That one had to hurt.
The Ottawa Senators should have walked away with a clean two points but instead a bumbling power-play and some lacklustre play by the tandem of Jason Spezza and Alexei Kovalev contributed to a sometimes painful to watch home-ice loss to the rival Montreal Canadiens and their loud, passionate fans.
I mean, even the Senators fans lost their battle.
Right away, the problem that jumps out at you is the baffling struggles of both Spezza and Kovalev who went into the game riding on some momentum after being put together on a line for the first time this season.
It's still the same old story - Spezza looks like he's pressing too hard and Kovalev looks like he's not pressing hard enough. The truth most likely lies somewhere in the middle.
The fact is that the duo were unable to put together one great play all night and that is becoming a massive albatross around their neck as this team goes forward.
Another baffling situation is the now customary too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty for the Senators, their 8th of the season. They also happened to take it with less than three minutes left in the game when they were searching for the tying goal.
Clearly, this is something that Coach Clouston needs to clear up whether it is his fault or not.
To be fair to Ottawa, they sent 46 shots at Jaroslav Halak (many more were blocked on the way) and the Montreal goalie was incredible at times despite not playing a game for nearly a month.
The Mike Fisher - Daniel Alfredsson - Milan Michalek line was again very good as was the fourth line of Jesse Winchester - Ryan Shannon and Peter Regin. It's too bad Clouston couldn't find more time for the fourth unit but there were so many penalties that it became a bit of a juggling act. On the last powerplay, Clouston desperately tried to switch things around, even promoting Jonathan Cheechoo to the 2nd unit but to no avail.
Filip Kuba had a rough night on the point of the power-play as he was either unable to get a shot through or simply keep a puck in the zone. Chris Phillips had the same problem in the first period when a puck bobbled on him at the blueline and then hit a linesman to send Montreal in for their first goal.
Erik Karlsson was a lot of fun to watch as something - both good and bad - seemed to happen whenever he had the puck. He does make some gaffes, as all rookies do, but he also made some sick plays and was reliable for getting the puck through to the net with 5 shots on the night. Regardless, he seems to be getting much more confident in his NHL uniform than his first stint at the start of the season.
Black Aces Senators 3 Stars
1. Daniel Alfredsson
2. Mike Fisher
3. Erik Karlsson
Anton Volchenkov is going to tie Jason York for 14th on the Sens all-time games played list when he steps on the ice against Philly on Thursday. But Yorkie still has 25 goals to Volchie's 13. Somehow, I don't see a radio job in Anton's future like the one Jason has with the Team 1200. Just a hunch..... Jason Spezza needs only one goal to tie Radek Bonk on the all-time Sens list with 152. Who would have guessed it would have taken this long into the season to talk about that stat?......
True story: Islanders grizzled veteran Brendan Witt got cranked by an SUV in Philly on Tuesday morning while on his way to buy a coffee. Witt slid across the hood and hit the ground pretty hard, but he got up, brushed himself off and went and got his coffee anyways.
One man who witnessed the chain of events from Starbucks couldn’t believe he saw the 34-year-old Humboldt, Saskatchewan, native walk away from the incident virtually unscathed.
"Boy, that guy is tough," he said. "It was like seeing Clint Eastwood, but in hockey."
The onlooker said he originally thought what he witnessed was a scene being filmed for a movie.
“I really thought a Hollywood movie was being made. I was looking around for cameras,” the man said. “I can’t believe how tough this guy is. It’s insanity.”
People have been getting on Philly GM Paul Holmgren's case since news that Ray Emery will be out with a torn abdomen for at least six weeks. Everyone and their dog knows that the Flyers have always went cheap on their goaltending but this circumstance doesn't warrant the criticism.
For one, Holmgren can't be smeared by a decades worth of mistakes by his predecessor, Bobby Clarke. Holmgren made a smart choice by signing Emery this summer. The controversial goalie has played well and only trailed off recently because he was playing injured for the past three weeks. Two, an injury can happen to anyone. How is Holmgren at fault for an injury to their number one goalie? He still has Brian Boucher who he also signed this summer and Boucher is more than capable of taking over for a spell.
Secondly, who was Holgren supposed to get over the summer? There's a handful of elite goalies in the NHL and they aren't available. If the Flyers are struggling, it's not because of goaltending. By all accounts there might be a conflict in that dressing room between team leaders and for once, Emery isn't the one causing the trouble......
It seems that the idea of renaming a few of the NHL's major awards is starting to pick up steam, and Black Aces fully supports this idea. We talked about it here in 2008 and even back on the old Black Aces site in 2004! To me, this is not a knock on traditionalism, it's the opposite. It's about honouring people who have made real contributions to the NHL instead of politicians and royalty that had tenuous connections to the game at best. If in doubt, just do some research on the names of the current trophies and I think that in some cases, you'll come over to our side.