Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sens Rack Another Comeback .... Plus Pulitzer Worthy Game Notes

Ottawa 3 Buffalo 2 (OT)

Talk about a bizarre sequence of events.

The Senators battle back in the third period to tie the Sabres on a shot from forward Peter Regin who is hanging back at the point to cover for one of his defenseman. Then in overtime, Jason Spezza gets tossed from a faceoff and Regin steps in before being waved off from his own bench (likely because of his surgically repaired shoulder). So defenseman Erik Karlsson, of all people, steps into the circle and takes the draw. On the same shift, Karlsson collects the puck deep in the Sabres end and throws it to the front of the net where another defenseman, rookie Jared Cowen, slams it past Ryan Miller for the win.

It was a bit like a twist ending from a decent Twilight Zone episode, possibly spurred on by the strangeness of seeing Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff instigate a fight with hulking Colin Greening after Ryan Miller got a softie bump behind the net in the final seconds of the third. It was the right thing for Ehroff to do, given the history in Buffalo with the Milan Lucic nightmare, but Greening cut him open pretty good with a shot straight to the visor before they both went down in a heap.

Not a bad way to end a divisional hockey game - a good scrap, a goalie dive, and a couple of defenseman hooking up for a down-low overtime winning goal.

Oh, and judging by that crazed pileup after the OT goal, Cowen seems to be a much loved player in that dressing room. The only guy who didn't deliver a facewash to Cowen was Paul MacLean but maybe he got Cowen with a shaving cream pie in the hallway afterwards. Or just turned the fire extinguisher on him.

With that clutch win for Ottawa in the books, they temporarily booted Washington out of 8th place (pending games yet to finish on Tuesday night) and now sit just one point behind the Sabres for 7th in the East.

A few downer moments for Ottawa were the giveaways that led directly to the two Sabres goals and if you've been watching closely, you can tell that David Rundblad is pretty close to a date in Binghamton, maybe as early as one of Sergei Gonchar or Filip Kuba getting healthy. Rundblad's stick seems like it's made of meatloaf when he's trying to get out of his own zone and he's not exactly creating many chances anymore like he was earlier in the year.

Never thought I'd say this, but right now Rundblad is making Brian Lee look like Doug Harvey back there.

Milan Michalek also left the game after colliding with Karlsson at the blueline. Maybe a shoulder?

Black Aces Senators 3 Stars

1. Erik Karlsson (team high 27 minutes)
2. Jared Cowen (26 minutes, overtime winner)
3. Jason Spezza (slick 2 assists)

Honourable Mentions: Colin Greening, Craig Anderson, Peter Regin, Chris Phillips.


Good to see two players doing what they do best in the first three minutes. Jason Spezza making a shifty pass behind his back to a winger and Zenon Konopka winning a vicious scrap he probably had no business winning from a purely physical standpoint. Konopka took some heavy shots from Cody McCormick but somehow was the one left standing at the end of it. But from the look of Konopka in the box afterwards, he wasn't any prettier because of it (but he still looked better than assistant coach Mark Reeds who took a puck in the face during a recent practice and had the full racoon mask on behind the bench)...Did you ever want to know exactly how they make NHL ice? Wonder no more. I didn't realize the white and the lines were painted on different layers....Funny moment in the third when Daniel Alfredsson was ready to go off the ice so he slowly flipped the puck into the Sabres corner for Kaspars Daugavins to go chase down. It was just like a guy playing fetch with his dog in the park. Sure enough, Daugavins put his head down and went after it with his tongue hanging out (well....)......Hard to believe just how far Daugavins has come since last season. Somehow he played his way up the depth chart, pushing guys like Bobby Butler and Nikita Filatov down along the way. I mean, Butler was a lock going into this season. Not any more. Daugavins hadn't been as good lately but he was more like himself tonight. And by more like himself, I mean "sticky". The guy is always stuck to something. The boards, the puck, the other team's defenseman, his own teammates. He always seems to be in a crowd shuffling his feet but pucks seem to hit him, deaden, and fall to the ice in front of his stick. If some guys are slick and freewheeling, Daugavins is a bit like a piece of gum stuck under someone's shoe. And that's what makes him so effective. If he ever develops a mean streak, he could really be something....

......Both Zenon Konopka and Paul Gaustad are known as two great faceoff guys. Wouldn't that be a strange trend if tough guys across the league all of a sudden got great at draws as a way to get more ice time or even stay in the league? It's hard to imagine a guy like Bob Probert ever taking important faceoffs near the end of games..... Mika Zibanejad and Nikita Filatov both played 9 games, but Zibanejad had twice as many shots on net. Both had one point but Filatov was +1 while Zibanejad was -3. What does this say? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Or maybe just that neither was ready to play in the NHL full-time....Prior to tonight's game, Erik Karlsson was just one point behind both Norm MacIver and Karel Rachunek on the Senators all-time scoring list with 96 points (Edit: He got that point tonight). But I'm guessing Karlsson would rather break MacIver's single-season Senators record of 63 points in a season. He's still 38 37 points back....

.....Per Puck Daddy, when Nikita Filatov was asked by Sovetsky Sport about his relationship with GM Bryan Murray and coach Paul MacLean, he replied "No, there was a good relationship with both the coach and the general manager. I can't complain. I can only blame myself." It may be easy to jump to conclusions about Filatov's attitude if you go on hearsay and past problems in Columbus, but all he's done this year is say the right things and he certainly didn't burn any bridges on his way out of Ottawa. My humble opinion is that we've seen the last of Filatov, at least in Ottawa, but it's not like he won't be welcome if he wants to come back and try again.....Not so interestingly, Filatov is tied with another once highly touted Russian hockey player on the Sens all-time scoring list with one point. And that player is Alexei Kaigorodov who pulled off the single point in only six games as opposed to Filatov's nine. That must burn.....This is not a shot at Winnipeg, but Antti Miettinen thinking he was going to Tampa Bay but ending up in Winnipeg is going to really mess with what he and his family were planning to pack....Chris Phillips is on the home stretch to his 1000th game by playing in his 976th tonight in Buffalo. If all goes well and he stays healthy, he'll play the big game on Hockey Night In Canada at home against Toronto on Febuary 4th. No bigger stage than that for the "Big Rig".


Anonymous said...

If Phillips' 1000th game is a Leaf game at SBP, does that mean that he'll be booed?

I still don't fully understand what the issues are with Filatov and the NHL. You'd think that teams would do their utmost to find a way to make it work. The upside is really high. Hopefully, he reappears at some point.

Anonymous said...

Love the post tonight! Good work.