Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Two losses in three games? Say whaaaaaaat?

Well, this is something new: the Sens lost for the second time in two games. I hardly remember how to feel, it seems like so long ago.

While I wasn't able to watch the whole game, I heard Ottawa wasn't ready to play in the first period (the Sens were outshot 14-7 in the opening 20 minutes). Maybe it was the fact that they took so much extra time in Montreal that their heads hadn't arrived in Buffalo on time. I knew it was a bad idea to mess with travel plans and get into Buffalo late. The Sabres were up 3-0 before you could say Maxim Afinogenov, on two weak goals and one deplorable one. Not to suggest they were all Ray Emery's fault, though; he sure hasn't had much help from the rest of the team in any of his four games this year.

Come the second period, Daniel Alfredsson once again began an Ottawa Senators comeback (lending more credence to the Pretire #11 campaign), and Dany Heatley scored his second in as many games to bring Ottawa within one. But a few minutes later on a tic-tac-toe-goal play Drew Stafford restored the two goal lead. It was more the fault of Wade Redden (for committing poorly in the neutral zone), Anton Volchenkov (for allowing the pass from Tomas Vanek), and Shean Donovan (for not containing Stafford on the backcheck) than it was the fault of Emery.

That was all she wrote in terms of scoring, although Chris Kelly should have scored in the third. After stripping some Sabres defenceman of the puck, CK22 went in on Ryan Miller, deked him, and then hit the post despite a wide-open net to shoot at (see right). Hell, not even shoot, he could have just slid the puck slowly along the ice. I guess you're going pretty fast, and I'm sure no one is as disappointed as Kelly is, but you've got to bury those. In the end, though, it wouldn't have mattered.

As for all the Emery haters, don't blame him. I know that barely a week ago I wrote a post about how he should be traded, but that wasn't because he's a bad goaltender. It was because Rayzor is a competitive player, and is at his best when he's playing more than two games in two weeks. He didn't play well, and hasn't played well all season. For Emery to be at his best, he's got to play games and get involved. I also don't like what I perceive about his approach to conditioning and practice (although it's true that I don't know the whole story), and I think Martin Gerber is as good technically and better in terms of his personality, but the fact that Emery could be a number one goalie in this league remains.

Speaking of The Gerber, he'll start in Ottawa tomorrow against Pittsburgh. While Ottawa's certainly got to bounce back from a loss, the Penguins lost on Wednesday night, too, so look to them as a group looking to rebound with a solid effort against the league leaders.

Expect that every night, folks: every single team in the NHL will play Ottawa as hard as they can play, because every time you play the best team in the league, it's a statement game.
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