Running With The Devil - Pregame Musings
posted Feb 1, 2006 at 03:06PM
Well after the Boston fiasco, the upcoming game with New Jersey will be an important one to see where the team really stands. A lot of my attention will go towards those players who were not traded. As pointed out below, Vermette and the third line have got to start scoring goals. Playing better, even having an edge in play, is, in the context of Carolina, no longer enough.
Volchenkov represents the other element that has been missing from the Senators since Nov 30 and that is plain old bodychecking. When was the last time Volchenkov "A-trained" someone? When was the last time Chara turned an opposing forward into new board advertisement? Is it any wonder that Boston "dictated the tempo"?
It is a critical element not just from a momentum standpoint, but in the extra room it creates for our speedy forwards. The Senators cannot wait until the playoffs to start hitting. Like figure skaters who have to establish their routines in front of international judges before they actually compete in the Olympics, the Sens have to establish a baseline for physical play before getting into the playoffs. It is why we always get called for charging and boarding in the playoffs while other teams, like Toronto, do not.
The other element is forechecking an element that I read about somewhere else, on a blog or something - but it makes sense. At the beginning of the season Murray spoke in terms of "never letting the foot off the pedal, always "maintaining pressure". From what I understand we used to send two people in on the fore-check. Lately Murray has been talking in terms of "laying back" and playing "defensively". In other words he is starting to sound like Martin, and by only sending one player in on the fore-check, we have basically gone back to the trap.