The Morning After
posted Mar 2, 2006 at 02:07PM
After watching the highlights of the game last night, I realize I may have been a bit generous in my description of Emery. First one of our goals (Heatley) came about only after Emery gave up an King Kong sized rebound that just got by everybody. Not a play one can formalize.
The two Pittsburgh goals really don't look any better on review. Their second goal was on the border of surreal. While the puck is gently rolling towards Emery, our defence bail to parts unknown and Emery responds by playing the puck right to a waiting Penguin. On the third goal our usual rock hard defence looked like the perverbial pound of butter as the Penguins slice in to get a redirection goal. The "tip" came from fairly well out though and Emery should have got it.
In the end, for goal-tending, like all endeavours, there are levels upon levels. For a playoff goalie, the "last line of defence", that necessary level includes the ability to bail out our defence. Emery will get another crack at it tonight: indeed the concentration of upcoming games should work in his favour; keeping him too busy to think "deep thoughts".
As noted the line combinations were different than from the Philadelphia game. We played the game with three of our lines arguably having "sore thumbs", namely Eaves, Neil and Schoubert. Vermette as a winger vice a center-man can also be placed in that category.
Neil should be placed back with Smolinski and Varada. Neil, unlike Vermette and Eaves, actually meshes well with Smolinski. They played well in the game against Philadelphia and should be kept together as a line into the playoffs This is not a super line but they are nicely balanced with each other offensively and defensively.
Eaves is not a checker/grinder, but a budding goal scorer/power forward. He would be a better fit to the second line. Of course another option is to bring Vermette back to reprise his pre Nov 30 role as second line center except here Fisher takes the place of Havlat. However knowing that Havlat is coming back one would get less disruption by simply plugging Eaves in there. When Havlat gets back Eaves simply takes Schoubert's place to form the "Kid Line".
The fourth line would be greatly improved by simply moving Vermette over to center. Schoubert? He fills in admirably but in the end he is an Olympic level defence-man adapting to strange circumstances, not a forward. Hamel or Martins would be a better fit. I have no doubt that Hamel, a proven NHLer who has been shooting the lights out, has been praying every night that he will be used as trade bait before the deadline. We should have been using him all along.