Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sabres Collapse In Third Period ... Senators Switch Up Defense Pairings

That was quite the see-saw game between the Sabres and Senators which saw Ottawa score 5 goals in the last 8 minutes to overcome a 3-1 deficit.

The biggest surprise of this game was definitely the new defence pairings that Bryan Murray put together. And it paid off.

Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov were finally broken up and if last night is any indication, it might stay that way.

Phillips played with rookie Brian Lee who was very good in his first NHL game. Volchenkov paired up with veteran Luke Richardson and Mike Commodore played with Andre Meszaros as Wade Redden sat out due to a leg injury.

All three pairings played well through most of the game with only a few breakdowns, notably with the Commodore-Meszaros pairing. Richardson seemed a little more assertive playing with Volchenkov and Phillips easily meshed with the slick skating Lee.

Daniel Alfredsson will get most of the accolades, but the comeback was started by a nifty shorthanded goal by Dean McAmmond. His fourth line with Shean Donovan really stepped it up in the third. Until that point, Ottawa's first line was invisible and they still look fatigued from a long season. Murray has to find a way to rest Alfredsson if they clinch a playoff spot.

Martin Gerber was average and the three goals were largely the product of giveaways and bad bounces, but he has to play better and make those stops once in a while. His rebound control continues to be abysmal but with Ray Emery rustier than a farm nail, there is no other choice but to live with it.

The only Ottawa Senator who played less than ten minutes was Chris Neil with 6:58 of ice time as Murray slowly works him back into game shape after missing some time with an injury.

Win or lose, at least the whole team is contributing under Murray and not just an elite few who toiled under John Paddock's ill-conceived reign.

The Sabres get a chance for redemption on Thursday night in Ottawa but are now 5 points back of Boston (who crushed Toronto Tuesday night) for 8th place. The Sabres still have six games remaining, including two against the Bruins.

Ottawa meanwhile has only 5 games left until the playoffs.

The bar owners on Elgin Street, re-dubbed "Sens Mile", are licking their chops at the prospect.


Anonymous said...

Martin Gerber was average? A .900 save percentage is GREAT, exactly what you need for a playoff goalie. He's doing his job. The rest of the team needs to look at giveaways, lack of scoring for 40 minutes, a seeming lack of effort for 40 minutes. Pointing a finger at an excellent goaltender will not improve the problems of this team. I'm glad they pulled it together, even if was for 10 minutes.

Jeremy Milks said...


Yes Martin Gerber was average. A .900 save percentage in a game is not "great". In fact, it's below average.

Gerber is not an "excellent goaltender". What has he done to deserve the term "excellent". What does he excel at?

Anonymous said...

Gerber stopped 29 out of 32 shots vs. Buffalo Mar. 25. In the 4 games against Buffalo this season he has played in 4 games and contributed to 4 wins. Pretty excellent. Overall this year Gerber is tied for 12th place among ALL NHL goaltenders for wins (Emery,not rusty, is tied for 40th place)and tied for 19th place in save percentage (Emery's in 43rd place). He's way up there regardless of team support. Appreciate what you have.