Ottawa - January 6, 2012 - Daniel Alfredsson had a goal and two assist and Craig Anderson stopped 35 of 36 shots as the Ottawa Senators defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 to run their winning streak to four games. The Senators are now 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and have climbed to fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Tonight, the Senators won a game in which they were badly outplayed by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
For the first time this year, I can honestly say that I thought Craig Anderson stole a game for the Senators. The Senators were outplayed for most of the night and spent about 3/4 of the game being bottled up in their own end. Anderson was called on to make a bunch of tough saves, including an amazing blocker save on Steve Stamkos with the game still on the line in the third period. The puck was thrown across the slot to a wide open Stamkos who had the entire Ottawa net to shoot at. Stamkos wasted no time in putting the shot on net. Anderson lunged across to his right and got his blocker on the puck.
Anderson has struggled this year. He had a 3.19 goals against average and .899 save percentage going into the game. His save percentage increased to over .900 this season. After watching Anderson play all year I am convinced that he a technical goaltender who is playing his best when he is square to the shooter and not giving up any rebounds. He’s not a spectacular goaltender by any means, despite the save on Stamkos. He doesn’t make too many show stopping saves, however you can tell he’s playing well when he positionally plays well.
If there was any argument over whether Daniel Alfredsson should make the NHL all star game then tonight it should quell all the complaining. Daniel Alfredsson is an all-star. He has 13 goals and 18 assists in for 31 points in 35 games. More importantly, the impact he has had on this team is huge. Alfredsson is tied for the league lead in overtime winning goals and has singlehandedly either scored the winning goal, set up the winning goal or caused the turnover that led to the winning goal in at least eight games this year for the Senators. If you took away those eight wins where would the Senators be?
For a team that was picked by almost all hockey pundits to finish either 14th or 15th in the conference, that fact that the Senators are fifth in the conference, despite getting almost goaltending, is a testament to how well this team is led on the ice. I don’t know any other team in the Eastern Conference who has exceeded their expectations as much as the Senators has and Daniel Alfredsson is the biggest reason why.
It was nice to see Alfredsson, Karlsson, who leads all defensmen in points and Jason Spezza recieve the nod to start in the all-star game. I believe all three deserve to start. A fourth Senator Milan Michalek was also voted in as a starter. Michalek was leading the NHL in goals scored when he was injured earlier last month. Before the injury I believed that he should’ve been an all-star, but the time missed and his play since he got back does not warrant him a starting position.
However, it a game for the fans and with the All-Star game being in Ottawa, having four Senators on the team will delight the home fans. This must really burn the Toronto Maple Leafs fans.
- A nice tradition has developed at Senators games. At every home game a military family is invited as a guest of the Senators. During a stoppage of play, the player and his family are called from their seats and put up on the board and introduced. The crowd always stands and gives the family a standing ovation. It’s a nice gesture from the Senators and their fans.
- The Senators hit another three posts/crossbars in the game tonight. I’ve now lost count since the Buffalo game but I’m sure the number is over 10.
- After playing so well tonight, how could the Tampa Bay Lightning have been so horrible last night in Toronto losing 7-3 to the Leafs. The Lightning looked like a different team.
- Up next, back to back games this weekend with the Philadelphia Flyers. If the Senators play against the Flyers, one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference, the way they did against the Lightning tonight, they could up on the losing end of both games.