Saturday, May 26, 2007

Emery-ness is next to godliness

I wonder where the Senators would be this year if not for the outstanding play of Ray Emery. Sure, he's had plenty of help from his teammates, and the fact that his save percentage only ranks him 12th of the 19 goalies who've played in the playoffs, but the rest of his stats tell a different story. Even more important than statistics, however, is the attitudinal change that it seems Emery's play and demeanour have instilled in the rest of the team.

First, let's look at the really impressive stats Emery has compiled over the course of the playoff run:

  1. Wins: Rayzor leads all playoff goaltenders with 12 wins. Obviously a deceptive stat in the playoffs since only two goalies can get that many, but still impressive.
  2. Shutouts: Big Ray has three shutouts. So does Marty Turco. I picked both of them in one of my hockey pools, but I'm still not winning. Where's the justice? Anyway, one of the shutouts was in the series-clinching game against Pittsburgh, and the two others in that oh-so pivotal swing game, Game Three.
  3. Goals-Against Average: While he's only 5th in the league, any GAA that is below two (and Emery's is 1.95) is pretty darned good. Also, in series-clinching games, Emery's GAA drops to 1.28.
  4. Assists: Sure, this is a pretty meaningless stat in most cases, but Emery has as many assists as the rest of the goaltenders in the league COMBINED! Two assists. One assist came on the game-winning goal in Game Four of Round Two against the Devils--pretty good contribution--and the other was on the fourth goal of Ottawa's Game Two 4-2 victory against the Penguins.

The biggest contribution from Rayzor, though, appears to be that attitudinal change I was talking about. This team seems immune to all of the confidence-busting happenings of the past (knock on wood). Surrendering quick leads (happened in Game Two against the Sabres); marathon overtime games (also in Game Two of the ECFs); losing games they should have won (like in Game Two of Round One, when the Sens outshot the Pens 37-21); questionable hits resulting in dangerous injuries (like Colby Armstrong on Patrick Eaves in game three of Round One); plenty of people predicting impending collapse of the team; weaker-than-expected goaltending gaffs; the whole kit and kaboodle.

This team seems to have the same confidence that Emery exudes when he publicly declares that Buffalo is boring, or when he wears pinstripes, or unapologetically slashes someone in the face, or fights with one of the league's premiere heavyweights after pummeling the opposing goaltender, or wears more ice on his ears than there is on the ice, or consistently pisses of referees by intentionally placing his waterbottle away from the holder, or has a perfect 1-0 record after crashing his Hummer and missing the team charter, or any of the other crazy stuff Ray Emery has done in the last few months. It doesn't really matter what has happened in the recent past, the only thing that matters is the next game. And that's the exact mindset that every team needs in the playoffs, so hopefully it continues for the foreseeable future.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin