Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Burning the midnight Oilers

I should have had a mouthguard in for this game, because the Senators had me grinding my teeth for the whole game. A solid game offensive game from Heatley-Spezza-Alfredsson paved the way for the Sens first road victory in 12 games, a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

The Senators have put themselves through games like this far too often. Scoring the first goal was important, but allowing the Oilers to repeatedly climb back into this game put the Senators injury-depleted defence on full display. Without Filip Kuba and Anton Volchenkov the Sens were missing both an offensive contributor and solid defender. Luckily, the posts were kind to Martin Gerber tonight. Though he made some solid saves, Gerbs seemed to slide around his crease too much rather than lining himself up to the shooter, and wandering around the net in search of the puck was rarely a good idea.

I was certain the Sens were going to blow it in the final minutes. This is how they've trained me to think of late. But it's almost the New Year--time to be opptimistic, right?

The forwards did all they could to help defend the lead (why not just score another goal? But I digress…). Antoine Vermette made a heroic diving poke-check late in the game to prevent the Oilers from putting the puck on net. Nick Foligno made smart plays consistently in the neutral zone and offensive end to help kill the clock. Chris Neil played a physical game, checking the opposition and getting under their skin a bit. I saw Jason Spezza HITTING somebody in the DEFENSIVE zone. Wow. The fact that Brian Lee can handle 20+ minutes per game, as he’s done for the past three is a good indicator of both his potential and the faith that the coaches have in him. (I drool about him bring paired with prospect Erik Karlsson on the poweplay in the next couple seasons).

I’m sure the Sens will agree, it’s good to finally get the win on the road. The Senators have an opportunity to build some momentum (and maybe get a player or two back?) when they face the recently slumping (though they beat the Thrashers. Who can't do that?! Oh wait... the Senators) Maple Leafs on Saturday evening.

PS: I know I say this a lot. Best. Headline. Ever.
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