posted Mar 6, 2006 at 04:53PM
I gather that at the conclusion of the Leafs game the fans were booing their team off the ice. Too bad I missed that music. But I can't stand the HNIC eastern announcers. We put the TV on "mute" and tuned in to Dean Brown who is a national level play by play man. There was one instance where he described Vermette as doing a "Cirque du Soleil routine out there" and if you were watching the action on the ice at the time, you realize what an exquisite piece of ad-lib that was.
Well for tonight's game I am looking for Emery to have another solid outing. He was very strong against the Leafs, making some difficult saves, and in this game, bailing out his defence, who did not have their best game. It could very well be that there never was a real problem with Emery: his slump being more a function of accumulated rust by not getting enough play-time. Even when Hasek gets back, I am sure he will now get his share of games, if for no other reason than to keep the Dominator nice and "perky". But in the playoffs Emery may have to come in cold after a prolonged period with no game action - ergo the coaching staff will have to adjust the training to make sure he will be able to stay sharp.
Our defence were not at their best. In particular they weren't as physical as they need to be. In one instance Dean Brown mentioned how Chara, who "can really hurt people out there" eased up on Tucker even when he had the opportunity to legally turn him into an advertising sticker. Tucker subsequently moved down the ice and had an excellent scoring opportunity while the game was still in doubt. It is the little things.
One could not help but notice that the whole tone and pace of the game turned to our favour after McGrattan was injured and left the line-up. McGratton has shown flashes of being an NHL player, but flashes are not enough. Don't get me wrong. We are not talking about a Bonk here. McGratton has the heart of a lion, and has surprisingly good speed for a man his size, but he is not quite ready for this level. McGratton probably never really thought he could be a regular NHL'er, but he has gotten a good taste. I think he needs to take the next off season to get a bit leaner (faster/stronger) do a ton of work on power skating/manouverablity, but most importantly on passing and puck-handling. Forget the body bag, but prove up the "skills" and try to make himself into an ultimate power forward.
Vermette has put himself into some great scoring opportunities over the last few games, but except for the short-hander, is not cashing in. He reminds me a lot of Fisher the last two years who also had lots of chances, but is only now starting to close the deal on a more regular basis. I still think Vermette can make this a break-out season for himself, despite the obstacles that have been put in his path. I really hope he comes up with a big multi-goal game soon. It would help soothe the paranoid within.