Unfinished Business - Ottawa Returns to New Jersey
posted Mar 19, 2006 at 01:39PM
On our last visit Ottawa lost 5-2. Of course that was in our "lines don't make sense" phase. If you look back you will see that this was when my sentiment towards Murray reached a low point.
However, from the day Murray scratched McGrattan, our lines have started to make more sense, and our play, and subsequently our won/loss record, has improved immensely. I expect a much better performance from our guys and we should come out with the win. We go in there with fewer players than last time, but we are getting more from what we have.
You may have noticed I spend a lot of time on "line combinations" and in "organizing our talent". To me one of the key reasons, not the only, but a key reason, for our failure in play-offs was Martin's failure to organize the team properly. Of course that hit it's apogee with our last series with Toronto. There he broke up our best line by inserting White, put Bondra on his wrong wing, benched Spezza, and put Lalime in the nets even when it was obvious that "something" was wrong with him. We scored only one goal in our four losses, and continually got killed by soft goals.
Obviously nothing can be set in stone until Fisher and Havlat return, but the time left for experimentation and tinkering is coming to a close. To me the big question mark that remains is who is going to play with Arnason?
Right now I believe the plan is that Arnason is going to play with Havlat. I know, in my mind, where Havlat goes, Schaefer goes. With Fisher gone for now though, I don't see how he can get Schaefer any shifts with Arnason.
Hopefully both Fisher and Havlat will be back in good form by April 1. That will leave a few weeks to see who gels with who.