Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I guess that's why everyone wanted to re-unite the CASH Line, right Craig Hartsburg? Now that they appear to be used to each other once again, they can score their normal six-points-per-game combined, or more.
Jason Spezza looked good. He had a goal, was strong on the puck, and made some good, smart plays with it. But Dany Heatley was better. He was consistently backchecking hard and forechecking hard, had a goal and two assists, two takeaways (versus only one giveaway), and a blocked shot. Best of all, though, was Daniel Alfredsson (what else is new?). Pierre MacGuire climaxed at Alfie's hockey smarts during his penalty killing, and his all-around play was first-star material (even if he only got second star).
Who needs Antoine Vermette to score when we've got Shean Donovan and Brendan Bell? Okay, you're right, the Senators do, but it's really nice when other depth players chip in, too. Donovan's goal was just speed and control, and a nice shot, and it really does look like he might be playing the best hockey of his career. He had seven shots on the night, more than any other Senator, and his 12:21 in ice time was probably a season-high. As for Bell, whos scored a goal and added an assist, this was definitely his best game offensively for the O-Sens, and he looks like he belongs. His puck control along the blue line is really impressive, and that shot he took to score his powerplay goal was a rocket.
Epic penalty killing in the second period. Six penalties for the Sens, including two five-on-three scenarios and more than four minutes straight in the latter half of the period, and no goals against. It was where Alex Auld looked his best on the night, Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov were behemoths defensively, and Alfie and Vermette ragged the puck and blocked shots. It was an impressive show of gritty desperation, and--most importantly--the system didn't fall apart as it was continually pressured. Powerplay was as good as it's been all year, too, and went 2-for-3 on the night.
And it's starting to look like Filip Kuba has got his groove back. After 14 points in 13 games to start the season, he had one point (a goal) in the following eight. He's now got three assists in his last two games, and Orlando Bean (Orlando Bloom mixed with Mr. Bean? Anyone?) has 20 points in 23 games this year.
Jesse Winchester more than doubled his penalty minutes on the year with his two fights during the game. Where did that come from? He's had an edge to his play for the last couple games, throwing some hits and now a couple of fights, and I like it. He's not scoring like a top-six forward, but he's definitely playing like an NHLer. Cody Bass had a fight, too, and fared a bit better than Winchester did. (Check out the blog Thursday morning for a Fight Card of the night.)
Ice-time disparity watch: Mike Fisher led the Sens' forwards in ice time with 20:19, but that's got a lot to do with his time on the point during the powerplay. Lowest ice time was Cody Bass with 7:11, and it really looks like Hartsburg is interested in rolling four lines to balance the attack and keep the top line from wearing out. It might have something to do with playing the Atlanta Thrashers, but it's still an interesting note.