Thursday, October 15, 2009
Beatdown: Senators 7 Lightning 1
This was the game everyone was waiting for.
A good old fashioned beating of a visiting road team and the break out of the major piece of the Dany Heatley trade.
Milan Michalek finally showed the fans why Bryan Murray was willing to part with the valuable Heatley for the largely unknown West Coast winger who came with promises of speed and skill but had so far had a tough time finding chemistry with Jason Spezza.
Michalek basically made the power play problems of the Senators moot by going out and getting 2 shorthanded goals. If you can get them on the penalty kill, who needs a power play? But Michalek made good on the man advantage by finishing off the hat trick, the recipient of a jaw dropping, behind the back pass by Jason Spezza.
And as if the fans weren't pumped up enough, Matt Carkner then goes out and hands out an old-school behind the woodshed beating of notorious Senator headhunter Steve Downie just seconds later. The only person not smiling was Carkner's mother who sat in the stands with a look of motherly concern on her face, maybe not yet realizing that her son was turning into a folk hero amongst the Kanata faithful.
Nothing much, if anything was wrong with Ottawa's game tonight, except maybe a sloppy, uninspired start that soon turned around when Daniel Alfredsson stole a puck from Martin St.Louis and fed Alexei Kovalev in front of the net for the Senators first goal. Other highlights were Nick Foligno getting his first of the year and the (now expected) solid play of Pascal Leclaire.
You wouldn't be far off if you suggested that perhaps the Senators are starting to get an inkling of how good they can really be. They've had some good wins so far this season but it always looked like baby steps - good plays followed by strange mistakes and plenty of tightly clenched sticks. Yet somehow they got more breaks than they missed and had a winning record going into the game. With 7 goals and contributions from their star players for a change, the Senators seem like a team on the cusp of realizing their own strength.
Momentum is clearly with the suddenly resurgent Senators as they travel down the highway to Montreal for their next game on Saturday.
Black Aces 3 Stars
1. Milan Michalek
2. Jarkko Ruutu
3. Jason Spezza
Honorable mentions: Too many to mention. But Chris Phillips (+4) and Daniel Alfredsson (3 assists) get the nod.
Some fans have begun to question Clouston's wisdom in his defense pairings, and I get what they're talking about. Like one commenter mentioned on James Gordon's blog, if Clouston were to split up Phillips and Volchenkov, Ottawa could have one physical player and one offensive player on every pairing (with Kuba missing). Putting Karlsson with Campoli is like serving up a smorgasbord for opposing forwards. No one misses Kuba more than Karlsson right now. Who could have predicted Kuba would be such an important player? I'm guilty myself of underestimating his impact. In this case, I'm happy to be wrong..........
The "A-Train" Anton Volchenkov continued his "Rookie Reign Of Terror Tour" by crushing the much larger Victor Hedman in the 2nd period. Previous tour stops included Anton Stralman in Toronto and John Tavares of Long Island. He also did a number on sophomore Zach Bogosian of Atlanta. The hit also couldn't have come at a better time for TSN as the network had just done a feature on the Russian the night before showcasing his big hits. The only mystery is that commentator Ray Ferraro and others were predicting Volchenkov was going to start getting a reputation as a fierce open ice hitter. Starting? The A-Train has been cranking players since his first season way back in 2002-2003. In one rookie tournament game that year, Volchenkov delivered his first huge hit by catching a now forgotten Florida Panther with his head down behind the net. The player was knocked out cold and my brother Ben was sitting right at the glass looking down at the guy. He said the Panther was doing the doggie paddle while lying flat on his back, obviously in in la-la land.......
TSN struck gold a second time when Chris Cuthbert was telling the great story of Matt Carkner and how he made the NHL at 28 years old. Just as soon as Cuthbert was finished, Carkner ran over Stephane Veilleux. Ferraro said "On cue."...... I don't mean to toot my own horn, but Chris Phillips told Cuthbert that Carkner reminded him of Lance Pitlick. I said the very same thing just some days ago. Toot Toot....
Did anyone catch TSN's Bob McKenzie say that a doctor in the Czech Republic actually wanted to amputate Milan Michalek's leg because the winger's knee was so screwed up after multiple injuries and surgeries? Good lord...... Gotta agree with Ray Ferraro. I don't understand why pucks that are kicked along the ice into the net are not valid goals. I understand why you wouldn't want players drop-kicking pucks into the net, but an example like Miller's goal, with just the slightest intentional kicking motion are not about to open the door to guys making a living off of it. Skates and pucks are awkward partners and would always be a last option compared to a taped up, curved stick. How many similar goals are called back every year? 30? 50? The league thankfully got rid of the "toe in the crease" rule. Maybe it's time to revisit this one. But as McKenzie noted, the issue has been brought up many times in GM's meetings and a consensus to scrap it has never formed. I wouldn't hold my breath for that to change anytime soon....
Even though the Senators have fallen on hard times the past two seasons, they have maintained their streak of 11 straight winning record seasons. They barely kept the streak alive by finishing with a 36-35-0-11. Some would say those 11 OT losses should count in the loss column, but when you get a point for them, it's hard to call it a loss.
In keeping with this blog's fascination with uniforms and hockey fashion etiquette, I have to wonder - what happened to those old maroon and black uniforms that the lower level servers/ushers used to wear at the rink in Kanata? I don't know if they changed them last year or this year, but they're not half as cool now. Okay, I guess that's taking the uni obsession a little far....