Monday, May 14, 2007

Sens take stranglehold

2007 Eastern Conference Final - Game 3
Senators 1, Sabres 0
Ottawa leads series 3-0

"We couldn't get anything going. It seemed like they were always making plays at the right times. Every time we made a play or got a shot on net, [goaltender Ray] Emery was there or their [defence] was there. We certainly can't say we've given everything, considering the position we're in. Overall, we have to be better if we're going to claw our way back in this."

It's all rather hard to believe.

The Buffalo Sabres, the league's top team through the regular season, managed just 15 shots on goal tonight in a game they simply had to win to stay in the playoff race, and were outclassed by an Ottawa team that is looking like the class of the postseason to this point.

It now seems likely the Senators will also be a rested bunch when the winner from out West limps into the finals, barring a Sabres-like collapse by either Detroit or Anaheim, and, under those circumstances, a fully healthy Ottawa club playing the way it has been has to be the favourite.

The Senators won't have home-ice advantage in the finals regardless of who they face — but that certainly didn't hurt them in this series.

History tells us this one is all but over, and you have to wonder just what sort of an effort Buffalo can put together in Game 4 on Wednesday, the first game in these playoffs that will truly be do or die for Lindy Ruff's crew.

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At 9:47 p.m., May 14, 2007, Blogger sager said...

Kind of a stinky game all-around... Emery didn't have to do much, the penalties took away a lot of the flow, and the Senators seemed cognizant that Buffalo is beating itself. Hey, but Ottawa will take it... the hay was really in the barn after taking two down there.

At 11:36 p.m., May 14, 2007, Blogger J.R. Hippe said...

Looking like the exact opposite of last season's series. This time Ottawa has won the first three, including two on the road.

So I say the Sabres will win Wednesday and Ottawa clinches the Eastern banner in Buffalo on Saturday.

I'm worried about the length of their break heading into the SCF.

At 12:22 a.m., May 15, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SENS momentum is too strong. Buffalo is psychologically beaten. Only one other team in hockey history was ever defeated going in 3-0 in playoffs.

Our time has come.


At 1:40 a.m., May 15, 2007, Blogger Ritch said...

Well, if there has ever been a team that could come back from the dead, it's Buffalo. They've done it all year, and Ottawa has already taught them that they can't just rely on playing really hard in the last two minutes.

They need a complete game.

But do they have four?

At 4:21 a.m., May 15, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd guess that Buffalo will win the next one, but Ottawa is not going to let them get back in the series more than that. There is no way I would have ever picked this series to be a potential sweep. I would have thought that Anaheim would be more likely to sweep in four extremely close games (with Detroit's injuries and tougher series prior to the conference finals being the deciding factor).

At 7:31 a.m., May 15, 2007, Anonymous Tom L said...


This Buffalo team is done. They were done the minute Alfie scored in Game 2 and Emery held the post on Vanek's wraparound.

They've showed absolutely no desire to win these games, and I'm really just hoping they lose on wednesday so I can have my weekend free.

Anon, is right, mentally they are completely whipped and the Sens really do deserve a lot of the credit, but it's obvious that a great number of the Sabres heads were in the wrong place and Ottawa just seized on that and pounced.

This has been a great showcase for the Sens team that was supposed to show up for the past 5 post-seasons.


At 10:13 a.m., May 15, 2007, Blogger Road Apples said...

as has been written by others as well as myself, this series is no longer about talent, but about what is happening inside the players' heads. And quite clearly - and sadly for Buffalo fans - the Sabres have lost all confidence and all the swagger that has carried them for nearly a full year.

It is ironic - they were thrust fully into the spotlight as soon as Jason Pominville scored the series-clincher last year and have carried the torch as "best team in the NHL" virtually since that very moment they stole the Senators' thunder. Now the Sens are returning the favour.

(N.B. 3-0 comebacks have happened twice in the NHL: the 1942 Leafs in the finals against Detroit and 1975 Islanders in the quarters against Pittsburgh - Isles nearly did it again in the semis against Philly, losing three then winning the next three only to bow out in game 7)

At 12:18 p.m., May 15, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wednesday, the first game in these playoffs that will truly be do or die for Lindy Ruff's crew.

