Wednesday, January 14, 2009
A Glimmer Of Light - Ottawa 3 Atlanta 2
Is it possible?
I'm not talking about the Ottawa Senators making the playoffs...yet.
I'm talking about the Senators beating Montreal at home on Saturday night.
If they could somehow find a way to win that game, then maybe you have something. Maybe a glimmer of hope.
Maybe some renewed confidence and a chance to surprise some teams such as Washington who will drag their tired bones into Ottawa next Wednesday after playing the Islanders the day before.
Maybe Ottawa even finds a way to beat those same Caps, bringing them to the All-Star break on an 8 point streak....
Anyways, back to reality.
The Senators have now won two games in a row over two struggling teams and that's a start. If anything, the positive vibes are fortifying for the soul right now.
Jason Spezza is back and so is Dean McAmmond. Chris Phillips has his "Big Rig" strut back and Antoine Vermette is winning faceoffs like his very existence depended on it. And that goal by Alfie? Vintage.
I don't know if it's because they hit rock bottom so hard that all the pressure is suddenly off or if Craig Hartsburg has suddenly found his voice in that locker room. But something is different.
Brian Elliott has somehow provided a spark for this team but he looked like a bit of a mess tonight. Starting back to back games is tough for a rookie and Elliott was deep in his net and giving out rebounds that rivalled the great king Martin Gerber. The important thing is that he got the win but, as Pierre McGuire pointed out on TSN, he's going to need some major work on fundamentals with goalie coach Eli Wilson.
But that's fine. Ottawa has Alex Auld and he's probably due for a good stretch of games here and that will allow Elliott to feel his way into the league. Elliott seems to have a knack for making the big save at the right time just out of pure athletic ability and as long as you have that, fundamentals can be taught along the way. Remember, Ray Emery was similarly rough around the edges but managed to get technically better as he went along, all the way to the Cup final.
Now if we could just convince the Senators music/sound guy to play the E.T. quote "Elliott" after every big save (as my friend suggested), we might just have a fan favourite on our hands here.
Sure would like to know what Jesse Winchester and Colby Armstrong were talking about after giving each other a few spirited shoves late in the first period. Someone must have told a good joke because they both cracked up laughing. Maybe it was something like this:
Armstrong has always been known as a bit of a ham, not to mention Sidney Crosby's best friend when the two were teammates in Pittsburgh. I wouldn't be surprised to see Ray Shero make a pitch to get Armstrong back in the fold after dealing him in the Marian Hossa trade last season. That might put Sid The Kid in a better mood. He's been crabby as hell all season ......... Georges Laraque had been doing a great, very readable blog on Sportsnet this season until the Habs brass told him to shut it down. Laraques does a good job explaining the Habs decision but it still seems too harsh and narrow-minded in an age where access to players has improved dramatically across the league. Ten years ago, interviewing players in the middle of the game on the bench would have been unthinkable - old school coaches would have been choke slamming journalists left, right and centre. Now the media can follow players to just about anywhere, short of the crapper. Laraque's final blog is well worth the read. He tells a great Mark Messier story (and also claims the Moose is his all-time favourite player, something me and Laraque share in common) and says that, "pound for pound", Chris Neil is one of the toughest players in the league. Smart guy, that Georges.
Speaking of jokes, veteran referee Dan Marouelli had Daniel Alfredsson laughing just prior to the opening faceoff and in the second period, Pierre McGuire informed the TSN viewing audience that Atlanta behemoth Boris Valabik told the Ottawa bench that he would "slash the lips off" of the next Senator who said anything. Memo to Boris: Jarkko Ruutu can still bite without his lips........ I have to agree with Don Brennan who recently wondered why Brendan Bell has been taken out of the lineup in favour of Christoph Schubert. Bell looked impressive recently, jumping deep into the offensive zone trying to create offense. Schubert might be a tad better in his own zone but right now, Hartsburg should be thinking offense.........I'll make a bold prediction here: Brendan Bell will one day find work in the local hockey media. He's a good interview and smarter than his meagre NHL experience indicates..... Chris Phillips was the "Monster of the Game" according to TSN's McGuire. But if you were a regular listener to Over The Edge on the Team 1200, you'd be convinced he's a piece of garbage, much like the rest of the players...... I keep saying it but Bryan Murray has got to get Chris Neil under contract for the next 3 or 4 years. If the Senators lose this guy, the lose their heart.