Last night was one of those games. A game where the team rallies around a goal, a play, whatever they can find. The Ottawa Senators were on a 5-game winning streak and needed 1 measly point to clinch a spot in The Big Dance. Down 3-2, 11 seconds left in the 3rd period. cory Clouston called a timeout, and needed to do something. He needed to find someone who could score the tying goal and become the darling of the city. Enter the Great Blonde Hope, Erik Karlsson.
Remember a couple of months ago, when Erik Karlsson was “struggling”, and fans, bloggers all alike were labelling him a bust only after a couple of games. After being sent down to Binghamton to play for the Baby Sens for a couple of games, he was brought up, to the surprise of many. Nobody saw it though. We are hockey fans. We are demanding. We want instant success. What Ottawa Senators fans were doing was destroying the confidence of a great player who needed time to develop in North America. He had just come to live in the continent, and his part-time job was babysitting Daniel Alfredsson’s kid. When he got his chance though, he lit it up. 24 points this season (4,20), 3rd in rookie defenseman scoring behind Tyler Myers of the Buffalo Sabres and Michael Del Zotto of the New York Rangers. At season’s end, I believe he can catch up Del Zotto, and finish second behind Myers. Remember the things against the kid though. Never played in North America before, 5’11, 175 pounds. Jesus, he has more points than the so-called sensation coming out of last draft and fellow Swede. Victor Hedman. No, I haven’t seen Hedman play much and he does play for Tampa Bay. But it’s quite a feat for young Erik Karlsson, to overcome all the obstacles and become the hero this city needed. He is in fact, the clincher.
The one thing they can take away from not only last night’s game but from the regular season in general and into the playoffs is that they can fight through adversity. Injuries, dramatics, whatever it is, they seems to always find a win. What Cory Clouston may need to focus on in the upcoming practices before the playoffs is to limit turnovers, which seems to have creeped into the players the last few games. Bobby Butler had a good first game, good chances, deadly wrist shot, and one off the pipe. Milan Michalek is due to return to the lineup in a couple of games, and he will likely line up next to Mike Fisher and Alex Kovalev on the second line. Filip Kuba, I have no freaking clue if he’s gonna come back, but it seems like his days as a Sen may be numbered. It will be hard to assess, but here’s how the lineup will likely look like come playoff time.
Regin – Spezza – Alfredsson
Michalek – Fisher – Kovalev
Foligno – Cullen – Winchester (or Shannon)
Ruutu – Kelly – Neil
Phillips – Volchenkov
Karlsson – Sutton
Carkner – Campoli (or Kuba)
As a final note, hats off for the Senators, being the first Canadian team to clinch a playoff spot, even though the Vancouver Canucks have 5 more points than Ottawa. Doesn’t really matter, though.