They say that the NHL playoffs are a war of attrition and it’s become one between the Ottawa Senators and the New York Rangers. Every little mistake counts for ten, every little turnover becomes critical and every save is a huge save. Chances now don’t count for anything, only goals do. The New York Rangers bested Ottawa 3-2 in an edge-of-your-seat, scream-your-lungs-out-in-frustration hair puller and forced a very unwanted game 7 in New York this Thursday.
Ottawa got off to a good start in this game, controlling the play for a good part of two periods before penalties piled on the pressure and deflated the team as a whole. Ottawa was forced to play from behind as a 5 on 3 resulted in 2 big goals for the Rangers. This situation was exacerbated in the third period when the refs failed to call a delay of game on Marc Staal which would have given Ottawa their own 5 on 3 opportunity.
Reffing was a factor in this game, with a missed opportunity for Ottawa and a reputation call on Foligno for goaltender interference. Replays clearly showed that Foligno was being pushed into Lundqvist, even if he was charging the net. It was a questionable call by the refs, made based on a season’s worth of Foligno’s hard times in front of the net. Adding insult to injury, he even got a late glove in the face while he was down, something which looked pretty unsportsmanlike to the 20,000 fans in attendance.
The return of the Captain was great for morale, but not so great for the Captain himself. Alfie had three golden opportunities on Lundqvist which he couldn’t capitalize on, and those goals would have been the major difference in this close game. Ottawa deserved a better fate in this game, but mistakes, bad calls and a heartwrenching shot off the goalpost that would’ve tied the game in the third, killed the hope of closing out this series.
This series has been back and forth for both teams. Each team is waiting the other one out, allowing the other to make mistakes and trying to get into each other’s head space. The series is chippy, physical and the goals are ugly. Players are stockpiling in the blue paint like it’s a highrise condo development and space is at a premium.
Maclean has said that his team doesn’t need to change anything in particular for it to win games, it just has to be ‘that much better’. He’s absolutely right, as Ottawa has done everything it possibly can to best New York. The challenge moving ahead to the final showdown is to stay focused, disciplined and keep doing what they do best against New York. Their power play improved 100% in this game; they’ve found ways to make space for themselves and keep New York on their heels with the man advantage. They’ve shown that they can dictate the pace of the game. They just need to keep at it.
Unfortunately, they’ve put themselves in a do-or-die situation and have lost the advantage of sealing the deal at home with a one game advantage. Not only will they be in hostile territory in Madison Square Garden where a rabid New York fanbase will rag on them all night long, they will have lost the powerful positive energy they had going into this game. There’s no time to recover in a battle of attrition like this one; the next game will be the last.
Ottawa became Canada’s team when the Vancouver Canucks were eliminated by the LA Kings on Sunday night. Taking a lesson from the Vancouver loss, a playoff win really comes down to who wants it more. There’s no time for perfect setups, puck watching or playing soft and not laying down the body. Who wants it more Ottawa? If you’re going to win, it’s got to be you.
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.