Of Moose & Men
Well, Elliott did his part to quiet the “controversy” around goaltending, and it helped lead the way to a very important 2 pts.
It would be oversimplification to point to Brian as the difference maker, particularly since Halak was probably the better fo the two tenders on the night, but he was certainly a major contributor to the outcome of that game, and that is what the Sens need from their starting goaltender heading into the post season.
I think we can all most likely agree on the fact that the Sens lack a top tier stopper, at least at the moment, and if this team is to have continued success it will come as a result of superior systems play by the skaters, not steals by the goalie. That being said, the teams ability to stick to its system will be rooted in its confidence in its goaltender to make the expected saves, if not the big ones. As of late, neither the goaltenders, nor the skaters, have held up to their ends of the bargain, so picking a scapegoat is a mugs game. Here’s hoping the Sens are rounding back into form, in all positions.
Last night featured a vastly improved defensive effort combined with a stellar “systems” game. Hard forecheck, forward support for the activated D and neutral zone transition interruption. This is why they won. If not for Halak, I suspect the scoreboard would have more accurately reflected the dominance of the Sens over the Habs, but good goaltending does that, and the Habs have been the beneficiaries of such performances more often than not as of late. Much like Buffalo, if not for superior goaltending, the Habs would be on the outside looking in.
The biggest nod of the night has to go to the Karlsson/Sutton tandem on defense. Talk about a Crash ‘n’ Burn pairing. If Sutton doesn’t Crash you, Karlsson Burns you, and they did so shift in, shift out, entirely dominating the opposition all game long. But the past has shown this pairing to be Crash and Burn in another way too, and until Karlsson gets dry behind the ears, I expect the roller-coaster ride to continue. That being said, this kid has the makings to become one hell of a player, and Sutton has an open invitation from me to remain a Senator long into the future.
Tonight will see the Sens facing a rested, and wounded, Philly, another team playing for its post season survival. With the recent loss of its adjuct #1 goaltender, and then number one goalscorer, expect to see a determined “us against the world” effort out of the Flyers. If the Sens take them lightly, even for a second, it will cost them any chance at 2 pts. Another win tonight will go a long way towards securing a Senators post season berth, as it will not only widen their gap over the Thrashers, but weaken the hold of two teams below them in the standings, MTL and PHI. This race may well come down to who stumbles the most, not who plays the best, particularly if ATL keeps playing like a team possessed.
Here’s to tonight representing another step in the building of an Ottawa post season juggernaught.