Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Turris Has Solid Debut In Red....While Anderson Quietly Gets Back On Track
Ottawa 4 Buffalo 1
Kyle Turris didn't exactly get feted at the airport by a raucous crowd of supporters thrilled he was the newest Senator after a surprising and somewhat controversial trade with Phoenix, but he likely soothed a few concerns with a solid effort in his first game in front of the home fans.
It was a predictably slow start for the young Turris in the first two periods as he was probably just trying not to throw up, but he made his mark in the third by initiating the play that delivered Erik Condra's game winning goal over a struggling Sabres team missing seven regulars. After the goal, the crowd was losing it, Turris almost picked Condra up and hoisted him over his head like the Stanley Cup, and fans watching at home inundated Twitter with endless exclamation points!!!!
Hey, it was only an assist but there's something to be said about the buzz a big trade creates and the energy it gives to the players and fans, especially when you can see some results right away. I bet there's been a few orders for a #7 Turris jersey just on that assist alone.
Playing on a line with Condra and Nick Foligno, Turris finally showed some spark when he aggressively stole the puck on the back-check and snapped off one of those rumoured trademark shots that handcuffed Ryan Miller and allowed the rebound to go to Condra who knocked it in.
That shot was what everyone in Ottawa was waiting to see. The hyperbole was cranked a little high on TSN with Chris Cuthbert comparing Turris' shot to Joe Sakic's in the sense that he can get it off his stick a split-second before anyone expects it. That was the only time that Turris found the net in his first game but it was enough for everyone breath a little easier and Turris seemed more involved in the play after that goal.
It was a big win for Ottawa as they jumped back into a playoff spot, but more importantly, Craig Anderson had a quiet game behind all the Turris hype and that's exactly what he and the team needed at this point. The month of December has been pretty rough all around and Anderson badly needed to get settled down and stop the whispers for at least a few days.
Anderson did that, even when all eyes were following the new guy.
Black Aces Senators 3 Stars
1. Jason Spezza
2. Craig Anderson
3. Erik Condra
Honourable Mentions: Kyle Turris, Daniel Alfredsson, Erik Karlsson, Chris Neil (10 hits!) and Zack Smith.
No pressure kid. TSN's Brent Wallace interviewed Turris before the game and I think Wallace used the word "pressure" 30 times in three questions. Nothing wrong with the questions, as they were all valid, but I'm guessing Turris didn't get those kinds of prompts out in Phoenix too often....Not bad for a trio of tough guys. First goal of the game scored by Zack Smith, assisted by Chris Neil and Matt Carkner.....It would be amazing if Daniel Alfredsson decided to play another season AND kept the moustache for the duration. He's starting to get a "Lanny McDonald in 1989 looking for his first Stanley Cup" vibe happening..... It seemed strange that nobody on the Senators did anything about Paul Gaustad ramming Jesse Winchester into the boards from behind and putting him out for the game. The refs blindly didn't deem it a penalty which made you think Matt Carkner or Chris Neil would have something to say very soon after. It's tough to do that in a close hockey game because of the instigator so it's understandable that the Sens kept their cool. Neil finally challenged Gaustad late in the third period after the Sabres were whistled on a penalty but Neil was smart enough not to drop his gloves first and Gaustad took a pass on the scrap. Then Ottawa went out and scored on the power-play with Neil standing in front of the net causing havoc. .....Carkner was there doing his job well when he viciously cleared the net area of Jason Pominville's pesky presence midway through the third period. Ottawa missed that part of his game while he rehabbed his knee early in the season. Carkner has been his usual steady self since returning..... Nice to see the Senators highest scoring defenseman in franchise history, Wade Redden, watching the game from the Foligno family box. He's also the team's all time leader in plus/minus with an impressive +159. The guy still looks 25 years old.....
.....It was rather amusing to see all those knives in David Rundblad’s back as he exited for the sunnier climes of Phoenix. There were a lot of fans bemoaning the loss of such a talented defenseman but there were also quite a few fans explaining to everyone just how terrible Rundblad really was, as if his current defensive short-comings represented the peak of his development. It reminded me a little of the guy whose girlfriend moves away and he bravely tells his buddies that she wasn’t that great anyways. The reality is that the Senators traded one talented prospect for another, and you don’t have to pretend Rundblad is a bum to justify the trade in your head. The trade was a gamble for Bryan Murray (despite his denials that it’s a gamble at all) and that’s okay. It’s a GM’s job to gamble once in a while. For GM Don Maloney in Phoenix, it was a steal because Kyle Turris desperately wanted out of there and the whole league knew it. Yet Maloney still got an elite prospect and a second rounder to boot. In short, it’s okay for fans recognize that the Senators traded away a good, soon to be great hockey player. They may have gotten one back at the same time or they may have gotten damaged goods. There will be a lot of people proclaiming who won or lost the deal, probably as early as tonight, but no one will really have a handle on it until both Turris and Rundblad begin to hit their prime years. That’s still three or four seasons away. Time to put the pitchforks back in the hay for a while.