Ottawa Senators

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Think Outside the Box

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.

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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.

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In response to “Think Outside the Box”

  1. Bullets Nov 30 201011:20 am


    I don’t agree with all the “they took them lightly” talk (not just you saying it, but lots of people), the sens player’s know they can’t take anything lightly, and what the hell does that even mean really, I don’t buy that for a second, it’s dumb, period. Nobody’s taking anything lightly, they just couldn’t capitalize on their chances, Fisher misses a wide open net as per his usual close but not quite there offence, and Alfie blows it on a short handed break away, I thought he was going shelf with that one but I think he just thought too much about it on the way in and come up lame, this team is bad, no other way to put it, they have no offense, and their D sucks….you know there are issue’s when Alfie comes out and publicly disagree’s with the coach, Alfie, disagreeing with the coach, I’ve watched every single game that man has played and never can I remember Alfie doing that, I know it was subtle, but for Alfie to do that is huge, there is something more there for sure, I don’t think the player’s are buying into Clouston’s systems or philosophies anymore and you can see it on the ice…..but that sad thing is, it’s not a coaching thing, it’s a player thing, none of the young guys are doing anything at all, so disapointing, Folingo’s been a big let down so far and Regin’s not for behind, Michalek’s not up to par, it’s sad right now, people want to talk about compete level, how are you suppose to compete when you don’t have the player’s to do it with…..Regin goes to arbitration remember, because he thought he was worth more, what the hell is this guy worth now, jack…..I know there is still a lot of hockey to be played and nothing is over, and if they happen to win last night we all go on like everythings fine, but to lose the way they did, is not only embarrassing, but pathetic….I can see it now, Heatley just lights them up, and I hope he does (don’t get me wrong, I hope he get’s clocked) but then we’ll see some heads roll, mark my words…..I’m already way more excited about next year when they dump all these contracts and they have some potential to make some things happen….

    1. Mika Oehling Nov 30 20101:22 pm


      I would say that with Ottawa’s few wins and even their loss to Pittsburgh recently, that Ottawa has managed to win based on aggressive play. When they come out fists flying, they have the best chances at winning and this is what I mean by taking things seriously. Taking things lightly, though, is something that happens all of the time and the Sens are not the only victims of this. When they take things lightly, they take penalities and lose leads. They stop fighting in the neutral zone and they lose puck possession constantly.

      It’s not that this team doesn’t have talent- I will say it once and say it again, this team lacks team. It lacks heart, communication and compete, not raw individual talent. We’ve seen that talent come through on a few good games, so it’s there. It’s just not there every night and it’s having a hard time getting going when it does.

      And if it’s true that the team doesn’t buy into Clouston’s philosophy anymore, then I think that’s a real shame because as far as coaches go, he’s shown himself to be a pretty stand up guy so far and I don’t want to see him go by the way of Hartsburg. Don’t forget, Heatley’s big beef with Clouston was based on an attitude of entitlement- and the last thing we want is divas in the locker room.

  2. Marvin Nov 30 201012:11 pm


    Whatever box you are talking about is empty. I said this at the beginning of the year and I’ll say it again. It’s time for a rebuild of the top six. Alfy as much as he is loved is past his prime and should be a third liner on a good team. Spezza needs to be playing with a gunner… and no one else is a consistent scorer.

    Kovalev eats everyone’s heart out with his lackadasical play followed by a great game every once in a while.

    The Defence will work out in a coouple of years with the prospects coming up, but the forwards won’t. The goaltending is adequate and we need great to go along with the Pop Gun offence.

    The Sens are painful to watch and look like they are committed to sticking with these players no matter what.

    We’ll see how bad it will get before that changes.

    1. Mika Oehling Nov 30 20101:29 pm


      This team is rebuilding and it can often be a slow and painful process. I agree with you on some points, though: Kovalev was not someone I was excited to see Ottawa sign because I know that he only performs when he feels like it and maybe Alfie should be moved to a third line. The inconsistent scoring is definitely a sore point and more players will have to step it up.

      Creating offense for this team should be a number one priority and if I was Clouston, I’d tell the boys to get ready to grind. Play hungry, get dirty, ugly it up and come out fists flying every night.

    2. Jason Wagensveld Nov 30 201010:24 pm


      I understand that Alfie is past his prime but he is far from being a third liner on any team. The man never takes a night off and is often playing through injuries. He still leads the team in scoring and leadership and it’s tough to do either playing 7-10 minutes a game.

      1. Mika Oehling Dec 1 20101:19 pm


        I don’t think that one night on the third line would be such a bad thing, considering that he is a bit older. I do believe that Alfie’s got a lot going for him, but he can’t be expected to carry the team by himself. They have to start expecting less out of him and more out of themselves.

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