Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Boyakasha: Sens go up 3-1 on Devils

I had the pleasure of attending game three of the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals at the Scotiabank Place, and I'll tell you what: The place was rockin'. The Sens didn't disappoint, either, holding on against the Devils attack in the third to maintain a 3-2 lead. Ottawa's now within one win of clinching a berth into the Eastern Conference Finals!

Now, onto a bit of a game recap. I'll take you through the play; It was the second shift of the game for the CASH line, and--as if they sensed something was about to happen--the 20,000-plus Senators fans in attendance began chanting, "ALFIE! ALFIE! ALFIE!" The captain responded, and a beauty pass from Dany Heatley gave Daniel Alfredsson an open shot in the slot.
Ten ridiculously tense minutes after the Devils' Brian Gionta tied the game in the second period, Heater restored Ottawa's lead with a goal that banked in off Brodeur's leg. A few minutes into the third, Mike Fisher took a shot through a screen from just inside the blue line that fooled Martin Brodeur, and Ottawa went up 3-1 in the game. Jay Pandolfo made it interesting (as if we weren't excited enough) half-way through the third, but Ottawa held on for a 3-2 victory.
The entire team played well, but here are a few unsung heroes who really stood out:
Chris Neil: Sweet dangle in the third period looked nice, even if it didn't result in a goal. He was out on a solid forecheck once again, hitting left, right, and centre of the ice. A great game.

Oleg Saprykin: What can I say, I love this guy. He's been a man possessed in his few games played, unfortunately for Brian McGrattan and Patrick Eaves (who, according to, is still not near to returning). Digging in the corners, backchecking... he should have drawn three or four penalties at least, and then got called for a bogus trip. He probably deserved some powerplay time, or at least a shift in the third period. Considering he only played 5:37, he had an impact. I wouldn't mind if he stuck around next year, he's certainly no Tyler Arnason.

Jason Spezza: Alright, he's not an unsung hero. At all. But he has to be given credit for something he hasn't historically been known for: Defensive responsibility. Second game in a row he's blocked a shot, which I can (almost) guarantee is a record for him.

Dean McAmmond: Outstanding forecheck, and a great night for penalty killing. He finished +1 and played just over 13 minutes, which is a solid outing for M.C. 'Ammer/D-Mac/Deaner (take your pick).

Obviously, the usual guys maintained their amazing pace (another six blocked shots for Anton Volchenkov, and Alfredsson looked outstanding). One last thing is a defense of Ray Emery. I don't know why I should have to do it, but I've now heard him referred to as "shaky" in two consecutive post-victory post-game shows. In tonight's game, he saved 29 of 31 shots, and looked solid when he had to. One reason for Ottawa's success is that they finally have faith that their 'tender won't let in a weak goal, and can come up big when they screw up. Like in game three, when Joe Corvo gave the puck away right in front of the net. Emery's earned two shutouts so far, and his save percentage is getting progressively better as he starts facing more shots. And what do stats matter when the team gets the win, anyway?

A few apologies from game three: First, to the guy on my right, I think I might have hit you in the face with my pom-pom. I tried to shake it forward. And second, to the lady to my left, I hope that headache you got wasn't from my yelling. Although it probably was.
So, only one more win to move forward. Hopefully it happens on Saturday in New Jersey (puck drop is at 8:00 p.m. again). I'll make sure to let you know if I'm going, because I'm definitely entertaining the possibility of a road trip.
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