Nobody likes to hear it, but it’s true- you have to think outside the box. For the Ottawa Senators, that would be the penalty box, where many of them have been feeling shame lately. In Ottawa’s 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, yes, that’s right, the Oilers, Ottawa took 5 consecutive penalties, 4 of which were in the second period alone. The penalties were the nails in the coffin for Ottawa in this game, and nobody could be happier than a former Senator himself, goaltender Martin Gerber, showing his team that he’s still got it.
This was an incomprehensible game, as every period looked different and distinct from the one before. The first period looked like anyone’s game. It was fairly clean, quick and the advantage was clearly for Ottawa. Foligno got a long-awaited first goal of the season, although it was an awkward deflection off an Edmonton’s defenseman’s skate. Edmonton took 3 penalties in the first and the stats were clearly in Ottawa’s favour, as Edmonton not only sits in the bottom of the league for most things, but as Ottawa enjoys an advantage when scoring the first goal in a given game.
But the stats proved to be of no use to anyone, as Ottawa saw the game slip away from them in the second period with undisciplined play across the board. All of those penalties were just panic moves and the goals were allowed rather than hard won. Ottawa simply stopped defending, stopped moving their feet, particularly in the third. They took their one goal margin and they sat on it, clear and simple.
Hardly any team in the league would blame Ottawa for taking Edmonton lightly. But this is the NHL and no team should ever be taken lightly, not even the Leafs, as it is not only a pleasure to beat them, it’s pretty much a question of team pride. A loss against the worst team in the league has only one word to describe it: embarrassing.
Ottawa knows that it should have won this game. It had all the stats on their side, the recent win over Toronto as momentum, Edmonton’s laughable season record so far, and a known history with the starting goaltender. Elliott has proven himself as a number one goaltender and the team has confidence in him. So what went wrong?
The penalties killed any chance of Ottawa regaining any hold in this game. The penalties were the result of panic and plain irresponsible play. The panic and irresponsibility likely came from underestimating the competition. Clouston is probably tossing this point out to them even now in the locker room. He’s probably letting them know that it doesn’t matter who’s on the other side of the ice- the compete level always has to be high, every game should be taken seriously, and they should fight for leads early.
There really were no standout players for Ottawa tonight, but Elliott can hardly be blamed for half of those goals as the defense stopped moving and looked on, as if they all forget that they were still playing the game. Gerber was determined to show up his former team, just like a spurned ex girlfriend heads to the spa before bumping into an ex, just to show that she’s still hot. He did everything short of sacrificing his body to win, and while that hardly seems necessary so early on in the season, one has to admire his zeal.
One more note on the night for Ottawa to consider: while the line game change is still happening, there needs to be something done about the Aflie-Spezza-Regin line. While they look real good on paper, something is not going quite right with what should be a top line. Regin seems to always be in the right direction but the wrong position for Spezza’s lightning passes, either overskating or turning slightly away from the play, making it nearly impossible for them to link up, when they really should be a dynamic duo.
They may be getting closer to where they should be, but they’re very clearly not there yet. They’re going to have to get there, though, if they want to do anything against Spezza’s former dream linemate, the much maligned Dany Heatley, when he rolls into town with the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.
Sportsnet will be featuring a one-on-one with Heatley where Heatley will explain his behavior by saying that he needed a change and that people couldn’t accept that. Yeah, $4 million in change, Dany. We remember.
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.