SENATORS: A Week in Review – November 14-20, 2016
SENATORS: A Week in Review is a weekly column
looking back at the week in Ottawa Senators
hockey written by #OLMSports Dave Gross.
Images from NHL.com.
The timing couldn’t be better for – well – bad timing.
Let’s face it, as the Ottawa Senators’ brain-trust was reminiscing about two stinkers this past week, the Ottawa sporting public was too busy elsewhere to put a lot of notice into the string.
A return to the Grey Cup by this city’s REDBLACKS was taking up most of the print and sports radio talk. No need to dip and delve into the sudden poor turnaround by the local hockey team.
But back-to-back ‘convincing’ defeats (4-1 to Florida, 5-1 to Nashville) were unsettling. Mostly because what this club had been so effective at during the first month-and-a-bit of the season, slipped away.
The identity new head coach Guy Boucher had installed – puck possession and solid defensive play – became the trademark of the Senators early on. Yes, Craig Anderson has been heroic, but an overall team commitment to defence doesn’t go unnoticed.
Example No. 1: Last season Ottawa gave up the most shots on goal per game in the entire league; this year the Sens rank 10th.
Ottawa’s goals-against are way down. Sporting a 2.56 GAA, the Senators rank 14th overall (and would be sailing higher if the last two losses hadn’t bit them). Last season, Ottawa’s 2.94 GAA put them 26th in the 30-team circuit.
And if you toss out the Nashville and Florida results, the defensive trend lately has been sizzling. Ottawa has won three 2-1 games this month so far. In their first eight games of November, Ottawa surrendered a total of just 12 goals.
No one is pushing the panic button here, after all, two games is a minuscule sample size. And what the Senators do have going for them is a relatively quick turnaround against a motivational force.
The early 2000s were indeed the era of the battle of Ontario (and one, particularly in the playoffs the Senators would like to forget) with the Maple Leafs taking residence as Ottawa’s most hated/heated rival, but since the 2013 playoffs, Montreal has arguably replaced Toronto.
From post-whistle skirmishes to a full-out line brawl, the Habs/Sens rivalry was lit. Montreal/Ottawa games have dominated the calendar since that spring.
That’s who we’ll see Tuesday night from the Bell Centre.
Ask any player across the league and they’ll tell you – if you can’t get up for a game at the Bell Centre, time to take up another profession. (The hot dogs are pretty good too).
Focus shouldn’t be an issue for Ottawa Tuesday night.
Tuesday: Ottawa 3, Philadelphia 2 (SO)
Thursday: Nashville 5, Ottawa 1
Saturday: Florida 4, Ottawa 1
Tuesday: Ottawa at Montreal (7:30 pm)
Thursday: Boston at Ottawa (7:30 pm)
Saturday: Carolina at Ottawa (7 pm)
Sunday: Ottawa at NY Rangers (7 pm)