Sunday, February 10, 2008

Some hockey talk.

Am I the only one really worried about the Senators' big win over the Habs yesterday? Everyone I have talked to since is excited. 6-1! Look at that big line produce! Yeah. I know. That's what worries me. How come with Heatley and Alfredsson in the lineup we are the Best Team In Hockey, yet when they are out, we are the Worst Team In The East? I do think it's great that we are the best team in hockey when everyone is healthy, but doesn't this win speak in a big way to our lack of depth? That top line is so much better than any other line in hockey, but it is also so much better than the rest of the Ottawa team! Therefore, beyond that line, there can be precious little depth, something we have taken for granted for a while here in Ottawa. We're a deep team! We can roll four lines! Sure. As long as we have that top one working for us. But although the likes of Eaves and Vermette and such like remain players with huge upsides, that's all they are for the time being. Guys with big upsides, not guys who can step in and plug the gaps when the big boys go down.

There are three Senators I really like, outside Alfredsson and Heatley of course. Mike Fisher, but then, everyone likes Fisher. Chris Neil, but same goes for him. And Anton Volchenkov, who I think may be the most under-rated defenceman in the East. They seem to be the only three Ottawa players who have the capacity for toughness on their own. Everyone else needs Alfredsson to be back in the lineup, to take a pounding, before they respond with tough play of their own. And I don't mean fights and such. (Although I am firmly convinced that without Alfredsson in the lineup last night, Redden would never have got into that scrap.) I mean hard-nosed play in the corners, battling for the puck, and in the case of Volchenkov, blocking more shots than Ray Emery.

Of course, Emery and the goaltending worry me, but that is more the side-effect of the defense worrying me. Much as a 6-1 score looks great, Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley had 15 of the possible 18 points in the game. Meaning that without them, or possibly without even one of them, we may have scored one goal. Or possibly zero. And had the Habs not hit five crossbars and posts, this game could easily have been 6-1 Habs! Now, Montreal is a very good team, and I love the Canadiens, but Ottawa played poor defense for much of the night yesterday. Our defense seems to be the place where we are most lacking depth. And, with the exception of Volchenkov, toughness. A win against hard-charging Montreal is big, and it is great for us to get one, but for me this win created more questions than it answered.

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