The Captain of the Carolina Hurricane showed why he’s a force to be reckoned with last night against the Ottawa Senators as his hat trick and 5 point night helped to lift his team to 7-1 victory. It was a great night for him as he potted his 200th career goal, another milestone that will surely be discussed at the next Staal Christmas dinner. He wasn’t the only member of the team to rack up multiple points on the night, though, as Jussi Jokinen, Chad Larose, Tim Gleason and Sergei Samsonov picked up goals and helpers along the way.
For their part, the Ottawa Senators took multiple trips to the penalty box, taking 6 in the first period alone and 9 for the night. Along with faceoff wins, this was the only department where the Senators outdid the Hurricane. Hardly anything to be proud of. If it wasn’t for Alfie’s beautiful third period goal, the only one to make it in for Ottawa, there would have been next to nothing good about last night’s game.
Carolina was hungry for a win after being outscored in their past two games and it showed. They were aggressive from the beginning and played a fast-paced game. Ottawa was slow and completely disorganized on the ice. 4 goals in the first period alone and not because of Brian Elliott, who has been playing consistently well for the Senators. Despite being pulled and replaced by Pascal Leclaire, it wasn’t the goaltender on the night that was the issue, but the lack of defense.
It’s baffling to watch the replays and realize that nobody thought that it was a good idea to keep a close watch on Eric Staal. He’s only 6’4 and 205 pounds. How could you blame a team for barely being able to detect that? And he’s only the Captain of the team, selected for Team Canada during the 2010 Olympics, part of some family that has some vague interest in this thing called ice hockey. Really, completely unremarkable. No need to make a special effort to contain him. No, really, let’s play two guys on top of the crease instead of playing a tight man-on-man defense.
The highlights of the game: undisciplined play and a disorganized defense that was borderline ditzy on the night, seeming to ‘forget’ who they had to defend against the most (he’s number 12). It makes you wonder if the cheerleaders really are that distracting. At least the Senators made their jobs easy last night.
It’s worth mentioning that the Senators did have some bad breaks on the night, with 2 absolutely incomprehensible chances off the post in the second and a momentary brain lapse for Regin while standing right on top of the crease with the puck appearing at his feet, something which has happened at least once in the past few games. The good news is that Regin is clearly getting the message as to where he should be on the ice at key moments, giving himself excellent chances to score. The bad news is that hasn’t yet translated into goals.
While the team as a whole sank last night, there are a few points that should be made in the Ottawa locker room.
One: the commentators keep explaining that Fisher is playing injured on some part of his body, hence, the slowness and lack of productivity. This is not acceptable. The commentators should not be making excuses for Fisher and he shouldn’t be playing if he’s not fully able. Resting Spezza until he was fully healthy resulted in better play when he made his way back to the bench. Clouston should give someone else a chance to get some more ice time.
Two: While Campoli and Kuba are playing a smart, aggressive game most nights, Chris Phillips is falling apart. Watching Eric Staal manhandle his way into the zone while fending off Phillips with one arm was just sad. His time with Ottawa may soon come to an end.
Three: While the 999 watch on Kovalev is becoming like a game show, the team should not be focused on hitting the 4 digit mark to the point where they’re forgetting to put in their own goals. Spezza had some good chances and he kept looking for Kovalev, when he should have taken advantage of his shot and angle to put one in for the team. Milestones are important, but this is not an individual sport. The team still has to come first.
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.