Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Battle of Ontario Blow-By-Blow, 2009-2010: Episode I

Welcome Leaf fans! The BoOBbB is back in business! Last season I did a series of posts recapping every critical moment (well, most of them) of every game (except one) of the Leafs-Sens season-series. For this game, however, something different - I'm actually at the game! Sec 324 Row 10 Seat 17. Greens in the corner. Not the best seats in the house, but I have a good view of the action and I'm pretty excited. The Leafs-Sens rivalry doesn't have nearly the same importance or intensity as it once did, but the Leafs are still looking for their first win of the year and they've already lost once at home to a division rival, so this should be a good one.

Questions in my mind 6 minutes before puck drop:

*Poni has a goal in each of the first two games. Can he keep the streak going and find the back of the net again to make it 3 in a row?

*Kulemin is in for his first game. How will he do?

*Blake hasn't done much yet (no goals, 1 assist). Will he break out tonight?

*And the big question - who will get the start? Buzz is that it's Gustavsson.

Two minutes to go. Refs are on the ice. Building starting to fill up nicely.

The MONSTER! is out of the tunnel first, leading the Leafs onto the ice! Whoohooo!!1

"Monster" chant in the upper bowl.

Gary Roberts tribute. Seems very fitting for a pre-game ceremony between these two teams. Last time I was here at the ACC I saw Sir Gary. All the players (including the Senators) are watching the video highlights of Roberts destroying the Sens in the playoffs, except Gustavsson who's skating around in big circles in the corners.

Roberts drops the ceremonial opening face-off between Stajan and Alfie.

First Period

20:00 Stajan, Blake, and Stalberg up front. Kaberle Beauchemin on defence.

19:20 Sweet moves by Kaberle leads to the first chance. Good first shift.

18:20 Poni, Grabbo, Hagman together. Sens can't get anything going.

17:45 The Monster makes his first stop. A wrist shot into the chest from a bad angle for an easy save.

17:30 A point shot gets through and the Monster is there for another save.

16:47 Coincidental minors for roughing. Seems like the ref is setting the bar a bit low. Nothing happened there at all, but Orr and Ruutu will go to the box.

16:30 Blake and Fisher come together hard and both go down.

15:40 Grabbo, around the net - off the post.

14:30 Leafs control the puck but can't create a rush or get over their side of centre.

14:10 Mitchell with a good chance. Good save Leclaire.

13:20 Komisarek shot blocked at the point, leads to a rush the other way for the Sens. Scoring chance, rebound, good save Monster.

13:04 Chris Kelly gets called for interference. Leafs go on the first powerplay of the game.

12:15 Nuthin' doin' with the man-advantage so far.

11:30 Point shot by White doesn't get through. That was the best scoring chance of the powerplay. Blah.

10:45 Good hit by Kulemin behind the Leaf net.

9:30 Stajan breaks in on the left side. Shot saved, deflects into the crowd.

9:00 Leafs continue to control the puck well, but the shots are even, 6-6.

8:20 Poni, in front, has the puck, can't figure out which way he's going, loses the puck into the corner.

7:15 The Leafs get away with a sloppy line change, and then more sloppy play for about a minute.

6:30 Exelby gets away with a hit-from-behind.

6:00 Orr with a partial breakaway, gets a shot on goal. Not sure that's what he was out there to do that shift.

5:40 Blake gets levelled deep in the Leafs' zone and then Stalberg gets clipped at the line.

4:55 Good save, Monster, on a hard slap shot. No rebound. He looks solid.

3:00 Blake-Schenn give-and-go creates a good chance.

1:55 Stalberg gets crunched at the Sens blueline.

:30 Poni gets a chance off a nuetral zone turnover. Shot goes high, out of play.

:10 Hagman shot nearly finds a way to the net. Period ends. 0-0.

Intermission thoughts: I thought the Monster looked good. Kaberle carried the puck well in that period. Shots are 8-8.

Second Period

20:00 Mitchell replaces Stalberg on the top unit.

19:25 Poni, with a chance at the side of the goal, is stopped.

18:10 Kaberle's shot is deflected, misses just wide.

17:50 Hagman at the side of the goal with the puck, can't finish.

17:25 Good chance for Kulemin in the slot, Leclaire with the save.

16:10 Orr breaks his stick on a hit by the bench, retrieves new one, stays on the ice with Stajan and Mitchell.

15:20 Blake with Poni and Grabbo. Wilson mixing things up.

14:10 Blake gets hit at the Sens' blue line after a long shift, looks hurt.

13:35 Stempniak pushed off the puck coming into the Sens' zone.

13:15 Goal. Ottawa scores an ugly, ugly. God, that goal was brutal. Leafs defence looked terrible as the Sens were allowed several attempt to bang a loose puck out of scramble and into the net. No one knocked anybody down and no one fell on the puck. Defenders are allowed to use their sticks, feet, and even hands to clear away pucks, and are given considerable leniency for physical play in front of the net - these types of goals just shouldn't happen in the NHL. Angry.

Play is under review. Ian White was indicating that it was knocked into the net with a glove.

Boo! Call stands. Terrible goal for the Leaf defenders. Donovan gets the credit, from Ruutu and Kelly.

