May 15, 2007
Men playing against boys
By DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media
En route to their first Stanley Cup final appearance in about eight decades, the Senators are murdering the Sabres.
Every time they get a penalty.
The Senators didn't just kill the Buffalo power play last night, they mocked it. On their first man advantage opportunity, the Sabres had just one shot -- which was more than they had in the next three power plays, combined.
During a first-period penalty to Antoine Vermette, killers Daniel Alfredsson, Dean McAmmond, Chris Phillips, Anton Volchenkov, Mike Fisher and Peter Schaefer didn't even let the Sabres have the puck.
Buffalo, 0-for-17 on its power-play chances in this series, didn't get a shot on goal during its fourth power play either.
But with Fisher serving a tripping penalty in the third, Andrej Meszaros hit the post with a shot on a two man Ottawa breakaway.
The Sabres' fifth power play, with less than five minutes to go, produced zero shots as well. Even the cynical among us are giving the Senators' special teams credit, sort of.
"I know what's happening now," figured The Globe and Mail's Dave Shoalts, who originally tabbed the Ottawa boys "choking dogs" during their playoff struggles a few springs ago.
"When the Senators get a penalty, the Sabres send out the Amherst Peewee AAs. I'd say the Amherst Peewee AAAs, but I don't think the Sabres are looking that good."
One shot in five power plays? Wouldn't seem too tough to beat.
Starts and stops
Ryan Miller answered his critics by keeping his team in the game early on. The desperate Sabres allowed Ottawa the first six shots on goal, and of those Miller only had to make good saves off Fisher, Dany Heatley, Alfredsson, Vermette and Meszaros. Buffalo didn't get its first shot until the seven-minute mark. ... The first blip on a screen came in the pre-game introduction of the Ottawa starting five, when Jason Spezza's face was shown as Alfredsson's name was called, and vice versa. Guess it's tough for opponents to figure them out when the Ottawa scoreboard operator can't even tell which is which ... Heatley's shot was so hard that Miller couldn't even control the rebound off the end boards. That's hard, and that's why the puck was left as a gift for Alfredsson to extend his goal scoring streak to five games and collect his sixth in his last seven games.
"Henrik (Tallinder) will be a game-time decision," Lindy Ruff said when asked at the morning pressconference about the status of the Sabre Alfredsson 'Darcy Tuckered' in Game 2, then spat the exact same sentence with irritation when the question was put to him a slightly different way. Yup, Ruff was so cranky you would have thought one of the Senators coaches had closed an elevator in his face or something ... Miraculously, Tallinder recovered to play and take the ice as one of Buffalo's starting five ... The Senators started the second period well, too. The Spezza line looked like it was on the power play with a 5-on-5 that at least looked good while accomplishing nothing ... The Sabres did have a chance to open the scoring in the first minute,. but Phillips came back to tie up Daniel Briere after he was left unattended by Volchenkov. The same pairing ignored Briere as he tied Game 2 in the last minute.
Hmmm Hmmm good
The Score's Cabbie on the Street (Cabral Richards) generated a few laughs as he visited both dressing rooms after yesterday's morning skates. He gave Spezza a pair of big happy-face yellow boxers as a gift and chided Spezza for his patchy beard. Said Spezza: "I'm going for the ugly look." Said Cabbie: "It's working." He gave Fisher a lucky penny on a chain during a later interview. "Do I get to keep it?" Fisher asked when the camera was off. Maxim Afinogenov didn't quite know what to make of Cabbie's cool style, but was unable to release the smile from his face when it was over. "I liked it," the Russian later told Cabbie of their time together ... Oleg Saprykin superstitious? Maybe a little. To a reporter who had visited his dressing room stall after the morning skates leading to Games 1 and 2 -- both good outings for Saprykin -- the Russian winger yesterday said: "If we get to the next round there will be breakfast waiting there for you every day." ... Sitting in the stands, former Senator Tom Chorske was introduced to the crowd in a 'Welcome Back' salute. Chorske was here last round, and numerous times before, as an analyst on New Jersey Devils broadcasts ... Introducing himself on CBC earlier this series, Tom Preissing was asked who his favourite player was growing up. "Dean McAmmond," he deadpanned.
Taking his second consecutive penalty in the middle period, Joe Corvo almost lost his cool. He wound up to slam his stick in the boards before thinking better of it, then held his arms high and outstretched while skating to the box. From the Cheapseats it looked like he had a valid complaint ... A final word on Alfredsson's hit on Tallinder in overtime Saturday. There would be no debate as to whether it was legal or not if Brian Campbell's drilling Chris Kelly from behind had been called, because without the Campbell hit, Briere wouldn't have scored to send the game into overtime.