“In a battle, all you need to make you fight is a little hot blood and the knowledge that it’s more dangerous to lose than to win.”
-George Bernard Shaw
Although it’s been a bumpy and winding ride to get there, the 18-18-7 Ottawa Senators have put themselves at .500 for the first time since early November with the help of a three game winning streak.
Taking on the Winnipeg Jets in Ottawa tonight, the RABHA rolled out a steady and consistent attack against the Jets for a tightly gripped 4-3 victory and finally had a few lucky bounces go their way.
Even though they were outshot 35-29, the Sens buried a few chances when they had them and got some clutch saves (and heaven-sent post-ringers) from Craig ‘the Alien’ Anderson down the stretch.
THE NINES LINE:
After a strong, season-long insistence that ‘all lines need to be shuffled’, it seems that Coach Paulrus may finally have the right combination with Milan Michalek (9), Mika Zibanejad (93), and Cory Conacher (89).
That non-glorious but hard-working line has accounted for three goals and seven total points in the last two games. Cory ‘Honey Badger’ Conacher notched his second multi-point game of the week with two assists and another ‘almost’ goal on a breakaway attempt.
Even the struggling Michalek had an assist in the win against the Caps and a beautiful goal tonight against the Jets, where he pounced on a rebound in the slot at 19:13 in the first and top-shelved a wrister past Montoya.
Zibanejad is looking more and more like the highly-touted player we all thought he was, as he had 4 hits and a goal (his 10th) and an assist in tonight’s winning effort.
In other news, MacArthur is who we thought he was (1 goal – his 13th) and ZSmith keeps doing what he wants (1 goal – his 9th). So that’s good.
It will be interesting to see how that ‘nines line’ changes when Spezza returns, but let’s be honest – Spezza can play anywhere so I’m not concerned. (Also – Spezza has a nine on his jersey, with #19, so the numbers should still work.)
Despite the polarizing effect that our fearless captain has on the Ottawa media and Sens fans, I am a believer that when Spezza is on the ice, he increases the chances of victory for the Sens.
THE RABHA FINALLY ROLL:
Thanks to a few lucky bounces in the past few games, a tad more consistency in their own end and some strong board battle victories, the Sens have strung together a bit of a streak. But can they keep rolling?
Only three points back of the deciding-line/hard-luck Detroit Red Wings, the RABHA have a mathematical chance of closing the wild-card gap but they need to keep playing hard and emotional every night.
At one point in tonight’s match, Bobby Ryan took a hard noggin-hit into the butt end of a glass pane on the bench (from a feckless and ice-leaving Ellerby) and that seemed to energize the Sens and get them out of the fog and back into the 2-2 game. Ryan returned a shift or two later, and a Neil and Spezza-less Ottawa team looked hungry and ready to battle.
Ryan was pointless, but had a strong game, hot on the heels of the knowledge that he was not asked to play on this years USA Olympic squad.
The streaking Sens play the Montreal Canadiens this Saturday at 7:00 PM EST.