Friday, February 29, 2008

Finally, Someone Throws A Punch

The Ottawa Senators lost the game last night against the Philadelphia Flyers, but they went a long ways in getting back their fighting spirit.

Coach Bryan Murray was standing up and screaming at the referees from the bench on numerous occasions, nearly having an embolism when Jason Spezza was tossed for butt-ending a Flyer with his stick. Mike Fisher filled in Steve Downie late in the game and the rest of the team was in a surly mood - certainly a nice change of pace from the comatose Paddock era.

From the Ottawa Citizen:

"I thought they worked real hard," Murray said. "I wanted them to play with real energy, and for the most part they did.

"We have some things to clean up, no question, but, from an effort and attitude point of view, it was very good. It's just disappointing we can't score more than one goal in the game."

Ray Emery was strong in the nets, and most surprising of all, the Senators rolled four lines and got feisty games from players like Dean McAmmond, Christoph Schubert, Shean Donovan and Chris Kelly.

McAmmond and Donovan in particular looked like new men and Schubert was running Flyers through the boards when he wasn't ripping slapshots on Martin Biron. Schubert ended the game with a team high 5 shots. Donovan had 3 shots which is most likely close to a season high for him.

It's interesting to note that Murray immediately addressed the major problems of the Senators in only one game: emotion from the bench (which led to emotion on the ice), physical play, a role for a fourth line and a better distribution of minutes.

Donovan played 10:53 and McAmmond racked up 12:20 of time on the ice. Granted, that might be a little high for McAmmond because Spezza was kicked out of the game early, but it certainly looks like Murray wants to spread the ice time around.

Another move Murray made was re-pairing Wade Redden with Andre Meszaros. It didn't seem to pay off as Redden was -2 and Meszaros was -3. But logically, it makes sense to have Meszaros playing more minutes than Mike Commodore. It's all about roles and Commodore might be miscast as a second unit defender. He might succeed more as the 5th guy. Meszaros and Redden have had moments in the past where that pairing has worked so expect Murray to be patient.

It pains everyone to see it, but it's become obvious that Luke Richardson is having trouble in his own zone right now. It might be a good move to call up Lawrence Nycholat from Bingo and let Richardson get some more rest so that when he does get in games, he's more effective. Alternating Nycholat and Richardson every other game may be an option that works.

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