Monday, May 08, 2006

Two on Ones, lead to two to none!

It seems impossible to believe; over two games the Ottawa Senators have outshot the Buffalo Sabres 77-40. Watching the play at times it seems as though the Senators are about to break open the floodgates and fill the net, yet after two games in what the Sens can only hope is now a best of seven series, the Sabres have a commanding 2-0 lead.

The latest setback on the Senator road to Stanley came with a 2-1 defeat, a complete reversal of Friday night’s scorathon, Monday night was the goaltenders night to take the stage and shut the doors. In the end Buffalo’s Miller closed his door a wee bit tighter than the Sens Ray Emery.

Miller faced 44 shots as the Senators brought in wave after wave of attackers, only to be stymied by the kid with no fear. Only Chris Phillips shot from the point eluded Miller on Monday, For the want of an inch, Jason Spezza had a tying goal but in what seems to be typifying the Sens luck of late, the puck like a wonderful curling shot, came up just short of crossing the line.

It was a hard hitting affair as both teams finished their checks, played the boards hard and delivered one or two highlight reel body checks on the open ice. In the end it was once again turn overs that cost the Sens, the Sens were caught woefully out of position as the duo of J P Dumont and Daniel Briere worked the give and go wonderfully, leaving the Ottawa defensive corps looking at themselves while the Sabres roared to the net.

Chris Phillips then coughed up the puck at the blue line and Jochan Hecht took advantage of the giveaway to blast in on a breakaway and put the puck through Ray Emery’s five hole, giving the Sabres a 2-0 second period lead.

Phillips got that giveaway back moments later, but that was it for the Senator scoring for the night. Chances would come time and time again, but Miller held his line and denied the Sens time and time again.

Sens fans won’t like a couple of ominous statistics, stats that will take all the positive thinking vibes to keep from getting into the Sens psyche.

1) The Sens have never won a series after trailing 2 games to none sporting an 0-4 record in playoff competition.

2) The Sens are 0-8 in playoff games with the Sabres dating back to 1997.

Now to solve number 1 the Sens are going to need to do something about number 2, time is running short as Wednesday provides the next opportunity to regroup and change the direction of this series.

They’re getting all the shots they need, so surely it’s only a matter of time before a few of the close calls break their way and go in behind Miller. More importantly for Ottawa is the careless play in their own end and the inability to control the boards at key times of the game. Too many giveaways and too many two on ones are costing this team, it’s really a case of getting back to their basics, play the man and think out your plays before you casually throw the puck up the ice.

Buffalo has proven that they are too good a team to let up on, too many of the Sens seem content to loft the puck away and hope for the best. While they are out shooting the Sabres, they aren’t outscoring them, and when it comes to wins and losses it’s the goals on the main clock, not the shots on the shot clock that tell the difference.

While Buffalo has made few mistakes thus far, they do make the occasional error while on the ice, it’s when that happens that the Sens must attack and put some pucks in the net. Clamping down in their own end is a must as well, no more breakaways, no more two on ones and no more lost battles on the boards, Ottawa needs to regain control over their own end of the rink, otherwise the playoff run is in danger of ending early.

Right now the Sabres are 2 goals and 2 games up on the Sens; the Sens must take the play to Buffalo on Wednesday and solve Miller. With whispers of yet another playoff collapse starting to gain a bit of volume, the Sens must win Game Three and win it convincingly.

More importantly they need to be thinking Game Six, that’s the place they need to aim for, as anything short of a Game Six date and the Sens season is over.

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