It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. And the Montreal Canadiens finished the Ottawa Senators last night in the third period, burying 3 goals for a 4-1 win. On the plus side, it was a close game in the first two periods and Ottawa put in a great dramatic goal in the dying seconds of the first period that was just a beauty from Karlsson, Spezza and Foligno. On the minus side, well, there were more than enough of those.
Minus: penalties. The bane of Ottawa’s existence of late, penalties have proven to be a collossal waste of time for the Senators. While the actual penalty kill looks good and very few powerplay goals go in, it’s the time wasted when the team could be working on much needed offense. Not to mention the momentum that’s lost every time someone takes a bad, silly or plain selfish penalty. A 5 minute boarding major for Kelly in the second and a double minor for Fisher on a high stick, and the Senators racked up 11 minutes of penalty time in one game, not counting the 4-on-4 after some rough stuff. The team should all feel shame.
Minus: Leclaire. It’s clear that Ottawa doesn’t feel confident in front of Leclaire. It’s not because he’s not a good goaltender, it’s not because he brings smelly things into the locker room and nobody likes him. It’s because he’s accident prone and unreliable. He’s a jinx. Yes, that’s right, I used the ‘j’ word, the big no-no in sports. Nobody feels lucky with him in net. As a result, they don’t score for him. It’s a psychological problem. It doesn’t feel right. They average 1.3 goals with him in net. The stats speak for themselves. Get Elliott back in. He helps the team rally, so get him back. It doesn’t matter what makes the team want to play, whether it’s beard power or video games or extra cheese on pizza. It’s not the why that’s important, it’s the what. Elliott works. Point.
Minus: Ottawa’s forecheck, or the lack thereof. There is not enough support on this team. Ottawa needs to get its feet moving fast and they need to anticipate. It’s becoming more and more clear that Ottawa does not have a good sense of who their opponents are or what they like to do. They should study them more closely, figure out where they like to shoot from, what formations they use, what their lines look like and their weak spots, which they seem entirely incapable of exploiting.
Minus: Communication. You know that game where they make you talk someone through a situation, or when you describe a picture to someone and they have to draw it? It’s a cheesy team building or couples therapy exercise that works. All of Ottawa’s lines should do it. Whatever they need to do, they have to figure out what’s not clicking. Nobody seems to know where anyone else should be at a given time. Nobody seems to be sharing their game plan. Someone needs to start talking to someone, though, because the games are slipping away.
There is no point in going through a game review for the Senators last night, because it was all Montreal. They played a swift, smart game and they capitalized on Ottawa’s numerous errors. Carey Price didn’t have to show off on the night and he was all smiles at the end. PK Subban may be missed by fans, but it appears that he’s being saved for when he’s needed – like when a real opponent rolls into town.
Ottawa’s going to look very different next year, and many are looking forward to that prospect. Clouston’s contract is up, Murray’s contract is up, Leclaire will be a free agent and many are praying that Lehner will be ready sooner rather than later to be called up. But those are the things of the future – work needs to be done now.
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.