On St. Patrick’s Day, the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs renewed the Battle of Ontario in Ottawa with a strange mish mash of a game; much like Irish stew, it was a bit of everything thrown in and the end result left something of a funny taste. In the case of Ottawa, that funny taste was somewhat sour as the final score was 3-1 with the Senators barely escaping a shut out bid with a late goal from Greening. With multiple penalties, fights, weird bounces and failed power play after power play, a smashed net cam, a soccer goal and a pulled jersey, it’s not a question of what this game had, but what this game didn’t have.
What this game didn’t have was a good start for the home team and no cycle game. Ottawa struggled on all of its power play opportunities because it couldn’t get a good cycle game going and it seemed impossible for them to create space. Toronto, like Montreal in last night’s power play happy tilt, played Ottawa closely in the zone, but Ottawa lacked the wherewithal to create gaps in the defense and get pucks to the net. Part of it is a lack of communication, but the simple answer is that Ottawa is simply not moving their feet. They’re playing a lackluster game style and they look tired. They’re not jumping out of the gate and they’re playing with little confidence.
In the first period, it looked like Ottawa might have a chance. Despite having a perfect record against Ottawa, Reimer looked shaky and uncomfortable in his net. Bishop, on the other hand, looked poised. All of that changed when Karlsson ringed it off Bishop’s back and into the net for an own goal in the second, a goal which can only be described as weird at best and just plain crap luck at worst. For Ottawa, it was the worst. It was a mistake and an ugly goal, which was only overshadowed by the multiple penalties called in quick succession, including Neil and Grabovski getting tossed from the game for misconducts. Grabovski lost his jersey in the bout, but he was lucky that it was all he lost, considering that this was his first ever NHL fight and it wasn’t with a wilting wallflower.
Fighting must have been in the air on this Irish celebration, much like love is in the air on Valentine’s Day. Gonchar even took to the action in the first period, taking on MacArthur, a rather unwise decision that surprised even him and gave Karlsson a good laugh. The dance card was full for bad behavior on the night, minors, majors, misconducts, schnozzles, and it wasn’t just the usual suspects either. Alfie took a frustrated hack at Komisarek in the third leading to a 5 on 3 and Foligno did himself no favours by mixing it up with a few Leafs.
This is a good game to write off for the Senators. Not just because they played badly and lost to their biggest rival in the league while playing for a playoff spot, but because this game was so weird in nature that it just wasn’t normal. It hardly qualifies as real hockey. Karlsson, who has been almost untouchable all season, has been taken down a peg with his flub of the night and while Neil’s fighting was entertaining, it didn’t end up being helpful. The only consistent player for Ottawa lately has been Colin Greening, their most valuable rookie who works hard every night and gets rewarded with Ottawa’s lone goal. Moving forward, MacLean should keep Greening on the top line and have a frank talk with the team about special teams. They really, really need 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.