Sens = Rotten Apple?

Because, with last nights come from behind victory, they’re doing their best to spoil the bunch.

Make no mistake, making the road to the post season as rough as possible for the Penguins is a motivator for a squad outside looking in.  There’s no way they didn’t want to see the Pens, the team who embarrassed them last season, knocked out of the play-off race, and it showed.

The story of the game was truly Elliott.  He was outstanding, and could not be faulted for any of the three goals against.  He displayed the poise and skill of an impending #1, and if nothing else, is proving to be a bright spot in an otherwise dreary season.  Without Elliotts play in the Pens 3rd period 3 minute PP, this comeback could have never occured.

What makes his performance all the more impressive is his ability to rebound from some recent spotty play.  He was average in his most recent performance, allowing one weak goal, but has been pulled more often then not lately, and was challenged publicly by his coach to prove he has the mental fortitude to raise his over-all performance level and early game intensity.   Well, he certainly did that vs the Pens, who came out of the gate storming, hemming the Sens in and dominating them over the first few shifts.  If not for the rock solid play of Elliott, the Sens could have once again found themselves the victim of their own weakness in goal, but instead, they were inspired by Elliotts play, and returned the favour by dominating the Pens for much of the remainder of the game.  That’s what a #1 does for a team.

As is so often the case however, strange goals, and relatively minor mistakes, can make the results on the scoreboard differ from the play on the ice.  An own goal (on a great effort by Goddard), a bizarre defenders choice to out man the point vs. cover Sidney Crosby down-low, and a very weak defensive play by Bell who neither took the shooter, nor the pass receiver, allowed Kennedy an easy tap in 2 on 1 goal, to make the game seem out of reach with the Sens facing a 2 goal deficit with less then 10 minutes remaining in regulation.

But Ottawa had it’s own luck, with Campoli scoring from the point after his shot skipped just feet in front of Fleury, bouncing over his glove into the top corner, followed by Foligno potting a weak goal over Fleury shoulder off another Sens face off win.  Unfortunately this good luck came at the cost of the bad luck of ringing the puck off the post 3 times after having cleanly beaten Fleury.

Unfortunately Ottawa also lost Volchenkov early in the game, and once again found itself having to face a potent offense with a relatively weak defensive squad.  At least Kuba had made his return, easing Volchies loss somewhat.  To this point there is no word on the seriousness of Volchies injury, but with Smith out indefinitely, any prolonged loss will have a serious impact on this rosters PK depth.

One nice thing about Clouston, he is easy to read, and a  look at the ice time often shows some interesting facts, as he is not shy about playing those he feels deserve the icetime, salary be damned.  The 4th line played less time then it takes to get a coffee at the local Timmies drive through, while Fisher led all forwards in EV ice-time, and Comrie played near as much EV ice time as the big 3.  Fisher’s ice time could be explained away as his role as defender vs Malkin, but Comrie, not known for his 2 way game, earning that amount of EV ice time, is a credit to his performance last night, which was outstanding.  I dare say Comrie was the best player on the ice, although Alfie, as usual, was a defensive force and constant offensive threat.

As the season progresses, there’s no denying Clouston has this team headed in a different direction then was being walked while under Hartsburg.  Some will point to Clouston, some to Elliott, and others to the current lack of pressure, but I suspect it started with Elliott, was solidified under Clouston, and is able to thrive in the perfect “no pressure” conditions.  It is my hope that the roots grow deep enough to withstand the regular pressures faced by an Ottawa team come next season.

Last nights determined come from behind victory has me encouraged they will.


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