Sens lose convincingly to Flyers 5-1

To write about all of the flaws in the Sens' game tonight would require far too much of my time, so I'll spare you the details. The Senators played pretty well for the first half of the game, and looked like they could come out with two points. Then, the team decided they were overmatched and simply let the Flyers walk all over them. Add to the mixture going shorthanded four times against the best powerplay in the league (while only going on the powerplay once) and a number of soft goals from Pascal Leclaire, and it's a recipe for disaster. It was a bad game for almost everyone in a Senators jersey, and Leclaire will almost certainly take a lot of the heat for it. He needs to regain his confidence and recover from this performance, because it was by far his worst in a Sens jersey.

In trying to think of players who played well for the Sens, I can really only think of two. First off, Mike Fisher. Not only was he the team's only goal scorer with a quick backhand on the team's only powerplay, but he also led the team in shots with 6. That's right, Mike Fisher accounted for more than a quarter of the Ottawa Senators' shot total. The other is Jason Spezza, who played well defensively and made a bunch of nifty passes and had some good chances up front. If only someone could convert.

Other notables, I suppose, would be Matt Carkner for his complete destruction of Ian Laperriere's face (if you're into that kind of thing), and Peter Regin for making some good defensive plays and being the best Sen at the faceoff dot, winning 56% of his draws.

Weirdest stat of the night? Alex Picard led both teams in icetime with 24 minutes. Yeah, I don't get it either.

Ottawa simply cannot play like this and expect to win games. They'd struggle against an AHL team the way they gave up in the third, let alone NHL squads.

Peter's take: I'll admit I didn't see the whole game, but I don't know if I mind (I watched the first half), and I don't know if I had to in order to see what the difference was: Defensive support. When Ray Emery allowed rebounds, the Senators didn't get on them, either because they weren't effective at driving the net and getting dirty, or because the Flyers' defence was quick to clear them from the front of the net. Although none of the goals against Leclaire made Ottawa's goaltender look good, at least the first three (all of which were before Philly broke the game open) were also the result of poor to non-existent defensive support.

Obviously, Ottawa's defence was lacking tonight, but so was their drive to the net. It's been lacking for the last two games, it's something Shean Donovan can bring, and it's why I think Chum will be back in the lineup for Saturday's game. On TSN, Pierre Maguire referred to it as 'SAP', or slot-area presence, and it basically boils down to a willingness to take punishment in front of the net in order to score goals. Jonathan Cheechoo had a great scoring chance early in the first that he earned by driving to the net, and--although he hit the crossbar--he showed he's willing to get in there.

Darren mentioned Ottawa's continued penalty problems, but I want to touch on them again, because the Senators just don't seem to be cluing into the fact that they can't do this sort of thing and win. Philly scored twice on their two powerplay chances, which adds up to seven powerplay goals-against in the last three games for the Senators. Once in a while, you'll catch a ref on a bad night and he'll hammer you, but the Sens just keep drawing penalties; unless you want to buy into a ridiculous conspiracy theory, then go with the easy answer: Ottawa's just playing too lazy or lackadaisical, and they're being penalized because of it.


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