I suppose we need to get back to actually watching and commenting on the games again, eh?
Superfreak Saprykin makes his debut at home and it will be interesting to see where the restive line-juggler Bryan Murray decides to slot him in (Saprykin/Comrie/Eaves perhaps?). Emery is back between the pipes, hopefully to stay, while Johnny "25% rule" Grahame would prefer to sit this one out and avoid another humiliating defeat at the hands of the Sens (2-9, 3.64, 0.877).
I am pleased with the comeback effort last night, particularly after yet another trade deadline has come and gone without any significant action on the part of John Muckler. Redden had a slump-busting game winner, Volchenkov added a rare goal to his usual 5 blocked shots and even Joe Corvo managed to stay on the plus side of the board by chipping in an assist. On net, however, despite the teams recent record, goal differential and the impressive rally from a first quarter catastrophe (see linked post below), I am left with a feeling of melancholy when considering the likely fate of this team in the playoffs. While Redden's goal may be the signal that he's turned the corner this season (following his counseling session with the coach), I remain haunted by visions of him and partner Meszaros being absolutely savaged in the playoffs (remember #14's Round 2 ghastliness last year?).
We've seen this act before. A high flying offensive team with occasional lapses in detail pick up a moderately useful forward and find themselves exposed trying to advance into deeper playoff rounds. If the Sens meet the Penguins in Round 1, I'm actually not that terribly concerned. In many ways I think they'll be like the Lightning were last year: a Big Three of forwards, a gritty veteran (Gary Roberts as Tim Taylor?) minimal defensive depth, weak goaltending and an abrasive head coach who's not afraid to rip into his players in the media. One round appears doable, but going much further than that seems almost inconceivable considering the lack of fundamental change from this year to last.
Open post for game comments, out-of-town watering hole recommendations and general words of comfort.