Monday, November 23, 2009
Ottawa 4 Washington 3 (OT) - Sens Storm Back For Victory, Streak Still Alive
Can it get any better for the Ottawa Senators?
That's the question they have to be asking themselves right now as they stormed back in the third period against the Caps to tie the game and then Mike Fisher clinched it in overtime to extend the Senators win streak to 4 games and put them on top of the Northeast division.
Forget the numbers for a moment. The Senators haven't been this good in two years, not since the early weeks of John Paddock's shortened reign. But instead of just a few superstars driving the bus, the Senators are getting contributions throughout their lineup and are showing some unfamiliar grit and tenacity in this modest but character-building streak.
You'd have been excused if you turned off the television after the second period. The Senators looked outmatched by Washington's speed and showed no signs of being able to storm back.
The turning point was Chris Neil delivering a big hit and then tipping a Filip Kuba point shot past Semyon Varlamov to cut the lead to 3-2. And the Senators didn't stop until they were mobbing Mike Fisher along the boards while the Caps skated off the ice dejectedly, wondering how it all went so wrong, so fast for them.
How do you explain Filip Kuba getting another 3 points to make it 7 in just 2 games? How do you explain Jason Spezza being unable to get a puck past anybody yet the team still scores in bunches? How do you explain the strange phenomenon where Chris Phillips seems to turn into Paul Coffey whenever he gets the puck in overtime?
Every night, it's something new to talk about. The line of Jesse Winchester, Ryan Shannon and Peter Regin probably surprised everyone, including themselves, by being the best line on the ice. For a while there, it also seemed like Fisher was getting double shifted in place of Winchester and he even replaced Spezza on the top line for a while to try and get Spezza away from Alex Ovechkin.
Whatever Fisher is doing differently this season, it's working. The Phillips pass from the sideboards during overtime was in the air, like it had just been tossed over a fence with a shovel. Yet Fisher seemed to have no problem ticking it in and sending the rink into hysterics.
It was a game that Ottawa could have lost and no one would have been too upset. Coming off three straight wins, people would have understood, and maybe even expected a little bit of a letdown. After all, Ottawa fans have gotten used to such unpleasant things.
To call this the biggest win of the year might be a little overboard, but it might just be the game where three months later, everyone points to and says "that's when it all started to turn around".
Black Aces Senators 3 Stars
1. Mike Fisher
2. Peter Regin
3. Ryan Shannon
Honourable mentions: Filip Kuba, Chris Neil, Chris Phillips, Alex Picard and Brian Elliott. Might as well just name the whole team on that third period alone.
Talk about being injury prone. Pascal Leclaire, already slightly injured but healthy enough to sit on the bench as a backup, took an errant puck to the side of the face and had to go into the dressing room to get checked out....... Beauty hit by Matt Carkner on Ovechkin late in the 2nd period....... When trades are almost extinct in the NHL, you can get a lot of mileage out of a fairly minor deal the likes that Montreal and Minnesota cooked up today. I'm not sure how much of an impact Benoit Pouliot is going to make on the Habs fortunes.....
It didn't take long for the blogosphere and message-boarders to get on Chris Neil. He takes one bad penalty and it's like everyone has forgotten how good he has been this year. Over at Silver Seven (which is a great blog by the way), they even stated that he should be made a healthy scratch! For one, he took the penalty on Patrick Kaleta who is, if not the biggest diver in the league, then the 2nd biggest. Better players than Neil have lost their cool when dealing with Kaleta. Two, guys like Neil and Jarkko Ruutu will tend to take more penalties at sensitive times because they are physical players who are always playing right to the edge of legality. That's exactly what they are paid to do. Sometimes they get calls go against them and sometimes they don't. I'm not saying it wasn't a bad penalty, but come on, have some perspective. All Neil has done is help the Senators win games all year. And to top it off, the Senators killed the penalty and won the game by two goals. I've said it before and I'll say it again, only in Ottawa could Neil not be an across the board fan favourite. Only in Ottawa....
With that being said, it's about time I ate some crow about Alex Picard. I've been knocking this guy all season and now he's really starting to make a name for himself here. He's still horrifying in his own zone at times, but now he's making amends by producing at the other end. His underrated shot has become a real weapon on the power-play.......
The Panthers wore their new third jersey's for the first time tonight. Not bad, but they sort of have a St.Mike's Majors feel to them don't they?
I was catching whatever time I could on the St. Louis - Boston tilt when a commercial caught my eye. It was for a place called "Dirt Cheap' which is a "Cigs - Beer - Liqour - Wine" store and they had their chicken mascot wearing a St. Louis Blues jersey throughout. They describe their store as the "Last Refuge of the Persecuted Smoker" and one of their slogans is "The More She Drinks, The Better You Look". I'm sure the Blues organization is really happy about the unintended "tie-in" or "sponsorship" the commercial seems to imply. You can check out their "classy" website which features a female chicken bursting out of a bathing suit at dirtcheapfunfun.com. It seems like something only Corey and Trevor could come up with....