If last night’s game between the Ottawa Senators and the league leading Detroit Redwings was a person, then it would have personified Ottawa’s entire 2007-08 season so far.
When the Senators play their best hockey, they are one of the leagues elite shutdown teams, lead by stalwart defenseman Chris Phillips, in that respect. However, playing defensibly does not prevent the Senators from being an offensive threat.
All-stars Alfredsson, Spezza, and Heatley can score on any given night, especially on the powerplay, which saw two goals by team captain Daniel Alfredsson on this particular evening.
The first was a cannon of a shot from the point, which made its way through quite a bit of traffic without seeming to hit anything before it reached the back of the net.
Alfie’s second goal of the night and game winner at 17:04 of the third period came via pure determination. Cycling the puck to Detroit goaltender Dominic Hasek’s left, Alfredsson took one quick shot that was easily stopped. However, the captain was first on the rebound and fired another quick one, which eluded the Redwings puck stopper.
Mike Fisher scored Ottawa’s second goal on a beauty breakaway at the beginning of the second period. Hasek stopped Fisher’s first shot, but was unable to prevent Fisher from whacking in his own rebound.
Some will say that the outcome should not have been decided in the last few minutes of the game and that for all intents and purposes, it was decided by the midway point. You’ll hear the usual water-cooler talk today about hit goalposts and “if only so-and-so had…” etc. But, to do so would be to fail to give Detroit the credit it deserves as possibly the best team in the league.
Although unable to get anything going against Ottawa for the first two periods of the game, the Redwings did not give up and when Ottawa took its foot off the gas in the third, they made good on their opportunities and tied up the game with two quick goals by Brian Rafalski and Jiri Hudler, both on somewhat sloppy plays by the Senators.
If we extend that game/season analogy a bit, those ten minutes or so in the third by Ottawa corresponds to their seven game losing streak back in the fall. Despite that, Ottawa managed to both win the game and turn their season back around.
This Ottawa team needs to shed some of its bad habits and discontinue its somewhat erratic play accented by a mysterious lack of confidence from time to time if it hopes to challenge for a league championship this summer. However, wins in big games like last night's demonstrate that the Ottawa Senators have the goods. Now all they have to do is deliver.