Monday, December 8, 2008
Alright, Sens fans. I don't usually like doing this. It's not usually justified, and when I'm blogging I try to be as non-Homer-ish as possible. When I'm in the stands it's a different story, but I try to at least be reasonable when I'm writing. So I say this without hesitation: The Senators would have won Monday night's game if the referees were better. And I don't mean if the referees were better for Ottawa; if they were remotely equitable, Ottawa would have won the game in regulation.
For instance: One bogus hooking call on Anton Volchenkov. It was a weak call, and you could see the refs discussing it afterwards. But hey, sometimes mistakes happen, and you've just got to make up for it by calling one the other way. But instead of 'evening it up', the refs handed Volchenkov another chintzy call --this one for boarding. And then when Volchenkov steps out of the box Gregory Campbell hooks and trips him on his way to a 3-on-2, giving the refs an easy-peasy even-up call, and they decide not to call it. Nor do they call a trip on Jason Spezza later, nor did they call a slash on Daniel Alfredsson that knocked the stick right out of his hands. I'm not just a bitter fan. Yes, Ottawa had a 5-on-3 for 90 seconds, but those were easy calls, and the way the Sens play on 5-on-3s you'd almost rather have them not call the second penalty. It was a terribly-refereed game.
With that said, though, the Sens weren't their best on the night. Far from it. They started the game ridiculously slow, and were being worked in the defensive end most of the night. The Panthers were missing nine regulars from the lineup, and aren't a great team to begin with. Although Chris Kelly scored what the referee proclaimed a "good hockey goal" to get the Sens the lead, they blew it. Dany Heatley scored an unassisted goal (although Filip Kuba made it happen), restoring the Sens' lead, but they blew it again. So Jason Spezza scored a pretty goal (five in three games now) to make the score 3-2 for the Sens, but--thanks in some part to a weak hooking call on Alex Picard--Jay Bouwmeester scored a powerplay goal to tie the game. The game-winner was a result of a neutral-zone turnover that somehow ended up on Stephen Weiss' stick, and then in the Sens' net. It was a boring first period, but the teams started exchanging chances in the second and third.
Overtime was all Ottawa, but there was no beating Florida 'keeper Craig Anderson. Highlight of the period was a sick cross-ice pass from Alfredsson to Mike Fisher, but the pass--and Fisher's shot--were outshined only by Anderson's post-to-post save.
I was impressed with Volchenkov on the night. He took two penalties, but--as I said--I question the validity of the calls. Oddly enough, as solid as his defensive play was, I actually thought he had a really good game offensively. I never really thought I'd say that about Volchenkov, but I've noticed this year he's joined (occassionally led) the offensive rush, and he's not afraid to take a shot from the point. All without getting caught out of position. Plus he threw an awesome bodycheck on Radek Dvorak.
Although Alex Auld didn't have his best game, he didn't play poorly. He made some great saves, and starting eating rebounds when it became apparent that the Sens' defence couldn't clear the puck to save their lives. And in the end, he stopped a respectable 36 of 40 shots he faced.
Ice-time disparity watch: It was actually pretty equitable. Although the bench was short in the third period, the ice time was somewhat well spread out. Despite that, Alfredsson played 24:29, but he earned every second, and Cody Bass only played 6:22. But the fourth line had a rough game on the night. I think, on a night like tonight with a team as fast as the Panthers were, that line really missed Dean McAmmond. Sure, Jarkko Ruutu is fast and has some skill, but he can't do anything with Chris Neil and Bass along with him.
Strange note: With three unassisted goals in total tonight, there were only 13 of a possible 21 points scored by players. I don't know what that means, but I think it's a little weird.
Sigh. Well, another game lost to a team that Ottawa has the ability to outplay. And they're back at it on Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks, a game which--for some reason, despite being the only meeting between two skilled teams--is only televised on TSN2. I don't even know if I get that channel. Anyone know if it's available on Rogers Digital Cable basic package something-something?