Goose Call (Up)
Alright class, can anyone tell me what the difference was in the 4th line last night?….Anyone?….Anyone….. Someone… C-O-L Sisson(omics)…. Colton Sissonomics. Sissons, fresh off his Milwaukee call-up, made an immediate impact, giving the bottom line a shot in the arm with A+ effort. Although an incredibly small sample size, he also won all 4 face-offs he took, which was the biggest concern when Gaustad was ruled out.
Look, I’m not here to bash Gaustad. On the other hand, many others have been calling for his head for a while now because of his contract. It’s not exactly the friendliest of deals (which expires after the season), but the guy serves his purpose more often than not. Besides, if anybody else on the team could actually win some face-offs, maybe he wouldn’t be out there for EVERY defensive zone draw. The good news was that the Preds somehow found a way to win 56% of the face-offs even without their leader in that category. The bad news is that they gave up 5 goals without him in the lineup, but that likely would’ve happened anyway.
The 4th line, or “AHL line” as @DanDBradley affectionately called them, played as well as any NHL line could have. It was as if Watson and Bourque realized they could play to their strengths in the offensive zone instead of worrying about covering up for the plodding Gaustad in transition. They were physical, punishing the large blue-liners of Ottawa (Karlsson not withstanding) and created a multitude of scoring chances. Even though the 4th unit only played about 8 ½ minutes, they managed to tally 6 points and combined to be a +12 between them. So contrary to popular belief, it IS actually possible to contribute offensively and still be defensively responsible. You simply can’t ask for better results from that group, and to be honest, isn’t that kind of energy you want from your 4th liners?
Did I mention Erik Karlsson, the defending Norris Trophy winner? That’s the crucial word… DEFEND. It’s a good thing the Senators have a day off and are returning home to get a new jock after Karlsson lost his on that Roman Josi goal. I swear Josi went up to him after the goal and whispered “Norris who?” on his way to the bench. I’m personally keeping that highlight saved for when the NHL decides to vote Karlsson in as a Norris finalist again. In fact, I might just keep the whole game. I’ve never in my life seen a lazier defenseman. Of course the Josi play was phenomenal, but Josi is an elite, top-5 dman so maybe Karlsson gets a pass on that. But what’s his excuse when he was incapable of marking Bourque on the 7th goal? Or when he was guarding nobody in particular when Sissons skated in one-on-one against him. Karlsson made NO attempt to get near the rookie who skated to within 15 ft before clanging one off the post. That’s supposed to be the best defenseman in the League? Anyways…I digress…..
I’m not one for game recaps, but I’ll hit on a few points:
1: Although Rinne never really looked comfortable in net, you can hardly blame him for the goals given up. Two on the pk (which is becoming far too commonplace lately), a breakaway, a 4 on 2 rush and one that bounced in off a body after he made the initial save. I’ll say this… if that was Hutton in net, PredNation would’ve crucified him.
2: Congratulations to Shea Weber on his 150th career goal and 400th career point. He became only the 2nd defenseman EVER to tally those numbers in less than 700 games played. The other….. Bobby Orr. Norris?… Anyone?…Anyone?
3: If the second line stays put, look for Wilson and Smith (former centers) to take virtually all the face-offs from now on as Ribeiro was awful yet again.
It was just one game for Sissons, but that was a man who made a statement to stay with the big club. It will be interesting to see how Coach Laviolette juggles the lines once Nystrom is off IR and Gaustad is healthy enough to return. Take your time goose, Sissonomics is a winning formula.