Thursday, February 5, 2009
For the first two periods, it was clear that the Senators didn't believe they belonged on the same ice surface as the Bruins.
Somehow, between the second and the third, new head coach Cory Clouston made them believe and they almost pulled off a victory against the best team in the National Hockey League.
As with most shootouts the Senators have to face, it wasn't meant to be.
But they shouldn't be hanging their heads. For the second game in a row, the Senators have begun to build something that resembles the teams of old. We are seeing hard forechecking resulting in turnovers from physical play. We're actually seeing scoring chances. And finally, a few goals.
Clouston is 0 for 2 so far but the difference in the team is striking. Even Pierre McGuire, who might be one of the most vocal critics of the Senators this year, pointed out that he was seeing a team coming together before his very eyes.
The Senators took over the game in the 3rd period and it was only an unlucky penalty by Antoine Vermette which resulted in the Bruins tying the score.
Daniel Alfredsson was credited with 7 shots on goal, easily leading both teams in that category. Nick Foligno seems to be a completely different player under Clouston. In the waning days of the Craig Hartsburg era, Foligno was basically a forgotten entity but Clouston has lit a fire under the youngster by giving him some important minutes and some good linemates.
More importantly, it was refreshing to see the players smiling again and having fun in front of a supportive crowd (at least in the 3rd). The rink was buzzing and even the stoic Russian Anton Volchenkov was seen grinning after getting a scoring chance that was just deflected over the net.
In a season rife with brutal negativity and bleakness, you can find some positives in two straight losses if it looks like there's better days ahead.
And I'd wager that's what we're seeing here in Ottawa.
Word is that the Senators theme song is back at the start of the games down at Scotiabank Place. I wasn't at the L.A. game where it was definitely played but I was wondering if anyone at the game tonight can confirm that it was played again.
If so, this is a big victory for the small but vocal group of fans who signed petitions and sent emails to the Senators insisting they bring back this great piece of tradition. To some, it was probably small peanuts and irrelevant but it's the little things that matter to the hardcore fans.
Next up - getting the Senators to bring back their classic white uniforms with the original logo. But that's for another day.
I gotta get back to Hell's Kitchen. That show is dope.