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Dog Fight with the Jets

Posted By Mika Oehling On Mar 26 2012 @ 11:40 pm In Ottawa Senators | No Comments

The objectives of the two teams were clear: for the Ottawa Senators, it was a must-win game to keep their spot in the playoffs, while for the Winnipeg Jets, it was a question of playing for hometown pride in an all-out effort for the fans. Both teams were successful, with Ottawa racking up an important 6-4 win and Winnipeg putting in a formidable effort in an edge of your seat last period that left little breathing room. It definitely reminds the league why this Senators team has been nicknamed the Cardiac Kids.

The consistent fast pace of this game was remarkable for both teams, who got good chances, good saves and good hits at both ends. The second period was the most intense, with a total of 5 goals scored, 2 for Ottawa and 3 for Winnipeg to even the game 3-3 heading into the third, making it anyone’s game.

The turning point of this game was probably Wellwood’s missed penalty shot, as Craig Anderson patiently waited out the attempted shot until Wellwood ran out of space and options. While it’s likely that this was just the result of lack of strategy on Wellwood’s part, Anderson’s calm seemed to have been a factor in psyching Wellwood out. He stood tall in his net and with a roaring home crowd laying on intense pressure on the shooter, it was Anderson’s moment.

Ottawa’s MVP this season has undoubtedly been Jason Spezza. When he plays well, the team as a whole plays well as a general rule. But what is most impressive about Spezza this season is not his improved overall play, but his ability to bounce back, even after setbacks. Despite taking a couple of bad penalties, he roared back with great moves and slick puck handling that makes him a top six forward and created goals for Neil and Turris. He may have racked up assists, but make no mistake, he did all the grunt work for those two goals and even managed to stun Turris in front of the net by putting it directly on his stick. It’s a great game plan when it works: charge the net and let Spezza wheel it in.

Alfredsson also delivered with impressive goals in the third period and Daugavins had an outstanding game. It wasn’t just his goal early in the second period, or his hilarious celebration, but the fact that he was very much a presence on the ice during this game, something Ottawa had been hoping to see. It’s obvious that this team is hungry for the playoffs when Daugavins, Foligno and Zack Smith put in a great effort and become as dangerous as they have in this game. Smith showed some resilience, getting knocked down and coming back up for more in the third, taking a tough shift with no point, but definitely making life difficult for the Jets defense.

While this was a near perfect game for Ottawa, one part of the game was disconcerting. Craig Anderson performed well, particularly when he had to at critical points in the game, like the penalty shot where he showed tremendous poise. He didn’t have that same poise in the second when he accidentally played the puck behind the net, leaving it wide open for Miettinen to get his second of the game. There still seems to be a communication issue in terms of the Ottawa goaltender and the defensemen when it comes to leaving it or playing it.

It appears that Anderson prefers to play it, but he seems to be doing too much. Anderson was very active in the net, particularly during the first power play, and it isn’t necessary for him to participate to that level. While it’s clear that he’s a team player, confident with the puck and with veteran poise, there are situations where it’s best for him to leave it for the defensemen. He needs to show more confidence in them, even if he is incredible on his own.

There are 5 games left in the schedule for Ottawa and they’re closing out March against Philadelphia with two great wins under their belt. Ottawa better stay hungry.

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