Buffalo 2 Ottawa 1

After all those goals in game one Friday night, only three were scored here. It was a tighter game, not nearly as exciting to watch, but in the end, I feel just as discouraged.

So what now?

Once again, the Ottawa Senators outplayed the Buffalo Sabres badly, but could not bury their chances while Buffalo pounced on the few they were given like a good, opportunistic team does.

The shot count says a lot but I don’t even think it was a fair reflection because Ottawa was terrible at getting shots through on the many powerplays they had. The Senators could have easily had over 50 pucks on net.

This was an incredibly frustrating game to watch because you knew Ottawa would not score. At least I did. Call me a downer if you must but as I was watching the clock tick down I was losing faith. The hockey Gods have been cruel to this organization in the past and got their licks in tonight. The Sens could not buy a goal.

At the end though, games aren’t awarded based on who had more shots, who had the puck in the other team’s zone more often, or who was better. It’s about goals.

I plan to dissect where we go from here soon, but I’m not very optimistic. I wouldn’t take down my car flag just yet, but I can understand those of you who do. This team’s heart has been questioned time and time again, and now more than ever.


Taking the body. While Buffalo fans are, predictably, calling for Peter Schaefer to be crucified for his hit on Tim Connolly (*shrugs* I thought it was clean), they cannot dispute that Ottawa took it to them physically. The Sabres, to their credit, didn’t back down but throughout the night you began to see it have an effect, as on more than a few occasions a Buffalo played bailed out instead of taking another hit.

Patrick Eaves. He’s far too inconsistent this playoffs, going from average to downright invisible, however I thought the rookie winger had his best outing thus far. He was a shit disturber around the net all game long and was finishing checks on much bigger, stronger, and more experienced defencemen with regularity. Finished with six shots and as many hits. If every Ottawa forward played with his desire the result would’ve been very different, I believe.

Chris Neil. Also very good physical, Neil was responsible for a lot of chances, much of them through him hitting. Every time Neil got on the ice he caused havoc.

Chris Phillips’ redeeming himself. The Big Rig was poised to take Anton Volchenkov’s spot as the resident goat with his awful turnover that allowed Johan Hecht to light the lamp however he scored a much needed goal to cut the lead in half and breathe some life back into the team and crowd. Phillips had another strong game overall, aside from the sloppy giveaway.

Benjamin Harper. His father the Prime Minister isn’t my favorite person in the whole world as it is, and learning he’s a Leafs fan, though hardly surprising, made me like him even less, but at least his kid has some sense, draped in a Sens jersey and banging those stupid thundersticks together. Anyone else find it funny that it looked like Ted Saskin was assigned to be the babysitter while Gary Bettman and the PM talked about who knows what? I can totally picture Saskin being sent to fetch the kid one of those big chewy pretzels and then being asked to go back when he forgot the mustard. You’d never see Bob Goodenow do that, that’s for sure.


The powerplay. For the second straight game, the Sens powerplay, what I thought would be on the factors that would allow them to beat Buffalo, has failed them miserably. The Sens went 0 for 7 if you count the one in the last 15 seconds, and frankly, got some breaks because a few of those calls were questionable. And they could do nothing with them. The problems with the PP are too numerous to list. For one, they were terrible moving the puck along the blueline. The pointmen played with fire all night long and nearly got caught on a few occasions. You’d think, after giving up two shorthanded goals Friday night, they would’ve learned their lesson, but you’d think wrong. As well, the recurring problem of being too cute with the puck reared its ugly head. And finally, and most frustrating to yours truly, was when they were able to get point shots through, there was usually no one in front of the net to make it difficult for Ryan “Hasek” Miller to see the rubber. There were a couple instances where Bryan Murray threw out Patrick Eaves or Chris Neil, but they were few and far between. Full marks to Buffalo’s penalty kill who were strong on the pressure but Ottawa has to score on some of these.

