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An Offensive Blowout

Posted By Mika Oehling On Dec 18 2010 @ 12:25 pm In Ottawa Senators | 12 Comments

The Ottawa Senators and the Colorado Avalanche threw everything but the kitchen sink into last night’s 6-5 game with Colorado finishing on top. It was a fun game to watch, as the two teams traded leads and created chance after chance on the night, but in the end, it was a bittersweet defeat.

The night started off with a surprise goalie switch, as Leclaire started off the warm up practice, but then left with what was called a lower body injury. Elliott was then called upon to start the game, and he didn’t look comfortable at all. The first period was a shaky one for the usually solid goaltender, but his form improved during the course of the night. With Craig Anderson playing to potential, it was important for Elliott to step up as well, but in the end, this was not a game of goaltending, but a game of goals.

Karlsson, Michalek, Carkner, Alfredsson and Spezza all put points on the board with some good assists from Neil, Kelly, Shannon, Foligno and Kovalev. For the Avalanche, it was Duchene, Galiardi, McLeod, Yip and O’Reilly who did the damage on the night with assists from Porter, Dupuis, Winnik, O’Byrne, Liles and Shattenkirk. It was a team effort all around and offense was top of mind for both.

Unfortunately, undisciplined and sloppy play from both teams resulted in needless penalties and two 5 on 3 chances. This no doubt frustrated both coaches, but on the plus side, the Senators have improved on their power play effectiveness. They’re learning to take advantage of the man advantage and not have the frustrating pass too many that wastes away such opportunities when they arise.

One of the things that made this game so interesting to watch was the way these teams seem so evenly matched. Ottawa and Colorado have a lot in common: they’re both capable of good speed, they don’t play overly physical games, they’re both prone to penalties and they’re both streak teams. Colorado hit a 5 game winning streak with the game against Ottawa last night, but that was after a 4 game losing streak. Ottawa is also prone to winning and losing streaks alike, although this has been their most up and down season start in years.

Ottawa and Colorado played basically the same game, trading leads and letting the offense be the focus. The game was fast and competitive through and through, with some sneak chances that came off a good old fashioned shoot and drive philosophy. Players didn’t give up and made chances off what looked like harmless routine plays. It was a fun game. The difference maker? Colorado is used to playing marathon games and has won many of their overtime matchups. Ottawa hasn’t had that kind of record and overtime has not been kind to them this season.

It wasn’t surprising, although it was heartbreaking, to see Ottawa do what it’s already done in past overtime forays and choke off a risky move. The first few minutes, as always, are tight. And then, there’s always someone on the team who makes a mistake or loses the drop pass or is playing too far out to come back to defend the line, and the opponent capitalizes. That’s been the overtime story for Ottawa this season and it’s not a pretty one.

It’s clear that the message that Cory is putting out there is not getting through to the team, which is to play responsibly in overtime. The team is clearly trying to make things happen in that overtime frame, but they’re trying too hard and opposition teams know just to wait it out. The team has gotten the shoot and drive message; now they need to learn how to make the plays come to them and not force them when they’re in the clutch. It’s a learning process this season, but at least, it seems to be working.

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