Saturday, November 7, 2009
Jersey Steals Two In A Heartbreaker
What happened to Ottawa's penalty killing?
They let in 3 straight to New Jersey tonight and two against Tampa Bay on Thursday. What was their biggest strength in the early part of the season has suddenly gone over the wall and fled the rink when they've needed it the most.
While it's no huge shame to lose at home to a team like New Jersey which came into the game having won 7 straight on the road, but it's the way it happened that gives one a reason to be concerned.
The Devils have had a hard time scoring this season, and with Ottawa up 2-0, you'd think the Sens would find a way to tighten the screws.
Peter Regin, Jesse Winchester and Chris Campoli were the players who put their team down by a man with penalties, but none of those guys were top penalty-kill regulars anyways. Instead it was the mainstays on the special unit who couldn't get the job done, and Pascal Leclaire had a few rough moments in an otherwise solid game.
Discipline has been a bit of a problem but not in the ways you'd think. Chris Neil and Jarkko Ruutu both took game misconduct penalties but those aren't the ones that hurt the team because they didn't result in a man disadvantage. Instead, it was the chintzy penalties that drive coaches crazy such as hooking and shooting the puck over the glass. When Campoli made that last mistake, he seemed to know that it was going to come back to haunt the team as he immediately hunched over in despair, knowing he had done it at the most unfortunate time of the game with the score tied.
The goalie and the penalty-kill couldn't bail him out, as is often the case with those types of penalties. If a guy takes a penalty by roughing someone up, at least there's emotion involved from that play which can carry a team through a treacherous two minutes. An unfortunate blooper like sending the puck into the stands is only deflating, and that's probably as good a reason as any that teams have a tougher time killing those ones off.
Regardless, the Senators find themselves in a weird state of flux. They've had too many long breaks in the schedule to get any momentum from their positives or any quick closure to their losses. With a slew of games coming up in the next few weeks, they hope to be able to find their identity again - and their penalty kill.
While I haven't heard the post-game pressers yet, I expect there to be an angry Andrew Peters accusing Jarkko Ruutu of some kind of dirty shenanigans yet again. In what had to be one of the most entertaining games of Ruutu's season thus far, he jumped into a fray that included Peters and seemed to start choking him from behind before wrestling the big lug to the ice. With arms and legs flying everywhere, it was hard to see what was going on at the bottom, but Peters emerged holding his hand and screaming at the refs about something Ruutu did. Remember, it was Peters that Ruutu bit last season and this was almost a replay of that scene, with Peters clearly being caught by the CBC microphones calling Ruutu a "f**king fa**ot" and later in the penalty box screaming "you're a f**king joke!"
Ruutu just smiled like a shark, thoroughly enjoying himself. The best part was that Peters and Ruutu got identical minors and the Senators weren't hurt as a result (Ruutu also got the misconduct). To say that Ruutu is in Peter's head is probably an understatement.
Ruutu also had a comical moment earlier when a Jersey player softly got a glove around his neck and Ruutu jerked his head back like he'd been shot, trying to draw a penalty on the play. The refs probably had a good laugh about that one after the period. They weren't falling for it one bit.
Black Aces Senators Three Stars
1. Milan Michalek
2. Jason Spezza
3. Brian Lee
Have a nice weekend.