Tuesday, May 29, 2007

ALLARD: SENATORS GET FIRST DOSE OF ADVERSITY

Jean-Pierre Allard of Smarting Senators weighs in following the Senators' 3-2 loss to the Ducks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final.

OK, the party’s over. Time to clean up and remember who brought you to the dance.
The Senators got a rude awakening tonight at the Honda Center in sitting back and trying to protect a slim third-period lead, eventually losing to the faster and grittier Ducks in the opening game of the Cup final.

For the first time this spring in what has been a ridiculously easy playoff run, Ottawa has their work cut out for them if they want to make this series a long one, never mind bring home that trophy.

In one short game, the mighty impressive Ducks accomplished what the best player in the NHL (Sidney Crosby), the best goaltender in the world (Martin Brodeur) and the best team in the league this year (Buffalo Sabres) each failed to do in an entire series, albeit abbreviated five-game ones. Anaheim exposed Ottawa’s only two major weaknesses, which is one shaky goaltender (Ray Emery) and four soft defensemen (Wade Redden, Andrej Meszaros, Joe Corvo and Tom Preissing).

Granted, Emery deserved a much better fate after making several outstanding saves, including two game-savers late in the third before Travis Moen scored the winner. But for the love of Patty Lalime, he’s got to stop the seemingly easy one from Ryan Getzlaf that tied the score. Simple. Stop that one and Ottawa takes a 1-0 series lead.

As for Redden, his second-period power play goal was all very nice but what good does that do if he and his partner Meszaros were on the ice for all three Anaheim goals and looked totally outplayed, outhit and outhustled on virtually every shift?

Maybe these shortcomings don’t have any consequences if the Pizza Line plays like the half a million GOGA (Greater Ottawa Gatineau Area) fans have come to expect of Alfie, Heater and Jason Spezza, but the playoffs’ top offensive trio was badly outplayed by the Ducks' defensive linen of Sammy Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer and Moen.

Spezza had an especially frustrating game, turning over the puck several times, reverting to his old vexing ways, in the process overtaxing his defence who already were overworked by the constant dump-and-chase from the Ducks' forwards.

Let's chalk this one to the layoff. The Senators sat at home with nothing to do but read for nine straight days in Ottawa’s dailies the greatest adulation ever given to players who, lest we had all foolishly forgotten, hadn’t won anything but a ticket to the show.

For coach Bryan Murray, a few adjustments will most definitely be in order here before Game 2. How Ottawa manages to circumvent the tremendous physicality of Anaheim will go a long way in determining if the show will last as scheduled or if Ottawa will find its way on the other end of a shortened series very fast.

2 comments:

Eric said...

Excellent observations.

Dennis Prouse said...

Redden looked like a frightened 18 year old rookie out there. It is hard to put into words just how terrible he was. And this guy is supposed to be our go-to defenceman? Yikes. Murray had better break up that cringe-inducing pairing of Redden and Mezsaros, and put them with someone more defensively responsible. I might even take the step of using Schubert as your seventh defenceman, and limit Redden to powerplay duty. Harsh, but ya gotta do what it takes in the playoffs.

Chris Neil -- one hit last night. That's it. He is playing like he is afraid to take a penalty, but unless he is physical he is useless. Brad May is playing the role of agitator to perfection for the Ducks, and there is no one doing it for the Sens. Perhaps Neil could use a night in the press box to get refocused.