Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ottawa 6 Toronto 2

THE GOOD:

The big guns. It started in Saturday night’s blowout victory over the Devils, and thankfully carried over into tonight’s game. In addition to putting up points, both Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza had strong all around games. Spezza’s turnovers have been reduced tremendously, and when he did make the occasional drop pass, he figured it wise to at the very least look back to ensure the person receiving the puck was wearing the same sweater as he. Both men displayed an impressive defensive commitment as well, playing as hard in their own as they did in the opposition’s. A great example of this was how Dany Heatley basically saved a goal, as Mats Sundin had Martin Gerber down and out on a wrap-around in the second period, yet it was Heater who stuck with him and got a sick on Mats’ to block any shot attempt. And while he didn’t have as significant a game offensively, Daniel Alfredsson did all the little things right. He was good in transition, moved the puck well, and was a big reason the penalty killing was so good. This kind of effort from Ottawa’s best three players will pay dividends down the road.

Mike Fisher & Chris Neil. What a game from both men. Neil has probably been the Senators most reliable forward this season, which is remarkable in itself when you realize how far he’s come as a player. It wasn’t that long ago that Neil was used sparingly in a four line role, mostly filling the job of enforcer for the club. Now, he’s on the ice in key moments, often. And Mike Fisher was on fire. While officially it says he logged 17 minutes, it sure seemed like 30 to me. Every time I blinked Fisher was on the ice rushing the puck up the ice. How many scoring chances were generated strictly by Fisher? Half a dozen? He was in mid-season form, and needed to be.

Joe Corvo & Chris Phillips as a defence pair. Redden and Corvo was a nice duo in theory, as was Andrej Meszaros and Phillips, but it just wasn’t working. Credit to Bryan Murray for noticing this and making an adjustment. Redden and Meszaros had an average game, with shifts ranging from awful to excellent, but Corvo and Philly were steady throughout. They seemed to have a natural chemistry and had no difficultly finding each other on the ice.

Some powerplay goals. The PP is still very poor, and needs a ton of work, but some goals scored with a man advantage is a start.

The penalty killing. The Leafs didn’t do themselves any favors with their poor execution on the powerplay, as they just didn’t have it tonight, however, the Sens made it difficult for them. Ottawa clogged the neutral zone, making it extremely hard for them to penetrate the zone, let alone sustain some pressure.

Defence joining the rush. This was what we were told to expect when Joe Corvo was signed and Tom Preissing was acquired in the Martin Havlat trade. I like it.

THE BAD:

Complacency. Ottawa owned the Leafs in the first frame. The 3-0 score was flattering to the Buds as they were outplayed in every facet of the game. However, the Sens did not keep the foot on the gas pedal, playing quite poorly in the second period, allowing the Leafs to get back in the game ever so slightly. On the one hand, I’m glad they did, because it would have been a very dull two or so hours if they hadn’t, but it reminded me too much of the infamous FLU game between these teams.

Martin Gerber in the third period. I was getting flashbacks of Patrick Lalime, and it sure seemed like the Leafs were too based on how often they were firing the puck from any and every angle. Gerber had a decent enough game overall but was not very reassuring at various points and has pretty much established himself as the worst puckhandling netminder in franchise history. And considering we’ve had both Lalime AND Hasek, that’s saying a lot.

Losing Anton Volchenkov. The severity of the injury remains a mystery at this point, but it sure would be a shame for the A-Train to go down when he’s playing his best hockey in forever.

Darcy Tucker gooning Patrick Eaves. A dirty act that even the most diehard Leaf Nation members must have a hard time defending. Tucker’s vagina hurt because his team was down and went after a kid who doesn’t fight. What big balls he has.

THE OPPOSITION:

The Leafs remain an enigma to me. Does anyone know which team will take the ice each game, because I sure don’t, and I’ve seen more of their games this season than I haven’t. There are some old faithfuls, as Mats Sundin came to play as always and the aforementioned asshole Tucker who was his usually pesty self . But where was Kyle Wellwood? Mike Peca?

