Thursday, April 06, 2006

Montreal 5 Ottawa 3

THE GOOD:

The top line of Dany Heatley-Jason Spezza-Chris Kelly. Good chemistry amongst the three saw them generate the most scoring chances of any Sens line, but even more impressive was their solid play as a trio in their own end. Kelly's a defensive forward first and foremost so it shouldn't be a surprise that he became the defensive conscience from jump, a role previously occupied by Daniel Alfredsson until Bryan Murray lost his mind and broke the line up.

Brian Pothier. Pothier's impressived me immensely since being asked to take on a bigger role. While he always excels on the powerplay, it's his play on the penalty killing unit that has really made me look at him in a different light. It's nice to know should this team's injury bug on defence carry into the playoffs, and at this point what reason is there to think it's going to get any better, they have someone who can step in and plug the holes.

The first period onslaught. The Sens dominated that first frame, outshooting the Habs 20-4, which doesn't include the two posts they hit. Unfortunately, the Habs weathered the storm and came out of it tied 1-1, deflating the Senators, who had to think "what else do we have to do?"

Not getting embarassed. I know that sounds foolish to say about the best team in a conference losing, but when they're without four of their top five defencemen and are playing on back-to-back nights against playoff teams, it's an accomplishment.

Patrick Eaves' lack of common sense. He continues to stand in front of the net and despite his lack of size, a sort of requirement for that job, excels at it. It was the reason Andrej Meszaros' first goal even happened, as without that screen, Aebischer makes the save.

THE BAD:

Tyler's Arnason's production. The effort is there, but it's time for the trade deadline acquistion to start putting up points. His play has not been bad, by any means, as he's getting opportunities, but if he's going to be the second line center this team needs, just opportunities isn't enough. He has to make the most of them. And right now, he's not. On this night, he channeled Jason Spezza and decided it wise to make a behind-the-back blind pass. Of course, no one was in sight, the Habs took the puck, and 10 seconds later, the lamp was lit and the score was tied at 2. Unacceptable. If you're not going to score points and produce offensively, you have to at least not be a defensive liability. Spezza can get away with it because he's a big producer. Arnason does not have that luxury.

Playing Ray Emery in back-to-back games. I plan to talk more about it later tonight, but this is getting ridiculous. As time goes on and it becomes clearer every day that Dominik Hasek is not coming back in time for the playoffs, Ray Emery gets further entrenched as this team's number one goalie. So why are they driving him into the ground? Foolish and yet another Murray decision that has me scratching my head. Emery struggled badly on this night, but with the workload he's had, who can blame him.

Andrei Meszaros. I wondered last night what would be of the 20-year-old after playing so much against the Sabres, and the answer what was I expected: he struggled. It's simply not realistic to expect a kid this young, with such little pro experience, to be able to play well for 37 minutes, bounce back the next night and log over 20 and not struggle. He was put into an impossible position, and despite his effort, he couldn't cope. As a result, countless mental mistakes were made, and he looked every bit as fatigued as you would expect.

The Brad Norton-Aaron Downey "fight". How embarassing.

THE OPPOSITION:

Montreal's riding a hot streak and is playing well at the right time of the season, and as we inch closer towards the postseason, that has to make Habs fans happy. A few weeks back, I said I had no fear of Ottawa matching up against the Canadiens, confident that the Sens would prevail. I'd still put my money on the Senators, but Montreal is making a case for themselves.

Even on a night when they were outshot 47-32, they still played strong team defence, clearing the few rebounds David Aebischer, who had a spectacular game, let loose, not allowing Ottawa

Guys who were struggling earlier in the season (I'm looking at you Mike Ribeiro) are now finding their groove while others like Christopher Higgins have come out of almost no where to become a scoring phenom. Meanwhile, their defence, who looked to be among the worst of playoff contenders during the first half of the season, has begun to come together both as a unit and as individuals.

Montreal is developing into an incredibly dangerous team.

UP NEXT:

A rematch with the same Sabres who got the better of them Wednesday night. While it was Buffalo who's come into the last couple games between the two with redemption on their mind, it's now the Sens who'll want vengeance.

4 Comments:

At 4:44 AM, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Good call on resting Emery. Morrison's more than capable anyway, and these games don't mean a ton for the Sens.

As for Arnason, well, he's got loads more talent than how he's produced so far, but I think even if he is a bust for this season, he still has the potential to turn into something great. Or even half decent. But definitely better than Mr. Bochenski.

 
At 8:38 AM, Anonymous SensGuy said...

Murray needs to put Arnason on the 2nd PP unit. How he can put guys like Smolinski and Neil on that powerplay over Arnason and Fisher is beyond me.

 
At 9:17 AM, Blogger Mike said...

The Brad Norton-Aaron Downey "fight". How embarassing.

This one deserves a whole new category in your breakdowns - "The Ugly". Embarassing is right.

 
At 1:07 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

Arnason and Neil don't have the same roles so saying Arnason deserves to be there when Neil doesn't isn't fair. Can Arnason do what Neil does, as far as stand in front of the net, take abuse, and screen the goalie? I doubt it.

 

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