We knew there would be nights like this in a season of rebuild. There has been good and bad so far in this young Ottawa Senators season, but this one against the Colorado Avalanche was pure UGLY. And I don’t mean the new jerseys, which are pretty sharp although from a distance some of the numbers are difficult to distinguish.
It didn’t start out that way, as for the first time this season Ottawa took a lead in a hockey game. Milan Michalek‘s tip in of Erik Karlsson‘s point shot on the power play 4:05 into the game sent the home crowd into a frenzy on the day that the club donned the brand new heritage jerseys for the first time. However, it only went downhill from there, as Matt Duchene‘s dogged forechecking of Brian Lee resulted in a holding the stick penalty. Milan Hejduk evened the score on the power play, from Erik Johnson and Paul Stastny. Just over a minute later, rookie Gabriel Landeskog gave the Avalanche the lead for good with his second goal of the season. The period was dominated by the visitors, and the shot count demonstrated the one-sided play with Colorado outshooting the Senators 18-4 and leading 2-1.
The second period wasn’t much better, as Colorado still controlled the play and used a late period goal by Joakim Lindstrom gave the Avs a two goal cushion. Again, the Senators didn’t muster much in the offensive zone, again managing only 4 shots on goal, for a meager total of 8 through 40 minutes. Frustration was high in the stands as the Senators had a hard time even putting simple passes together, and the icing on the very bitter cake was that the period ended with Ottawa taking a too many men on the ice penalty, an item that was supposed to be gone the way of Cory Clouston.
The third period, where Ottawa has actually excelled in the three prior games, gave fans some hope of another comeback. At least that was until the puck dropped. The Avs wasted no time in dousing that small flicker of hope, as Duchene, followed not too long after by Daniel Winnick turned a relatively close game into a rout before the 5 minute mark. Tack on power play goals from David Jones and then Lindstrom and you have a 7-1 final. Shots on goal ended up being 39-16 in favor of the Avalanche.
Here are the “highlights” courtesy NHL.com
WHAT I SAW
The game was by no means pretty, and I think the changes made by Coach MacLean backfired on him. It was the most disjointed performance in some time by a Senators squad, and it could be due to the inconsistencies in pairings, especially on defense. The fact that Colin Greening led all players in ice time (22:06) leaves a lot to be said.
Also mind-boggling to me was the reluctance to play the best two players, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, at the same time. There was only part of one shift all night, power plays included, where the top two offensive talents were on the ice together. If you think back to the comeback attempt on Saturday night in Toronto, it was fueled by the power play, and the combination of #s 11 and 19 together. Back when this team was loaded offensively, you could attempt to spread the wealth a little. However, on a goal-starved club, it might be best to put your eggs in one basket and hope for the best. Some nights it will be enough, other nights it won’t, but I think you have to hitch your wagon to your top horses in this instance.
I have never been to a game where so many people left after the 50/50 number was announced. It probably took longer to get out of the parking lot with 8 minutes left in the game than it did at the end of the game.
21 goals against in 4 games will not cut it in any league. There is plenty of blame to spread around, but Craig Anderson hasn’t been able to make the key next save, whether it be to keep the Senators close, or to keep them in the (rare) lead. He has been hung out to dry on many occasions, but his .853 save percentage isn’t what was expected from him and his new contract.
Prior to the game, Nikita Filatov was sent to Binghamton for some seasoning and probably a final wake-up call before his (if he doesn’t heed the call) eventual departure to the KHL.
It doesn’t get any easier, as Ottawa now travels to Washington to take on Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals, Saturday night at 7 pm.
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