The Watch of Shame: Game 10

Hello, and welcome back to The Ottawa Senators. Since we last spoke on these hallowed pages, the Sens have lost a terrible afternoon game to the Florida Panthers (This is normal), and also lost to Tampa Bay in a game where they were on the PK for roughly 15 minutes, but still managed to lead twice in the third period before giving up 3 goals in the third and going home empty handed. Sens fans have reacted to these games with all the calm, rationality, and equanimity for which they are justly famed, which is to say none of those things whatsoever.

1st Period

  • Eichel goes around Brannstrom and puts a backhander on the net, and instead of clearing the loose puck, Chabot throws a hand-grenade in front of his own net which winds up on Mark Stone’s stick and it’s 1-0 for Vegas before TSN is even done showing the starting lineups. You’d get benched in house league Pee-Wee for this sort of play, but I’m assuming Chabot knows that and we don’t need to worry about seeing that sort of thing any more. Still, it’s an early mistake that the Senators can’t really afford to make as they’re trying to snap this losing streak.
  • DJ Smith has moved Tim Stützle between Giroux and DeBrincat, and this is a move I fully approve of, because Brassard with Claude the Bod and DeBrinky had been a defensive tire fire, and Pinto on the 2nd line has been almost as bad but without the offensive chemistry. Apparently we’ve only got one good centre left, might as well try it.
  • Giroux ties the game on a fielding practice grounder from the neutral zone that takes a weird hop past the Vegas goaltender “Logan Thompson”. Mike Johnson thinks Giroux might have knuckled it in like this on purpose, and who could disagree with him? Are you going to sit here and tell me Claude Giroux can’t do anything he wants? I don’t think so.
  • Ottawa’s two best chances have come from Dylan Gambrell so far, which isn’t really how I would have drawn it up before the game, but I guess you can’t always control which of your players the other team is going to give the puck away to.
  • Stützle breaks in on a 2.5-on-1.5, gets the clearest path to the net you can, and fires it off Thompson’s arm. I feel bad for Timmy here, you could tell he wants to pass it, and the Vegas d-man is just daring him to shoot it, so he does, but he’s still thinking about it a bit too much. There’s no doubt Stützle’s started the season much slower than you’d want him to, but he’s also easily *easily* the best forward on the Senators
  • Kastelic takes a holding penalty in his own zone, and 50 seconds later, Karlsson slips Sanderson at the line, feeds it to Riley Smith who beats Hamonic to the net by about two weeks and puts the puck past Forsberg. Seems like Ottawa gives up at least one goal on the PK per game, and this game is no exception. Although I just looked it up, and Ottawa’s not even in the top 10 of the league in terms of who has allowed the most goals on the PK so far. They are 8th in the league in terms of penalties taken, however, so maybe that’s a thing we could look into doing less of.
  • Other than the fact that two pretty obvious defensive gaffes have led to two goals against, Ottawa’s actually played a pretty good period so far. Going to the PP now with Chabot, Stützle, DeBrincat, Tkachuk, and Batherson after Vegas takes a too-many-men penalty.
  • The best chance of the PP comes when Brannstrom, Sanderson, and Brassard combine to send a puck off Pinto’s skate and directly into the goalpost.
  • Ottawa’s rush defense has looked pretty shaky at times, here. Vegas has had several good looking chances after finding passes through Ottawa sticks.
  • Sanderson has the puck jump over his stick at the Ottawa blue-line, then he loses a 50-50 battle to Eichel, then Vegas plays tic-tac-toe to make it 3-1 with 32 seconds left in the 1st. I understand the human impulse to ascribe causation and meaning to everything that happens in a hockey game, because it can’t all be randomness and nihilism, but sorry, I think the Sens got done in by randomness and nihilism this period. Three incredibly obvious mistakes from Chabot and Sanderson twice are the only reason Vegas has scored 3 goals here. That said: I still hate it!

