The quality of the game. Someone who didn't see the match-up might look at the score and assume it was a slow, dull game. It was not. Despite it ending 1-0, it was a mostly exciting hockey game that resembled a contest in May more than it did an mid-October affair. There was tons of hitting, good end to end action at various points, and spectacular goaltending by both 'tenders. This just further cements the fact that scoring doesn't equal excitement alone. 1-0 games can be tremendous.
A strong effort. Though Ottawa did not come out with the W, we cannot be too disappointed with the game, as much as the end result leaves us unfulfilled. Ottawa brought it to the Flames for much of the contest, and I felt like were the better team overall. This is not to dismiss the Flames effort, nor their two points, because they played their game well, but Ottawa was the better skating team 5-on-5 and generated more chances.
Ray Emery. I truly felt bad that Emery not only lost the shut out, but ultimately takes the L, because he was terrific and matched Mika Kiprusoff, considered by most to be the best goaltender in the world, save for save. He did what Gerber hasn’t been able to do and that’s make the big timely stops when the team needs it. He was aided by some poor shooting by the Flames (Kristen Huselius missed two wide open nets) but regardless, when called upon, answered the bell, including an awesome kickpad save in the second that brought the crowd to its feet. The goaltending controversy continues.
Antoine Vermette & Mike Fisher. I thought this pair were Ottawa’s best skaters on the night, doing some great things both at even strength and when killing a penalty. They were responsible for most of the odd man rushes Ottawa got and were the only two Sens I can recall that, consistently, carried the puck through the neutral zone and into Calgary’s end without being impeded by their rigid fortress known as team defence.
Chris Neil. Registered six hits, but it sure seemed closer to 10, Neil was a thorn in the side of Calgary every time he stepped on the ice. He went hard to the net and stirred all kinds of shit.
Chris Phillips. A much better outing from the veteran who'd struggled badly in the previous games. Solid in his own end, good at moving the puck, and some physical play. Basically, the kind of game they'll need from him every night for this season to be an effective one.
The embarrassingly bad powerplay. To say it’s been awful would be a disgrace to the term. Awful doesn’t do it justice. It’s been absolutely abysmal. 1 for 25 thus far this season, and 0 for 8 on the night. They aren’t winning battles for pucks. they’re forcing plays around the net. They’re slopping with passes. They’re tentative and reluctant to take shots, yet when they finally do, almost always miss the net, and badly. Something needs to be done, but I don’t have the faintest idea what that something is. I figured five days between games, and many rigorous practices, would help, but alas, it did not. So I give up. They tried mixing things up by throwing some fresh faces on the ice with the man advantage, including Denis Hamel before he got murdered, and it didn’t make a lick of difference. Granted, some powerplays were more effective than others, and some chances were generated, but when you get eight powerplays, including two in the last six minutes in a game where you’re down a goal, you have to capitalize. When your PK squad generates more and better scoring chances than your eight powerplays, it says two things: 1) your powerplay fucking blows. 2) the other team’s sucks pretty badly.
Zero puck luck. Even though Ottawa was the better team from where I sat, they were once again done in by getting no breaks around the net. As was the case in the last two periods in Saturday night’s loss to the Sabres, Ottawa had a ton of chances and yet couldn’t bury any of them. How many 2 on 1s did they have? Three, four? I don’t believe they even got a shot out of any of them except a shorthanded rush by Mike Fisher. A few of the occasions, the puck was literally bouncing. Dany Heatley continues to struggle, and with the rubber, doesn't resemble a sniper in the least bit.
Daniel Alfredsson. A pisspoor game from the captain, again. This is becoming a pattern.
Wade Redden. The debate all last season was Chara or Redden, Wade or Z. I always stood firmly in the corner of #6, because I felt like his skillset better suited the new rules as well as the fact I thought losing him would be more difficult to overcome. The fact that Redden had a monster first round against Tampa despite still grieving from the death of his mother, while Chara struggled horribly, only cemented my stance. However, that choice, four games in, isn’t looking so good. Redden had been average at best thus far this season but tonight’s game was truly his worst. Early on, things looked good, as he outmuscled Jarome Iginla for a puck. That turned out to be the highlight of the night for Wade. The rest of the night, Iginla, who was matched up against him for the majority of the game, dominated Redden. Firstly, who’s bright idea was it to put Redden against Iginla? Does Bryan Murray even know anything about his players? Wade Redden is not a shutdown defenceman. He’s (on most nights) a gifted offensive defenceman who’s among the best in the world at outlet passes as well as rushing the puck up the ice. He’s sound defensively, but only because he’s excellent positionally. He’s not physical and in one-on-one battles, he’s usually outmatched, even against average players. Against perhaps the best power forward in the NHL? Retarded. If he wasn’t pushing Redden around, Iggy was pyloning his ass every chance he could. I felt bad for Redden for a bit, because he was put into a role he’s not equipped to play, but after a while, that wore off. His poor efforts on the powerplay as well as some sloppy passes didn’t do him any favors either.
Jason Spezza's giveaways. Last season, when he was putting up big points, we could ultimately look the other way at Spezza's terrible brainfarts with the puck. However, when he's not scoring, those mistakes are magnified tremendously. He's hurting the team more than he's helping them right now.
Full marks to the Flames. They played their style of game to a tee. They shut down the neutral zone, allowed Kipper to see whatever pucks were fired, and cleared rebounds very effectively. They won this game the same way I assume they will during crunch time in the postseason.
Oh, and Miikka Kiprusoff's pretty friggin great.
Saturday night against the Habs on Hockey Night In Canada. Sort of a big deal, and ideally, another outing where they'll get their spirits up. Montreal's rolling pretty strong, coming off a big win last weekend over the Leafs and a shutout victory against Philly last night.