Wednesday, February 08, 2006

NY Rangers 5 Ottawa 1

THE GOOD:

The break’s almost here. Despite what they say in the media, it sure looks as if this team can’t wait for the Olympics to start so they can get away from this mess for a while. The players that are will be over in Italy will, hopefully, get a second life from playing in best-on-best games while those who aren’t participating have to chance to recharge their batteries. A whole lot of the guys appear to need it.

Chris Kelly. One of the few bright spots for the Senators was the rookie center who’s role with the team continues. Unfortunately, unlike the majority of the team, the effort from Kelly was there all night long. He played physical, was relentless on the forecheck, and was smart in his own zone, which can’t be said for most of the other forwards.

THE BAD:

The powerplay. Ottawa’s play with the man advantage has been a sore spot all year. To say it’s streaky wouldn’t being doing it justice. It makes Ray Emery look like a consistent goaltender. Some games, they can do no wrong on the PP. Crisp passes, excellent work along the boards, getting shots through and (and this is key) on net. And some games, they suck. There is no other descriptive necessary. This was one of those suck games. The Rangers gave the Senators the chance to bury them in the first period by taking three straight penalties, none of which were particularly good infractions to take. Unfortunately, Ottawa could not capitalize on these opportunities and the Rangers stayed in a game the Senators should’ve had in hand. Oh, and they gave up a shorthanded goal in addition to their 0 for 8 showing.

Zdeno Chara’s “shut down” of Jaromir Jagr. In the “Up Next” portion of Monday night’s wrap-up, I said a big thing to watch would be the Chara vs. Jagr match-up. Chara is one of the league’s best at one-on-one battles. We can safely chalk this one up to Jagr, who scored three points and registered five shots on net. Chara, meanwhile, was a –4.

No fun. No fun at all. As a fan of the team, the Ottawa Senators haven’t been a lot of fun to watch for some time now. We’ve gotten some fun out of seeing them beat up on the Leafs, but aside from that, the team that was once the most entertaining club in the NHL has become frustrating and boring, to the extent that I don’t even want to watch them play. I’d rather watch paint dry. At no point, despite what the TSN broadcasters said about “the game not being over”, did I feel like this team was going to come back from the hole they dug themselves, and I probably would’ve been better suited to just turn it off at 3-0, save myself some heartache, and pop in a DVD.

The Big Line. Again. I commented last game about how this trio failed to deliver. They were even worse last night. The effort was questionable, the chemistry was non-existant, and they once again hurt their club more than they helped it with their lazy attitude. While you do need a secondary line of attack (and help is, hopefully, on the way in that regard), for Ottawa to be successful, they need their best players to be their best players on a nightly basis, and a big part of that is this line. Missed shots, bad passes, terrible backchecking efforts. An inexcuseable game from guys who better shape up soon if they want to get some wins. Alfredsson is the straw that stirs the drink so it starts with him. He needs to get his game together, because if he plays well, so will those around him. That’s the kind of effect he has on his teammates. Alfie has been horribly sloppy in his own end, prone to giveaways, is either missing the net with his shots or getting them blocked with regularity, and doesn’t seem to be the defensive monster he usually is. Dany Heatley’s been even worse, and what makes it most disturbing is that looks like he’s not even trying out there. He spents a lot of time on the perimeter, not battling. He’s a big body who can make a difference physically yet he seems content standing around and watching everyone else fight those battles until the puck gets on his stick so he can score. Heatley has to be more than a sniper, and really, he’s not even that right now. If you want to just concentrate on offense, then you better damn well be netting every single one of your chances. And it would be nice if these guys agknowledged their poor play instead of shrugging it off in the press and saying “well, it happens”. No, it doesn’t JUST happen. You’re struggling because the effort is not there on a consistent basis. Try working a little harder, Dany, and you might see some results. Just a thought. And Alfie, you’re the captain. While you’re not known to be a “rah rah” type leader, maybe now’s the time to become one.

Another Jason Spezza injury. If his last boo-boo was any indication of his healing powers, Spezza’s concussion will keep him out the rest of the regular season. Get well soon Jason. See you in a few months.

THE OPPOSITION:

The Rangers came to play. As a result, they won. It’s really as simple as that. While Ottawa’s top line faltered, the Rangers number one trio of Martin Straka-Michael Nylander-Jaromir Jagr dominated the game and played the way top players on a team are supposed to. They made a positive impact almost every time they got on the ice, and in most instances, took the play the Sens when their names were called for a shift. They were a combined +7 on the night.