Don’t get me wrong, there were spurts where they were all over Ottawa, and points in the game when they were dictating the pace of the game, however, these moments could not be sustained for extended periods, and truth be told, most of them occurred as much because of Ottawa’s poor play as it Toronto’s good.

Their defence is in big trouble, and I’m not sold on the idea that it’s solely because they’re without Pavol Kubina, though there can be no disputing the fact it hurts. Are Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe burnt out or was this just an off night for the pair of workhorse rearguards? That was one of the worst games I’ve seen Kaberle, who is usually their one reliable blueliner, play in many years. Not only was he not a factor, even on the powerplay where he and McCabe shine brightest, but he routinely hurt his team in his own end.

And I hate to say I told you so, but holy fuck does Hal Gill suck. I believe I said as much when he was signed but too many of you were won over by size, overlooking the fact the guy really can’t play. It pained me to see Brendan Bell struggle because I’m a big fan of his. Ian White was the lone defenceman who didn’t embarrass himself. I become more impressed with his game each time I see him play.

Thursday night, the Leafs need to come out with a much better effort if they want to quiet the whispers that they’re an inconsistent bunch.

UP NEXT:

These same Leafs. You know their pride will kick in and they’ll come more prepared Thursday night. The last time Ottawa beat them up on home ice, they did much worse in response. It looks like Ray Emery will get the nod for the Senators. I have no opinion on that one way or another.

18 Comments:

At 9:40 AM, Blogger PPP said...

Yeah Tucker's fight won't win him any fans but it's far from Neil going after Wellwood (which I have heard suggested as suitable retaliation). And fans will defend it (I don't) but sens fans still defend Alfie's dirty hit from behind on Tucker in the playoffs so you can't really expect Leaf fans to give up Tucker.

The defence problems do all stem from Pavel Kubina. His absence means that not only do Kaberle and McCabe play more (the fatigue is causing more mistakes) but it means that Gill is playing 2nd pair minutes when he should only be playing 3rd pair minutes. And Gill was bad tonight but he gets a bad rap because everyone annointed him the go-to goat before the season started. Yesterday I read stories about how good he has been playing.

 
At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Brendan said...

Mike Fisher had a great goal but it all started from W.Redden. Neil and Priessing got the assists. I can say McGrattan had a rough night.I think Ottawa played hard enough to defeat Tucker and the leafs because C.Schubert had covered the basket hanging Tucker. That's where his magical spot is beside the net. Stajan had a nice backhand, Sundin just saw the space over M.Gerber and put it there. Bob Cole & Harry Neil said you could fit a family of four in Gerber's pads. After all how did he make those great saves? Colin Scwartz is our goalie. His fav. player is M.Fisher and mine is D.Heatley. I have 7 goals in three games.

 
At 10:58 AM, Blogger Faux Rumors2 said...

1) No one could/should defend Tucker's goonery. Its his style, so we best get used to it, and hope he gets 'his' sooner rather than later
2) As for the game we agree that the Sens need more 'killer instinct', but that's the only negative we;d take from the game. It appears the tide is turning and the Sens are again playing as expected!

 
At 12:35 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Mother Tucker disgusts me. He, beyond anyone else by a mile, is why it's so easy to hate the Leafs. The little whiny bitch is a joke. His theatrics in the box after he gooned Eaves were pathetic. Could he have picked a less likely opponent? Credit to Eaves for going anyway, and taking a few shots for the team. Tucker's little dive routine when Fisher came after him late was pathetic as well. It was often said following the game that Tucker is one of those guys that "you hate to play against, but would love on your team"...like a Sean Avery. I disagree completely. Both are the sort of sideshow performers that bring the game down a notch, and the NHL would be a better league if neither was in it.

 
At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Dive routine' when Fisher skated by? What are you talking about?

How about chastising Fisher for throwing an elbow at Tucker's head, slashing him in the side, and then giving him a face-wash. If Tucker did that to a sen ottawa fans would go insane.

His theatrics were in response to McGrattan's little show after he won a fight by falling on top of Belak. Tucker would have fought Neil but we all know Neil doesn't fight.

 
At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does Neil's vag hurt so much?

