Sunday, 3 June 2007

A Much Better Effort

Last night's game between the Ottawa Senators and the Anaheim Ducks looked a lot more like the Senators of the 2007 NHL Playoffs. The Senators showed up, played hard, and won the game. There were a lot of little things that the Senators did right last night, and they were the same things that brought them success in the previous three series. For the first time in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Ottawa Senators dumped-and-chased as well as they had in any other game. This directly resulted in three of their five goals last night. The supporting cast showed up and played extremely well. If Ottawa can continue to play as well as they did last night in the rest the of the series, they have the capability to win the next three games in a row.

The Ducks, meanwhile, will be without the services of their stud defenseman, Chris Pronger. Pronger was suspended in the Detroit series for a forearm to the head, and he has been suspended for Game Four for those same actions. Here's the NBC version of the hit, called by Mike Emrick and Pierre McGuire.

Pronger's elbow/forearm clearly hit McAmmond in the head, and I commend Colin Campbell's decision to sit Pronger down for this headshot.

"This one took a lot of thought," Colin Campbell, the NHL's executive vice-president and director of hockey operations, said at a news conference. "It wasn't an easy one. It didn't jump out at us right away."

I admit that I didn't see it initially when it happened last night, but the replays were clear in Pronger's use of the arm on McAmmond's head. When asked if McAmmond would be ready for Game Four, Ottawa coach Bryan Murray responded with "McAmmond doesn't look promising". He is listed as doubtful, and reportedly lost consciousness after hitting his head on the ice. However, McAmmond did not receive a concussion which is extremely good news.

In a rather strange moment, it appeared that Patrick Eaves, a scratch for Game Three, appeared on the bench, fully-dressed for the game. He skated across the ice, and sat in the penalty box for Jason Spezza, who had received a roughing penalty on the previous play.

Senators center Jason Spezza had to borrow Eaves' jersey after Spezza's jersey was torn in a scrum with Ducks center Samuel Pahlsson. Spezza skated one shift with Eaves' jersey on before the equipment manager located another Spezza jersey in the Ottawa locker room.

"I’ve worn it before actually, in training camp, so it was pretty funny," Spezza said of wearing the #44 jersey. "If I would have, it would have been nice to have scored with Patty’s jersey on."

The Senators were very happy with their total team play. They got goals from five different players, and only one with the names of Alfredsson, Spezza, or Heatley.

"Every line played real well today," Alfredsson said. "I think as a team we needed to have a good effort and we got some big shifts from Fisher's line, Kelly's line with Neil and those guys. Cycling the puck - got a goal. If you do that, you'll be successful, no question. It was nice to see."

Bryan Murray also expressed his happiness with his team's response in the virtual must-win game of the series so far. "We hung in and we hung in and we played well," Murray said. "This group got beaten up a little early in the year. We've said that many times. They've gotten beaten up in some individual games. We've hung in, hung in, played well. Obviously, it's only one game. But I really like the way we responded."

Ottawa’s grinders struck pay dirt as new daddy Chris Neil, whose wife gave birth to the couple’s first child on Friday, celebrated the happy moment in style, tying the game at 1 for Ottawa.

"It was like a roller-coaster ride, waiting in line especially at the hospital," said Neil, who missed practice Friday to attend the birth. "But just my wife is a trooper and it was amazing. I can't say enough. I knew where I had to be. It was amazing. You can't put words behind that. You just watched your baby being born. I can't say enough about it."

Hailey Neil weighed in at 6 lbs. and 10 ounces. Congratulations to the Neil family on their addition!

If the Senators can keep this up, this series should be tied after Game Four. They looked good, and responded well. Game Four goes Monday, June 4 at 8pm ET, and is available on NBC and CBC. Looking forward to another solid game! Until then, keep your sticks on the ice!


Sage Confucius said...

I found it interesting that Pronger said that he is unable to change these sorts of things because that it how he plays. He also made the excuse of him being taller than McAmmond. Ultimately it comes down to controlling what his body does. If he had kept his elbow down and had put a hard check on McAmmond, we wouldn't be talking about this at all. It is just like controlling the stick. The player is responsible for it at all times. You have to be in control of your body at all times.

Bethany said...

I had never been to your blog before but great game recap!!

Anonymous said...

sens rule!!!!

Pronger was cool when he was on edmonton

Teebz said...

Sage - I agree. He claims that being 6'6" is a disadvantage, but he controls his arms. I am losing more and more respect for Pronger everyday. He might be the new Marchment in terms of dirty hits.

Bethany - thanks! I'm heading to your blog momentarily. ;o)

Anonymous - I am pulling for "Team Canada". Pronger was a great player for the Oilers, but has since become a prick. There... I said it. :o)