This goal didn't happen tonight, but it sure could have. - Marc DesRosiers-US PRESSWIRE
The game was stupid. Then awesome. Then stupid awesome. Then stupid. Then crappy.
There's your freaking recap. Happy?
Okay, I know you want to leap right down to the comments so you can get out your Ben Bishop pitchforks, but let's talk about how the Senators started the game before we move on to the zeroes and killers. The team got 35 seconds of even strength time to open the game before they were down a man thanks to a hooking call on Milan Michalek. The penalty-killing unit promptly allowed four guys into Bishop's crease, keeping him from locating the puck.
And just like that, they were down 1-0.
Peter Regin - 2 minutes for delay of game.
Chris Phillips - 2 minutes for interference.
Erik Karlsson - 2 minutes for interference.
Talk about not giving yourselves a chance to win. Way to give your young goaltender a chance to get settled. Bishop was under the gun from the minute the puck dropped. We may be trapped, indeed.
The quality of the penalty calls against the team simply doesn't matter. This was the fourth game in a row that the Senators have put themselves in a bad position to start a game, and that's what a streak looks like, people. Occam's Razor. What's more likely: That the officials are out to get us, or that this is a team that starts sloppy and finally ran into a team that had the skill to make them pay the price for it?
No one on the team did anything to help each other out tonight. For sure, all of the four goals the team scored were flashes of brilliance. Each of the goals scored by Erik Condra, Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, and Kyle Turris were things of beauty--but they weren't the result of sustained pressure, they were the result of moments of opportunity seized. And moments are fleeting.
If the team had sustained pressure on the Lightning, they would have been able to protect a 4-2 lead. If the team had sustained pressure on the Lightning, they wouldn't have come up empty in the third period. Bishop gave up two goals on five shots in the second period. That's putrid. Going into the third period, Anders Lindback had given up four goals on 23 shots--including two goals on two shots by Spezza and Karlsson--good for a .829 save percentage himself. Bishop wasn't the only shaky goaltender in this game. The Senators had the same opportunity to beat a guy who was fighting the puck and the difference between them and the Lightning is that they didn't get it done.
You want to lay this loss at the feet of Bishop? Go ahead, but you're just scapegoating a guy who found himself in a tough spot. There were 18 skaters who had an opportunity to help the guy out, and they all let him down as much as he let them down.
Those are the realities of tonight's game. There's no such thing as a one-man loss in the NHL.
Sens Zero: Ben Bishop
With all that said, Bishop did himself absolutely no favors tonight. He was unable to locate the puck in traffic early, and looked pretty rattled by the goal. From then on out, he put together a long stretch of good play, and then watched it all come undone at the end of the second period.
The difference between Bishop and Craig Anderson is that Anderson has given his team a chance to win in all three starts. Bishop didn't give his teammates that same chance tonight--nor they him. Had the team simply carried a 4-2 lead into the third period, maybe things would have been different. The Sens have closed out teams before. They've shown that all they really need is steady play and a timely save and they'll do the rest. They got neither from Bishop tonight, and were unable to bail him out. That's not a good sign. It's critical to team success that they have a backup goalie capable of winning games. They need the Ben Bishop they had last year, not the guy who showed up in this game.
Sens Killer: Steven Stamkos
Ryan Malone is going to get all the attention--he scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in the third period--but it was Stamkos who I thought was the most dangerous forward on the ice for the Lightning in this one. That's not surprising, given that Stamkos is good: he is the player who engineered the two goals on the five shots that Bishop faced in the second period. Those were the goals that killed the Sens. Stamkos didn't allow his team to get put away, and there was a very real chance of that happening after Karlsson got the Sens to 3-1. Freaking Stamkos.
2013 Debut: Mark Borowiecki
He plays the game like I play NHL '96. Hook? No. Poke check? Negative. Full-stride cross-check into the boards as hard as humanly possible? Yes!
But in real life, there are often better ways to separate a guy from the puck than trying to separate his head from his body--just ask Erik Karlsson. He was also involved in nonsense at the end of the game, pulling down a roughing penalty and a game misconduct with 10 seconds left. It's too bad he didn't show a little more of that agressiveness around Bishop's crease. His own netminder certainly could have used the support.
2013 Debut: Kaspars Daugavins
Essentially picked up right where he left off last year. You know what you're getting from the guy. Hard skating, and not much else. He picked up an assist--and it was a beauty--on Turris' goal, but he was also a surprising minus-3 on the night. I'm not a person who puts too much stock in plus/minus for player evaluation, but I was surprised to see that he was on ice for that many goals.
Despite the unpleasant number, I didn't think he played poorly. I also didn't think he played well enough to bump someone else out of the lineup when Guillaume Latendresse returns. Peter Regin led the team with five shots on goal. Erik Condra had four and a sweet goal. There's nowhere on the roster where you can easily point out something a player is lacking that Rooster provides. Except mustaches.
Speaking of Latendresse...
With the way this game took the last exit to Absurdsville in the last five minutes of the second, I can't decide if I'm glad he was spared having to try to race around with all the skaters or disappointed that we didn't have his size to screen Lindback, who was also not tracking the puck well. All in all, I think the team could have used him. He puts the lines in balance. They all seemed off to me tonight, which is probably why there wasn't consistency.
A final thought
This game was not quite the disaster it sounds like from this recap. The team had an opportunity to win and they didn't. It wasn't an epic collapse or anything quite so dramatic. It was merely the consequence of sloppy play coming home to roost. The Senators are good enough to get away with sloppy play and beat weaker teams. They're not good enough to get away with sloppy play and beat teams with decent scoring threats.