Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Holy something: Sens 4, 'Canes 2

Ouch, Carolina. Those would have been a pretty big two points for you guys, eh? Too bad the Senators picked this time to start playing good hockey. You've been spoiled, suckas. Ottawa responded to the challenge from their coach to come out of the gates strong, scoring three goals and taking a 3-1 lead in the first period, and they didn't look back.

These new guys look pretty good so far, don't they? Chris Campoli is a heck of a player on the powerplay, and had his third assist in two games so far in a Sens uniform. His mobility is great, and even if he's not going to throw a big hit, he's usually able to get in the way of an approaching forward. And after a great (albeit point-free) start to his second stint with the Senators, Mike Comrie scored a beauty in his second game that turned out to be the game-winner. He froze Cam Ward with a fake slapshot, and then moved up on him and slip the puck five-hole. I could get used to this secondary scoring thing again.

Two assists for Daniel Alfredsson, and the guy is playing with a broken freakin' jaw. You can see some hesitation from the captain when he's faced with really physical play, but it hasn't negatively affected his performance; he's just using vision and positioning instead of muscle and strength to win battles. Playing smarter, instead of just harder--although he still works like an ox. Antoine Vermette had a couple assists on the night, as well, and was an incredible 72% in the faceoff circle (13/18). Although Vermette's fifth in the league with a season-average 57.5 faceoff percentage, he was going up against a guy like Rod Brind'Amour, long known as a strong faceoff man and second overall this season at 61.7% (Brind'Amour was only 43% in the circle on the night). Possibly interesting note: Former Sen Radek Bonk leads the league in faceoff winning percentage at 62%.

Jeremy Milks at Black Aces described Cory Clouston's smart decision to start Alex Auld instead of Brian Elliott tonight, despite the possible perceptions or political remifications of such a decisio. Elliott's been a good goaltender for the Sens since he came up, but he's been fighting the puck recently. With a capable supporting 'tender and little on the line for his team, Elliott is in a good position to learn about the mental side of the game--he may simply have to settle down before he gets back in the net. Or he may have to wait for Auld to falter, the way cueball has been playing.

Anyone else notice a physical edge from Brian Lee tonight? He was credited with one hit (it was a good one, but holy shit Mike Fisher had eight hits), but he was also roughing a 'Canes player up a bit in front of his net after the whistle. He had an assist, too, but it's good to see a young guy who's obviously learning parts of the game begin to learn the disciplined physical side that many good defencemen need to know to be effective.

Carolina outshot the Senators 43-22 on the night, so kudos to Auld, of course. But the 'Canes got 43 shots through, and had another seven blocked by Anton Volchenkov. I don't know how Android gets pucks to hit him so much; maybe he's got some crazy Soviet ionized-equipment technology that attracts vulcanized rubber to his shin pads. Yeah, that must be it.

Other notes, I guess: Sick pass from Alfie and sick release from Dany Heatley on the Sens' first goal, and Heater's now got 30 goals on the year; Great response by Vermette and Chris Kelly to restore the Sens' lead seconds after Carolina tied the game; Nice powerplay goal for Jason Spezza to put the game out of reach early in the second period.
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