Sunday, May 20, 2007

My Thoughts

There are many reasons the Sabres fell short to the Senators as Ottawa exacted sweet revenge on their Northeastern archrivals by winning in basically the same cruel fashion as Buffalo did last year.

I'll just cut to the chase as to why:

1.Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley couldn't be contained. All Spring, the dangerous top line trio has been unreal. It continued in this series. Buffalo did accomplish a minor miracle by shutting them out in their one-goal win in Game 4. Right now, no line is better. Alfredsson in particular has really raised his level. He's silenced many critics.

2.Ottawa defense wasn't broken. If you watched this series, you know what I'm referring to. Steve can certainly relate as can Pens' fans. The Sens D was very stingy against Buffalo preventing great scoring opportunities and limiting shots. With blocked shot machine Anton Volchenkov getting in the path of many and breaking up plays, it made Ray Emery's life much easier. The Ottawa netminder hasn't had to steal many games. Today was one of the few he was required to make some tough saves.

3.Special teams not so special. Sure, Buffalo found a way to silence Ottawa's power play the last three games. But their PP was nothing special only connecting twice all series with both coming via the two-man advantage. They had a couple of chances to win today's game in regulation on it but couldn't. In Game 2, they had a PP in OT but got nothing done before losing on a Joe Corvo blast. It hurt them at key instances.

4.Role reversal. Plain and simple, Buffalo was victimized the same way they upset Ottawa as a fourth seed last year. Three one-goal defeats and lost twice in OT. Last year, they won all three games which went to OT including Jason Pominville's shorthanded clincher. Every game aside from Game 1 (4-2 loss) was decided by one goal. It was eerily similar last year. And also, the road team after winning the first three dropped Game 4 on their own home ice only to win on the road in sudden death and clinch. Go figure.

5.The Sens were the more determined team. Buffalo showed this in the last two games, finally doing whatever it took to win including blocking 21 shots to only Ottawa's 7 yesterday. Problem was they didn't have that same will or desperation early in this series which put them in the 0-3 hole.

For more Game 5 analysis and series discussion, please check out our commentary over at Hitting Back.

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