2nd Period

  • Kastelic heads down to the dressing room and Batherson takes a weak high-sticking penalty to start the 2nd period. On the ensuing PK, Tyler Motte breaks up a cross-seam pass and tips the puck perfectly past Forsberg. At first I think this means that it’s just not Ottawa’s night, but then DJ Smith challenges the call at the line and is rewarded by having the goal overturned.
  • After killing off the rest of the penalty, Tkachuk draws a high-sticking call of his own and the Sens go to the powerplay.
  • A mere 15 seconds into the powerplay, Stützle breaks his own ankles trying to dangle on the right circle, gives up the puck to a 2-on-1, and Chandler Stephenson finishes the play to make it 4-1 for Vegas. Ok, NOW i think it’s just not Ottawa’s night.
  • Let’s check in on Thomas Chabot:
Well, that’s just not what you want, both in terms of defense and also image quality.
  • Having gone down 4-1, I have to say that I’m impressed by the way Ottawa hasn’t completely thrown in the towel yet. They’re still looking feisty out there, like they secretly believe they might still win this.
  • Literally as I was typing this, DeBrincat fanned on the puck in front of his own net, giving it away to Carrier, who goes five-hole on Forsberg. Jesus Christ, it’s like one step forward, two steps back with these guys.
  • Forsberg gets pulled, which means the first action Cam Talbot is going to see as an Ottawa Senator is in relief for a guy who has given up 5 goals on 19 shots in 30 minutes. At least the circumstances should help take the pressure off. It’s not exactly a home opener against Toronto in terms of early season stakes.
  • The Sens go back to the powerplay, and Stützle’s back out there, which is nice to see. Although at this point if we were benching folks for making mistakes with the puck at inopportune times, you’d have to bench half the team.
  • Ottawa’s second PP unit has Brannstrom and Sanderson on it now, along with Tkachuk, Pinto, and Giroux. It remains nice that Ottawa has two PP units which are, on paper, equally good. As the penalty expires, Sanderson finds Giroux with a cross-ice pass, and Claude the Bod scores his second of the game. Giroux looked like a young Mike Hoffman in his prime on that shot, except that he plays defense and is, I assume, also a good person.
  • DeBrincat gets a great chance off a bank pass from Sanderson which comes off the end-boards and goes right to DeBrincat, but DeBrincat can’t find the back of the net, a common theme for him this season.
  • Tkachuk gets sprung on a 2-on-1, and he doesn’t hesitate to shoot it through Thompson. As the puck is rolling towards the net, Stützle appears on the doorstep to send the puck the remaining 3 inches into the net. Stützle is fired up, and you can tell it’s a a big weight off him to finally put den Keks in den Korb.
  • The period ends with Ottawa down 5-3, but once again, I can’t help but be encouraged by the fact that the Sens are still playing with a lot of energy and self-belief.

3rd Period

  • Gord Miller opens the 3rd period by saying that despite the score, Ottawa has actually looked good for long stretches in this game, which is something I agree with.
  • Hey check it out, it’s stats from my 2nd favourite hockey website for my second favourite forward!
This is what it looks like when Stützle has a “disappointing” run of games, btw.
  • As if on cue, Stützle makes a steal, plays a give-and-go with Tkachuk and scores a big goal to cut the Vegas lead to 1. Lotta game left in this one too…
  • Look I’m not going to pretend like I don’t check my phone first thing in the morning to see what the score in the Sens game was, but the feeling that the Sens had an opportunity to “It was 5-1” the Golden Knights here is still palpable. Even the crowd is back alive!
  • Ottawa generates some good looking chances, but their momentum is brought to an end by Tkachuk taking a penalty. I’m not ready to panic about Ottawa yet, despite this lengthy losing streak they find themselves on, but one thing they can absolutely to do help themselves is take fewer penalties.
  • Hey Nikita Zaitsev is in this game. You can tell he’s had a pretty good game so far, because I hadn’t noticed him at all until he closed his hand on the puck on the penalty kill. I kind of admire the stones required to just slide the puck to the goalie with your hand in full view of like 12 people including the ref, but also, come the fuck on dude.
  • Cam Talbot announces himself to Ottawa by making several stellar saves on the PK. The Ottawa crowd roars its approval, and once Tkachuk and Zaitsev come out of the box, Stützle goes for his hat-trick goal following a Vegas turnover in the neutral zone, but just whistles the puck high.
  • Stützle is approaching the Spezza Zone where the talent level is so obvious that anything other than a 6 point night makes it seem like he could be doing more. He just scored 2 goals in less than 5 minutes of game time and it’s like, “hmm, where’s the tying goal though?”
  • The Sens continue to come on strong as the game winds down, forcing Thompson to make several big saves. In an unprecedented display of personal growth the Sens even manage not to give up a goal with the net empty, but 5-4 is how this one ends. Also NHL dot tv ended my game replay with 11 seconds left in the game, so I’m just going to have to assume that nothing interesting happened at the buzzer.

The Wisdom

It would have been extremely easy for the Sens to go quietly into the night after going down 5-1 in the 2nd on the back of some horrendous mistakes with the puck, but to their credit, they kept coming and almost salvaged at least a point. Sure they don’t show you moral victories in the standings, but I think it’s an argument in favour of DJ Smith that he can keep the team playing hard even in the middle of daunting circumstances.

Here It Is, Your Moment of Salieri

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