Thomas
DeChastelain
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Weekend Getaways - Which Team Will Travel To Buffalo And Philly?
posted Mar 23, 2006 at 05:02PM

Back to back games, the first against the Sabres, who have been in a funk since that game with Ottawa, and the Flyers who just beat the Rangers to take a division lead. Late season games in Philly tend to be raucous so all in all these will be very "interesting" games to watch.

Spezza looks good to go. Chara is out. Given that there are no call ups, that means Schubert plays defense and McGrattan is in.

How we will do depends entirely on what team Murray puts up there. Here is the line-up used in our last victory over Buffalo

Heatley - Spezza - Eaves
Vermette - Arnason - Alfredson
Schaefer - Smolinski - Neil
Varada - Kelly - Schubert

Despite not having Fisher, not having Havlat, the victory over the Sabres was one of the best games played by Ottawa in quite a long time. Indeed the talking heads were saying how the Senators were finally regaining the form of the early season Senators.

It should not be a surprise, as the line-up above was very similar to that being used by the Senators during their fantastic start to the season. Let's look again at the line up of that team that dominated the league up to Nov 30

Alfredson - Spezza - Heatley
Schaeffer - Vermette - Havlat
Smolinski - Fisher- Neil
Varada- Kelly- McGrattan

Obviously some names are changed. You have Arnason for Fisher and Eaves for Havlat, not even a fair trade, but there is a certain commonality in form between the early season team that dominated the league, and the team that dominated the Sabres just last weekend..

On the other hand below is the line-up used in the recent game against the Penguins.

Heatley - Kelly - Eaves
Alfredson - Arnason - Varada
Schaeffer - Smolinski - Neil
McGrattan - Vermette - Schubert

We scored no even strength goals. All of them were special team goals. In other words we had become the Leafs. This is the kind of line up that has often been used after Nov 30, when the Senators suddenly looked very ordinary; indeed they were playing .500 hockey, even when Havlat was the only forward missing.

Same players. Different combinations. Put out one combination and we are world beaters. Put out the other and we suck, having trouble even with weak teams. It is a pattern that has almost 100% predictive value.

The choice is Murray's. Let's hope he chooses wisely.

postscript.

oops I guess a defenceman is being called up as Volchenkov is still questionable.

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