posted Mar 16, 2006 at 10:59AM
"Walking into the den of a wounded bear" seems an apt metaphor for tonight's tilt. The Senators are going to start running into teams whose seasons are all but over. The potential for games to get ugly is rising. Actually Ottawa needs to go through some of these, as they can bring about that "band of brothers" mentality. Cynics may scoff at this as romanticism, but for those who have experienced it, either in sports, in the military, or in any high pressure environment, understand what a powerful intangilbe it is. It is not something you can maintain forever. You lose a bit of yourself, but in return you lose all fear, entertain no doubt...you are simply primed to act.
Are the Senators not there yet? As bloggers at "Hockey Country" and "The Smarting Senators" have pointed out, the Sens have been a little slow in sticking up for each other. The late hit on Havlat was never properly dealt with in my opinion. More recently they point to the spearing of Jason Spezza as another. You don't have to be a McGrattan to do this...remember Kelly going postal in that game against Carolina? Again, it is all about getting the intangibles in order.
One intangible that is getting dealt with to some degree is the refs. Kudos to Murray for specifically using the ref's name in discussing bad calls. In the past, a referee knew that a questionable call would not get much of a response during the game, and would never be mentioned in the press conference.
Now they know that if they blow a call their name will be used in vain in front of a national audience. They may not be so quick to make that grey area call in a tight game. Again one of those intangibles we lacked in past years that a team needs in order to have its "fair advantage"
What Murray has to address now are the non-calls on the opposition teams, which allows them to use goon tactics to negate our team speed.
Will Murray continue to experiment with line combinations tonight? Most likely, although all will change with the return of Havlat. Havlat is looking good out there on the practice rink. Havlat just has this aesthetic style to him...like a sports car, he looks like he's going fast even when hs is just coasting.
As far as lines go, and you probably know by the direction of recent posts, that I really would like to see Kelly-Vermette-Eaves put together.
Chara got bumped off yet another puck last game which resulted in Tampa's first goal. Is a pattern developing? Let's hope not. Varada was one of those forwards who did not have a good game. He saw no ice in the third period. When Havlat returns, Varada will be on the outside looking in. There was a reason why Muckler couldn't trade him early in the season.
We have a lost a few games this season to the Bruins, a team we have no business losing to. Indeed that 3-0 shut-out to the Bruins was the real start of our slump. It would be good to go in there and set things straight.