posted May 13, 2006 at 01:24PM
One of the things that has come out in the post game chatter was the lack of ice time for Spezza/Heatley in the third period. I must admit I didn't even notice. When I looked at the box score to try to confirm this, I noticed that both Spezza and Heatley recorded three shots each in the first period, no doubt why I myself had a favorable impression of them.
Obviously Murray is very nervous about their defensive capability, especially Spezza. One thing my wife noticed was that when Vermette was playing with them, he was not joining them on rushes but hanging back, acting almost like a third defenceman waiting in anticipation of a Spezza pass gone wrong. Of course that meant that Spezza Heatley were for the most part alone in pressing attacks, not part of a whole coordinated line combination. Was Vermette acting on his own, or was he under strict instructions?.
One of the reasons I think the switch of Eaves and Vermette worked was that Eaves did not hang back but was aggressive on the fore-check and was involved in pressing attacks. Ditto for Vermette playing with Smoke and Alfredsson.
One of the things that came out in the pre-game show was the need for some secondary players to step up, and I couldn't agree more. Vermette and Eaves were 20 goal scorers and they need to pot a few. The fourth line, especially with Schubert generated some nice chances but they have to close the deal. Fisher has not been quite the same since playing with the cage ... I hope things have healed enough so that he comes out with a visor.
Within the context of the series Ottawa has no margin for error, so it would be nice if they could build some up in within the game. I would very much love to see them win the game in convincing fashion, by at least a few goals. It would be a huge psychological dagger to Buffalo's heart, and a huge momentum changer. This requires not only a full 60 minute, continuous pressure effort that shuts down Buffalo's offense, but for some of our scoring touch to return. The hope of course is that Buffalo starts to implode a bit. Winning three more one goal squeakers would probably fill local hospitals with cardiac emergencies. Ditto if we draw McCreary or Koharski for refs.