Mach 9 soaring high in the playoffs
|With four goals and six points, Martin Havlat leads all NHL playoff shooters in goals and trails teammate Jason Spezza by one in the points lead.|
by Todd Anderson
Martin Havlat earned the nickname Mach 9 because of his blistering speed and sleek moves, which set him apart as one of the craftiest forwards in the NHL. When the Czech native returned to the Ottawa Senators lineup late in the 2005-06 regular season, after a 58-game stay on the injured list with a dislocated right shoulder, management knew that once he re-acquainted himself back into the lineup, he would boost the offensive production of the team. Seeing Havlat dominate the ice so quickly during the first three games of the Eastern Conference quarter-final series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, however, has come as a bit of a surprise.
"We thought he'd be good, but he's been very good," head coach Bryan Murray said after an optional skate in Tampa on Wednesday. "We know Marty's a high-end player. Offensively, he has an impact in any game he plays. He's certainly stepped up here."
Havlat has scored four goals and six points in three playoff games. He's first in the NHL in playoff goals and ranks second in scoring, one back of teammate Jason Spezza (1-7).
While adding Havlat to the lineup has given the Senators a direct jolt in production, the option of creating a more balanced attack throughout the lineup has also been made possible. Ottawa boasts at least one 20-goal scorer on each of their four lines.
"It's hard when you have Heatley (50 goals) on one line and (Daniel) Alfredsson (43 goals) on another line and Havlat coming into the mix as our third right-winger," Murray says. "Somebody's going to get a better matchup than they'd ordinarily get."
Other 20-goal scorers in the lineup include Patrick Eaves, Antoine Vermette, Mike Fisher and Peter Schaefer.
Chris Kelly was questionable for Game 3 with an upper body injury but played for the first two periods. The gritty forward left the game early after suffering a lower body injury and is now listed as day-to-day.