The Ottawa Senators were mauled by the Boston Bruins last night in an embarrassing 4-0 loss, made all the more embarrassing by the fact that Boston is not exactly known around the league as an offensive juggernaut. Tim Thomas, sporting a pretty nifty looking 0.5 GAA, was expected to be the big stumbling block for the team, so no surprise with him getting the shutout. The 4 goals, however, that was surprising.
Boston doesn’t have to do much to win; they have a pretty solid game strategy which stems from solid defense and stellar goaltending. With the league’s most envy-inducing goalie tandem of Tim Thomas or Tukka Rask, Boston’s strategy is all about clogging the neutral zone and netting in the odd goal for low-scoring victories. It’s frustrating as hell for the opposition and for the fans, it’s boring to watch.
And this game stuck to formula for the most part. I should have read a book instead. It was hoped that Ottawa would take its momentum coming off two wins against Phoenix and Florida and play another solid game against Boston. It was also hoped that the return of Jason Spezza to the lineup would help liven up our offense. Neither one of those things happened.
Ottawa fell back on its old mistakes; turnovers, lack of communication on the lines like that horrible defensive error by Phillips and Fisher in the first which resulted in Krejci’s quick turnaround goal on a stunned Elliott. It was a good night for Krejci with a goal and some assists. He seemed to be in the right place at the right time.
The Senators were not so lucky. The second period no goal was the real game changer. Alfie netted a great goal, only to have it waved off by the officials who ruled that Fisher was in the blue paint and called interference on him. True, he was in the blue paint. But the refs didn’t stop to consider how he got there or why he couldn’t get out, despite the fact that the answer was 6 foot 7 directly in front of them. Nevertheless, that call pretty much killed the game at a point where Ottawa could have turned it around.
Instead, they fell apart. Completely. And Boston capitalized on every little error. The defense was laughable. Boston’s goals came off defensive errors resulting in turnovers and from defensemen simply losing their man. A strong man on man defense is part of what Ottawa had to work on in order to start winning games and played a central part in their victories. The game was sloppy and the play by the forwards was more or less uninspired.
The only inspired moment of the night came from Chris Neil’s fight with Seidenberg, which was hardly a fair fight considering that Seidenberg is not a real fighter and it showed. It’s sad when the team’s only worthy highlight of the night is a disallowed goal and a bad fight. But that’s the way it played out.
The bright spot on the night was Brian Elliott. Although his play couldn’t rival the record that Tim Thomas brought into the night, Brian Elliott has been solid for the Senators in Leclaire”s absence and he was not the reason that Ottawa lost last night. He came up with some very big saves for the team that kept them in the game right up until the momentum shifted in the second period with the bad call goal. The reason that Ottawa had a chance right up until then to still take the game was precisely because of Elliott’s big saves early on in the game to keep them in it. It’s too bad that they couldn’t capitalize for him.
Milan Michalek didn’t play last night due to a knee injury. The injury bug keeps spreading in Ottawa’s locker room, but don’t be fooled. It’s not injuries that are keeping this team down. It’s their lack of communication and poor overall play, particularly on the defense. The defensive pairings need to be cleaned up and more work needs to be done on man on man defense rather than zone protection.
And there needs to be an adaptable game strategy depending on the opponent- the coaches need to figure out which teams respond well to a man-on-man as versus a zone-protection style defensive strategy. The Bruins don’t have power forwards like other elite teams in the league; as such, they play as a team and move as a team on the ice. The divide and conquer strategy works better on them, so don’t bother protecting the zone; cover the man.
And this is something that applies to the entire season.
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.