Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Senators, Emery Show Some Fight - Still Lose

The losing streak continues but at least the Senators seemed to finally wake up out of a weeks long slumber in the third period of last night's tilt in Tampa, right around the time that Ray Emery decided he'd had enough and tried to cut Mathieu Darche in two with his stick.

For some reason that seemed to spark the team and they stormed back thanks to Daniel Alfredsson's two goals and an assist which will certainly improve his Hart Trophy candidacy.

I thought Emery rebounded nicely from his last mediocre start and he looks like he's got the fire back. That can only mean good things for the Senators in the games to come. Emery is already slated to start tonight against Florida and that's the first wise move coach John Paddock has made in a while. Getting Emery back into a rhythm is a must for this team, as Martin Gerber has already proved that he can play well after sitting for multiple games. Emery is more of a guy who needs to see big minutes to get rolling.

Unfortunately for the Senators, Wade Redden continues to wither before our very eyes. His giveaway for Tampa's first goal was so egregious, that he's beginning to "wade" into Bryan McCabe territory. Sure, he got the goal back in the third period by driving to the net but he was single-handedly responsible for getting the team off to a poor start with that initial blunder. It's so bizarre to see such a rock steady defenseman and smart hockey player fall by the wayside like that.

It's not just the tighter sweaters. Wade Redden seems so much smaller than he used to be and the intensity level just isn't there anymore. Christoph Schubert also made some mistakes but he's not expected to play at a level like Redden is, especially after playing forward for over two seasons.

It's hard to dissect a shootout too closely (and probably not wise or useful) but there are some things worth noting:

Dany Heatley just isn't good in the shootout and never has been. That's fine. It's a mystery but that happens. Paddock should look elsewhere for that slot. At least he's now using Jason Spezza in the breakaways after last year's coach Bryan Murray neglected to use him much. Spezza can deke and that's a big advantage. Heatley is more of a shooter and gets most of his goals by releasing a quick shot before goalies can get in position. In the shootout, the goalie is in the best possible position and Heatley is not a fancy deker so he has a tough time of it.

Antoine Vermette can dangle with the best of them but he often finds ways to miss the crucial goal, whether in the shootout or in the game. He just doesn't seem to have that clutch ability, for all his skills and speed.

Emery has never been a good shootout goalie but he won't have to deal with them come April anyways.

But all in all, whether it was Emery blowing his cool and showing some much needed fire, or if it was just stellar leader Daniel Alfredsson dragging them along by the short hairs, the Senators showed some fight and we'll see if that carries over into tonights tilt against the Panthers.

Old friend Jacques "No Comment" Martin lies in wait. Should be interesting.

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