Saturday, December 01, 2007

Time to get out of Dodge!

The Ottawa Senators begin a five game road trip this weekend and leaving the friendly confines of Scotiabank Place couldn’t come at a more opportune time. While success on the road hasn’t been, particularly great of late, considering the current six game losing skid, the next five games give the team a chance to work out whatever it is that is laying waste to John Paddock’s plans.

The Sens dropped another one Saturday afternoon, as the New York Rangers poured over the benches and the blue line to swarm the Ottawa end of the rink and before Martin Gerber knew it he was down 3-0 and on the bench, as twenty minutes of flawless Ranger play put the stamp on the afternoon affair in Kanata.

Ray Emery would be sent off to face the Blueshirts for the remaining fourty minutes and his opening moments weren’t much better than Gerber’s, as Brendan Shanahan scored his second of two goals on the day, pacing the Rangers on to the eventual 5-2 victory.

Shanahan explained the Rangers plan of attack of being one of not letting a team struggling gain any space and they played that game perfectly in the first period, where they all but overwhelmed the Sens and silenced the Scotiabank Place crowd.

The Sens showed signs of life in the latter stages of the second period but like turning a faucet off, the Rangers modified their play and shut them down again, the closest Ottawa ever would get would be two goals down on the scoreboard.

More ominously the recent skid of six has taken the Sens from the heights of the Eastern Conference to holding off an increasing mob of teams looking for their shot at the top, with the loss the Sens now are but two points ahead of the Rangers with six other teams within six points of first.

The plan is for the Sens to depart on Sunday giving them two days of rest and contemplation away from Ottawa as they begin the string of games that will take them to Tampa Bay, Miami, Dallas, Raleigh and Pittsburgh before they return home to play the suddenly hot Thrashers on December 15.

The extra few days before the next game will allow coach John Paddock to try and find ways to revive his teams levels of achievement, a team that is clearly among the elite of the NHL this year but haven't shown much indication of it in the last few weeks.

It’s hoped that by the time they wrap up the road trip, they have returned to the form that most hockey fans associated with them, fast paced and frequently scoring and frequently winning.

Interestingly enough, Keith Urban will fill in for the Sens at Scotiabank the night before they return home, Urbans current tour is called, Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy World tour, something that the Sens probably feel that they’ve already been on for the last six games…

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