Kukla's Korner


Sens Finally Get A Pair

Notes on the Senators feeling the tight standings, Ruutu’s admission to another 1,000 club, and Daniel’s work in theatres this weekend, but first. . .

From the Ottawa Citizen (and OS), on Ottawa’s 5-3 win against Florida, their first back-to-back set of wins,

The win was the Senators’ first in seven tries after giving up the first goal of the game. Despite an early deficit and a stellar netminder at the other end, there was no panic.

“We know we were down 1-0, but we felt we had control of the game, we felt we played well,” Senators coach Cory Clouston said. “That’s what we talked about between the first and second periods: Don’t change a thing, just keep going strong and hard on the forecheck and good things will happen.”

Alfredsson said the back-to-back victories would help the Senators gain confidence.

“I think we all knew that we can play very good when we’re skating, and that sometimes we’ve been a little bit too passive, but today we were aggressive from the beginning,” he said.

Striking at even strength, and even with Jarkko Ruutu in the box as a newly-minted 1,000 penalty minute man, some confidence brews for the Senators. But it still isn’t a consistent team that’s pulled out these past pair of five goal wins.

It seems as though every game they play, the Senators cannot find a way to keep it going for 60 minutes, allowing Florida an 18-7 edge in shots in the third period. Perhaps the bigger concern came from Phillips, who has not been showing the poise Ottawa has come to depend on in their own end. The 6 giveaways he is listed as having does not tell the full story, as multiple times last night he was simply beat, giving the puck away or having it taken away, including on Higgins’ goal, and in giving the Panthers good chances to get back in the game.

It needs to be said again that Murray was smart to hedge his bets. By signing Phillips for an extra year, and as the older of the two, Murray was prepared for the possibility of Volchenkov’s departure. Before what may be his final contract, he will have to show that he can adapt and truly be a leader in his own end, without the safety net of Volchenkov. Without a doubt, he has not played up to the level of previous seasons, and this will help to determine his true value on an individual basis, something that Muckler was not able to do when signing Redden before the departure of Chara, and that will be all the more critical in avoiding an albatross contract in the critical waning years of a career. That’s not to say that Phillips can’t find his way, but he will definitely have to change to avoid posting the worst season of his career.

Despite those failings, the team has begun to show more tenacity. While they have been showing good board work and puck control, the transition has become even more effective. Rather than just take the body on the penalty kill, or knock the puck away, Kelly was able to chip it off the stick and onto the boards, passing it to himself in order to set up a two on one to lead to Michalek’s shorthanded goal. Further down the lineup, Shannon has been finding his touch, going 2-2—4 in 9GP, on pace for his best season at this early stage, able to work better against opponents’ weaker lines, and to utilize his speedy, shifty game to set up Smith’s goal last night.

Saturday will truly be the test of the season so far for the Senators, as the pair of five goal games will all but surely end against the Bruins, who have allowed just 11 goals in their 7 games. Whether Rask has his first full game against Ottawa with the Bruins motivated to get him his first win after two starts so far, or if they are motivated to help Thomas add to his five wins, 0.60 GAA, .981 Sv% with 2 SO this season versus the team he holds a 16-7-2 record with a 2.09 GAA, .932 Sv% with 4 SO against, in either case it will truly test whether the Senators can play a full game, can cope with the absence (though word is Saturday is the planned return) of Spezza, Leclaire, and Kuba, and can show the poise they’ll need in such close games as you expect to see this season.

From the Ottawa Citizen, 82 games on the edge of a knife,

Murray’s point was that, as the NHL settles into the salary cap era, every team has a few good players, a few marginal players, a few injuries and a few needs. On any given night, who knows how it’s going to turn out?

“It’s impossible,” Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said after Ottawa’s fourth win of the season. “The pressure is there every night now. It’s not like in the past, when you got asked in the morning of the game, ‘Is there a risk of not taking this one seriously?’

“You don’t get that anymore because everyone is so well coached, they know how to defend. ... I guess that’s a good thing, too. We know ourselves, there’s no team we can’t beat, either.”
“That’s why a lot of people talk about, ‘just getting into the playoffs,’” Alfredsson said. “There’s a lot of teams that feel, if they can just get in, they’ll have a good chance.”

One point is all that separated Philly from being two wins from a Stanley Cup and failing to make the playoffs. One win is all that separates the 3rd to 11th place teams in each conference through the first three weeks and ten or so games of the season. As Vin Diesel said in The Fast and the Furious, “Ask any racer, any real racer. It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile; winning’s winning.” That’s what it will take this season.

From the Ottawa Sun, Ruutu joins Alfredsson and Gonchar in 1,000 club, sort of,

Chris Kelly and Milan Michalek celebrated Jarkko Ruutu’s 1,000th penalty minute (a milestone he reached by hooking someone named Mike Santorelli) when they combined for Ottawa’s first goal short-handed goal of the season. It was a big one, too. “I realized I’m not going to get to 1,000 points,” Ruutu said of his contribution. “I’ve got to get to 1,000 somehow.”

After Alfredsson, Gonchar, and now Ruutu, only Kovalev is left in the pool to join one of the 1,000 clubs. I suppose Walkom was only being helpful to Ruutu, given that a weak one-hand hook nowhere near the legs should hardly make Santorelli fall so easily. Odd that he’d be allowed to referee the Panthers after having failed them so badly in Toronto, but at least he got the call perfect when Foligno bowled into Vokoun, though it hardly made things better for the Panthers. We’ll see if we still remember this in April.

And, in case you wanted to see some more great work by Alfredsson this weekend, if the first two are anything to go by, check out The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest in theatres this weekend, directed by none other than Daniel Alfredson. Really. Wonder if Alfie will take Karlsson and family, and they can all ignore the subtitles together?

Filed in: NHL News, NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | SENShobo | Permalink


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About SENShobo

Native of Northern California.  Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.

I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle.  I watch, I react, I write it down.

My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked.  I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind.  When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom.  It hasn't, I don't think it will.  At all.

Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.

I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.

I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at talkingstick@petshark.net

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