Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Whatever can go wrong...

There is a lot going wrong in Sens land these days. Not to overstate the drama, but with the sub-par play in the last 30 games there are issues that have to be addressed. Although the Sens lost 5-3 to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, it actually looked like some things were on the turnaround. Maybe it's my eternal optimism, but I saw some good things in the game.

First of all, the secondary scoring. The line of Mike Fisher, Dean McAmmond, and Chris Neil looked pretty solid, and the three each scored a goal. Fisher also took seven shots, and McAmmond fired five. Hopefully that lines sticks together for a while, because they were effective tonight. If Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, and Randy Robitaille--who has been playing better of late--were able to get their offensive act together, the Sens could have put enough goals past Tomas Vokoun to win the game.

Most damaging to Ottawa in this lost, however, was defensive play. Forwards weren't in position to offer defencemen puck support, and defencemen like Chris Phillips and Andrej Meszaros made uncharacteristically poor decisions to cost Ottawa. When Phillips loses his check as badly as he did on Florida's fifth goal, then a lot is going wrong for this team.

No questions were answered in goal. While Ray Emery made some big saves at times, he also let in some very stoppable shots, and can't allow five goals even if he does face 40 shots. It's unknown which goalie is going to start against Tampa Bay on Thursday, but precedent will suggest it will be Martin Gerber. John Paddock didn't do the goaltenders any favours pulling The Gerber against Philadelphia, and probably should have let him finish the game.

Ice time was pretty equally distributed in the game, which is something I love to see. That's what Bryan Murray did last year, and it allows all players on the team to collectively fight through their slump, instead of 12 guys sitting back as the first-liners are continually thrown out their as the only possible solution to the problems; in the long run, it will benefit the team. Kudos to Paddock for realizing that.

The biggest problem appeared to be the Sens' hesitancy. There were pucks in open spaces, and Sens players looked hesitant to go for it and would choose to try and play defence while the Panthers would skate around them. If the Sens are more deliberate in their actions--easier said than done--a lot of the pieces will begin to fall into place.

I figure I'll mention one final thing. Although Wade Redden finished -3 on the night, I though he had a decent game, and I thought he was alright on Sunday against Philly, too. One thing that has been lost in his defensively questionable season is that Redden is fifth in team scoring, and is on pace for a career-high 47 points this season. Joe Corvo, seventh in team scoring, is also on pace to set a career-high with 41 points. If the Sens' play, and especially the powerplay, picks up in the coming games, these two will be a key part of it. Just something to keep in mind.
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