The Ottawa Senators have to learn to play a spirited full 60 before they can get some wins. Because 40 won’t do it. The Senators fell 5-3 to the New York Rangers in a game that they should clearly have won. The first two periods were tight with a 1-1 score after the first, and a 3-2 lead for Ottawa at the end of the second.
But the Senators blew it big time in the third when they failed to grab insurance goals and Elliott, often Ottawa’s most reliable player on the ice, let in a bad goal from Christensen which changed the course of the game. A first NHL goal from Sauer grabbed the lead and then it was lights out for Ottawa in what has to be Sergei Gonchar’s most embarassing moment as a Senator to date, as he fell on his ass in the dying seconds of the game leaving a wide open net for Dubinsky to score. I don’t know what Cory drew on his little board when he called the time out, but I’m pretty sure Gonchar falling was not part of the game plan.
The big minus on the night was Matt Carkner. A good, big player, he actually held his own against Boogard, who is easily one of the NHL’s toughest enforcers. But it’s clear that the refs hated Carkner. Maybe it’s nothing personal, but it’s hard to make that argument when Carkner grabbed 5 for fighting in the first and then was saddled with an additional 10 minutes for game misconduct after Tortorella complained to the refs. Even when Carkner came back to the game in the third period, he was flattened right in front of the refs in the corner with a hit from behind and got no call. The refs are supposedly seasoned professionals, but it was pretty obvious that there was a bias there.
The bad reffing wasn’t all about Carkner though. Dubinsky picked up a mere two minutes for roughing after flipping Karlsson directly in front of the linesman, delivering a bloody nose to boot. A nasty-looking high stick in Alfie’s face in the first resulted in a 2 minute minor. All in all, the Rangers got off pretty easy on the night with the refs and Ottawa continues its streak of being the most heavily penalized team in the NHL.
The plus is that Ottawa is at ease on the penalty kill, especially when you consider that they are often on the kill. Very few goals seem to result from these errant penalties and the man advantage has also begun to pay off for the Senators. Two power play goals on the night for Fisher and Spezza were a welcome sight on the night.
It was also a major plus to see several Senators on the board: Spezza, Fisher, Foligno, Karlsson, Campoli and Gonchar. The bench appears to be waking up, at least for the first 40 minutes. And they were a good 40 minutes. For the most part, last night’s game was a spirited outing and it remained close right up until that third period blowout. It was clearly Ottawa’s game to lose coming into the third and they delivered on that front, flubbing it up three ways: poor goaltending, lack defense and no offense.
Another minus on the night: where’s Alfie? His game is still there and he’s still valiantly trying to make plays, despite an often absent or late support system. He still looks like he’s trying to carry this team on his shoulders and it looks like the load’s getting heavy. Maybe it’s time to give him a few days off. We love the guy and we believe in him, but maybe he needs to take a step back. It happens to the best of us that we hit a roadblock and we need a few days to decompress. Maybe it’s the case for the Captain. If he’s playing injured as many people have speculated, that’s all the more reason to rest him.
Tonight’s tilt against the New Jersey Devils will be another challenge for Ottawa, as Martin Brodeur is set to make his comeback in net. Despite the soft goals on him, Elliott should get the start and have a chance to redeem himself against a great opponent. It will also be interesting to see Gonchar go head to head with the A-train- will an offensive defenseman be able to take out the shot-blocking big D-man who is rumoured to have no pain threshold? We’ll have to wait and see and then break for the weekend.
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.