Sunday, February 1, 2009

Outgunned: Caps 7, Sens 4

Although captain Daniel Alfredsson came out to play in his 900th NHL game, scoring two goals in the process, his teammates didn't give the same consistent effort. As a result, despite a third-period comeback attempt, the Senators fell short of the Washington Capitals, losing 7-4.

I hope that Brian Elliott realizes that him being pulled half-way through the game wasn't a shot at him, but was a mercy pull to get his teammates to wake up. It's never easy for a goalie to get pulled, and four goals against on 16 shots doesn't look good, but Elliott didn't have much of a chance on the goals: Two early powerplay goals off wicked shots that resulted directly from lost defensive-zone faceoffs, a scramble-goal where Elliott had about a half-dozen guys on top of him, and a strong wrist-shot goal by Alex Ovechkin with Filip Kuba screening Elliott cleanly.

In a statistical peculiarity, Alex Auld will get tagged with the loss because he allowed the game-winning goal. Doesn't seem fair, but whatever.

I think it's safe to say that Kuba's season has hit its low point. (Not to say it can't get lower, but I hope it doesn't.) He came back from the All-Star Game without the comfort and confidence he had at the start of the season, and it showed up tonight. A couple weeks ago in the last game against Washington, Kuba was given the assignment of shutting down Ovechkin, and he did an admirable job. Tonight, though, he gave Ovechkin too much time and space to do his work. So Ovie got a hat trick.

On the plus side, the CASH Line actually looked pretty good overall. Especially Alfredsson, obviously, with his two goals, but Jason Spezza had some good "compete" in his game--finished with one assist, four shots, a hit, and three takeaways to only one giveaway--and Dany Heatley was pretty consistent in his effort, and his one goal was because he didn't give up on a play--he knocked the puck of Caps d-man Tom Poti's stick right into the net, also had an assist, three shots, and actually blocked a couple of shots (although he did take a stupid penalty in the first period that the Sens paid for).

Antoine Vermette scored the Senators' other goal, almost midway through the third off a nice set-up from Chris Kelly.

Chris Neil had a not-so-good game. He took a really stupid penalty to quickly end a Senators powerplay opportunity, couldn't reel in the puck on a break after his penalty, and just didn't look sharp on the night. He can rebound, but it wasn't among his better showings this season.

It's time to shit or get off the pot on the Brendan Bell situation. If we're going to play him in Ottawa, we need to play him--he might not have changed the game tonight, but he certainly would have helped the Sens one-for-six powerplay get a few more shots on net. And if we're just going to keep scratching him, well, we might as well send him to Binghamton and let him dominate down there.

And, I don't know how much longer we'll be able to say it, but we're not playing as poorly as the eight-losses-in-a-row Vancouver Canucks.
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