Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Two in a row! Sens 4 Bruins 1

The big guys stepped up. Martin Gerber, Jason Spezza, and Dany Heatley all had huge games Tuesday against the Bruins, and the Sens won 4-1 thanks to Heater's hat trick.

Gerber continues to impress those following the Sens, and he had a great game. It would have been a totally different game had he not made a tremendous toe-save on Phil Kessel, because that save allowed Heatley to go down the wing with Andrej Meszaros and snipe his first of the game. He stopped 28 of 29, and the only goal was an unlucky play where a Gerber save bounced off Mike Commodore and into the net.

With three goals, it's pretty obvious Heatley had a good game. The first was a wicked shot low far side, then a rocket high short-side over Alex Auld's trapper, and both were from the right faceoff dot. The third one was a gift from Antoine Vermette, who tried not just once but twice to make sure Heatley got to score the empty-net goal. Nice of Vermette to do so, but it's always scary when someone doesn't take an easy goal. Heater also added an assist, for a four-point night. With 35 goals on the season, Heatley now has eleven games to score 15 goals in Sens Army Blog's Drive for Fifty 2008 campaign. Call me crazy, but I think he can do it.

As for Spezza, his game was solid for the most part. He made a few very casual tip passes, one to Randy Robitaille and the other to Meszaros. Neither worked, and the one to Meszaros was dangerous because he was the last man back in the defensive end. These passes are so slick that the opposing team doesn't expect them, but apparently Spezza doesn't realize that his team isn't ready for them, either. He finished with a goal and an assist in just over 16 minutes on the night.

Aside from those three, some other players had good games. Meszaros continued his climb towards recovery, and played pretty well on the night. So did Martin Lapointe, who had two great scoring chances at the end of the first, and also had two hits in the 11 minutes he played.

On the other side of the scales, Commodore continued to struggle, and Luke Richardson does seem to be losing a step as the year drags on. I think both of them will be valuable in the playoff run, but I would like to see Richardson sit out a game or a few and Christoph Schubert step back to play with Commodore. It would give Richardson a few days off to rest, and Schubert's speed would add a dimension to the already physical pairing. If the experiment would work, then it would be something to consider going into the playoffs.

A few notes on things that continue to improve:
  1. Powerplay went 2-for-3? Awesome.
  2. Defencemen seem to finally be able to know how to handle a 2-on-1, obeying the basic principle of defence--take the passer, allow the goalie to handle the shooter. Since Gerber's shown the ability to make the first save, defencemen--and Cory Stillman, when he's on the point--feel comfortable covering the passer.
  3. The team is winning.
  4. Big players are scoring: Mike Fisher last game, Heatley tonight.
  5. The team is no longer hollow without Daniel Alfredsson. With the captain's health in question, it's good to know the team can string together a couple of wins without him in the lineup.
  6. Only two players had more than 20 minutes in ice time, Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips, and they barely went over. With more players getting equalized ice time, third- and fourth-liners are getting more comfortable with their roles and first- and second-liners are getting more rest in preparation for the playoffs.

Sorry about the long post. I've been so inconsistent with posts recently, so I figured I would say as much as I thought about the game. The win sets the team up for a huge game Thursday against Montreal, with the lead in the Eastern Conference--or at least the Northeast Division--on the line.

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