Unbelievably, the Senators have just racked up 7 of a possible 8 points going into the All-Star break.
And tonight three new heroes happened to step up in Brian Elliott, Brendan Bell and Dany Heatley after the likes of Jason Spezza, Mike Fisher and Dean McAmmond took turns the previous three games.
A lot of people got their backs up after last Wednesday's Atlanta game when TSN's Pierre McGuire criticised Elliott's rebound control. Tonight, McGuire mentioned it again but ended up giving Elliott the "Monster" of the night award which should prove he's not just picking on the rookie.
And Elliott deserved all the accolades. Without him, the Caps would have won this game in the second period when they outshot the Senators 19 - 3. Elliott stopped 17 of those shots which turned out to be just enough for Bell to clinch it with a power-play goal in the last two minutes.
Craig Hartsburg made a smart decision to move Christoph Schubert back up to forward to allow Bell back into the lineup. Schubert is more effective as a hard hitting forward than an indecisive and mediocre defenseman and Bell is really good at stepping up into the play (although he's risky in his own end).
Not to bring up Martin Gerber again in a negative fashion (he's taken enough hits), but that major roster move seems to have sparked this team. I'm not going to say a "curse" was lifted but a fresh face in Elliott with little to no baggage in that locker room seems to have been part of the short-term cure.
This mini-streak will probably not amount to much as far as the post-season goes but it does give the fans a little hope and the players some life which will probably make the rest of the year much easier to watch.
Those Corona's on a sunny beach somewhere will taste pretty good for the players deciding to take full advantage of a much needed break.
Outside of Heatley and Elliott, Jarkko Ruutu was the Senators most effective player in the first period. He goaded Mike Green into a roughing penalty and blocked a shot when the Senators couldn't get the puck out of the zone late in the first. He even made a beauty move around a Caps defenseman but his backhander at Jose Theodore didn't have much juice on it.
This guy is all entertainment.
Who in the history of the Senators would have the kind of mind to wear a long blonde wig , sparklers on his skates and bring out the classic puck on a string routine at a Sens Skill competition?
The only other guy who comes to mind is Andre Roy.
Back in 2002, there was a photo-op during a Sens practice for the players who had been selected to the Olympics in their respective national team jerseys. Then out skates a smiling Roy with a makeshift U.S.A. sweater that has strips of hockey tape crudely spelling out the letters on the front. I think he even made it into a group photo with the all the Olympic guys. The good old days...
Blast From The Past
Going through some old clippings I came across this piece written by Bruce Garrioch concerning a major incident back on February 1, 2000 between Joe Murphy and the rest of his Boston teammates and coaches during a game at the Corel Centre here in Ottawa that ended in a 4-4 tie.
"Sources say during a first-period Boston power play, Murphy told (coach Pat) Burns "put me out there, I'll score."
After (Marty) McSorley and Burns told Murphy to "bleep off," the 32-year old winger never played another shift.
The argument continued in the dressing room after the first period.
Burns told the players he wasn't going to put up with "this (crap)" and Murphy went face-to-face in an argument with (teammate Ken) Baumgartner.
Murphy packed up his equipment when the team went on the ice and left the building."
Garrioch also relates the time in Chicago when coach Mike Keenan tapped the then Blackhawk Murphy on the shoulder to send him out for a shift and Murph replied "Joe, Joe's tired."
I seem to remember that Keenan was involved in a bit of a spat with Pavel Bure when the Canucks were in town in the late 90's. If I remember correctly, Bure told Keenan to f@!k off on the bench but if someone remembers that incident, maybe you could correct me in the comments section.
For a building that's only about 13 years old, the Palladium - Corel Centre - Scotiabank Place has seen it's share of drama, both on and off the ice with some utterly strange incidents (and Ray Emery was only involved in about half of them!)