Sunday, May 13, 2007

Senators vs. Penguins: Round 1, Game 4

Ottawa 2, Pittsburgh 1

PRESIDENT’S 2 CENTS: Despite a shaky second period and being outshot throughout, the Senators passed their latest and biggest test with flying colours. Best part? Colby “the witch” Armstrong, who in the pregame interview showed signs of playoff peach fuzz, was a complete non-factor and couldn’t cook up a spell … Pens overall played solid, but simply couldn’t cook up enough chances against Ottawa’s solid stickwork and rebound control (see below) … Gotta be impressed with Dany Heatley. Better overall effort tonight, with two good scoring chances and some big hits. He’ll light the lamp soon enough … Speaking of impressive, how about that Spezza-Heatley-Saprkyin (yes, Saprykin) tic-tac-toe in the third? Oleg, albeit temporarily, made Muckler look like a genius by finishing solidly after a shaky start. Notably, he played well with McAmmond and Schubert … on the flip side, $6 million rearguard Wade Redden had another lacklustre night with a handful of bad giveaways, including the one to Gary Roberts which led to Staal’s goal. Another play featured a Wade-open giveaway to Ronald Petrovicky, who found Jarko Ruuto open. He’s bounced back before – in fact, the Sens are a losing team without him in the lineup – let’s hope it happens real soon … especially in this low-scoring affair, Rayzor really owes Peter Schaefer a steak dinner for his sweeping deflection to keep the game tied in the second. Schaefer and Comrie also traded nifty through-the-legs boardwork which led to Volchenkov’s goal. Pistol Pete’s underrated stickhandling flew under the Pens’ radar, and it’s flown under many all year … hate to make the comparison, but this year’s Sens bear a striking resemblance to the 2004 Leafs in the playoffs for their blue-collar ability to clear away rebounds and second chances. Notably, Mike Fisher, A-Train, Chris Kelly and Antoine Vermette turned in solid defensive efforts … is it just me or are Chris Phillips and the A-Train being “rewarded” by the refs for their solid play all series by being scrutinized and called for a few questionable penalties, one in particular from the centre-ice ref? … Another solid effort by the captain in all aspects, including one late-game rush where he hustled to retrieve a Pens’ dumpout, only to force the nugget back in and create a quick scoring chance. It’s hustle plays like this that win series … Anyone else miss Greg Millen on Sens regional broadcasts? … On the subject, here’s the Bob Cole line of the night, two short minutes after Marc-AndrĂ© Fleury let in that Spezza pop-fly: “Fleury is showing signs of being sharp again this evening.” Funny timing, but o well, he turned out to be right … Leave it to a front-row Penguins fan to disrespectfully flash a “Cryin Bryan” sign during the Canadian anthem … Last but not least, on that late-game Schaefer-Comrie-Fisher jam in front of the net, I bet Dean Brown had his biggest “SCRAMBLE” in recent months.

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