misleading. Because they had 10 powerplays including a 5-on-3 that lasted over a minute and a stretch of four straight minutes with the man advantage due to a bad call on Bryan Smolinski that he argued and got the extra 2 for unsportsmanlike conduct. That was more about frustration than anything else I think. Even though Dallas outshot Ottawa, I don't think anyone who saw the game would even try to argue that they outplayed them.

But alas, credit is due, they played their game and got the two points. I liked the games of their big players, as Sergei Zubov was excellent in both ends of the ice, logging over 28 minutes, Mike Modano was very explosive for a 35-year-old guy everyone had written off six months ago, and Marty Turco made big saves in key moments to solidify himself as a legitimate contender for a spot on Team Canada in Turin.

UP NEXT:

Some team comes to town. More on that later.

6 Comments:

At 3:09 AM, Anonymous David Johnson said...

In the third period one of the announcers said that the Senators were winning the battles on the boards. While that might be true but the Stars were winning the battles in front of the net and that was the difference in tonights game. Dallas drove to the net more and got the "junk" goals. Against good goaltending that is what you have to do.

BTW, do you recall our discussion after the Florida game when I said:

"Ottawa's next 4 games are against Vancouver, Calgary, Colorado and Dallas and if they play them like the last 4 games they will be in tough to come out better than 2-2."

Well, they played like they did in the Florida game and came out with just one win and a 1-1-2 record. The game they won was against the weakest goaltender.

 
At 7:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually the nhl does have a category for "missed shots", it's in the individual statistics under "Off. Super Stats" for each game on their scoreboard at nhl.com

cheers

alexey

 
At 7:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually here are the stats: ottawa 24 shots + 18 missed shots; dallas 29 s + 13 ms.

 
At 1:02 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

Alexey, thanks for that. I never knew such a stat was even kept. 18 seems surprisingly low to me, but maybe because so many of them were in the slot and on golden opportunities I assumed it was higher.

Dave, you're right. I'll still contend that they outplayed them in every way but going to the net. Unfortunately, that's what decided the game. Even still, not a great effort from the whole team and a few of the key guys (Heatley) need to step it up ASAP.

 
At 3:24 PM, Anonymous David Johnson said...

I am not sure Ottawa outplayed them. At times they did but Dallas played a very smart game. They crashed the net which is what you have to do against good goaltending. Ottawa didn't. They played disciplined. Ottawa didn't. (yes, the refereeing was questionable but is't not like this was the first and only time Ottawa took way too many penalties) Dallas got the lead and played a strong defensive game, especially in the third period when they held Ottawa to just 5 shots. Turco was good but he didn't have to make many (if any) spectacular saves.

 
At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Stars fan who has watched them play all season and only got my first look at the Sens last night, I would say I was surprised at OTT's showing. Of course a lot of it has to do with what the Stars did to neutralize the threat, but the Sens (except for Alfredsson who played great in my estimation) failed to impress me with the type of game they played. Taking the body is fine, but if you don't get the puck as a result of the check, then what is it really accomplishing? I was hoping to see more from Heatley, Spezza and the others (but I guess the Sens fans were, too). As a Stars fan, I would rate it a reather unremarkable win over a great team having a bad night.

The Stars played in a lot of games in October and looked like the Sens did last night-- bad calls, bad breaks and an inability to get past it and play their game. It's a shame, because in the DAL v CAR game last week I saw the wide open speed and skill of the Eastern Conference on display (BOY! who'd of thought I would be typing that phrase 10 years ago!) and the game was really entertaining.

I felt like the Sens were taking runs at Modano all night long (which historically is an efffective way to neutralize him) and I was upset that no one was coming to his defense. I thought that is what they went out and got Parrot for. For that matter, Guerin and Arnott weren't scoring so they could have at least hit someone. Turco was definitely on his game... I wish he would have been "trying out for Team Canada" back in the miserable outings in Oct. but it is great to see the Marty we know and love back between the pipes.

 

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