Monday, April 03, 2006

Ottawa 6 Atlanta 4

A big win to say the least.

Ottawa came in horribly undermanned and managed to outplay a team with much more skill and a whole lot more to play for, and did so by doing the same little things well that were non-existent Saturday night when the Caps came to town and shut them out.

In particular, Jason Spezza had a monster game. I took him to task for his sluggish play two nights ago, and he answered the bell. Not only was he better in his own end, but he was much smarter with the puck. The results speak for themselves.

In a lot of ways, this win was another coming out party for this team’s young, secondary players. Look at the minutes logged:
Andrej Meszaros 26:46 (season average 17:23)
Anton Volchenkov 28:26 (season average 17:31)
Chris Kelly 20:51 (season average 12:07)
Patrick Eaves 20:29 (season average 12:23)

Throw in Brian Pothier’s nearly 25 minutes (season average 16:07), and you had a classic case of guys stepping up when called upon. These are big minutes, and they performed more than admirably.

It’s possible one of the few upsides of this horrific injury spell that has swept through the team is that the guys who will be role players in the playoffs, the third and fourth liners and fifth and sixth defencemen, are getting a ton of ice time, are playing well with it, and in turn building a lot of confidence. That can’t be a bad thing.

And the powerplay came to play. This was a game decided on based on special teams, and on this night, Ottawa’s was superior. When you remember they were without PP players Daniel Alfredsson, Wade Redden (both of whom are part of the first unit) and Zdeno Chara going 3 for 5 with the man advantage is a might impressive accomplishment, even against a Thrashers team that is not among the league leaders in killing penalties.

The contest wasn’t without another casualty, unfortunately. Tyler Arnason, who’s really turned the corner in the last half dozen or so games, left with what was believed to be a concussion, though they’re not saying, and at this point, even if they said it was that, I wouldn’t believe them. Let’s hope it’s not a serious injury, because they can’t afford to lose another key player, something Arnason has absolutely become.

If I’m a Thrashers fan, I’m incredibly discouraged. This is a game they had to win, and with Ottawa missing so many key players, they theoretically had them in a prone position. As someone said on the radio broadcast, if ATL can’t beat this Ottawa team, they don’t deserve a playoff spot. After this performance, it might be time to put their postseason hopes to bed. Sorry Marian. Good luck answering those guarantees Don Waddell.

And can someone explain to me the Ilya Kovalchuk booing? Is it in response to the embarrassing response Dany Heatley gets in Atlanta? It wasn’t because of the two-hander Ilya laid on Chris Neil, as the boo birds were out before that. Is it simply because he’s their best player? I was baffled.


At 6:53 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

We were booing Kovalchuk because the little pussy two-handed Neil in the wrist off a face-off. It was a dirty cheap shot, and we were hoping someone would annihlate the little shit for the rest of the evening.

If you'd have been there you would have seen that Neil appeared to be in considerable pain - and you know he's a tough customer who would not fake it. In fact it turns out that they took him in for X-rays, which thankfully came back showing no damage.

At 6:54 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

We were NOT booing before the two hander, BTW. Trust me on that one.

At 7:00 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

One final thought while I'm spamming your comments:

The above statment more correctly should read "We were NOT booing *Kovalchuk* before the two hander, BTW"

We were booing the terrible officiating, however. ;)

At 8:14 AM, Blogger Mike said...

I can back up Andrew on this one. Before the slash, we were booing the refs, after the slash we were booing Kovalchuck specifically.

Great game by the Sens considering the circumstances. While I would have liked to have seen McGratton hold Exelby or Sutton accountable for their shots (haven't seen a replay of Exelby's hit on Arnason so I can't say for sure it was a cheap shot), it was even sweeter to see him do it on the scoresheet. Beauty goal by Gratts (although Lehtonen should have had it).

At 2:51 PM, Blogger Ingmar "W" Bergman said...

I just managed to watch this game and I must say the officiating sucked.

It baffles me how uneven the officiating has been this year. It's usually really bad spread out all over the season, but this year (from the 30+ televised games I've seen) it's been very very good half the time and very very bad the other half.

I live in Sweden so I never get the chance to see the games live, but by noticing this from watching the telecasts It must be worse watching live.

Any thoughts on why this is?

Also, I just realised that Ottawa will be the first team to reach 300 goals since Pittsburgh, Colorado & Detroit reached 300 in 1995/96.

New Jersey reached 295 goals in 2000-01. That's great for the game since the 300 goal mark is a tem-milestone just like 50 goals is a player-milestone.

Rant ends now.



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