Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Game 37: Montréal 6, Ottawa 2

A new beginning, with a team fresh off Christmas break, or a sieve in goal for Ottawa?

A return to form for a spirited and proud team, or a dead cat bounce?

Whatever the correct analysis, this is a breath of fresh air for the team and its fans, and a welcome boon for Randy Cunneyworth who is caught in a difficult situation. The team has been unfortunate quite a few times this season, getting few bounces, hitting posts, and running into hot goalies on a couple of occasions, it's about time they got lucky.

Many changes brought in by Mr. Cunneyworth, he rolled the dice on a few hunches and came up sevens on practically all. Lars Eller and P.K. Subban both made their way back onto the lineup, and played a positive role in the win. Chris Campoli was relegated to the pressbox and had a much better game, with no defensive gaffes to his debit. The coach also shuffled his lines, since at this point he has nothing to lose and was trying to find a spark.

David Desharnais was stripped of his hulking power forwards and thus was rendered ineffective, as many fans contended would happen. He was kept off the scoresheet. He was a measly #2 on the night. Uh, and he also happened to be on the ice for the lone powerplay goal the Good Guys scored. And his wingers Mike Cammalleri and Louis Leblanc each had a goal and an assist. The same Mike Cammalleri who hadn't scored since December 1. Hmmm, maybe we need to revise our theory that David is only effective because 'he has Cole and Max'.

Lars Eller showed some finish, finally, scoring a short-handed goal that came shortly after a Senators goal and may have plugged a hole in our leaky morale. It'll be interesting to see how long he keeps Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty, the trio is intriguing in its potential.

Rafaël Diaz chipped in three assists, which were very welcome, and need to keep coming in his case. He can't contribute physically like Alexei Emelin does, so he needs to bring smart passing and some offence to the table.

Andrei Kostitsyn was, again, invisible for long stretches of the game, which is inexcusable for a veteran player of his considerable skill. He needs to go on a long productive streak so that when we unload him at the trade deadline his value will be inflated.

Louis Leblanc, on the other hand, is chipping in some points and plays hard every night, which Aaron Palushaj and Andreas Engqvist were not able to do in their extended auditions with the Grand Club. He is doing his job, which is to make the management team think twice about sending him back to Hamilton.

Carey Price was his usual unflappable self. I did notice during the first penalty kill that he ably cleared the zone himself all the way to the other end. On the next play, he tried again, but this time was intercepted and this led to a dangerous opportunity for the Sens. Carey needs to continue helping his defencemen by handling the puck, but can't get lazy about it, the rest of the league can watch video of him and they're now expecting his long clears through the middle.

Lots of goals by the veterans who should be scoring, setups by the defencemen, solid goaltending, this team shouldn't have many more five-game losing streaks.

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