I watched most of the recent Minnesota and Colorado games, which is something I find myself doing less of since moving in with fiancee, work ramping up and other life-stuff popping up. I still don't get near the enjoyment out of it because I feel like I'm watching the game through a small tube and being deprived of so many important things.
With that said, I've noticed that we seem to be a much better team on the road this year for whatever reason. We play differently and whatever it is it seems to work out well.
This trip was different however; especially watching yesterday, even though we lost 3-0, THAT team looked so much better than the one I've watched this year at home. There was more get-up-and-go in that first period than 10 of our home games combined at times this year. We had 4 lines going, we were entering the zone with speed and making good passes, people were playing confidently; it was a joy to watch.
I started to have flashbacks frankly...I've seen our team play like that before in the not-too-distant past. I wonder if any of the rest of you started to notice that. I think we've found some confidence and maybe that's all it took.
It's true that the game was also frustrating and we needed to take advantage of our chances in the first period. Realistically we should have been up at least 3-0. O'Sullivan and Pisani should have scored at the very least. If those go in this is a different game and I'm pretty sure we win it going away. Owen Nolan can't beat us if we don't keep the game so low-scoring like that.
But it's a different team on the ice these nights. I REALLY like our top six. O'Sullivan-Horcoff-Hemsky are figuring each other out and will tear it up down the stretch; mark my works. Nilsson has come back to life and is playing excellently with Gagner and Kotalik. Sam suddenly looks like he could get 40+ points after a long and frustrating year. Kotalik knows his role on that line and does it well.
Then we have this line of Moreau-Brodziak-Penner that's got to be annoying to play against. Penner's relaxed and started just playing his game; which is good positioning, occasionally hitting people, and controlling the puck. Great to see him doing that. It's not worth 4.2, but it's helping us win and that's what matters.
I'm disappointed that Cogliano has been left out in the cold a little bit on this latest binge of good play. On one hand you're disappointed he couldn't continue his goal-scoring, but on the other, if he's in your bottom few players, you must be doing alright! Fernando needs to get going and is settling in after a few games.
The other slot in this lineup is of course up for grabs. It's probably time that Mr. Stortini gets back in even though I prefer the team without him. He's had a good offensive second half though. I'd love to see Brule again, but I think it's pretty clear that's not happening.
On the back end, which I think may be our downfall eventually, we are very simply one man short. It didn't have to be Lubomir Visnovsky, but we'd be in an amazing place if it was. We needed a veteran d-man at the deadline and I don't know why management would think we didn't. Strudwick is a giant black hole back there who's even dragging down the constantly improving play of his partner Smid. Peckham's been better in his limited action and should be playing over Jason. I know he's a good soldier and the coach likes him and all that, but he's making WAY too many mistakes and cannot skate during this desperate time of the year.
I think we could be in for an interesting spring once again. After all this BS this year, I still really think that.