Ottawa 4 New York 1
Let's not yank each other by calling this a huge statement game for the Ottawa Senators.
The Senators pumped 3 goals past funny guy Martin Biron, which was a little easier than putting 3 past probable Vezina winner Henrik Lundqvist, who watched this fairly slow tilt from the bench.
But.... the Senators will take the two points and probably get a good dose of confidence from it. Just getting to the net is a bit of a feat when going against the Rangers, and Ottawa merely cashed in when the rare opportunity for a good scoring chance arose.
So let's take the goalies out of the equation. Skater to skater, the Senators were the better team on Thursday night in what turned out to be more of a playoff-style game than you might have expected with both teams not exactly desperate for a win to keep them alive.
For some reason, the rest of the league can't beat the Rangers but Ottawa matches up with them quite well, winning the season series 3-1. It's unlikely these two teams would meet in the first round unless Ottawa drops to 8th or the Rangers drop to 2nd, but you'd have to think the Senators would prefer this matchup than the one that's staring them in the face right now - the Big Bad Bruins and Tim Thomas.
Jared Cowen had one of his better games this season and Zack Smith looks like he's back to being that nasty, Undertaker-looking SOB after getting iced a few games ago for sleepwalking on the job. Even Nick Foligno scored a goal, the winner, which is cause to break out the good cigars for a change.
Black Aces Senators 3 Stars
1. Jared Cowen
2. Zack Smith
3. Ben Bishop
Honourable Mentions: Kyle Turris, Filip Kuba, Rob Klinkhammer, Daniel Alfredsson, Sergei Gonchar and Nick Foligno.
Black Aces 3 Star Season Scorecard
(3 points for 1st star, 1 point for 3rd etc.)
1. Karlsson – 50
2. Anderson – 49
3. Spezza – 45
4. Alfredsson – 40
5. Michalek – 35
6. Neil – 23
7. Cowen – 19
8. Greening – 17
9. Foligno – 16
10. Gonchar – 14
11. Smith – 12
12. Turris – 9
13. Lehner - 9
14. Kuba – 6
15. Phillips – 4
16. Da Costa – 4
17. Condra – 3
18. Butler – 2
19. Daugavins - 2
20. Winchester – 1
21. Carkner – 1
22. Bishop - 1
Is 40 goals the new 50? Some would say scoring 35 is the same as scoring 50 in the 80’s and early 90’s. If so, Milan Michalek is well on his way to a “50 goal season” with his current 32. Wait, I’ve confused myself…. With the new white mask and the all-white pads, Ben Bishop is going to look like a Stormtrooper the next time the team wears the road whites. The Sens already had Darth Gerber. And I guess Kyle Turris has the same look and build as Luke Skywalker. Also like Skywalker, Turris would stand in the Phoenix desert staring into the horizon, knowing innately that his destiny lay somewhere else….. One more for the road. Jared Cowen is definitely Chewbacca. I think he emits the same sound when he makes a bad play on the ice.... Henrik Lundqvist had perfectly coiffed hair sitting on the bench tonight. And I mean perfect. If I had hair like that, I’d be much more successful in life. People would respect me. They'd bring me towels and call me King Jerome. I guess I’ll just have to live with my rat’s nest….. Rob Klinkhammer has only played 3 games for Ottawa but the guy looks like he belongs. Seems like a more cerebral player than Jimmy O’Brien, more along the lines of Erik Condra. It’s early, but it looks like another smart pickup by Bryan Murray. The Senators could go into this summer’s draft and not pick a single forward if they were so inclined. In fact, if they use their first three picks on defensemen, would anyone be surprised? Now watch Murray draft six Swedish centres….
