Thursday, January 17, 2008

Skid stops at two: Sens 5 'Canes 1

Heck of an improvement on Thursday compared to the games Sunday and Tuesday, and the change in effort showed in the 5-1 margin of victory for the Sens.

Dany Heatley was out (obviously). When Daniel Alfredsson went down in the second, it scared the crap out of me. Imagine... Ottawa's first line of Shean Donovan-Jason Spezza-Randy Robitaille. It scares me, that's for sure. Spezza made the best out of it, though, and he hooked Cam Ward and reeled him in twice, the first time passing to Robitaille for an easy empty-netter and the second time keeping it himself. Alfie leaving the game was apparently a precautionary measure, we'll see if he's back against the Lightning on Saturday.

Once he realized that he'd have to fill the Sens' offensive void, Antoine Vermette had a solid game. His first goal was a little lucky (and a little plucky), and his second goal was great follow-up on his own shot. Even without scoring two per game, if he keeps his offensive game going as well as it was against the Hurricanes this team might be alright in the short-term.

Team defence was a significant improvement. Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov combined for NINE blocked shots (five and four, respectively). Puck support from forwards was much stronger. And Martin Gerber had a solid game, stopping all but one of the 37 shots he faced. Although he always seems strong against Carolina, hopefully The Gerber continues the strong play we saw at the start of the season.

Only two forwards had over 20 minutes of ice time for Ottawa, Mike Fisher and Jason Spezza. Four had between 15 and 20 minutes, and three were between 13 and 15. Could this be the beginning of John Paddock equalizing ice times? It may also be the result of so many injuries and the middling players sharing the load, but it is a step in the right direction in my opinion.

Live from the Locker Room: Listening to the Team 1200, Paddock seems pretty angry right now, which is weird. He is never hesitant to dish out criticism, but it takes a lot for him to give praise; "I think he did what he's supposed to do" about Vermette's great game tonight.

Spezza can hit?: Jason Spezza was number six on the NHL Hits of the Week ending Jan. 15 for his "bone-crunching" hit against Buffalo's Henrik Tallinder. Hey, Satan, watch out for that snowball coming your way. (Watch the top ten below.)

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