Senators can’t stop the onslaught
Photo credit: NHLI via Getty Images
The Buffalo Bills can’t seem to score touchdowns.
No problem for the Buffalo Sabres though. (Plus a two-point conversion).
That 9-2 pounding by Buffalo’s hockey team on the foreheads of the Ottawa Senators Saturday afternoon represented a very low point in what – to this point – has been a modest season.
The issue is that the loss underlined the inherent issues of a youngish team trying to get better.
Lately those Senators aren’t really getting better, they are getting worse.
Especially behind their own blueline. And therein lies the biggest problem plaguing Ottawa.
Sunday night’s overtime loss at home against Tampa was a wild and crazy bounce-back game.
For the first two periods.
For the first time in a long time, Ottawa accomplished what it hadn’t been able to do in recent weeks:
A. Keep the shots against reasonable (until the third period)
B. Keep the scoring chances against reasonable (until the third period)
C. Give Craig Anderson some help (until the third period)
A late collapse where Tampa absolutely grilled Ottawa’s cheese (in that third period) saw a team that had played effectively through two go back to its bumbling ways.
What started so well, with a 2-0 Ottawa lead, ended in yet another disappointment, a 4-3 loss.
We’re not stepping out on a ledge here by suggesting this year’s team is the poorest defensively in the entire circuit.
Sunday’s shot total against again plateaued the 40 mark. Much of the rubber came knocking in the final 20 minutes (21 against).
This is a team that has won just once in its last seven starts. It is almost like the rest of the NHL is shaking off the rust and is exposing Ottawa for what it is: Bad.
Many would like to pitch knives at Anderson.
That would be somewhat unfair. The 37 year old hasn’t been exceptional this season, so far, but he certainly isn’t as bad as his goals-against average suggest – creeping near the four-per-game mark.
According to calculations, Ottawa has surrendered 287 shots against in its last seven games.
That’s 41 per.
Through it all, Anderson sits in the middle of the pack in save percentage at roughly .910.
Nope. Much of the blame has to go to the defence and brain-cramped forwards.
Want a microcosm?
Check out the tying goal by Tampa Sunday where Mark Borowiecki couldn’t clear the puck out of his zone during a penalty kill, had two of the forwards (Magnus Pajaarvi/Tom Pyatt) blow the zone as well to give the Lightning a 4-on-1.
A 4-on-1 in the final minute?
And you’re ‘protecting’ a one-goal lead?
That about sums it up.
News, notes and notions: Lots of hockey to view this past Saturday. As poorly as Ottawa fared against the Sabres, the opposite was true of the Leafs who played their most complete game of the season in a 5-0 whitewash of Pittsburgh . . . Toronto is now 6-0 to start the season on the road . . . Some players just perform a lot better out of the spotlight. Montreal’s Max Domi is not one of them. The kid relishes the heat of playing for the Canadiens . . . Former Ottawa 67 Sean Monahan is on a six-game point scoring streak for the Flames . . . Former Senator Alex Chiasson potted his sixth goal of the young season Saturday for the Oilers. He had all of nine in 61 games for Washington last season. In his final year with Ottawa (2015-16), Chiasson scored just eight times in 77 games . . . We talk quite a bit in this space about how cyclical the NHL can be, and we’re not being proven wrong this season. The LA Kings – a little more than four years ago – were hoisting the Stanley Cup. Today they sit last in the NHL standings. That’s even after beating Columbus on Saturday night. John Stevens paid the price Sunday, getting the axe after just 13 games this season as head coach. The Kings have kind of the opposite problem Ottawa does – they can’t score. LA is averaging a league-worst 2.15 goals-per game.
Senators week ahead:
Tuesday, Nov. 6: New Jersey at Ottawa (7:30 pm)
Thursday, Nov. 8: Vegas at Ottawa (7:30 pm)
Saturday, Nov. 10: Ottawa at Tampa (7 pm)
Sunday, Nov. 11: Ottawa at Florida (5 pm)