 
At 2:01 PM, Blogger Donald said...

"Anonymous", you would be furious if Neil went after Wellwood in the same fashion. It was a shitty thing to do but considering the source; I'm not surprised. Watch them sign him to a 5 year "no movement"contract...

Good clean win by the sens though. They beat the leafs in every way. Gerber looked awfully lalime-ish on the last one. It will be important for the Sens to start thursday's game with a bang.

 
At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Going after a guy that's never fought is bad. Neil going after a guy that's never fought and is 3 inches and 40 pounds lighter is worse.

Plus, keep in mind that Eaves saw nothing wrong with the play and was willing to fight. Tucker didn't 'mug' him, he fought him.

 
At 6:50 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

Eaves was willing to fight? Was choice did he have? Tucker dropped his gloves and started throwing. His options were drop his as well and try to defend himself. If he turtled, Leaf fans would call him a pussy.

 
At 11:38 PM, Anonymous KevinP said...

As surely as Darcy Tucker is one of the biggest sissy goons in hockey, there will always be Leafs fans at the ready to defend him.

Worse comes to worse, they'll just claim somebody spit on him.

 
At 6:19 AM, Anonymous TheIceCobra said...

Yeah! sens and leafs fans are going after each sometimes harder than the protagonists on the ice. i´m from germany and route for both teams!
your discussions in blogs like that is often more entertaining than "holiday on ice"....

by the way, i fuckin tucker as well...

 
At 8:18 AM, Blogger PPP said...

Oh those Germans love a good scrap!

We all know Neil has NEVER fought someone who wasn't a fighter.

And yeah, Eaves could have turtled if he didn't want to fight. So what is Leaf fans call him a pussy? Do you think that Alfredsson cares that he gets booed?

kevinp, maybe you missed the part where I wrote that what he did was wrong. But keep in mind that sens fans will argue until they are blue in the face that Alfie's hit from behind that broke Tucker's shoulder blade was good clean hockey. Both sides defend their players dirty plays for the most part.

I'm sure you even defended Barnaby, a guy who makes Tucker look like a choirboy.

 
At 10:20 AM, Anonymous MPowers said...

I am a British Sens fan and went to my first game last Thursday against Colorado at the end of a fantastic two weeks holiday in Ottawa. Despite losing it was a fantastic experience. I watch hockey in the UK - Basingstoke Bison being my team and we are lucky if we get 500 at a game.

We get NHL games live on NASN in the UK - recorded Tuesday's game and watched it last night - what a difference a week makes.

Very pleased that the UK contingent at Scotiabank Place last Thursday finally woke them up.

 
At 10:55 AM, Blogger PPP said...

NASN was a godsend when I was studying in Denmark. We could usually get hockey night in Canada and could always see the playoff games. Thankfully, the manager of a pub was from Orillia and was willing to stay until 4am.

 
At 8:18 PM, Blogger dave@etd said...

how do you think the Sens brass will reconcile the fact that they have a 3.5M back-up by season's end once emery is given the full-time reins?

Murray gone? Muckler gone?

 
At 11:42 PM, Blogger The Universal Cynic said...

It's actually 3.7, not 3.5. But who's counting? Oh, that's right -- every sane person who's currently watching Gerber riding the pine on top of his fattened wallet.

The success of Ray Emery is a double-edged sword: The better he does, the harder it becomes to justify carrying Gerber's salary. On top of that, Ray is only signed to a one-year deal of $925,000 (all terms US). He will obviously want to see his hard work rewarded, yet again.

 
At 1:55 AM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

If the Sens win with Emery, I doubt Muckler or Murray will lose their jobs because the back up makes too much money.

 
At 5:40 AM, Anonymous TheIceCobra said...

Gerber may be "slightly" overpaid, but he´s in pretty nice company, when you look at what the Habs are handin out to Huet! or just ask the Flyers, Blues or Yotes about their starters worth currently, reflecting on their latest performances!
Gerber is a nice, calm swiss guy, who will accept his role without much complaining if Emery takes over, and the dressing room is not goin to be poisoned...

 

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