V is for Victory, Senators 3, Flyers 2
posted Feb 11, 2006 at 10:09PM
Is the slump over? I think there is a good chance that it is. The main reason being that Murray is finally starting to put lines together that make sense. Thankfully the lines that were together in practice, were not the lines that were put into play tonight against the Flyers.
The biggest move was the healthy scratch of McGrattan. It is not just the roster spot that he takes up, but the fact that two other players get relegated to the shadow world as well. I sincerely hope that the McGrattan experiment is over.
The Heatley Spezza pairing was kept intact. Sniper-in- training Eaves was the winger put with them. Eaves may not be Varada, but he has no problems getting his nose into it, which was what our star pairing needed.
The second line was Schaeffer, Fisher, and Alfredson, which on paper, has the potential to be a super line.
The third line was Smolinski between Varada and Neil. Smolinski-Neil are a proven pairing and regular readers are quite aware that I have always thought that Varada would do better with Smolinski than with the kids. He got a nice shooting goal thanks to some great work by Neil
Without McGrattan, we had a fourth line of Vermette, Kelly and Schoubert. And from the chatter on the radio it sounded like this line was just "on". Vermette got a goal, hit a crossbar, drew two penalties. According to Dean Brown, Vermette was "dancing" out there. It really feels good to hear the announcers and other media finally talk about Vermette in a positive light. Vermette is one of those depth guys that has to be playing and playing well in order for the Senators to get a long run in the playoffs.
Kelly hit a goal post and was all over the ice. Schoubert should forget about a career as a defenceman. He was shooting, passing and hitting all night long. Something good seemed to happen everytime he had the puck
So credit where credit is due. Murray has put some decent line combinations together and the Senators's improved play speaks for itself. I would much rather be saying nice things about Murray than calling for his head.
It sounds as if both Flyer goals were of the garbage variety but one of them bears mentioning.
For the second time in three games the opposing team has scored on a bad line change. In both cases Schoubert and Kelly were on the ice along with Schaeffer when the enemy scored a goal. It smacks of the fourth line getting on the ice behind the play, and thus in no position to do anything. This would only happen if the preceding line is trying to get off the ice only after the other team has the puck.
Anyways one hopes they pick this up on the tapes and make the right adjustments.
All in all things seem to be looking up, and none too soon. Looking at the schedule in March it looks like the Senators will finally make up for the more leisurely paced schedule they had at the beginning of the year. Having four complete lines that they can roll over will make sure that they get through that stretch in good form.
And remember we might be getting Havlatt back. That will certainly make the line combinations even more potent, but I will leave that for future meanderings.