Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Road Cure For Sens Woes
How many of you were thinking: "Here we go again" when Bryan McCabe scored to cut the Ottawa lead to 4-3?
One player wasn't buying it. Daniel Alfredsson.
Soon after the McCabe goal, the captain got on the ice and dominated for over a minute in the Panthers zone and capped off the shift with a big hit. That was the captain's way of saying: "There ain't going to be no comeback. Not tonight."
After that shift, there were no major miscues and Brian Elliott finished off what an ailing Pascal Leclaire started by making some timely saves in the 3rd period to finish off the near-Leaf bad Florida Panthers.
In essence it was an uneventful game - just the kind of game Ottawa needed. Filip Kuba stepped back into the lineup and got two assists without breaking a sweat. Clearly he's an important piece of this team without too many people seeming to notice in the past. One of his assists came on the power-play when Mike Fisher tipped in his point shot and his presence certainly bodes well for that unit going forward.
Now we wait and see if coach Clory Clouston can avoid making any more unnecessary lineup changes like he did the last time the Senators were on a winning streak. Shean Donovan may have played some scant minutes (and showed up for a good fight with the much younger Kenndal McArdle) but he's becoming a good luck charm for the team as well as a vital piece of that fourth line. Intangibles, intangibles....
Black Aces Senators 3 Stars
1. Daniel Alfredsson
2. Brian Elliott
3. Filip Kuba
Bryan McCabe - Does that guy score in every single game he plays against Ottawa, or does it just feel that way?......Tomas Vokoun just hasn't been that good since joining the Panthers from his "glory days" in Nashville. I should know because I've been stuck with him in pools the last couple of seasons. His save percentage has been pretty good in Florida but his team just hasn't been able to score. When he was with Nashville, he seemed to come out of nowhere and exceed expectations. Now that he's a known entity, he simply seems underwhelming...... Jarkko Ruutu is quietly having a really good season. And so we won't jinx it by talking about it too much....
It was 50 years ago on November 1st when Montreal goalie Jacques Plante took a shot directly to the face courtesy of Andy Bathgate, prompting the legend to don that famous hockey mask which has now become standard protection for today's goaltenders. Yada, yada, yada, but when did goalie masks get so ugly? I would say that across the board, most NHL goalie masks are completely indecipherable from one another when seen on TV or from the stands in the arena. The reason? Most goalies hire specialists who fill the mask with so much detail and busy artwork that they can only be appreciated from up close. In the 70's and 80's, when "mask artists" didn't really exist, goalies tended to opt for solid colours, stripes, or simplistic but edgy designs such as Gerry Cheevers famous "stitch" mask or Gilles Gratton's "lion" mask. Today's masks look bad on TV and that's a shame. Part of the problem is the modern structure of masks doesn't leave much room for big, bold designs due to the standard face cage. But the limited space on the top and sides of the masks just screams out for simplicity rather than obscure cartoon characters. For my money, nothing beats the classic Grant Fuhr mask. Simple, colourful and memorable.......
I couldn't be more tired of the endless exhortations from some quarters demanding the NHL do something about "hits to the head". The fact is that the NHL already has stringent rules in place for players who target another players head. What these people really want to do is to punish players who deliver "incidental" contact to the head. The only way to do that would be to outlaw hitting in the NHL. No player can always deliver a perfectly safe hit. It's a tough game and sometimes heads get knocked around. Mike Richards' hit on David Booth was clearly legal (he did not leave his feet like some people erroneously tried to claim). Same as the big hit on Jonathan Toews from Willie Mitchell. These players are paid a lot of money and they all have a choice whether or not to play hockey for a living. They know what they are getting into. Sometimes big hits happen and sometimes players get hurt from those hits. For all the hits that happen every night in the NHL, how many really go wrong and result in an injury the likes of which Booth suffered? There's only a handful every single year, yet some critics act like it's a nightly occurrence. Huge hits are an integral part of the NHL. Let's not confuse those with deliberate hits to the head (which are even rarer!).