Ottawa 4, Nashville 3

The Sens broke their losing streak tonight with a solid win over Nashville.  It was a big night for Chris Phillips who celebrated his 1,000th game with a pair of goals.  I have humble pie to eat as the insertion of Bobby Butler proved an astute move by Paul MacLean.  Here’s the box score.

First Period
Spezza scores early on an odd-man rush to give the Sens a rare lead.  Phillips sends a suicide pass up to O’Brien and then proceeds to pass to the wrong team with O’Brien bailing him out.  Craig Smith walks around Cowen and hits the post.  Late in the period the Sens get caught on a bad line change and Auld is beat by Bourque with a shot he should have had.
Second Period
The Sens have two ineffective powerplays (including a short 5-on-3) early in the period, but Phillips is able to give them back the lead on a shot through a great Michalek screen.  Gonchar hits the post and then before the period ends Hornqvist makes a great tip to tie the game back up while the Preds are on the powerplay.
Third Period
Spezza scores on the powerplay off a turnover created by Michalek.  Phillips then salts the game away, cashing in on a Kuba rebound (also a powerplay goal).  Nashville adds a late 6-on-5 marker, but it’s too little, too late.

The goals:
1. Spezza (Michalek, Butler)
Spezza keeps on the odd-man rush and beats Renne short side
2. Nashville, Bourque
Auld gets caught too deep in his net
3. Phillips (Butler, Spezza)
Fires the shot through Michalek in front, beating Renne 5-hole
4. Nashville, Hornqvist (pp)
A great tip in front of Auld
5. Spezza (Michalek) (pp)
Michalek knocks the puck loose right in front of the net and Spezza bangs it in
6. Phillips (Kuba, Foligno) (pp)
Kuba’s rebound is banged in by a hard-driving Phillips
7. Nashville, Erat
Michalek’s clearing attempt goes right to Erat who fires it into the open net

Top-performers:
Milan Michalek – his best game in a long time, with two assists and several scoring chances
Daniel Alfredsson – another strong game despite not getting any points
Chris Phillips – despite a few brain cramps the Big Rig got the job done

Players who struggled:
Jared Cowen – got walked around by Craig Smith and continues to turn the puck over in his own zone

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Senators News: February 9th

-Paul MacLean talks about the Sens struggles, “Somewhere along the line we lost our identity and our work ethic. Our identity was a team that worked really hard for 60-65 minutes. Somehow that competition level, coming out of the break, hasn’t risen with the what the rest of the league has done. (Other teams have) come out and gone to another level and we haven’t elevated our game to this point.”  I’m not sure putting Bobby Butler on the first line is a good way to show players how to earn their ice time (Zenon Konopka will sit).  On the plus side, MacLean has figured out Anderson needs a break and Auld will start.  Lee is finally ready to return and will play instead of Carkner.

Chris Phillips will play his 1,000th game tonight, which is an incredible achievement (particularly with one franchise).  It’s unfortunate that Phillips has been a less effective player post-lockout, but he does have intangibles that are great for the organisation.

Hockey’s Future‘s John Henkelman writes effusively about Ottawa’s 2007 draft class (Jim O’Brien, Ruslan Bashkirov, Louie Caporusso, and Ben Blood).  Realistically it’s a disappointing group, although O’Brien has saved himself from being a bust and there’s still time for Caporusso and particularly Blood to help the organisation, but none of these players are going to play meaningful roles long term.

Sports Illustrated‘s Stu Hackel writes about stats he wishes the NHL would keep:
1. Man games-lost to injury
2. Hit posts
3. Improved shooting accuracy
4. Special teams trends
5. Face-off specifics
6. Time of possession
7. Attack zone time
8. 6-on-5 situations
9. Who draws penalties
He also notes a reader who wants to know which team injuries the most players and which building has the most injuries.