Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sens Punish Rangers, Defy Refs With Huge Win

Senators 5 Rangers 4 (SO)

Writers are beginning to run out of superlatives for the Ottawa Senators this season. They're the perfect underdog story but it's starting to get absolutely ridiculous how these guys are pulling wins out of the fire. It's bordering on being a Twilight Zone episode. And here we go again.

Another come from behind win that just leaves you shaking your head. Somehow, coach Paul MacLean has got these guys believing in themselves again after almost getting run out of the league in the early going by a few blowouts that had all the pre-season pundits nodding their heads in smug satisfaction.

So how do they explain this team knocking off 5 wins in a row, rallying from multi-goal deficits and sitting at 2nd in the league in power play percentage?

They don't. Everyone seems mystified. Ron Maclean, host of Hockey Night In Canada, said at the start of the year that the Senators were "his team" and called for them to make the playoffs, but that was a lonely prediction. P.J. Stock was literally at a loss for words during the first intermission on Saturday to explain why the Senators were so loose and having success. The chasm between the expectations and the reality is causing some to just throw their hands up. Up until early this week, some writers were still making fun of the team because they were, to quote, "the Ottawa Senators", as if they were a synonym for ineptness.

Fair enough. This team was pretty much a joke under Cory Clouston last year and the gruelling blowout losses early this month had everyone talking about Nail Yakubov in both ironic and non-ironic terms (I might have just pulled an Alanis there, but we'll leave it). Now we should be asking if it's okay to just go ahead and pencil Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza into the All-Star game.

The real letdown now may be the health of Daniel Alfredsson after he took a blatant cheapshot from the Rangers Wojtek Wolski, leaving the captain prone on the ice with a possible (likely) concussion. He never returned to the game and as of this writing, his status is unknown.

It was a clear injustice that Zenon Konopka got 5 and a game misconduct for hitting Artem Anisimov FROM THE SIDE (emphasis intentional) and Wolski only got 2 minutes for taking Alfredsson's head off with what was an intentional elbow.

Anisimov lay on the ice like his season was over but was magically well enough to play on the ensuing 5 minute power play which saw the Rangers score twice to seemingly put the game away.

Frankly, the refs should be embarrassed over the discrepancy between the calls. Some say there is no accountability for the refs but that's not true. There is internal monitoring that goes on but it's just not done in the public eye. And really, you wouldn't want to see that anyways. People already go after refs enough. No need to have a public hanging. The payoff for good refs is getting to work playoff games.

Black Aces Senators 3 Stars

1. Jason Spezza
2. Erik Karlsson
3. Milan Michalek

Honourable Mentions: David Rundlbad, Filip Kuba, Sergei Gonchar, Chris Phillips, Jared Cowen. Yes, the entire defense crew.

Back at it tomorrow night against the Leafs. Don't tune out early.

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