Thursday, December 13, 2007

Gerber steals a win

Well, Mr. Martin Gerber, you sure have a way of making people wonder. You start the season off like hellfire, tear up the league, and then decide to take a few games off. And, after taking said games off and being usurped as the number 1, you bounce back and play amazingly in consecutive games. Possibly his best game of the year on Thursday, when he stopped 26 of 27 to backstop the Sens to a 4-1 win over the Penguins.

The Gerber showed up for the first period when pretty much the rest of the team decided to take it easy. Two weeks ago, he would have allowed a goal or two (or three) on the 13 shots he faced in the first, and the team would have become dejected and given up. Instead, The Gerber stops all of them and the Sens come back hard in the second and even harder in the third. Most notable accomplishment for The Gerber: stopped nine shots from Sid the kid Crosby, including two breakaways. It simply looked like Crosby was frustrated because Gerbs gave him nothing to shoot at.

You know who else had a great game? Chris Phillips. Who am I kidding, of course you know that; post-game coverage has been all about Big Rig. He's been awesome at controlling the puck and protecting it from opponents, and his pass out of the zone is getting to be very valuable. He has almost single-handedly offset the liability that Andrej Meszaros can be at times, when he makes poor decision with the puck or commits to make a hit.

Joe Corvo, on the other hand, didn't have a great game. He had an okay game, and I've liked seeing him alongside Wade Redden, but he made some mistakes in the first period that would have been costly if not for The Gerber. He finished -1 (because his assist, which was a great shot, was on the powerplay), and although he was tagged with no official giveaways, he continued to take low-percentage shots that get blocked and turned over. I'm no Corvo-hater, though; I'm confident he'll rebound, and his value is more than the cost of a few turnovers.

One thing I've noticed since Anton Volchenkov went out with his finger injury is Luke Richardson stepping up, receiving more ice time and responding with great play. Richie played over 14 minutes of ice time against the Pens, and kept it simple in the defensive end--which is exactly what he's got to do. Although Shean Donovan has been playing well of late, Richie has been the most valuable acquisition since the off-season, including Randy Robitaille. Ropes has potential, but he needs to be a little more defensively accountable and get into battles to win them, instead of letting opponents take a cake-walk.

Seven points over two games for Jason Spezza and five for Dany Heatley in those same two games. As frustrating as it is to see Spetzky try and force passes here and there (and, sometimes, everywhere), when he connects on one it usually works. I laughed when he kept the puck to score the empty-netter instead of setting up Heatley for the hat trick. He needs to take a shot once in a while.

Brian McGrattan only played 11 seconds. After those 11 seconds, he faced off against Georges Laracque in a fight, and appeared to separate his shoulder. It is unknown what the degree of the injury is, but if it's bad someone from Bingo will be on his way, likely a role player such as Josh Hennessy or Danny Bois.
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