Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sens get shotout: Bolts 3, Sens 2 (SO)

Naturally, I didn't get to see the game last night because it wasn't on TV anywhere, but I did get some impressions based on what I heard on the radio and have read in the newspapers. Overall, the impression that I get is that the Senators had a solid game, but came up against a hot goalie in Mike Smith (who stopped 29 of 31 shots on the night).

The first period, and especially the first few minutes, were dominated by the Senators. I think I heard Jesse Winchester's name half a dozen times in the first few, and he sounded like he was buzzing even if he's still looking for that first NHL goal. And Daniel Alfredsson had a great chance on an open net just 18 seconds into the game, but it went wide harmlessly and the period ended in a scoreless draw.

Antoine Vermette ended his pointless streak eight minutes into the second, and added an assist on Dany Heatley's goal later in the second. His play recently has been very good, and it sounds like he's starting to develop some chemistry with Heatley and Jason Spezza. I'm glad that coach Craig Hartsburg decided not to cancel the CASH-Line-split at the first (or second [or third]) sign of adversity, because a few minutes in a couple of games is not long enough to find out if it will work or not. And it's not like he has a disinclination to reuniting them at key points in games and on the powerplay.

Once again, Alex Auld had a solid game for the Senators. I really hope he continues doing so, because I can't stand talking and reading about goaltending so much.

The shootout is still a huge weakness for the Senators (add it to the list, I guess). The team is 7-18 all-time in shootouts, and 0-1 this season. Maybe it's because the best all-around players are assumed to be the best in the shootout, which is obviously not the case: The Sens' first shooter was Vermette, which was fine and fair, but choosing Alfredsson--who missed the net, is 4-for-15 now, and admitted that he doesn't like the shootout--and Heatley--who is 3-for-17 and terrible in shootouts--ahead of the Sens' best shooter-outer (there's got to be a better word than that) Jarkko Ruutu--who is 7-for-13 and hilarious--doesn't make any sense. Ruutu was the fifth shooter, and to save the best shooter-outer until after the game could logically be over is simply dumb. The Sens' shootout depth chart should, in my opinion, read as follows:
  1. Antoine Vermette
  2. Jarkko Ruutu
  3. Jason Spezza
  4. Daniel Alfredsson
  5. Dean McAmmond
  6. Dany Heatley
  7. Mike Fisher
  8. Nick Foligno
  9. Chris Kelly
  10. Jesse Winchester
Interestingly enough, defenceman Filip Kuba--who added to his point total last night with an assist--has tried three shootouts, and is 0-for-3 so far. Let's save him until later rounds.

And under the 'give Donovan some credit' file, Shean Donovan had less ice time than any other player on either team once again Saturday, with 6:38 played. Which is higher than his 5:46 season average. He had one shift in the third period, which lasted 34 seconds. The guy is fifth on the team in scoring, for crying out loud, and he works as hard as anyone on the team. If the system is going to be hard forechecking, backchecking, and bodychecking, Donovan is your exemplar. So why underutilize him? I'm not proposing he play anything like 20:00 a game, but is 10:00 so much to ask? Especially in a game where special teams didn't play such a role, like last night. Give the guy a chance.
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