It’s quickly becoming the story of the season for the Ottawa Senators. They’ve shaken off the cobwebs enough to rally back with a lot of spirit in their games, but they’ve had no finishing ability. A lot of these games are being lost by a slim margin, often by a point. And it was the same last night against Tampa Bay with a 2-1 loss, coming on the heels of a similar loss to the Chicago Blackhawks the night before.
The best player on the ice for Ottawa last night was once again Brian Elliott, who was sharp again in net. And he had to be, because it was a highly defensive game for both teams, with each waiting for the other to make a mistake that would blow the game open. But that didn’t quite happen. Yes, mistakes were made on the night- many of them- in the forms of dumb penalties and roughing.
Downie took a charging call from a head shot to Regin in the first and Zack Smith took a boarding call in the second that was nowhere near as rough. There were also a few knocks on the night, as Dwayne Roloson took a shot in the mask and Fisher seemed to take one off the body as well in the third. A rough game with little to show for it.
At least Chris Neil has a consistent game plan, making sure that his presence is known on the ice. He’s done a lot of hard hitting lately, trying to set the tone for a nice aggressive game to keep the opposition on its toes. While you have to give him an A for effort, you can’t help feeling that Andy Sutton would have made a real impression if he were still with the team. That would give opponents something to seriously think about.
Another high point for the Senators is Erik Karlsson, who played another great game on both sides of the ice. He was good on the defense and his killer shot could have easily pulled the Senators ahead. While it is encouraging to see good puck moving defensemen like Karlsson and Gonchar, it would also be nice to see more from the actual forwards, who should be shooting more for the net. And charging it- there is no net drive for this team, no traffic being generated, and the end result is always the same. The goaltenders are just swallowing pucks and Ottawa looks weak.
For all the little mistakes that Chris Kelly has made or the near misses that he’s had in front of the net, at least he’s in the right place- in front of the net. More support and better positioning would elevate Ottawa’s game and actually make them competitive. But their lack of finish is making them forgettable, like many of their games of late.
It’s hard to get excited when watching this team, but there are a lot of things that they could be doing in order to make this change and they are the basics: charge the net, generate traffic, encourage the forwards to put more pressure on. While Ottawa has been the victim of many calls against them, very few power plays, and bad bounces, there comes a point when you have to stop being the victim and show some tenacity. Show some character and start fixing your game.
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.