Soft Wood - Senators 4, Penguins 3
posted Mar 1, 2006 at 10:41PM
Well we certainly were not the dominating pre-Nov 30 Senators. Even when we were up 4-0 there was a sense that the Senators were a bit "off" - like a transmission that had a slight timing problem, and unable to get full horsepower to the drive-shaft.
The Senators were putting a workmanlike performance in, rotating four lines to the point where the Penguins looked to be visibly wilting. Then the Pens got a power-play goal and that was fine. But the next two just smacked of the Senators getting punished for poor play. Both Penguins goals being characterized by completely open men, firing into completely open nets. I don't know if it was the four on four situations that got us out of sync, but in the third period the lines started getting that jumbled look to them again.
In the last minute, with the Penguins pressing and the face-off in our end, we had Alfredson, Smolinski and Kelly out on the ice. What tortured logic went into this? These guys have never played together all season and you throw them together with the game on the line?. Smolinski took the face-off with only one hand on his stick and of course lost it. Where was Spezza?
So anyways we hung on to win. It was a game that is hard to put one's finger on. Inconsistent is so overused but it seems apt. Lines would look great one shift and then flub the puck like nervous rookies the next. And that was all of the lines.
For the record the line combinations, were, in order of appearance
Schaeffer - Fisher - Neil
Heatley - Spezza - Alfredson
Varada - Smolinksi - Eaves
Vermette - Kelly -Schoubert
On the roster, Vermette is listed as center, and Kelly is listed as wing. Vermette has made it clear that he wants to play his natural position. With the way he can cover the ice with his speed, his face-off percentage, putting him at center should be a no brainer.
Remember Bondra last year when Martin took him off the top line and made him play on his off wing? He could do nothing. Remember Havlat at the beginning of the year when they had him playing on his off wing? Again nothing happened. Where you play a guy does matter.
Vermette is remains the most misunderstood player on the team,. Everyone is under this myth that he is this role player, defensive specialist. Well when he finds another team next year, we will soon realize what a gem we had in our midst.
Remember when the Senators were putting the boots to everyone Vermette was our second line center. The minute Murray took him off that role, we became ordinary. Our record is the only justification I need to make what most would consider to be a wild claim. But then they are the same ones who say Roloson is a great goalie.
On the whole I thought Emery was having a good game. He certainly looked more at ease than in his previous outings. He had no real chance on the first goal as it came on a third shot, with two players sitting on him. The last two were just bad team play and coverage. I mean we actually got out-skated on those plays. We definitely should take a cue off the women's national team who suffer no guilt from running up the score.
Well, in the end we got the two points, and we certainly don't have to worry about peaking too soon.