I was lucky enough to attend Saturday's game. Here's what I saw.
First, the good news:
Uh, let’s see… I had really good seats. More on that later. Ruutu dodged a puck to the face that I swear was aimed at him. Maybe we should start him in goal while Leclaire is hurt.
Cheechoo had good energy all night. This road trip seems to have energized him.
Campoli responded to his benching well. Behind Volchenkov and Phillips, I thought he was our best defensemen tonight. He made smart pinches, and aside from one silly attempt to deke the goalie by himself, I liked his decision-making.
Shannon was buzzing out there as well. He was consistently chasing pucks down, strangely for his efforts he was bumped from a line with Spezza and Michalek to one with Kelly and Ruutu. Perhaps Clouston thought they could get a cycle going?
Regin played well in limited time. He was responsibly defensively and made a great play to keep the puck in the zone when a defensemen – I believe it was Kuba – chose to pinch.
Now, the bad news:
- Foligno was not as good off of his benching. His effort level was there, but something just off. He wasn’t able to win any battles along the boards, negating all of the hustle he did to get the puck there, though he did have a great chance to score and hit the goalie with it. I felt this was the right call, since the far post wasn’t a realistic shot choice, but the rebound was directed off to the corner that Foligno had just vacated to take his shot. There was no one to generate a secondary scoring chance.
- Erik Karlsson. Yikes. He looked like a rookie out there. I don’t want to be too hard on him, because I really liked what he was thinking tonight. He just needs more experience. For example, Phoenix’s second goal (which was all his fault until it reached Elliot, despite Darren’s claims) came from the result of him deciding to shoot (A good decision) – I strongly believe his decision to shoot was the result of me yelling, "SHOOT!" at the top of my lungs, so I may deserve some blame here as well – but his aim (a bad decision) led to a blocked shot and he could not get back in time, despite being one of the fastest skaters on the ice. More specifically, Karlsson was aiming towards the far post, hoping to catch Bryzgalov moving in the opposite direction of his shot; this caused him to appear to be aiming for Taylor Pyatt’s leg. This was a pattern he would repeat throughout the night. It was easy to see where he was aiming, which is probably why so many of his passes ended up on Phoenix’s sticks – they could read the play as well. Karlsson was clearly trying to jumpstart the offense tonight… he just needs to learn he can’t make the same passes in the NHL. Also notable was Alfie visibly covering Karlsson’s defensive responsibilities more than a few times. I can’t recall the last time I saw a forward playing behind a defenseman while in the offensive zone in case the puck got by him.
- Power play was simply brutal tonight.
- Intensity? What’s that? This was a disheartening, lifeless effort. The first goal was a laziness competition between Elliot and Carkner. Carkner flipped a weak clearing attempt which Ed Jovanowski immediately scooped up and wristed right through the five hole. It was a playground quality shot that went in because Elliot was slow in dropping into the butterfly. The second goal was another five hole that had no business getting through, but to call it backbreaking would be generous. The team would have to have been trying to have their spirit broken. Carkner looked for a fight after the second goal, but couldn’t find a taker because the Coyotes left their balls in the locker room. Clouston looked all night for a spark as well, as I saw Volchenkov paired with Karlsson as well as Kuba-Campoli. Interestingly enough, there was no Phillips-Carkner, as I thought I saw Kuba double shifted several times tonight.
- Still yapping – The 2nd period opened with Campoli complaining to one of the refs – I didn’t catch which – before the puck even dropped. Campoli was at it again later, talking to the ref again, and Regin skated by and clearly said, "Hey, shut up."
- Darren learned I have an unlimited texting plan. I also have a qwerty keyboard so I can text and watch at the same time.
- Senators who made eye contact with me probably because I was loud: Karlsson, Spezza. If you yell "SPEZZ!" really loudly, he looks at you. Karlsson was just looking at the incredibly sparse crowd prior to the puck drop.
- Senators who did not make eye contact with me despite being loud: Elliot. Yelling about five hole and sucking probably didn’t help.
- Senators who did not make eye contact with me even though I screamed my head off in a way that hopefully did not sound stalkerish but I think they’re awesome anyway: Fisher, Alfie
- Early in the game, Kovalev went off on one of his keepaway jaunts and I started screaming "PASS!" as loud as I could… and he did! Coincidence? Doubtful. Why else would he pass in the offensive zone?
- Number of Coyotes fans who glared at me for being incredibly loud in a game that was 3-0 for most of the night: At least 20.
- Number of kids in Coyotes jerseys riding the zamboni that I booed, EXTREMELY loudly: one.
- Number of Senators who gave their sticks to kids: one, though I didn’t catch who.
- Number of Coyotes who gave their sticks to kids: zero.
- Is Clouston short? Hell yes.
- I saw the whiteboard. I went absolutely bonkers and people stared. Not long after, Kelly scored. The whiteboard was very possibly the highlight of my night.
- This is the first time Ottawa has ever lost in a road game I have attended. Their record when I am in attendance now stands at 3-3-0-0.
- Who had better saves tonight, Elliot or the empty net? The empty net, and the net faced much better scoring chances. I’m not even joking a little bit. They need Leclaire back, badly.
- Can you see me in the highlights? Yep, if you freeze it with 1.2 seconds left on the clock, I’m in the white jersey at the top of your screen.
- Peter Mueller was a healthy scratch for the Coyotes tonight. Hard to imagine how deeper in the doghouse he could get. I maintain Ottawa should trade for him, while he can be bought low on.
- The team did not take a single hard shot tonight. The majority were dribblers and the rest were wrist shots. I don't know if this was strategy or circumstance, but it was utterly baffling to see.
All in all, a very fun time, even if the end result was putrid. It’s hard to believe this was the same team that took the play to the Kings just a few nights before. They looked tired by the third. I don’t know how they’re going to get up for the Anaheim game tomorrow night, but they have to get a win out of this road trip somehow.