Well that was ugly.
The Atlanta Thrashers deserve some credit for tonight's 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. As easy as the Senators tried to make the game for them with turnover after turnover and gaffe after gaffe, you still have to take advantage of those opportunities and Atlanta did. That said, it was an ugly loss and a hard pill to swallow for a team that desperately needed a win. Panic button? You might want to get ready to hit it.
Here we go...
Sens Heroes: Chris Neil, Chris Kelly, Chris Campoli, Chris Phillips
It was a good night to be named Chris. Neil was buzzing around the Thrashers' net all game and was one of only three Senators to finish positive in +/- column. He probably would have had a goal as well, but Chris Kelly elected to shoot instead of pass. Yes, you read that right: Chris Kelly shot the puck. Intentionally. And he scored. Chris "Rusty" Campoli, in only his second game since coming back from injury, had 7 shots on goal. Chris Phillips scored a rare goal and had a mostly solid game.
Sens Killers: Chris Phillips, Colby Armstrong, Johan Hedberg
Unfortunately, Chris Phillips also had an assist on Colby Armstrong's first goal. Go and watch the replay. What a beautiful pass from Phillips to Armstrong to put Atlanta up 5-3. Armstrong then potted another less than five minutes later, because being a pest and already crushing the soul of every Senators fan wasn't enough. Armstrong and linemates Todd White and Jim Slater combined for 7 points and were each +3.
Hedberg was good, though he didn't need to be spectacular. He makes the list because of a diving save that sent Milan Michalek and his left leg flying into the post. Michalek was helped off the ice by teammates and didn't return.
Sens Zeroes: Alex Kovalev
His 8th consecutive game without a point, the only time Kovalev was noticeable was when the camera focused on him sitting on the bench. He has zero points since the Olympic break, and you have to think it was the Olympic roster snub that sparked his game, much like Mikael Samuelsson in Vancouver. The difference is that Samuelsson's improved play continued into March while Kovalev's, well, hasn't. Did you know that Kovalev had more powerplay ice time (4:53) than any other Senator? Not coincidentally, the Sens' powerplay was 0-for-4.
Sens Killer Supreme: Brian Elliott
Where to begin? Elliott allowed 6 goals on 27 shots. He let a puck go by him in the first four minutes of each period. He let Chris Phillips' gaffe become even worse when he didn't stop a very stoppable shot by Colby Armstrong. Everything that Elliott was doing right during the win streak was something he did wrong tonight. He spent the entire game nervously hugging the posts like they were his only friends (given the way the Senators were turning over pucks, they probably were). Still, when your team is playing poorly, your job as the goalie is to bail them out. Elliott didn't even come close to that tonight.
Goaltending Controversy: Welcome back, old friend. It wouldn't be Ottawa without a goaltending controversy. Cory Clouston's favourite is clearly Elliott, but Leclaire has been the better goalie since the break. Leclaire probably deserved the start tonight and definitely deserves it on Saturday in Dallas. But honestly, neither goalie has been winning games. The Senators have one win since the Olympics and only 3 of a possible 16 points. The cushion built up by the 11-game win streak is quickly deflating. Fickle fans will probably demand the return of Mike Brodeur if Leclaire can't put up a win on Saturday. And you know what? If neither Leclaire or Elliott can do the job, you might as well call up Not Martin. What's the worst that could happen?
Closing Thought: Cory Clouston was wearing a pink shirt and maroon tie. He needs to switch back to the lavender shirt and tie combination that he was wearing when the team was winning. It's the little things that matter.