Sunday, March 2, 2008

A WIN! Sens 5 Pens 4

Daniel Alfredsson, make sure you always wear that slick fedora when you're heading to the game. Because it worked. The Sens won, and you made it look damn easy to beat Ty Conklin twice in the game.

On a goal by Antoine Vermette, two by Alfie, a clutch goal by Martin Lapointe, and a howitzer from Dany Heatley, the Sens beat the Penguins 5-4 in a crazy game. Crazy because Vermette came eerily close to a Gordie Howe Hat Trick after scoring his goal and then fighting (or at least dropping the gloves with) Maxim Talbot.

Other crazy things that happened... Dean McAmmond lost it on the refs after being called for hooking, following one of them around the ice for a few seconds. Chris Phillips almost fought with Evgeni Malkin. Sergei Gonchar absolutely lost it because the Sens kept hammering him on the forecheck, cross-checked Alfredsson repeatedly and got a double-minor for his troubles, and the Sens scored on both of the penalties. Wade Redden looked downright Joe Corvo-esque when he led the rush for the Lapointe goal.

This game probably won't be friendly to Martin Gerber's stats, but he still won the game. He made 25 saves on 29 shots, and some of the goals he allowed were very stoppable. In an interview on CBC, though, Bryan Murray announced that The Gerber was going to start again against Anaheim on Monday, which is a hell of a reward. I guess he thinks The Gerber deserves another chance for being all-team, and I'm inclined to agree with him.

If fate was fair, Mike Fisher would have an offensive outburst and score nine goals next game. He has had so many chances, especially in the game against Pittsburgh, but still hasn't scored a goal in 14 or 15 games. Fisher had a team-high four shots (tied with Cory Stillman) and a game-high nine (!) hits, but he still didn't get one. If he throws nine hits, though, he doesn't need to score.

One big difference I think we'll see more of between John Paddock and Murray is how they respond when players make mistakes. While Paddock would often have a guy ride the pine if he screwed up, Murray seems ready and willing to let the player make up for it on the next shift. Like Lapointe, for instance, who took three consecutive stupid penalties, but was given some powerplay time and thanked Murray for the opportunity by scoring his first as a Senator. Sure, it was lucky, but a goal is a goal.

Another difference, that was pointed out by many even in the last game, is the equalization of ice time. The Sens' lowest ice-time total was 7:20 for Shean Donovan, which was probably that low because he doesn't get any special teams ice time. Alfredsson still had 23:37, though... I don't get how it's that high. I guess he likes playing that much, though, because he scored three points.

So... wow. This is what a win is like. I hope the rest of the season is like this. To go back to our checklist, we're now 75 per cent there (although Gerber didn't look great on the whole):
  1. Regain emotion: check
  2. Get a goaltender to play well: check
  3. Rebuild some semblance of defensive commitment: ___
  4. Win: check
Defensive commitment, here we come!
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