After a few days of the media focusing on Clouston's new "good cop" routine in practice, (as opposed to the bag skates and screaming of the few practices beforehand) the Senators came out and played their best game of the season Tuesday night against the Coyotes. Kovalev looked inspired, Campoli and Karlsson were at their play-making best, Alfredsson was showing shades of his 2005-06 self, Elliott didn't let in any deflating goals, and the 3rd and 4th lines provided energy every time they hit the ice -- in a nutshell, nearly everything that was going wrong seemed to right itself. Hell, even the powerplay was strong.
It's important to keep in mind, first of all, that the Coyotes played 3 games in 4 nights. Weak excuse, maybe. But there's no denying that they looked sloppy in the first period and only appeared to get going in the second. Secondly, take back the weak goals Jason LaBarbera let in by Kelly and Kovalev and it's a whole new game. And thirdly, while it'd be amazing to say that the team has turned a corner and are back to our usual selves, it's just one game. You can't make the playoffs by just winning one game. Unless it's the last game of the year and you're tied for 8th... but I digress.
Tonight's game against the Panthers should be a much better test for the team. Florida, coming off a controversial 3-1 loss to the Maple Leafs in which the game winner came as goaltender Tomas Vokoun was essentially being assaulted in his own crease, will be fighting hard to avenge this loss.
A few key points to consider:
- Milan Michalek has missed the past two practices and will play, despite his knee not being 100%.
- There's a huge difference in penalty minutes between the two teams: Ottawa has five players (Neil, Ruutu, Carkner, Fisher, Michalek) with more penalty minutes than Florida's PIM leader (Wideman)
- Ottawa won the last matchup between these teams by a score of 5-2.
It should be a good game if the same team as Tuesday shows up tonight. The game's on at 7:00 p.m. on Sportsnet Ottawa.