I'm getting sick of hearing this, everybody has been saying that since game one of the series.

Wait...what? They really can't lose another game? Oh, carry on then.

At 2:43 p.m., May 15, 2007, Anonymous Eric said...

The Sabres' meltdown is eerily similar to the Russian national team's collapses in recent years. The team gets desperate, and instead of banding together, individual players try to do it all on their own. Hey look! Another Afinogenov end-to-end rush that leads to... nothing. The Sabres have no chemistry, no passion. Can we blame coach Ruff for this? Maybe. Whatever he's saying, seems like his players have tuned him out.

At 2:56 p.m., May 15, 2007, Anonymous Frank said...

James, I'm surprised that a good western boy like you is falling for all of the eastern "hype" about the Senators. Gosh, I guess Anahiem (who will beat Detroit in 5) should just concede the Cup to the Sens now and save the time and money involved in playing the finals. All because the Sens are dominating Buffalo - a team that was barely able to scratch out an overtime win against the Canucks during the regular season!

Look, the reason the Sens are beating Buffalo is because they are playing a "modified neutral zone trap", the same system the Western teams have used all season long, and the reason why scoring was so low in the west, and why 9 of the top ten goalies were in the west.

The only way to break this system, is to shoot the puck in and then compete for it in the corners, cycle the puck down low, and try to "chip" it out front of the net.

Buffalo is comprised ENTIRELY of small skilled players who like to carry the puck in on a rush and make "cross ice passes". You can't do that against the trap.

When Buffalo does try to shoot it in and get possession of the puck, and cycle the puck down low, Ottawa's big defensemen easily outcompete Buffalo's small forwards.

Ottawa started playing this system against New Jersey and have continued against Buffalo. Hence all of the low scoring games, and why an ordinary goalie like Emery starts to look like a Vezina winner!

I really have to laugh. The eastern media criticizes the west and Vancouver in particular for playing dull low scoring hockey (because of the trap)yet when Ottawa does the same, and we get a 1 - 0 game like last night it suddenly becomes great defensive play and goal tending !!! Really!!!

Anahiem will easily beat Ottawa in 5 and here is why.

Anahiem has had to play against the trap all year and is used to breaking it. They are skilled at shooting the puck in and getting it back, and the forwards are big and tough and will easily handle Ottawa's large defensemen - unlike Buffalo.

Second, Ottawa's defense will not be able to handle Anahiem's big forwards in front of the net, like they have handled Buffalo's small forwards.

Third, Anahiem unlike Buffalo, will be able to physically punish the Sens. Instead of Alfredsson running players,he will become the one that is run along with Heatley and Spezza. I have no doubt Heatley will stand up to the punishment, but Alfredsson and Spezza will fold like a house of cards.

Fourth, "Giggy" has been the best goal tender in these playoffs - yes, even better than Luongo.

Finally, Ottawa, like Minnesota (Demitra and Gaborik) and Vancouver (the Sedins) has only one line that can score. The Alfredsson line will continually face Neidemeyer and Pronger and Anahiem's big and punishing checkers for the entire series and will be completely shut down just like Minnesota's and Vancouver's top lines were.

Bottom line - Anahiem in 5 - in the lowest scoring, most boring Stanley Cup final in history!

So much for the new high scoring NHL - and any possibility of creating new fans in the US. WAKE ME WHEN ITS OVER.

At 5:43 p.m., May 16, 2007, Anonymous Brad said...

Care to revise anything Frank (Anahiem in 5, Giggy the best tender, etc.)?

At 3:15 p.m., May 17, 2007, Anonymous Frank said...

Brad, -- yes I'd like to revise one thing only -- Anahiem in 6.

Game three was a wake up call for Anahiem. They were still asleep having cruised through the previous two series, playing well below their potential, against much inferior teams (Minnesota and Vancouver). They now know they have a respectable opponent in Detroit, and will kick their game into high gear in game 4,-- and that includes Giggy.

Also, the Pronger suspension will actually inspire them to play to their full potential.

Also, Ottawa didn't play the trap last night and it cost them. Look for Ottawa to once again jam up the neutral zone on Saturday and beat Buffalo in another 2 - 1 game.


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