I was also very impressed with the overall team defence they brought to the table. Their blueline has often been criticized as their big weakness because, on paper, they lack that true #1 guy, or even a solid #2, but from 1 to 6, their defencemen get the job done. Outside of New York, there hasn’t been much made of Michal Rozsival. He might just be the best kept secret in the league this season. He logged a ton of minutes (24:52) and, when against Ottawa’s best players, was terrific. He and Fedor Tyutin both had tremendous games.

And in nets, Henrik Lundqvist was outstanding. Square to the puck, never out of position, and rarely giving out juicy rebounds, the rookie netminder looked like a season vet in there, and the kind of guy who’s capable of taking on his back and carrying them a long way in the spring.

UP NEXT:

Hopefully, redemption. Atlanta comes to town. Remember the last time these teams played? As much as we all want to forget it, I know, it’s impossible. The Thrashers beat up the Senators, made mince meat out of Ray Emery (starting his slump), Dany Heatley was invisible and booed mercilessly, and Marian Hossa reminded us all just how fantastic a player he truly is.

It was Ottawa’s most humiliating loss of the year. There were games when they placed worse (that afternoon weekend affair in Montreal has to be right up there as well maybe as the one we just saw in NY), but the 8-3 score takes the cake.

So Ottawa will want to do the same to them. Hasek will be in nets, and he’s been playing quite well as of late, so it’s probably not too likely Atlanta will run up the score for a second straight contest, but they still do have enough firepower to keep up with Ottawa. They’re 5th in the league in scoring, averaging 3.42 goals a game. On paper, their big flaw seems to be team defence and goaltending, because they’re also 5th in most goals scored against, but that stat might be deceiving, because they played with an AHL goalie for a large portion of the season.

I’ll be especially interested in seeing how Hossa is received in his first game back in Ottawa. If you remember back in August, when he was traded, there was a lot of bad blood. People forgot all he did in Ottawa and his role in this team’s growth as a contender and shit all over his play (a lot of it based in the usual European-bias crap).

I didn’t like the way he conducted himself and how much money he wanted, and I still maintain he priced himself off the team and essentially forced a trade, but let’s not make asses of ourselves the way those dicks down in the ATL did by booing him. I’m not suggesting we cheer him, because after all he is on the opposition, but don’t make a story out of something that shouldn’t be.

And if you want to see him get what’s coming to him, assuming you think it’s anything at all, cheer for the Sens to do to him what the Thrashers did to Heatley, and that’s embarrass him and his team.

With Spezza expected to miss the game, it will be interesting to see who Murray puts between Heatley and Alfredsson, if he even keeps them together at all. Also, who will be in nets? I suspect Dominik Hasek will get the nod, because Ray Emery doesn’t look anywhere near ready anymore.

7 Comments:

At 10:42 PM, Anonymous SensGuy said...

I hate seeing Volchenkov play so little. He's been playing great lately and then goes and sees barely any ice time tonight. He threw a nice hit in the 1st too.

Hope Hossa gets a standing ovation tomorrow.

 
At 11:18 PM, Blogger aquietgirl said...

I'm fairly certain Hossa will be cheered.

Maybe while Spezza's concussed, he'll forget how lazy a player he was and make a fresh new start ...

 
At 11:31 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

I don't even think they should cheer Hossa. Except in rare cases, I don't cheer opposing players, even if I am a fan of them.

But let's no boo the guy either, even if you think he wasn't all that great of a guy on the way out.

 
At 12:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont' see any reason to boo Hossa. It' s not like he's a convicted killer, or spit in the face of the Ottawa fans for demanding a trade after receiving a huge amount of support, then failed to serve his time in the city where his crime was committed.

No, don't see any reason to boo him at all.

 
At 12:35 AM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

Why is it that the people with the cowardly comments always hide behind the anonymous tag?

 
At 4:50 AM, Blogger steve said...

Excellent recap for a truly awful performance.

I thought that the power play was a bit better than the 0-8 boxscore indicates. They had a lot of possession and were moving the puck better than they have in quite a while. The only problem was that their shots were consistently getting blocked or missing the net. Oh and the short handed goal which was just getting lazy - but who could blame them at that point - i'm sure they were just saving energy for today's game because we all know the game was long over by that point.

What I found the most dissapointing is that they gave up this game, which is probably the first time where they never brought it together when down in the third period. Earlier in the season when they lost, at least you could tell they were trying becuase they would usually record around 20 shots in the third period. This game - 2 third period shots, and 0 shots through 15 minutes I think. Is their recent busy schedule finally getting to them?

And I remain a Hossa fan, so if the senators continue to suck today, I at least hope that we can hear the Hossa dance one last time.

 
At 7:15 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

I DID turn it off at 3-0. Thankfully I had a badminton session lined up to save me from the pain.

Spezza's injury comes as good news.... they've been sucking since he came back, and whoever they call up from the minors is sure to play with more heart than he has been displaying lately.

 

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