Thursday, May 31, 2007

Ducks up, 2-0...OK, so I'm late...sue me

The Peerless couldn't weigh in last night on Game 2, but he did have some observations . . .

138-84 . . . no, that isn't the score of the Florida Gators beating up on the University of the Lost Cause in NCAA basketball, it is the shot differential between Anaheim and Ottawa, if you add up the shots on goal, missed shots, and shots blocked by the other club. Anaheim doesn't play the same kind of puck possession game that Detroit plays, so there seem to be other factors involved . . . like Ottawa players wearing Ducks like they'd had a good day at the blind. They can't get anything off.

Here's another number....33. That's the percentage of draws Jason Spezza has won in the offensive zone. Hard to generate offense out of your top line if you're not taking possession of the puck.

And yet another set of numbers....66-49. That's the hit differential in the first two games. Last night, every skater but one registered one for Anaheim. Sure, there is a subjective element to what is recorded as a "hit" in the NHL, but it's part of a pattern.....

....and the pattern is this -- Anaheim is dictating tempo and intensity. Ottawa is reacting to everything and establishing very little. The first two games have been one goal games, but one gets the feeling that the Senators need a bounce, an odd ricochet off the glass, the hand of God. But if that's what you're looking for to turn things around...well, good luck.

From Ottawa's perspective, all the Ducks have done is hold serve. With the next two games in Ottawa, the Senators get advantages such as the last change, perhaps to avoid a little bit the Pahlsson line making life difficult for the Spezza line. But that line needs to do more than skate pretty. 11 shots and two points in six full periods of hockey isn't the stuff of a long series from a top line. You get the feeling the first ten minutes of Game 3 is where the balance of the series lies. If Ottawa can't feed off their adrenaline in front of the home crowd and establish momentum to get a lead, the Ducks might have cooked their goose.

photos: AP -- Mark Avery/Chris Carlson