Saturday, March 11, 2006

Ottawa 3 Atlanta 1

a/k/a That's More Like It

The Ottawa Senators did something last night they haven't done all year long: they beat the Atlanta Thrashers. Now, beating a middle of the pack team shouldn't be that big of a deal for one of the NHL's best teams, but considering the ass whooping the Thrashers laid on the Sens the last time these two teams played in the ATL, the two points is a big achievement.

Ray Emery was said to be the star of the game. He made a number of massive, timely saves. Considering he was the one in nets when the Thrashers shelled the Sens back in December, a game he didn't know he was going to be playing in until 10 minutes before the puck was dropped, Emery has to feel good to get that monkey off his back.

As well, he bounced back from a not-so-great game Wednesday night in the 6-2 loss to the Panthers. While those who saw that game say Emery was not at all the reason why the Sens allowed so many goals, giving up that many tends to hurt a goaltender's confidence. In addition, Emery has proven himself to be horribly streaky. He started the season playing wonderfully yet had an equally significant slump. When playing well, it looked as if Emery was unbeatable, and I even commented that he was looking to be a very suitable replacement for Dominik Hasek next season. However, when he was playing bad, I had zero confidence, and every time the other team took a shot, I held my breathe. So I'm quite glad he rebounded quickly.

As well, Zdeno Chara was said to have a monster game. He took a lot of criticism for his play in Wednesday's loss, but it sounds as if he stepped it up big time. On the radio broadcast, his name was being called with regularity, in a good way.

This was also the first time we got to see Tyler Arnason and Mike Morrison in Ottawa uniforms. Arnason centered a line between Bryan Smolinski and Daniel Alfredsson, with the rationale from the coaching staff being that they wanted "Arnie" to start his career as a Senator on the right foot, and so matching him up with their most consistent player made sense. Smolinski will likely stay put beside him, and once Martin Havlat returns, he'll play the right side. By all accounts, Arnason had a strong game. Nothing spectacular, but those who saw the game said he was skating well, made a number of excellent passes, and was +2 with an assist on Smolinski's goal. Arnason didn't play a lot (only 10:16, the second least of all Sens skaters), and a big reason was because he got less than a minute of time on the PP. I think it's wise to aclimitize him slowly, as he's going from pretty opposite ends of the spectrum as far as the quality of his team and their attitude towards winning.

Meanwhile, Morrison was said to look very good on the bench. His hair stayed in place all game long, his small talk to teammates on the bench was apparently quite on point and informative, and his high fives after goals were flawless.

On the downside, the jerks in Atlanta continued to boo Dany Heatley. I still think they're classless, and I'm sure they still think they're in the right. No amount of a rational argument from my end will change their perspective, and truth be told, nothing they could say to me about why they do it would make me think they're any less retarded.

Some might say, well, at least a city that is notoriously unknowledgeable about hockey and has historically not supportted the team is showing some emotion about the game. Unfortunately, that argument holds little weight with me, as they couldn't even sell out the building. Even with Heatley coming back again, the Thrashers having beaten the Sens earlier in the year, and Atlanta fighting for their playoff lives, they were still nearly 4,000 short of a full house, and that's the announced attendance. Below the Mason-Dixon, it's not uncommon for them to add a few thousand here and there.

It's a shame the Thrashers fans are such bafoons, because otherwise, I'm a fan of the team. I still root for Marian Hossa, Ilya Kovalchuk may be the single most exciting player in the league (a case could be made for Alexander Ovechkin), Kari Lehtonen is an excellent young goalie, and Marc Savard's a guy I've liked since he was killing the 67's as an Oshawa General.


At 9:06 AM, Anonymous Ben said...

Actually, the announced crowd was just over 17,000, which is about 1,500 below capacity.

Here's something you can try- find a star player from any team in history that has demanded a trade, for any reason, and not been booed when he returned to his former city.

Emery actually had a pretty easy night and only had to make 2-3 tough saves. Ottawa's defense was great and limited Atlanta's shots.

At 1:41 PM, Anonymous Ty said...

I am gonna throw Ray Bourque's name out there.

At 3:16 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

"Actually, the announced crowd was just over 17,000, which is about 1,500 below capacity."

Not according to's recap. They have it listed at 15,057. And no offense, but I think I'll trust that number over the one they announce in the building.

"Here's something you can try- find a star player from any team in history that has demanded a trade, for any reason, and not been booed when he returned to his former city."

Here's something you can try: understand that Dany Heatley's situation is unlike any other that I can think of.

At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Ben said...

For the attendance:

Ottawa didn't always sell out either. It took a few years of success. Throw in the fact that college basketball is huge down here and it was the night of the ACC quarterfinals and it was the first really nice weekend of the spring weather-wise and attendance was low for a Friday game.


He gets booed for the way he left, not the reason. 80% of the booers boo because he demanded a release, didn't do his community service in Atlanta, and bad-mouthed the fans as soon as he got to Ottawa, and when he came back to Atlanta. It's not because of the accident itself, otherwise he wouldn't have had the unwavering support of the fans from the day of the accident until the day he was traded. I've never booed him and I likely never will, but if you accept booing in sports in general it's not hard to see some valid reasons for him getting the treatment he gets. If the two teams meet in the playoffs it'll likely continue. If not I'm guessing it'll wear thin by next season.

At 3:39 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

Is this the same Ben who works for the Thrashers? If so, miss me with all that nonsense.


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