The Senators rode the wave of Jason Spezza's second career hat trick to a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday afternoon. There are a lot of positives and a few negatives to take away from this game.
- Daniel Alfredsson continues to play heroically, he kills penalties with or without his stick. His hockey intelligence (a portion of the IQ test created and imposed on the world by Pierre McGuire) is off the chart. Example 1: Penalty kill sans stick. Example 2: making the Sabourin cover the puck without even having to touch it. These examples serve only to reenforce the Pretire #11 campaign (click on post tag for more info).
- Jesse Winchester may not have fit into the first line, but his recent mean streak has complimented the second line with Nick Foligno and Chris Kelly very well. J-Win's hit on Hal Gill in the third period inexplicably stunned the giant second-year penguin. Gill could barely skate for the rest of his shift.
- Chris Neil proves he can still fight... but what was the point of that gentlemanly tilt anyway? They called it off themselves after a few punches.
- Spezza collects what will probably be the easiest hat trick of his career. On his second goal, the puck came right to him; only the hockey gods can explain number three.
- Alex Auld continues to be cool as a cucumber while under pressure. His shoulder save late in the third period displayed more balls than Martin Gerber has ever mustered in a Sens uniform.
- There were points when Alfredsson, Spezza, and Heatley were schooling the Penguins in puck control and persuit.
- Whenever Crosby doesn't score a goal (especially considering the streak he's on, you know you're doing something right on defence).
- Someone really should have jumped on the Penguins defender (name anyone?) that rode Spezza into the glass divider in the second period. Some would say that the hit wasn't on purpose. I think that if Spezza had got concussed at that time, it's the only thing we'd be talking about.
- Antoine Vermette did a terrible job in the defensive end, especially on Staal's goal. Vermette lost his assignment and was out of position when Crosby's pass went directly to Staal in slot.
- Brendan Bell's giveaway for Malkin's goal may have looked terrible, but the Bingo call-up has been very consistent for the Senators and is making a strong case for staying with the big club. He's on the first PP unit, and is second only to Kuba on the Sens in puck-moving skills among defenders.
- Garey Galley and Dean Brown (and their producers, I presume) made a big deal out of the fact that the Speatfredsson averages more than a point per game against the Penguins. Where the hell was that during last year's playoffs?! Also, why didn't they mention that series at all during the broadcast?
The injury-depleted Penguins are a good measuring stick for the Senators at this time. You could see the dominance of the first line, and some solid checking from the other three. Auld continues to prove his worth in net. Are the Senators on the rise? I'd say give it another 3 games before we make any dramatic announcements.