Another Loss to a Weak Team - Canadians 4, Senators 1
posted Jan 7, 2006 at 05:39PM
Well the game is over. If you are into "spin" one can say that we won the last two periods in a 1-0 nailbiter. In the end it sucks losing to weak teams. I don't know how much one can make of this game. On one level it is a continuation of the pattern that has been in place since Nov 30. We have the raw materials, but can't get the mix right.
This game is a little bittersweet, because we did not play as bad as the score would indicate. The first period especially had that aroma of bad karma: the kind that can lead the superstitious to make wrong conclusions.
Irony. For the first time in their existence the Smolinski-Heatley-Vermette combo actually looked like a line. They were shooting , skating, passing and driving to the net. The first shift was symblomatic of the game, with the line applying good pressure, resulting in a scramble in front of the net. Next thing you know, Volchenkov and Smolinski run over each other, four Senators are belly down on the ice, and the Canadians have a four on one, with too many men on the ice no less (no call from the refs) and score a goal.
Later on they just get on the ice, and just after telling my wife that the "gods are against us" Smoke loses a face off and a tepid wrist shot from the blue-line snakes its way into the net. I am telling you I could smell the sulphur in the room.
Murray did change things up in the second period. Obviously given what I wrote after the last game, I can't argue too vociferously for breaking them up. Still there was that feeling you get when you read someone telling the world that they have capitulated and are selling a stock, only after it has bottomed.
As far as the line changes? Well I still think if you are having trouble scoring then you put your best forwards together. To me that means Heatley-Fisher-Schaeffer.
The second line has been our most consistent, but certainly not deserving of sacred cow status.
Varada got moved up to play with Smolinski, and I think we will get more from both with this pairing. A problem here is that when Vermette is paired with Smolinski, his face-off abilities are lost to the team. Two Montreal goals did come off face-off losses
I still think that putting Vermette in his natural position between Eaves and Kelly, and thus forming a "kid line" has great potential. More it is a line that you can see staying together even after the injured return. It would be great to get at least some line stability, and the three would make for an exciting third line.
McGrattan actually had a good game. If he could play like this all the time then it certainly would change my opinion. He had a great opportunity near the end of the game when Vermette fed him with an open net, but I swear you could see the finger of a deity flicking the puck off McGrattan's stick - and chuckling away.
Vermette was definitely more his old self. He was actually shooting, as well as winning face-offs, and using his speed to break behind the defence...or through them, drawing penalties.
Martins has always impressed me. Every time he is on the ice he seems to be one of the fastest skaters around. Great to seem him get a goal which showed off both his speed and his "never give up attitude"
What about Emery? I think it is safe to say that the last four periods have not been the highlight of his career. Right now I think it is just one of those bad stretches, and there is nothing fundamentally wrong. This is not a good time to go into a funk though, and we need a solid Emery to be able to take the load off Hasek, who again showed why he is one of the best.