.... Matt Gilroy just played two consecutive games against the first two teams he started his career with. Talk about getting closure right away…. One good thing about trading Brian Lee: Sens fans will no longer be subjected to the “could have drafted Marc Staal” every time Ottawa plays the Rangers. Although pundits enjoyed pointing out that Ottawa could have drafted Chris Pronger in '93, even after Alexandre Daigle left town in a trade for Pat Falloon and Vaclav Prospal. Anyways, as they say, “show me a scout who hasn’t made a mistake and I’ll show you a blogger”….. Good thing the Globe and Mail, a national newspaper, occasionally obliges us by covering the Toronto Maple Leafs in such painstaking detail, because otherwise we would suffer from a lack of information and opinion about Canada’s true team. Take, for instance, the Wednesday edition of the Globe. Front of the sports section you come across the half-page photo of Leaf goalie Jonas Gustavsson. Underneath is an article by Roy MacGregor about the Leafs loss to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night with an opening paragraph that reads “When it comes to hockey, The Centre of the Universe is a bit of an understatement.” Okay, Roy’s being cheeky. Pretty good column. Now, let’s see what else is happening in the hockey world. Let’s skip past the two soccer articles because soccer is just as boring in print as it is on television. Top of the next page, David Shoalts weighs in on Mikhail Grabovski signing a 5-year deal with the Leafs. There must be a non-Leaf story somewhere in here, right? Let’s see. The next headline is “Toronto takes its lumps” and we get another synopsis of the Leafs loss to Boston, this time by James Mirtle. Another big photo of Gustavsson in his pretty Toronto blues. Directly below that is the continuation of MacGregor’s Leafs story with a picture of new coach Randy Carlyle. Oh wait. What’s this? Nestled snugly into the bottom corner of the page is a 2-inch column that says “Senators 7, Lightning 3”. Apparently Ottawa also played a hockey game on Tuesday night. Obviously, not very important. Turn the page and we get another vital Sidney Crosby article explaining to us that he may or may not be back this season. That’s it folks. Oh, wait, one more thing. The NHL standings and the box scores from the night before. There were 12 games on the Tuesday night but there’s only one of the box scores. Let’s see which one it is. Yep. It’s the box score from the Toronto game….. Thursday’s edition of the Globe had only one small Leafs story in addition to good coverage of the Habs and Canucks. Brian Burke must be in the Globe offices trying to get an editor fired….
Time for some random vintage New York Rangers programmes found on the net:
...... "There's no better pass in hockey than a rebound." Not a bad line from Denis Potvin tonight immediately after Turris put one past Martin Biron from a Daniel Alfredsson rebound.... Speaking of Potvin, I know it's sort of vogue for people on Twitter to pick apart everything he says in an attempt to ridicule him. I realize it's probably all in good fun and it makes you look ever so clever. But before you do it, think of it like this: Denis Potvin has 4 Stanley Cup rings. Have you even had 4 good tweets? The answer is probably no..... The NHL made the right decision not to suspend or fine Niklas Kronwall of the Red Wings for his perfectly executed hit on the Flyers Jakub Voracek on Tuesday night. Why are we even talking about it in those terms anyways? It’s the toe-in-the-crease rule all over again but this time applied to hockey hits. Voracek was skating up the boards with his head down like it was a game of shinny. No surprise he ended up on his back…. A pretty good read over at The Score by Daniel Wagner about the fact that referees are “on pace to call 200 fewer hooking penalties and 100 fewer holding penalties this season”. Not surprisingly, scoring is down and many are wondering if the “dead-puck era” is back for revenge. Brooks Orpik of the Penguins thinks it has something to do with the league wanting to decrease concussions by allowing some obstruction back into the game. Jaromir Jagr says there are “a lot more hooks. I feel it myself; I’m losing the puck…They let it go.” The article has a whole table of stats for the stat nerds but you can probably see the difference just by watching the games with your own eyes. I’m sure I can speak for all of us who had to sit through most of the 1990’s watching clutch and grab defensive hockey – we don’t want to go back there. However they decide to do it, whether it’s putting the red line back in, further decreasing goalie equipment, banning blocked shots or any other idea, the NHL has to open the game up for its star players and keep it that way permanently through vigilance. Scoring, skating and hitting need to be the priorities here. That’s hockey at its best. If it means another crackdown on obstruction, I’m all for it. Just don’t let the league slide back into that crap we all had to endure when goalies and coaches took over the league the minute Mark Messier handed the Stanley Cup back after the 94-95 lockout.....
Enjoy the weekend pals. Don't do anything I wouldn't do. Here's a little Chris Farley to get things started on the right/left foot.