Friday, October 27, 2006

Ottawa 7 Toronto 2

THE GOOD:

Going hard to the net. Whether it was Dany Heatley or Chris Neil or Patrick Eaves or Chris Kelly, Ottawa forwards didn’t waste any time with the fancy shit, instead rushing right towards Andrew Raycroft and making his life miserable. The majority of the goals scored came from hard work around the net.

Smart play with a lead. It was pretty well over going into the third, with Ottawa up by four goals, but I was fearful Ottawa would get lazy and the Leafs would net a couple to come away with some momentum, leaving the Sens deflated in the final frame. That didn’t occur, which shows the maturity of this team, because even the team last year was prone to that quite often. No dumb passes, good effort in both ends of the ice, and a strong forecheck maintained throughout ensured the Leafs had zero chance of making a game of it again. Hell, they were even blocking shots with a five goal lead. That’s commitment.

Joe Corvo. When the Sens signed Corvo, I knew so little about what he brought to the table I had to solicit thoughts from Kings fans. I knew his name and some stats, but his game as a player was a mystery to me. So to say I was skeptical when Ottawa threw over $10 million on his lap would be an understatement. Thus far, I’m glad to be wrong. Since coming back from the injury, Corvo has been a tremendous surprise. He’s really completely turned the defence core around. On this night he racked up a career high five points, and those stats are in fact indicative of how good a game he had, in both ends of the ice. He was physical, he joined the rush and created offence, and in his own end was very responsible. And what a shot.

Dany Heatley & Jason Spezza. Considering they had a combined eight points, including a hat trick from Heatley, it’s fair to say they had a good game, but once again, their dominance extended beyond the numbers. When the pair started the season struggling, they were justifiably criticized by fans and media alike not just for their lack of offensive production but also all of the little things they were doing horribly wrong. Almost everyone of those little things have been rectified, and shockingly enough, their scoring has turned around. Coincidence? I doubt it. Spezza isn’t turning the puck over with as much ease. The handful of dangerous passes he made last night followed Jason at the very least surveying the situation. Heatley is finishing his checks and in his own end committing himself 100%. Spezza is battling hard in one on one puck battles. This really does show that those same little things are what contributes to big success.

Ray Emery. He wasn’t forced to be spectacular, obviously, but he made the timely saves when called upon and played with a lot of poise and confidence.

Darcy Tucker getting his just desserts. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Anton Volchenkov’s open-ice shoulder smash looked to knock the life out of Darcy, as he wasn’t much of a factor from that point on.

The PK. Continues to be the backbone of Ottawa’s success, even when the powerplay isn’t firing on all cylinders. They pressured Toronto’s dangerous point men Kaberle and McCabe, who once again weren’t nearly the impact players they usually are, and even generated a handful of decent scoring chances down a man.

Chris Neil. With his six hits, he takes over the NHL lead in that category. I’m sure Leafs players were cursing his name after each one, which is what he’s best at.

THE BAD:

Daniel Alfredsson’s finish. He hit two posts, so perhaps a Mulligan should be given to the captain, but he still does not have that January scoring touch just yet, and it looks to be effecting his confidence.

Finishing without Wade Redden & Chris Phillips. Are the Senators incapable of ending a game with their six defencemen healthy? Both left with lower body injuries, and that’s all that’s known at this point.

Magnetic goalposts. Ottawa hit at least four in the second period (a fifth one looked to occur, but could have just missed). Meaning, that explosive second period could have been even more ugly for the Leafs had they not gotten some luck with the steel.

THE OPPOSITION:

Going into the game, I didn’t buy all the hype about this one getting out of hand and ugly because I figured in order for that to happen, the score would have to be lopsided and I didn’t see that occurring. I thought it would be a hard hitting, entertaining game that would be too close for either team to decide to take liberties with the other. For a while, I was looking correct. Then Ottawa blew it open and the Leafs, for the second straight game, had no response.

Which brings me to the same question I had after Tuesday night’s game: who are the 2006 Toronto Maple Leafs? Do you have an idea? I sure don’t. They were very much in the game in the first period, as it could have gone either way, and for much of the second gave as much as they received in the way of scoring chances. When Jeff O’Neill scored to make it 3-2, I thought, here we go. Yet once Joe Corvo restored the two goal lead, the Leafs seemed to collectively fold their tents, and this time, no one even decided to go down with a fight.

If I’m a Leafs fan, I’m yearning for Pat Quinn. At least his clubs would fight until the end.

Andrew Raycroft got lit up for seven goals, but he had no help from his defence, and if one were to make a list of those responsible for this defeat, he wouldn’t even chart. The blueline was terrible, again, with the big guns Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle struggling badly for the second straight night. They need help badly.

And up front, the guys who need to play well didn’t. As mentioned earlier, Tucker had the fight knocked out of him early. The top line of Kyle Wellwood-Mats Sundin-Alex Steen had a few strong shifts, especially in the first period, but they faded quietly. Sundin in particular looked to have thrown in the towel. Was he just frustrated with all this losing? In the third, when the Leafs needed to show some sign of life, he resembled the rest of his teammates by having no response. I’d be concerned about that.

UP NEXT:

The Boston Bruins on Saturday night. It’s our first look at the revamped B’s, who are in the midst of a slump that has some of their previously enthused fans wondering if their expectations were set too high. It will be strange, but fun, to see the Sens play against Zdeno Chara. I wonder how much it’ll hurt him to crush his former teammates, who I’m sure are still pals of his, in the corners, or in front of the net. Coming off a loss last night to the Habs, in heartbreaking fashion, you know they’ll be itching for the two points.

5 Comments:

At 6:52 AM, Anonymous duff said...

I'm proud of the Sens fans that booed their team when things were bad.I think this had a profound impact on this team and showed that we won't accept a poor performance from them.

p.s. I would like to dedicate last night's victory to David Johnson.

thank-you

 
At 8:17 AM, Anonymous Rachael said...

I think that now they have the feeling of what it's like to win again we'll start to see the Sens of last season. Although grittier and more defensive.

How sweet was Fischer's goal? That was hard work at it's finest!

 
At 9:19 AM, Anonymous Duff said...

Neil should get an assist on that one...awsome shift

 
At 8:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey good anAlysis

We still trying to get rid of thr jinx. I'm hoping we make post season this year but i like our upside.



http://sensmoose.spaces.live.com/

 
At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i like the leafs but it was not there night!!o well mayb next time....or not >_> Ottwa wasnt there best but they were pretty good!^_^ ^-^

 

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