Daniel Alfredsson. He’s struggling folks. Badly. I wouldn’t agree with Don Cherry’s assessment that Alfie isn’t trying, because I don’t believe his character allows him not to give 100%. But he’s making poor decisions, both with the puck and without it. He was responsible for a giveaway at the Sens’ blueline that nearly stopped my heart in the first period and then late in the game, when desperation had set in, Alfie continued to falter with the puck. Along the boards he was holding onto it for too long and when he would get the puck in transition instead of throwing it at the net or passing he would put on the breaks, allowing the Sabres forward caught out of position to recover. Oh, and let’s not forget that puck he fired over the net with the thing wide open and Miller down and out. That’s not a play a guy like Daniel Alfredsson is supposed to miss. Alfie has one goal in seven playoff games, and that one was an empty netter. Something needs to be done, and I suspect Alfie will be thrown on the Big Line to start Game 3. Murray better hope its not too late because the second guessing on that decision has been prevelant all playoffs.

Jason Spezza’s behind the back pass in the 2nd period. Utterly unacceptable. This kind of bullshit should’ve stopped in November. In May, when you’re down a goal in game that’s sort of important, these kind of plays are enough to warrant a benching. On this play in particular, Spezza could’ve thrown it at the net and let one of the forwards hop on a rebound, but elected to be a jackass instead. The puck was taken by the Sabres and Wade Redden was forced to take a penalty to stop a near breakaway. The excuses of “he’s a young kid, he’s learning” are out the window. He is this team’s number one center. In the past, he talked about wanting to carry a big load and has supposedly welcomed it this season. Yet he continues to make terrible plays. Someone needs to remind Jason this isn’t pee wee or even the AHL. This is the National Hockey League, and you’re playing an incredibly talented team who has proven themselves quite capable of burying the chances you give them. People always say you don’t want to stifle his creativity, and the truth is if that pass is made, we’re probably all calling him a hockey God, however, the odds on that play are not good enough to justify attempting it. At any point in the game.

Spezza & Heatley’s chemistry. Did it miss the afternoon wake up call? Usually these two can find each other with crisp passes, but boy was that not the case here.

Defensive errors. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Buffalo’s two goals were on shitty turnovers by the Senators. We can talk all we want about two goals on four shots in the 2nd period but when those two shots are a breakaway and an odd man rush. It was better than the disaster that was game two but still too many for my liking.

Zdeno Chara. This is the guy who is likely going to get $8 million+ in the offseason from some team? If that’s his pricetag, you guys can have him. He has yet to assert himself as a factor in this series and is routinely pinching. Pinching! What the fuck are you thinking! Buffalo burns pinchers, and you’re a 260 pound guy and you’re pinching? Pinching! What the fuckity fuck. You’re too big and slow to be taking these kind of chances because we all know you won’t be able to catch up to correct your mistake. Oh, and wanna start hitting somebody, please? I know you’re probably planning your move about now and your mind is clouded by visions of dumptrucks filled with Benjamins being backed up to your house, but you’re still an Ottawa Senator, and we need you to win. Thanks in advance.


Buffalo fans should, and probably are, thanking their lucky stars, because they’re going back to Western NY up 2 games without playing very well. In the first game Ottawa gave it to them and the second was stolen by Ryan Miller.

To say Miller was sensational wouldn’t be doing his performance justice. He gave one of the best playoff goaltending exhibitions I’ve seen in some time, and that’s saying something because Ottawa’s franchise history is full of being stonewalled by redhot netminders. Usually, they wear blue and white rather than black but the Devil comes in many forms I suppose.

In contrast to Emery, who though once again not the reason they lost could not make the big saves when called upon, Miller seemed to have a countless array of them in his back pocket.

Buffalo found a way to win, and that's all that matters, shot count disparity or not. I still don't think we've seen the best Buffalo Sabres in either game, and that's what scares me most. I have to believe they'll be much better in game 3, and with a red hot goalie, it's difficult to see how they can be beat.