March 12, 2007

A Split - Ottawa 5 - 1 Toronto/Toronto 4 - 3 Ottawa

The first game went...well, pretty much as predicted, it was a big loss. Ottawa just peppered Raycroft; 40 shots they had in total, and that's not really acceptable. We've seen that Raycroft had trouble coping under pressure, and a 23-shot first period is too much for our defensive corps to let through. However, I do have to give some credit to them, they are doing a fairly good job this year restricting opposing offences (an average of just over 28.5 shots per game, says David Johnson at Hockey Analysis, a figure almost identical to that of New Jersey's blueliners) - I still don't like the acquisitions of Kubina or Gill because of the cap room the two are eating up, but nonetheless defense isn't our biggest concern at the moment. I like Raycroft, but the criticisms are beginning to build up; anyone else think it might be worth giving Justin Pogge a couple of games at the end of the season? (at least, if the playoff situation has already been resolved. If we're still in with a shot of making it, putting Pogge in would be a dangerous move)

The second game, on the other hand, was an inspiring performance from everyone bar Raycroft. Ottawa had just 22 shots, Darcy Tucker went some way to justifying his new contract with a goal in regulation and the overtime winner and we got two points we badly needed, what with NYR and Carolina tied on 76 points (and especially since Carolina are a game ahead of us at the moment) and Montreal are stuck on 74 points (and have likewise played a game more than we have). Considering Ottawa are solidly ensconced in the postseason places, it actually gives me some potentially ill-placed hope of experiencing some success. It irked me that Perreault didn't play, and also that Raycroft gave up three goals on 17 shots, but there was plenty of good to outweigh these problems. On the subject of injuries, it seems that our walking wounded have been given a liberal injection of gung-ho mentality - Kaberle has said he wants to return this year, Kubina is coming back at a disturbingly rapid pace, Wellwood of course played the second game and Peca is now the only major casualty still missing. Is it optimistic to hope to have him back for the playoffs? Probably, but I'll still hope it happens nonetheless.

Incidentally, is Wade Belak a defenseman or a forward? I can't work out which position he's supposed to be playing, it changes from source to source.

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