There was a second homecoming in the Ottawa Senators- San Jose game, and it wasn’t just for the notorious Dany Heatley; it was for former Ottawa 67s player Logan Couture, who had 2 goals on the night, making him the leading goalscorer among rookies this season and lifting the Sharks to a 4-0 win. A shut out win for Anti Niemi and a bad night for Ottawa.
Sports critics have described Ottawa as the spurned lover, abandoned by Heatley for greener pastures elsewhere, which would technically make San Jose the hot girlfriend. But all the cheers, jeers and beers can’t make this one better, as Heatley once again frustrated Ottawa with some good chances and drawing 2 important power plays, both resulting in goals. San Jose brought it against the Sens, playing a structured, aggressive game which rendered Ottawa completely ineffective in the neutral zone.
The San Jose Sharks embrace an airtight man-on-man defense which cuts rushes dead at the blue line. The Sharks gave the Senators forwards no room to breathe and as a result, they floundered all over in their zone. It was hard to watch, particularly in the weak third period where the team deflated like a balloon. There was still some hope in the first and second, with a lone goal in the first and another lone goal in the second. The game was still within reach, and Ottawa played like it was. They were fairly aggressive, but they just couldn’t capitalize.
And then in the third, they just stopped. They got tired, the defense got lazy and absent-minded and in some cases, disappeared completely. There were two strong points on the night: Leclaire proved that he has NHL level skill and more when he stopped several shots on the night, including dangerous looking breakaways. He made 33 saves on the night, even when faced with some pretty hard hitters. He was easily the best Senator on the night.
The second strong point on the night? Those guys who threw their old Heatley jerseys on the ice in the third period. They took a valuable and rare opportunity to express themselves publicly, and while it wasn’t exactly classy, it was honest. It was also one of the only moments of the game that made me want to cheer. And that’s really sad.
There’s really not much to say about the Senators right now or about the game that they played. The thing that is the most painfully obvious about the team is that they’ve let themselves sink into a loser mentality. Maybe some of them already are thinking ahead to Christmas and are too busy with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads to get their feet moving. But they have to be the ones to dig themselves out of this.
They are just like that friend who has recently been broken up with and has decided that they would like to give up completely on romance. You feel sorry for them, you want to help them and give them little pep talks, you defend them and tell them that they’re still hot. But nothing you say makes a lick of difference until they start believing in themselves again and then you get tired of the whole thing. All you can do is just be there when they snap out of it.
We’ll be there, Senators. And we’ll be happy to see you when it happens.
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.