A lot of Ottawa fans are going to want to kiss Curtis McElhinney for locking down a win against the red-hot streaking New Jersey Devils on St. Patrick’s Day. The Sens took the game for a final score of 3-1 with Chris Neil potting 2 goals including a late third period empty netter and Ryan Shannon continuing his point streak with the team ever since his ice time increased.
Indeed, Neil, Shannon and Spezza have all been stepping up their game, as the team rebuilds and their roles change. Spezza has been showing maturity on the ice, with unselfish plays and more patience, despite his frequent drop passes, which, thankfully, are becoming less and less frequent. Ryan Shannon seems to be seeing the game better than ever, finding the right places on the ice to create chances and making good use of his speed and agility. Not to forgotten is franchise player Chris Neil, who can do more than chirp on the ice and proved it the other night. Moving ahead, these players will have more quality ice time, along with Nick Foligno and Erik Karlsson.
Doing all the little things right for Ottawa are Colin Greening and Erik Condra. Neither one of them is a professed star, but they are both true hockey players. They make good decisions, they’re tactical and both know how to be opportunistic on the ice or create chances where it looks like there are no chances. Both of these players will be consistent performers and it’s a safe bet to say that they will continue to play an important role for seasons to come.
Curtis McElhinney was the real star of the night, however, taking on Marty Brodeur on the other end of the ice and shutting down Ilya Kovalchuk who has been showing signs that he may be earning his paycheque (somewhat) and Patrick Elias, a Sens killer in the past. He made 33 saves on the night, allowing a lone goal from Rolston in the third. Ottawa’s defense also seems to be improving, with Filip Kuba shaking off the dust from his terrible season and looking a bit more like the old Kuba before injuries kept him back.
It looked like a fun night in Scotiabank Place with fiddlers and shamrocks and everyone clad in green. The game itself lacked a little zip in the second period, but not a little acidity- Zubrus just about took off Greening’s head and Lessard dropped the gloves for a fight that never happened. New Jersey obviously was frustrated on the night, as this was a must-win game for them in their seemingly improbably race for the last playoff space. This may have been the turning point of their season as they drop this game for an early season exit. Thankfully the Sens kept it together and rallied for the win. It may not have been a must win game for them, but at this point, morale boosts count for a lot in Ottawa, a city where April cannot come fast enough.
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.