Ottawa should feel shame as they sat out a good part of their 4-1 loss to Vancouver in the penalty box. Vancouver, with the best power play in the league, made Ottawa pay for their many mistakes, and this time, they were not little. Ottawa tried to play a Byfuglien style game against the whole Vancouver squad, trying to get physical and under their skin, and only wound up tripping on themselves in the process.
It’s not a style that suits Ottawa at all. Their best games aren’t highly physical and they shouldn’t try to be. All the pestering did was get them in trouble and escalate the tone of the game to the point where you started to wonder if the Canucks were the Leafs in disguise, so great was the hate. And when exactly did Ottawa start hating the Canucks? The media says it dates back to the Winchester incident the last time these two teams met, but that’s a pretty poor excuse for the game that they played.
Foligno tried to inject energy into his game by playing physical, but he came off like a goon. His hits weren’t illegal, but they were borderline on players in vulnerable positions and it came as no big shock when he took the 10 minute game misconduct in the second period. By then, he had smacked down two borderline hits and the refs were obviously trying to make a statement with that call. It was not a problematic one considering the salty tone of this game.
The positives for Vancouver were numerous, despite not playing a flawless game themselves. Luongo was solid, although not heavily challenged, Kesler had a great night, Vancouver’s defense was rock steady and their penalty kill was well executed. Vancouver played Ottawa tight and didn’t give them time or space to set up. They even managed to douse some cold water over the red hot league leader Milan Michalek, who didn’t even get a shot on goal all night.
Ottawa unraveled pretty quickly after the first goal of the game seconds into a power play and never fully recovered. Even when the score was 3-1 with a whole 20 minutes to play, it felt like the gap was much wider. Ottawa was left scrambling in their own zone and their forwards didn’t fare much better, missing each other on stretch passes and having very little puck control.
There were some line up mix ups with the addition of Peter Regin back after 22 games missed due to injury and Matt Carkner, which meant a night off for Konopka and Gonchar. MacLean kept mixing up the lines during the game, looking for some of that elusive chemistry, but he should have stuck to an old formula. Spezza, Michalek and Greening have been the points line for this team; putting them back together and pairing them against the Sedins and Burrows would have been a natural choice. Alfredsson can provide a steady hand to Regin as he centers the second line and putting Foligno back on the wing would have been a natural choice as well against Kesler. Power on power match ups work.
Ottawa should stick to what works for them and a highly physical game with lots of trash talk is simply not it. A clean, fast-paced game with some good ice time for their younger and hungrier lines would have been the better choice.
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.