Against the Bruins last night, the Senators showed some life. It could be the fact that Cory Clouston has implemented a more forechecking-focused style, or it could be the fact that the Sens now seemingly have nothing to lose anymore. In any case, there was reason to be optimistic following the 4-3 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins.
First of all, the Bruins are by far the best team in the Eastern conference, and the Sens gave them a run for their money. Between Pierre McGuire incessant audible droolings over Zdeno Chara and his evoking of the constant (boring, repetitive) irony that he used to play for Ottawa, Jason Spezza and Nick Foligno did some of that... what do you call it.... goal-scoring?
Brian Elliot was stellar for most of the game. If not for Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov forgetting to be anywhere near Boston forwards in front of the Sens' net, Elliot would have been the hero of the match. Could he really be the future of the franchise? (Let's wait and see if they buy him out after leading us to the Stanley Cup Finals first...)
Spezza seemed incredibly happy and relieved after he scored in the third period last night. He's not typically the guy to shout and raise his fists in the air and shake them vigorously. It seemed like that goal meant something to him.
One more thing: THREE TIME?! YOU SHOOT LOW GLOVE-HAND THREE MOTHAFLIPPIN' TIMES?! I don't know what the scouting report said on Tim Thomas, but after getting stopped twice on low, glove-side shots, I think you should try a freaking deke for God's sake. That was the point in the game that I was most disappointed in the team. The Sens goal-scorers left their rookie goalie out to dry, giving the Bruins chance after chance to end the game.
Heroic (though not particularly pretty) penalty-killing in overtime helped the Sens get to the shootout, so that's a plus. And of course, a couple of incredibly stupid penalties allowed the Bruins to tie the game. But's let's not overshadow a little bit of optimism.
The Sens take on Buffalo on Saturday night. Let's hope the positives keep up, and Phillips rediscovers how to lift a stick in front of the net.