Ottawa 6 Florida 0
Total domination. While they slipped slightly in the third period (as tends to happen with a six goal lead), I thought this was, all around, the best game the Sens have had in a long time. Their play in the defensive zone, save a few brainfarts that didn’t result in anything because of Ray Emery and some luck, was terrific. Every Sens forward was committed to the cause, backchecking with vigor and making it impossible for the Panthers to sustain any pressure. In addition, the forecheck was relentless. Every line maintained an aggressive forecheck presence throughout the game, which is what this team needs. It wasn’t just the third and fourth lines doing the dirty work. All four bought into the gameplan. It’s difficult to pinpoint one line as the best because each had their moment in the sun and spurts where you figured they were the best trio. I liked the game, in particular, of the Daniel Alfredsson line. Tremendous two-way games from all three. As well, the defence unit had an extremely strong game. Andrej Meszaros, Anton Volchenkov, and Chris Phillips deserve special mention. Meszaros followed up Tuesday night’s strong outing with an even better game. Two points, rushed the puck well, and was extremely effective in his own zone. Volchenkov is in a zone and playing his best hockey since, well, ever. When a guy is blocking shots in the third period of a game that his team is leading 6-0, you know he’s a team player.
Daniel Alfredsson’s aggression. I’m not sure if he simply woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning or if there was something, away from the cameras, that we missed, but Alfie was PISSED off tonight. He came as close to dropping the gloves as I’ve seen him and even extracted some revenge on poor Stephen Weiss (who had a rough night) later in the game for a perceived cheap shot in the second. His play is coming around in a major way and I genuinely believe he’s a week away from breaking out huge. Speaking of which, um, can someone else step in for Daniel Alfredsson to punch Weiss in the face, please? I was glad he got pissed but after throwing a few blows he should be stepped away by someone else who pummels the other guy. A hilarious moment in the game was when Alfie and Weiss were tussling, color man Gord Wilson said something to the effect of “I bet Chris Neil is on the bench, standing this, watching, taking notes”. Camera cuts to Neil on the bench wiping his face with a towel, not even paying attention.
Ray Emery. Solid when called upon, he’s building more and more confidence with each win.
Losing Wade Redden. There’s not much indication of the severity of the injury, but it didn’t look good. On the replays you could see him grimace after being hit by Jay Bouwmeester. If it’s any consolation, the fact it’s not another lower body injury (i.e. groin), but instead of the upper body variety. That of course is assuming the Sens are feeding us bullshit information about player injuries. Surely they wouldn’t do such a thing, right? Redden has proven himself to be quite the catalyst this season, and without him, the team, and in particular the powerplay, struggles badly. So say a prayer the Sens aren't without their most important blueliner.
Shattered glass. Let's also hope the kids who felt the wrath of Phillips and Weiss are alright. The word is that they were taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure, but boy was that scary for a few moments.
While the Sens caught them in a dry spell, as the Panthers are now goalless in three straight games, I'd be very concerned if I'm one of the couple dozen fans this team has. Compared to the spirited effort they displayed six days ago, this was a catastrophe of the grandest kind.
They had ZERO jump in the first period, and for a team on the brink of big trouble, there was absolutely no desperation. It's one thing to be playing poorly or not getting the breaks. To just have bad puck luck or no chemistry. But when there apepars to be minimal effort, that's bad news. Where Olli Jokinen for most of this game? Where was Jay Bouwmeester? Jozef Stumpel? Nathan Horton? Bryan Allen, who was awesome in the last meeting. The only time I noticed him was when the Sens were knocking him around. I'd say Todd Bertuzzi can't get back soon enough but I'm not sure he'll make a lick of difference.
And on paper, it might seem as if goaltending was the problem, but Alex Auld was awesome before he got the mercy hook. I remember saying I didn't know if Auld playing was a good thing or not. If it had been Ed Belfour from the start, the score might have been double digits. He made at least six huge game-saving stops and cannot be faulted on many of the ones that did get by him.
The game story, if you want it simplified, is that the Panthers D had no answer for the Sens pressure. They made the 'Canes blueline that I shit all over two nights ago look like the the d-men who backstopped the Habs in the 70's.
Are changes in order? Does it even matter?
Tampa Bay Saturday night. The Bolts took it to the Sens Sunday afternoon so there is, I'd hope, some desire for revenge. The big thing to watch will be who they have in goal. Johan Holmqvist stonewalled the Sens in that game and was a big reason for the result, but he got chased the other night.