(Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
Sometimes it's easier to see the individual trees than it is to take a step back and look at the forest. Ottawa deserves some credit, they've now won 5 of their last 7 and are now .500 in games that ended in regulation. (Ed. note: 6-6-1 overall). Being average has never felt so good!
Albeit, Ottawa has taken advantage of a pretty favorable schedule of late:
- Won 4-2 in a game that they almost let slip away.
- Won 5-2 over a Phoenix Coyotes team that was playing their 3rd game in 4 nights
- Won 5-3 over the Florida Panthers - a team that Don Brennan described as the worst in the NHL
- Won 3-2 over a hapless Toronto team that had gone 167 minutes and 39 seconds without scoring a goal. It was the longest team drought since 1927.
- Won 4-1 over a gassed Islanders team.
Before I get into some random thoughts from tonight's game, here's a post-game haiku:
Ottawa took advantage.
.500? (Fist pump).
1) Pierre McGuire had his moments during the course of the night. The first occurred as he was having technical problems with his microphone. It sounded like he was doing the colour from inside John Tavares' jock. There's already a few references to Peter Regin and Nick Foligno's scoring woes. If TSN keeps it up, I'll be expecting a Jonathan Cheechoo like watch to indicate how many games these two players have gone without a goal. For the record, Cheechoo went 15 games before scoring against the Edmonton Oilers. And God help us if it comes to this but Bill Muckalt went 70 games without scoring one.
2) Three minutes and nine seconds into the first, Zach Smith pastes Trevor Gillies from behind. Smith receives a 5-minute major boarding penalty for his work. Fortunately, the Isles power play was fairly predictable. Even Jacques Demers would have had an easy time reading their tendencies.
3) During one stoppage of play in the first period, TSN showed footage of two girls playing a hockey videogame on the concourse. Obviously they were just honing their skills for Sens Chirp's NHL 11: EA Sports Hockey League.
4) Sergei Gonchar staked the Senators to a 1-0 lead after roofing a brilliant Jason Spezza cross-ice pass behind Dwayne Roloson. Pierre remarks that these are two players who receive a lot of criticism for defensive deficiencies but put up some serious points. Fantastic.
5) Prior to the start of the second period puck drop, TSN showed footage of the Binghamton Senators handing out programs to fans entering the rink before the start of the game. I'm not sure this is what Cody Bass had in mind for his return trip back to ScotiaBank Place.
6) I have to believe that Brian Lee wasn't too happy to see David Hale step up and score the second goal of the game to put Ottawa up 2-0. Joking aside, Ottawa's record with Hale in the linuep is indisputable. He's now on a level with Mike Brodeur as an average AHLer who will undoubtedly receive way too much credit for kickstarting Ottawa's success.
7) Speaking of Lee, I wouldn't blame the guy had he canvased the Islanders GM, Garth Snow, for a job. With pairings of James Wisniewski - Mike Mottau, Mark Eaton - Radek Martinek and Jack Hillen - Bruno Gervais, it was no surprise to see their blueline struggle. I feel bad for Islanders fans. I think I'd rather watch Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's new movie Faster than watch these guys play every night.
7) More McGuire nonsense that followed some Gord Miller commentary of Carrie Underwood's concert at the ACC. "I really like the song Jesus Takes the Wheel." I'm really bothered by the fact that I can't tell if McGuire is deadpanning or not.
8) After Spezza scored for his third point on the night, Pierre gave Jason some verbal fellatio - "He's jumping through a gym! He's like a shark in bloody waters!" Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Pierre McGuire - easy on the similes but hard on the ears.
9) During a TSN camera pan of the Senators bench, I can't help but notice that Matt Carkner is starting to grow a handlebar moustache. I approve. What I didn't approve was Carkner's Chris Phillips'esque brainfart in which he inadvertently threw a puck carelessly into the slot from behind the net to start the third period.
10) Matt Martin hits Jason Spezza from behind... sort of. Spezza took a look over his shoulder and saw Martin coming. Although Spezza turned away from Martin to protect the puck, Martin never let up with his force against a vulnerable player. Kudos to Chris Campoli for jumping in to protect the team's number one pivot. Even if I was half-hoping that Matt Carkner would have gotten to him first.
11) On the ensuing power play, Brian Elliott made two breakaway saves to preserve Ottawa's lead. Elliott had a steadying presence throughout the game and his play lent itself to Bruce Garrioch's premature eulogy of Pascal Leclaire over at Off the Posts. Bruce might think that Ottawa's a goaltending graveyard but an optimist would say that the Senators just do a really good of developing their goalies for the KHL.
12) Three seconds after Chris Kelly iced the game with an empty net goal, Matt Martin and Zach Smith dropped the gloves. Much to the disdain of McGuire. "What did that prove? This is all coaching, Scott Gordon put Martin out there and Clouston responded by putting Smith out there. This doesn't prove anything." It's the second time that I've heard McGuire come out and openly criticize Ottawa's staff. Earlier in the day, McGuire was on the Team 1200's TGOR and ripped the staff for using Sergei Gonchar improperly. Granted, he had a fair point. As one of my readers said after Saturday night's game against Boston, explain to me once again why such a great left-hand shot – best point shot I’ve seen live since Ray Bourque -- is mostly playing the left side of the power-play? Is Greg Carvel visually dyslectic?