It’s Valentine’s Day and nobody’s feeling the love more than Jason Spezza who scored a hat trick and picked up an assist in one of his best games of the year against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Close on his heels was Craig Anderson, who got a shut out and what is sure to be a highlight reel favourite in years to come with a double stack save, retro-style, in the second period; a classic, but risky, move. Erik Karlsson, for his part, almost got his first ever Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal and an assist and as much as a fight as you’re likely to see him in with Martin St-Louis. They took a spill, exchanged some words, but never really scrapped, and it was probably for the best, as Ottawa took this game 4-0.
The Senators played the way that spoiled Ottawa fans have gotten used to seeing them play; a spirited, simple, chippy game, with some great and unexpected goals. These are the darlings of the first half of the season that we all know and love, not the disorganized, slow, defensively absent team that slumped to 7 losses after the All-Star Break. Whatever Maclean has said to the troops to rally them back to their winning ways, it’s working and here’s hoping that it won’t stop anytime soon.
It has helped the Senators to have their dads on this trip and no doubt the Florida sun has brightened a few eyes. At this time of the year, we could all use some sunshine and Ottawa looked more alert and competitive in this game than they have in awhile.
But it’s not all roses; some players are still having a tough time finding the back of the net, and not for lack of trying. The frustration of Michalek, who was on top of the league to start the season, but hasn’t been the same since his concussion, and that of Turris, the trade acquisition from Phoenix, is tangible. With Michalek, the sense is that it’s a matter of time before he gets back to his old form and regains his confidence. With Turris, the sense is that expectations around him have changed and the most important among them might be his own. He’s making small mistakes on the ice that a more experienced goalscorer would not, in stark contrast to Spezza, who seems to be getting everything right. He may just have to learn a little patience with himself.
Tampa Bay did not play its best game and its star players failed to capitalize on the night, even with power play opportunities. Thankfully, there were less of those in this game, as Ottawa is playing a more careful, disciplined game. Time wasted on the penalty kill was quickly becoming a liability for the Senators and it seemed that they were taking more reputation calls than real ones. The tide may be turning for this team, though, with this team looking more like itself of old.
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.