Howdy from Ottawa. Our team showed alot of heart tonight, but gained but one point in the race for 8th seed in the East.
Early in the 3rd it seemed MTL would cruise to victory but then the Big 3 (namely Spezza and Heatley) caught fire and a timely goal by a late line combo by Hartsburg of Neil-Fisher-McAmmond sent the game to OT. In the extra frame Ottawa killed off a PP and had MTL on their heels after that. Spezza was dangling tonight, which is awesome to see. In the SO though he was denied, as was Alfie and for all of Elliot's big breakaway saves early he couldnt steal the extra point.
And steal it would have been. 6 MTL power plays and countless breakaway/odd man chances left Brian Elliot on an island to make some big stops. Sure he let a softy past him in the 3rd, but it sure didn't cost us anything. Great effort by Elliot tonight.
As mentioned the Big 3 returned to form in the 3rd period after two mostly turnover-filled play. Heatley is a player that needs time and space but cannot get it for himself, he needs linemates to create for him. If Spezza dangles like he did tonight for the rest of the year, Heater will have all the space he needs and would go on a goal-scoring tear.
Kelly-Vermette-Winchester was the team's best line for two periods and worst for the 3rd because they got over-confident. This line is at its best dumping and retreiving pucks, not stick-handling into the zone.
A late game decision by Hartsburg to let Fisher take the draw when Vermette was on the ice almost proved costly as Kovalev made a niffty move to put the puck in the blue paint. Vermette is an over 60% man and a top 10 faceoff guy in the league...Fisher is below average at best in this part of the game.
Kuba and Picard were very good tonight. Lee was ok. His late game take down of Latendresse was the right thing to do, but he got beat to the puck. Phillips had a few bad turnovers and took a bad call. He is adjusting to a new partner, but I'll say it again...we need more from him. Schubert was average, but he is your 6th d-men. Jason Smith at $2.6 million a year (Corvo makes $2.65 btw) had a brutal night. Countless giveaways, looked slow and took the wrong guy on the goal in the second. He is my new whipping boy and is the poster boy for what's wrong with this team. He hits like a tank and clears the front of the net (old NHL) but he cant skate or make the first pass (new NHL). Sure the fans enjoy a good hit but goals win you games and our defense provides very little offense to a team already hamstrung by a lack of scoring.
Ruutu played his game and was effective I thought tonight, as was Donovan who got some shifts with Spez-Heater. Folingo was ok, but his 8 mins of ice time reflect what I have been saying lately in that he isn't playing smart hockey at all right now. Hartsburg is doing the right thing in this situation.
Washington is up next on Tuesday at the 'Bank then were off for a week due to the All-Star game. On the All-Star, every year it's the same damn thing, hockey columnists/bloggers discussing the merits of the annual event or how to fix it or if it's dead altogether. Nothing at all needs to change about the All-Star game. Not the skills, not the future stars game and not the actual game itself. A message to hockey columnists/bloggers who yearly write the same thing on the All-Star game...focus your attention on how to fix Phoenix and Atlanta.
Colin Jeffrey - [email][email protected]