The Ottawa Senators put in a mighty effort last night against the Atlanta Thrashers, crawling back from a 3 goal deficit to tie it up late in the third, only to have a split second turnover result in the winning goal for Atlanta in overtime. It was a heartbreaking loss in what was Ottawa’s best game in a long time. They competed hard against the red hot Thrashers team who have been on a streak with Pavelec playing his best hockey to date, second only in the league to Tim Thomas. They didn’t give up even when they were down and played a real character game. This makes the loss all the more devastating.
Ottawa is putting in a lot of effort for very little reward. It’s frustrating as hell to watch, which means that it has to be twice as hard for the team itself. Cory Clouston put on a brave face, saying that overall, he was pleased with the way his team competed. While they do get an A for effort and a point, the reward seems pretty slim. Of course, everyone will talk about carrying over the momentum and lessons learned, but the bottom line is that this loss sucked and Ottawa deserved to win.
The hockey gods have it in for Ottawa right now. This isn’t a conspiracy theory. When you have a goaltender who gets injured twice in the same season while not even on the ice and then you have games with 30 plus shots, most of which bounce off the post and out somehow or you manage to accumulate 20 minutes of penalty time in one game for some undisclosed incident, mostly involving the same player, well, you have to wonder about the hockey gods.
If you’re a Senator, there’s pretty much one thing on your Christmas wish list this year: a little bit of good luck.
Seasonal miracles aside, let’s go over the plus/minus for this game:
Plus: No box time. Ottawa should be proud for not taking a single penalty on the night. The most heavily penalized team in the NHL did get one break, as they played a smooth, disciplined and often uninterrupted game.
Plus: Spezza came out swinging on the night and had some great chances, including a beautiful, simple penalty shot going man to man with Pavelec and beating him clean. Lots of good chances for Ottawa came courtesy of Spezza, and he tried hard.
Plus: Alfredsson. He still looks sharp and his sneaky goal in the second period helped light up the team for a comeback in the third. That was a definite momentum shift and you can still count on Alfie, the Captain of Captains, to come through when things get tough.
Minus: Ottawa’s two-way game. While the Senators did a lot to keep puck possession, and kept their feet going to create some good scoring chances, they had a really hard time switching gears when they lost it. Atlanta played a really solid game and they capitalized on their chances. Ottawa’s defense was not so much sloppy as confused. They sometimes overcommitted or undercommitted at the line, unsure of whether or not they should pull back or join the rush.
While it’s nice to see an offensive minded defense, there are times when the defense has to trust the forwards to do their job and get primary scoring chances. Ottawa clearly wanted the win and made a mad dash in overtime with Spezza leading the charge- unfortunately, Spezza’s turnover gave Atlanta the chance to win it and Ottawa’s defense was too far to turn back and protect. That left Elliott helpless in his end and the last goal of the game was a shorthanded one from the very big man Little.
Proving that a rose by any other name philosophy is true, Little has overcome his own name to become a big factor in Atlanta’s winning streak lately with some great goals. The favour of the hockey gods also seems to be upon him, as his freak face off win goal against the New York Islanders completely stunned everyone on the ice, even DiPietro, whose confused profile showed up on every sports show that night.
If only such freak luck would hit Ottawa.
The Senators played a great game. It’s about time for the numbers to show it.
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.