I was lucky enough to get to attend this game in person, and here's what I saw:
Sens Hero: Brian Elliott
I haven't made it a secret that I don't care much for Brian Elliott. I think his ceiling is that of a backup, because he's not consistent enough to be a starter. But when he plays like he did tonight, it's hard to complain about him. The reality is that Elliott was flawless tonight. The Preds scored on a tipped in goal, which Elliott had absolutely no chance on. He stopped the rest.
Sens Hero: Peter Regin
I felt Regin was Ottawa's best forward, which was funny because he was buried on the fourth line with Jesse Winchester and Alex Kovalev. But Regin fought the whole game, and did all the heavy lifting on Kovalev's goal. It was awesome to watch him strip the puck, battle behind the net, and feed Kovalev. He should be playing on one of the team's top two lines.
Sens Hero: Nick Foligno
Remember the Nick Foligno from the preseason? The one who fought through checks and battled to score goals? That was the one that showed up tonight. I friggin' loved Foligno's game tonight.
Let's not get carried away, though. Ottawa caught a Nashville team on the tail end of a back-to-back, and needed a strong first period to put their opponent away. They also got the advantage of an injury to Martin Erat. Still, it was nice to see the Senators execute the game plan for a full 60 minutes, even if they did seem to let up in the third period. Watching them forecheck effectively was a welcome change.
No zeroes from me tonight, though I'm sure many will want one for Filip Kuba's mystifying play or Chris Phillips' inexplicable decision to simply interfere interfere than play defense.
I have to say that watching a game with actual hockey fans was also a welcome change from the graveyard that is Phoenix, Arizona. Nashville fans were loud and funny, and vocal supporters of their team. They were extremely displeased with my suggestions that they support Detroit after suffering a loss, but hey, maybe they should have tried to win a little harder.
Players yelled at update:
- Mike Fisher - STILL won't look at me. I know he heard me, too. My sister said she didn't think he was that good looking, but she married my brother-in-law, and he's butt-ugly, so whatever.
- Sergei Gonchar - Holy crap, he is slow. Sllllooooowww. I think Erik Karlsson could outrace him skating backwards. It's not a surprise that our defense struggles with speed, and I am suddenly less pleased with knowing he's on our team for two more years. Still, his vision on the power play is frightening. He really, really, REALLY needs to shoot more.
- Erik Karlsson - It's been a little more than a year since I watched him play and gone was the kid who was trying to force passes that weren't there. His on-ice vision has really improved, and you can tell when he's playing with confidence -- he pulled a neat little deke while leading a rush down the ice.
- Alex Kovalev - He's not going to change. He controls the puck extremely well when he wants to and will challenge four guys even though it never, ever works. Did not pass when I told him to pass. So head coach Cory Clouston and I have something in common: Kovalev has tuned us both out.
- Milan Michalek missed a backhand shot. What made this noticeable was that it was in warmups. Michalek was the last guy off of the ice, and he was out there with Ryan Shannon and Nick Foligno. Shannon was feeding breakaway passes to them and they were working on shots. So... Shannon feeds Michalek, who breaks in on an open net... and SHANKS the backhand. He didn't just miss the net, he put it in the netting. What the hell? I buried my face in my hands at that.
- Despite the abject panic I felt as I texted Peter when I realized that Brian Lee was in the lineup, he really wasn't a liability at all. He wasn't exactly a force on the ice, but he played mistake-free hockey. His slapshot was not as impressive as it looked on TV. It was a knucklepuck, and it wasn't a surprise that Pekka Rinne couldn't stop it clean -- that thing was fluttering like crazy.
- Chris Campoli is a chatty player. I swear every stoppage in play he was over in the face of one of the refs, bitching about something. Ridiculous. I was really annoyed with it. One wonders if he wouldn't get more calls if he wasn't so busy talking about them.
- Chris Neil was FIRED up for this game. I don't know what it was, but through the anthems, he looked like a caged animal just waiting to be unleashed. He was yelling at everyone on the bench to get them fired up, too. I have to think it had something to do with the way the team played in a fantastic first period.
- Too many blind passes tonight. And none from Spezza. So many times, someone would win the puck behind the net, and center it... and it'd go right between the defensemen.
- Our special teams need... something. The powerplay is good statistically, but the number of chances if gives up to the opposition is beyond nerve-wracking in person.
- Of course, there were two people riding the zambonis. One was a cute girl, and one was a kid. Who wants to guess which one I booed? Yep, the kid. But then my sister pointed out that he may have been a special needs kid. Whoops. After that I just stuck to booing the Kiss Cam. And everything else I could think of. I booed the ice girls, man.
I'm not doing this tonight.
I'm in 'em. See that jerk that jumps up when Kovalev scores? That's me. Lots of people told me to sit down. I did not.
Next game is Wednesday against Carolina. Enjoy your weekend, everybody.