Knowing how many Leaf fans & bashers that are here I was waiting for this thread, but I have to have you guys thoughts on it.
Game 5 was not played well by both teams. Toronto is a bit understandable seeing how they are playing without their captain, but it was no doubt Ottawa's worse game of the series.... Toronto didn't play much better too, it's so frustration seeing one guy offensive forcheck as the 2 other players play back just waiting for Otrawa to move up ice. Just looked lazy at times, how many lazy icings do you want to risk! Especially half the time there's no pressure to do so. One big positive about the entire game is the ref crew finally let the guys play and not call every little thing unlike the horrible job in Game 4
Nieuwendyk is the most important forward the Leafs have, he's so good. Offense, defense, Powerplay and Penalty killing. Him being absent is a lot worse then losing Sundin (hope he's back soon)... The problem is Nieuwendyk is being saddled by playing with Ponikarovsky and Antropov, this Sky line was very good at the end of the season but his two wingers have disappeared this series and Antropov keeps taking worthless penalties. I'd put a Mogilny up with Nieuwey, A Mogilny/Nieuwey combo is much more likely to score then the Sky line is right now or Mogilny/Francis.
Why did it take so long to put Stajan in, he's youthful and he is one of your top 12 forwards, he looked great last night he should stick around after Sundin returns... On the other hand everytime Kaberle touches the puck I get worried. Defensively he looks lost. He did assist in the Second Leaf goal last night, but he still scares me.
As for Ottawa's lineup
I'm really impressed in their defensive play by their defensemen, Chara is a freakin hoss but can actually play. Needs to keep his head in the game and not as many dumb penlites. Phillips is good too... They got decent forwards forcheckers too like Fisher and White. Hossa has been easily the offensive star of the series.
Lalime has been more steady then I expected him be, he lets in usually one soft goal a game, but allowing only 2 goals a game is very good, even though the Leafs are not having alot of shots on net... Ottawa has to be disappointed in their powerplay. They had the best in the regular season. I'm a fan of Peter Bondra and worried he could be a difference maker but he has disappeared.
What are the consequences if Ottawa loses, I know Jacque Martin just signed a extension but if he can't beat the Leafs even with major Leaf players injured will he ever convince his players the Leafs can be defeated? Ottawa has more youth, talent & health, with all that they are still a game away from being eliminated... I can't find myself hating The Sens like I do others (maybe they actually have to win a series to get my attention), but Ottawa always diving can also change that. They got called a handful of times this series alone for unsportsmanlike diving (I don't understand why the other player who the diving player does his act on also get a penalty?). It's almost as bad as the Montreal players but the acting isn't as good or exaggerated as The Habs.
It pains me to do so, but I agree. I think the Leafs wrap this up on Sunday. They're coming off a 4-1 win when they finally (supposedly) got the Belfour monkey off their backs, they tied the series, they have the momentum....and they drop that game last night? They're dead in the water.
But Leafs fans, don't kid yourselves. The Sens gave you this series, you didn't win it. I doubt you'll be so lucky next round.
It's been a hell of a series so far, with Ottawa (in my opinion) outplaying Toronto, but Toronto having superior goaltending. I missed the game on Friday (Kill Bill Volume 2, baby!) but caught Game 6 last night and was actually afraid that Belfour was going to be a brick wall all night long.
As for Game 7, Ottawa's gotta stick with the same game plan, but force more quality shots on Belfour. Shots that force rebounds. They have to force more turnovers from Toronto too, as I think the Leafs have held their own in that battle, especially last night (they nearly had a couple breakaways). Belfour CAN be beat, as Ottawa's potted 4 against him twice this series, but they have to make shots that cause rebounds and throw Chara out in front more often.
WHAT HAPPENED: Because of the NHL's equalization policy, if a "rich team" gets an unrestricted free agent signed away from them, they don't get squat, because it's making them unfairly better than the small market teams.