12:38 Penalty shot for the Sens! Brutal call. I thought Schenn did a great job defending on what was only a partial breakaway. The Senators player is hurt on the play, I think it was Michalek.

They just showed the replay. There's no way that's a penalty shot. Schenn is equal distance to the goal as the Senator, and uses his stick and body to push him off to the side. Oh no! Plus a high-sticking penalty? Wow. The refs are suddenly screwing the Leafs.

Alfie takes the penalty shot. Boo! Scores. Goal. Fuck. Brutal. 2-0, Senators.

12:10 Chance for Foligno.

10:45 Point shot from the Sens doesn't get through, puck cleared, Schenn's penalty ends. Sens have had 7 shots in a row. Shots are 15-10 for Ottawa.

10:15 Kulemin shot in the slot, saved. Looked like a good chance, but a weak shot.

9:45 Good save, Monster. Sens carrying the play for a shift.

9:10 Grabbo-Hagman work the puck down the ice well but don't get a shot.

8:00 Kulemin on the ice now with Stajan and Blake but can't get anything going.

7:40 A quick shot off the draw and the Monster makes a big save.

6:45 Sens attacking. Point shot nearly gets through, goes wide. Rosehill talking to Neil at the face-off.

6:00 Rosehill throws a hit in the Ottawa zone.

5:25 Schenn with a nice hit.

5:20 Stempniak hitting.

5:00 minutes left in the 2nd. Leafs' offence really needs to get going.

4:30 White throws a clean hit.

4:15 Great chance for Hagman on a one-timer, stopped by Leclaire.

3:50 Nice tip attempt by Mitchell just misses.

2:55 Good Leaf pressure but then Mitchell almost gives the puck away to Spezza.

1:44 Grabbo steals the puck in the slot, gets a shot off Leclaire's shoulder.

:30 Sens control the play for about a minute, ending in a shot from the point that's stopped by the Monster with no rebound. Schenn and Beauchemin look like they still haven't got things figured out.

Intermission thoughts: The penalty-shot call was crap. I was expecting Gustavssn to stop it though. Very deflating when he didn't. Mitchell seems to be getting a lot of ice-time again. Leafs were horribly outshot in that period, 13-5.

Third Period

19:35 Poni takes a hit at the Leafs' blue line, still clears the zone.

16:20 Not much happening. I think Stalberg is hurt. Didn't see him at all in the 2nd and he's not on the bench. Could be bad news. (I've highlighted in bold two hits Stalberg took in the last 5 minutes of the 1st)

15:17 Poni battles to take the puck to the net and draws a holding penalty. Picard goes to the box.

14:55 Good point shot by Beauchemin. Rebound is loose for a moment and then smothered.

14:24 GOAL!!! Powerplay goal for Matt Stajan, finishing off a nice tic-tac-toe play to finally get the Leafs on the board. Beauchemin-Kaberle with the assists.

13:20 Neil nailed at centre-ice. Crowd back in the game.

12:15 Big hit by Beauchemin.

10:55 White takes out his man. Good defence.

10:35 Beauchemin hits the post! Point shot nearly ties the game.

9:30 Nice moves by White in the neutral zone to start a rush. Leafs are looking better, more dangerous.

8:30 Stempniak out with Grabbo and Poni. The Senators come close on a chance at the side of the goal.

8:20 Monster with another good save.

7:55 Stajan takes a bump in the defensive zone.

5:50 Stempniak trying to carry the puck through the nuetral zone with one hand. Leafs can't get anywhere.

4:20 Blake loses his wheels in the offensive zone.

3:50 Good shot by Ian White from the point is stopped by Leclaire.

3:00 Shot by Beauchemin misses wide. Grabb can't jam the wraparound.

2:25 Good save by the Monster on a high, hard shot.

1:40 White's point shot goes through everyboy, misses wide.

1:00 Garbage.

:50 Gustavsson to the bench.

:10 Leafs can't build a rush. Mild scramble near the crease area but no one can find the handle.

:05 Roughing penalties. Mitchell and Foligno. Leafs call a time-out.

:00 Leafs actually win the draw to get an excellent chance, but Kaberle misses. Game over. Leafs lose. Disapointment abounds. Final score Senators 2, Leafs 1.

The city really wants this team to win so bad. This loss is hard to swallow. Ottawa is not an especially good team, and Gustavsson played a very solid game, yet still the Leafs lost. Good luck on Saturday against the Penguins with the Vesa back in goal. The Leafs got a little screwed again by the refs, but that's small potatoes 'cause they didn't outplay the Senators nearly enough to deserve the win. There's a difinite lack of fire power here, but also emotion.

Shots were 14-7 in favour of the Leafs in the final frame, 28-27 for Ottawa overall. Not one fight.

The Third Star

Tomas Kaberle carried the puck well all night and had an assist on Stajan's goal. It's was a hard choice 'cause not many Leafs really stood out or had a great game.

The Second Star

Nikolai Kulemin had a few chances, but was also the only forward who threw body checks in all three zones on the ice

The First Star

Jonas Gustavsson. The Monster looked solid. He seems to have excellent poise to go along with his size, always looking relaxed and comfortable and big in the net. The Leafs as a group need to be better in front of their goaltenders. And they need to be the aggressors and to play with emotion.

Hopefully the Leafs will be a much-improve hockey team when these two "rivals" square off again.

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