There may actually be a few weeks where the Jubilee Jewellers Dare to Dream ad may not make us all cringe. Well, ok, maybe that won’t happen, but at the very least, it’s a good time to be Jason Spezza. Two goals and an assist on the night for him helped lift the Ottawa Senators to a 5-2 win over Atlanta in what was one of Ottawa’s best performances.
It was another great team win with Neil, Winchester and Gonchar all getting on the board, with some good assists from Phillips, Karlsson and Foligno. It wasn’t just the blowout score and the goals that were impressive with this team, but the solid play from all of their players.
The mistakes that have plagued this team, with bad play in the neutral zone, drop passes to nobody, bad communication on the lines and getting overly fancy with the puck, did not rear their ugly heads during this game, with the exception of Ladd’s power play goal early in the first with nobody covering the crease. But this was the only big error in the game and the team recovered well.
Ottawa put up good pressure on the night, with very few challenges to Brian Elliott, who didn’t have to be spectacular on the night. The same story could not be told for Atlanta, who pulled Chris Mason in favour of Pavelec after the first period. It was a tough night for both of Atlanta’s netminders, but they didn’t get a lot of support from their teammates. Atlanta lost possession on little errors near the blue line and were chasing down the Senators for a good part of the night. Those errors were costly and resulted in good chances for Ottawa.
Atlanta is one of those teams that has changed substantially in the offseason, replacing their coach and several members of the team, including the acquisition of Chris Mason, which proved to be very important when Pavelec unexpectedly collapsed during a game in October. Much of their roster includes last year’s Stanley Cup champions from the Chicago Blackhawks team, including Eager, Byfuglien and Sopel. Despite the changes, though, Atlanta in many ways remains the same: a middle of road team with a limited fanbase that’s missing their marquee players (formerly Heatley and team captain Kovalchuk). And like the Atlanta team of the past, they’re not hard for Ottawa to beat.
The offseasons additions have added toughness to Atlanta, but the team remains in reconstruction. Ottawa had a great night and took full advantage of Atlanta’s lacklustre performance and poor communication. The one place where Ottawa should take a page out of Atlanta’s book is with the power play. The Atlanta power play is the most successful in the league because it’s completely simple- get the puck to the line and have every forward on the ice collapse on the net. This kind of pressure tactic works well 90% of the time (the other 10% are usually flukes and off the post).
If Ottawa can keep performing well on the ice and get their power play to look more like Atlanta’s, they will roll out the wins. Let’s see what happens next when we go Swede on Swede against the Canucks on Thursday night.
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.