Saturday, January 21, 2006

Takin' it to the House

They have a House of Commons in Ottawa, a Government House, maybe even an International House of Pancakes. But for the Toronto Maple Leafs there's really only one House, it's that House of Horrors now called Scotiabank Place, formerly the Corel Centre.

As the Senators played their 1,000 game since the city's return to the NHL, they returned to the type of hockey that had everyone talking Sens hockey at the start of the season. Once again the Leafs have gone into Ottawa to face the Sens and once again they've left the building feeling a little like they've been schooled in the art of hockey.

Pat Quinn's team left Eddie Belfour to face the Sens and their fans alone all night long, the concept of back checking and defensive play as hard to find as were the 20,093 tickets to the sold out game, a new record for hockey in Ottawa.

The struggling Leafs wandered aimlessly on the ice at Scotiabank Place, giving the Sens the neutral zone, the front of the net and even behind the net on the way to their 7-0 rout of the Leafs. And truth be told, this one could have been much, much worse. As the third period progressed Sens Coach Bryan Murray took a few steps to try and cut the visitors a bit of slack, putting the lower lines onto the power play and slowing down the pace of the game past the halfway point of the third.

However, with the Leafs not showing much of an interest in taking the game to the Sens, Domenic Hasek was rarely in danger of losing his shut out bid. Though he did try to make things interesting by playing the puck too much giving the Leafs a chance to put one in the Sens net, but even on those occasions things did not go the way of the Blue and White.

With a March 9th trade deadline it will be interesting to see what moves the Leafs make to try and salvage their once promising start. With the loss tonight, the Leafs tumbled out of the playoff race ceding the eighth and final spot temporarily to Tampa Bay.

With thirty five games to go in the regular season it may be a little early to panic, but this is a team that is looking a little disorganized at the moment, far too many players refuse to play the man or pick up their checks.

The Sens capitalized on far too many two and three on one situations than is good for a potential playoff team. Until they can recapture the sense of the basics they seem to be conveniently avoiding there will continue to be many nights like Saturday.

In fact, Monday night features a return engagement between the Sens and the Leafs once again at the Corel Centre. Not a good omen for the Leafs, so far in the five games played between the two provincial rivals, it's been all Ottawa who have outscored the Leafs 32-9. Pizza Pizza had best put in another order for dough, it could very well be another night of free pizza for the capitals hockey fans!

No comments: