Don’t look now, but the 13-14-6 Ottawa Senators have accumulated six points in their last four games.
Are the streakless Sens finally finding their feet and gaining some traction? This afternoon’s game against the haughty LA Kings will be a test to their competitive metals, for sure.
Playing the cellar-dwelling Buffalo on Thursday night (where I had the chance to take in the game from a 100 level box), the barely-breaking 15,000 audience were as quiet as church mice. I didn’t know that when the Sens play the Sabres, it’s also ‘Bring-your-own-knitting-night’.
As an added Cinderella-esque feature, young Ottawa native Cody Ceci stepped into the D line for a suspended Jared Cowen and a flu-ridden Marc Methot and played his first NHL game. He played well – and I’m sure you’ve heard every hallmark angle about this story, so enough about that. On to the game.
GREASE = GOLD
Although the Sens still played poorly at moments (i.e. Corvo falling down to undo Ott’s skate laces with his stick and causing a breakaway, Turris trying to show off his stylin’ stick-handling skills in his own zone, etc.), the Sens got two points and got some strong play from some key areas.
One of those key areas was Craig Anderson. Stopping 40 shots, this was the first above average game that the Alien had offered all season (save for his shutout against Buffalo back in game one). Anderson stopped four different breakaways and looked rock-solid between the pipes.
Bobby Ryan also tipped in a lucky, laser-beam feed from Turris halfway through the first, and Zack Smith popped one into the ‘top-shelf-where-they-keep-the-peanut-butter’ over Miller to give the Sens a 2-1 lead in the second. As luck would have it, that was all the firepower that either Ottawa or Buffalo could muster in this game, and the Sens got a little lucky and built a bit more momentum.
And hey – speaking of traction, Eric Gryba got in a tilt with Cody McCormick but no ground was gained for dear Gryba. The fight looked sort of like this:
(The above photo is courtesy of BonksMullet.com, and for a more hilarious look at the game, feel free to read a well-written and side-clenching, belly-shaking game review by my friend Luke).
But let’s be honest, here – this scruffy-lookin’ team still has a long way to go before it looks presentable enough for the final prom that is the playoffs. The D looks shaky and the power play has seemingly lost its lone hamster that was powering it earlier in the season.
Having said that, I believe that the RABHA are trending up. They are getting good chances. They are killing penalties. They are winning board battles (honourable mention to the 6-million-dollar-man Michalek who was working his arse off all night and battling hard for pucks). They are getting decent goalie play, including a 1 goal game from both goalies two games in a row. They are throwing pucks at the net.
But above all, they are getting points. Points are, after all, the magical golden nuggets of the NHL.
Let’s hope the hard work pays off and the Sens can pocket a few more nuggets against the Kings and Blues.
The LA Kings are in the nation’s capital today at 2:00 PM EST to take the on the uphill-climbing Senators.