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“FALLING ON DEAF EARS”
Posted By Avi Slack On Dec 12 2010 @ 10:49 pm In Ottawa Senators | No Comments
The Ottawa Senators once again started the week off with a huge win over the New York Rangers in a matinee game on Sunday. Ottawa only had three games this week, but was not to be taken for granted playing three games in four nights. The week would begin on Tuesday for the Senators with a road game against divisional rivals Montreal Canadiens. Ottawa would end the week with a rematch against the New York Rangers on Thursday followed by a Friday night game against the New Jersey Devils who are also in a similar situation as Ottawa. Unfortunately for Ottawa and the fans it was much of the same this week with lack of consistent offence and the inability to play a full sixty minutes. Combine that with shaky goaltending and a mid week flare up between Alex Kovalev and coach Cory Clouston, makes one wonder whether or not Clouston’s messages are falling on deaf ears. Have the Senators quit on their coach and packed it in for the season? It sure looks like it!
Ottawa made a visit to the Bell Centre on Tuesday night for a big NorthEast divisional game against the Montreal Canadiens. Ottawa failed to steal a precious two points from the Canadiens losing by a score of 4-1. Montreal opened up the scoring on a powerplay goal from Michael Cammalleri. Ottawa answered near the end of the first period on a goal from Nick Foligno who has been playing much better of late. Ottawa took two penalties in the second period and managed to kill both in a scoreless second period. The Senators came out for the third and once again had another melt down allowing three goals and once again failed to play a full sixty minutes hockey. Montreal’s Jeff Halpern scored early in the third to give his team the lead. Brian Gionta put it out of reach at 3-1 and Roman Hamrlik iced the win for Montreal with a late goal. Once again lack of goal scoring from their top six forwards and suspect defense let Ottawa down yet again.
Thursday’s game was a rematch against Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers who sport one the best road records in the league at 10-4-0. Ottawa came out skating well and looked like they had their game in check…until the third period as usual. Alex Kovalev was demoted to the fourth line, while Bobby Butler remained with the team. Ottawa opened the scoring on an early powerplay goal from Mike Fisher. Ottawa’s lead was short lived when New York’s Derek Stepan beat Brian Elliot just a couple minutes after Fishers goal. Both teams would once again exchange goals before Fisher scored his ninth of the season and second of the night to give Ottawa their third lead of the night. Once again Ottawa packed it in after 40 minutes and surrendered three more goals by the Rangers and lost the match 5-3. The only bright spot was the powerplay which went 50% (2-4) on the night. Ottawa’s defense is still shaky with bad reads at the opponents blue line and poor decisions with the puck. When will this team learn to play a complete game!
The Senators didn’t have much time to dwell on Thursday’s loss, which was probably a good thing as they had to face another world class goaltender by the name of Martin Brodeur on Friday. New Jersey came into Ottawa in worse shape than the Senators (hard to believe, I know) sitting second last in the Eastern Conference with just 18 points. Alex Kovalev broke his silence Friday morning stating that he feels he is being singled out by head coach Corey Closton for the team’s struggles. Kovalev may have a case but if you’re a top six forward making 5 million/year, it comes with the territory. After all the controversy during the day the puck finally dropped an Clouston had Kovalev on the first line after placing him on the fourth line just 24 hours ago. Ottawa had 1-0 lead after the first period on a goal from Erik Karlsson who fired a knuckle ball shot passed a screened Brodeur. Patrik Elias would score a second period powerplay goal for the Devils. Ottawa responded with two more even strength goals from Milan Michalek and Jarkko Ruutu that gave Ottawa a 3-1 lead. The Senators took another penalty in the second and gave up another powerplay goal by Dainius Zubrus. It was déjà vu for the Senators, after taking a 3-2 lead into the third period last night they once again had the same lead after two periods. Ottawa hung on for a 3-2 win, but not without the help of a disallowed goal by David Clarkson who kicked the puck into Ottawa’s net, and a hard shot from Dainius Zubrus who put it past Elliot but couldn’t beat the crossbar. Friday’s game certainly looked like two basement dwellers and was a sloppy affair at Scotiabank Place, but Ottawa will take the much needed two points. Bobby Butler was also seen leaving the arena with his gear and sticks after the game.
This past week was another stinker for Ottawa and clearly something is not correct in their dressing room. Now that Kovalev has clearly voiced his displeasure with the coach, it’s very possible Clouston has lost more than just Kovalev. Bobby Butler’s four game stint is over, and was indeed sent back to Binghamton after Friday’s game. Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson turned 38 this past Saturday and is currently in the longest pointless streak of his career at 10 games, maybe his age is finally starting to show. Ottawa’s powerplay appeared to be improving last week going 3-9 for a respectable 33% success rate, while their penalty killing went 8-12 for a lousy 67% and are currently ranked 28th in the league.
Last week’s Grade: D Slight improvement from last week, yet so far from a C.
The week ahead…
Ottawa has another busy week ahead that will start slow and finish with another three in four for the ladder half of the week. This is a huge week that can make or break the team’s season sitting seven points out of a playoff spot. The Senators will host the Atlanta Thrashers Monday night before leaving for back to back road games (something rare of late) Thursday in Minnesota and Friday in Colorado and will close out the week at home against the Washington Capitals on Sunday.
Follow me on twitter @SlackSports and check back for my weekly Sens wrap-up piece every Sunday.
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