Twelve to Go!!! Ottawa 3, Tampa Bay 2
posted Apr 30, 2006 at 01:52PM
Tampa Bay was always a consensus favorite amongst most Senator's fans for being a first round opponent and this series beared out their optimism. Tampa was a team with well recognized weaknesses: weak goaltending, hap-hazard defensive corps and lack of depth up front, shoddy special teams. The Senators, the better team, did what it had to do, and exploited these weak points mercilessly and got through the series quickly. Now it has ample time to recharge, mentally and physically, before meeting its next opponent, who will becoming off, at the minimum, a tough six game series.
There are of course many positives that have come out from our play in this series
Ray Emery. Basically has made our goal-tending a non-issue.
Wade Redden: If anyone wants to yack about "mental toughness" one just has to point to Wade Redden. In incredibly difficult personal circumstances he put his bid in for a Conn Smythe nomination. It is no coincidence that the one game we lost, was the one that he missed. Easily the pillar of the defence corps, his performance has a lot of people reconsidering their choices in the Chara/Redden debate.
Martin Havlat. Back and better than ever. It is still painful to remember that Jacques Martin tried to use him as if he was a third line checker. To Murray's credit Havlat has been released to do what he does best, and that is wreak havoc with enemy defenses. He was lethal everytime he was on the ice.
Spezza. Under Martin, a healthy scratch. Today tied in the league lead with points. Spezza put together some of his best all round games of his career.
Breadth of Scoring. All but three names on the roster put their names on the score sheet with a goal or an assist during this series.
The Uber Powerplay. With Heatley, Spezza and Havlat up front, and Redden and Alfredson on the points, we have arguably the most devastating combination on the planet. They were just a wrecking crew out there and a key reason for the series victory. No coincidence that the three forwards wracked up most of their points during this time. The added bonus is that any team scouring the Senators have a clear message to their players: Go to the box and they score. Hopefully this will slow them down a little and open the ice up for us even more.
The PK. Completely shut down the Tampa Bay powerplay. The importance of this special team was no more in evidence than in the last game, down 6 men to 4, with Tampa pressing to extend the series.
Brian Murray. Well there can be little doubt that Murray is vastly superior than Martin in psychologically preparing the team to play-off hockey. If he can only get over his phobia about the Big Line.
Intangibles. Even the way the series unfolded worked to the Senator's favour. Coming off a loss at home and following up with two dominating road wins is a great confidence booster. Although the last game could have been a rout, the fact that it was a tight, high "pucker factor" pressure cooker, is experience that better prepared them for the hockey to come.