Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sens dig a deep hole

Two games in and two games down. That sums up the Senators and their quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup in this 2007 playoff season.

For the second game in a row, the Senators could offer up no answers to the domination that the Anaheim Ducks provided through three periods of play.

While not as error prone as they were in game one, the Senators still managed to give away the puck at key times in the game, allowing the Ducks to once again spend a fair amount of the game down by their new close friend Ray Emery.

At the end of Wednesday’s game the Sens should have apologized to their hard working goaltender, for he was the only thing standing between Ottawa and a rather humiliating night.

Emery made spectacular save after save, at one point in the first period he had faced down 10 Anaheim shots to the one lonely shot that J S Giguere had to handle. It didn’t change much during the night, though at points the Sens did manage to fire off two or three shots within the same minute of play, not often mind you, but on occasion.

Once again, Anaheim played puck control perfectly, able to clear their zone with remarkable ease, not allowing the Senators to initiate any kind of offensive attack, they controlled the neutral zone as well all the while turning the puck around and hemming in Ottawa deep in their end for lengthy stretches of each period.

There’s been a disconnect with Ottawa in these first two games, they say all the right things before the game and in those between period interviews, but as soon as they hit the ice they’re like a deer caught in the headlights of the oncoming truck, they just aren’t sure which way to go, frequently waiting until it’s too late to get moving.

This was not the way the pre series prognosticating went, before game one the question was how would the Ducks handle the free wheeling Senators and their fancy pass making and sniper like shooting. As things have turned out in two games, they are handling it all quite well thank you very much. There's more speed flying down the Ottawa wings into the Ottawa corners from Anaheim than returning up the ice the other way.

While there has been much made about the Sens top line not getting untracked in the two games, in game two it was the Duck’s checking line that wreaked the havoc and scored the winning and only goal of the game.

Samuel Pahlsson took advantage of a Senator turnover in the neutral zone near the Duck blue line and turned it into a scoring play by slipping the puck through Joe Corvo’s legs and off the right post behind Ray Emery late in the third period. It was a momentary lapse by the Sens, one of a few in this game, but this one cost them not only a game but has made their job that much harder as they head for home and Saturday’s game three.

Monday night’s win by the Ducks was considered one of those things that could have gone either way, that despite a domination of that game and especially its third period that only served as a warning of what may be to come. But on Wednesday, the Ducks were full value for their win.

They simply outplayed the Senators in all facets of the game, with the exception of goaltending and even then, when called upon (and it wasn’t that frequently) JS Giguere was more than up for the challenge.

From the boards, to the face offs, through the defensive play and to the control in the Ottawa end of the rink. It was a pretty solid effort from a hard working team that can surely be starting to smell champagne.

If the Sens don’t want to see the Ducks drinking the bubbly, they had best get their act together fast and turn things around on Saturday night. It's not enough to say that the best review of the second game was that they weren't manhandled as they were on Monday, they still couldn't keep up with the Ducks and that is something that is going to need to be addressed quickly.

It’s not time to panic if you’re an Ottawa fan, but it is time to be a little concerned, the Senators that we’ve seen from California bear no resemblance to the ones that waltzed through three Eastern conference playoff series.

Sometime very soon, that team had best report for action or the tour of duty will be a very short one.

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