Apparently no one told the Ottawa Senators this was an important game. Faced with a chance to leapfrog a divisional opponent in the standings, the team instead came out as flat as I can remember in the first period. Unfortunately for them, the Bruins were prepared to play, and the result was not unlike a clip from a nature show where a lion pounces and mutilates its prey - it was 4-0 after the first twenty minutes. This result is especially distressing considering that Boston, and not Ottawa, was the team that had played the previous night.
After the fourth goal, Brian Elliot was mercifully pulled. None of the four goals were his fault, as he battled only to have his teammates stand and watch him flounder. Once the Bruins had built their lead, their strategy was quite simple: put the game in the hands of their Sens Killers. After the jump, we'll look at who those were. The results will not be surprising to our regular readers.
Sens Killers: Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, Blake Wheeler
Not much more really needs to be said. Thomas was solid when he had to be and great when he had to be, as usual. He gave up almost no rebounds and, to his team's credit, faced shots he could see for most of the night. That adds up to not much of a chance.
Much of that had to do with the work of Chara, who simply out-muscled his former teammates repeatedly. There were several points in the game where Chara won battles with one arm, or simply turned his back to forwards and completely cut them off from the puck. He was as forceful tonight as I've ever seen, and it hurt because he was in a Bruins uniform while he did it.
Between Thomas and Chara, there was little hope the Senators would overcome a 4-0 deficit.
That lead was provided by Blake Wheeler's three point night. I, for one, was surprised to find out Blake Wheeler isn't a sleazy used car salesman or a fictional race car driver from Days of Thunder, but apparently he is a hockey player - one the Senators made look good in this game.
Sens Hero: Matt Carkner
One Ottawa skater came to play tonight, and that was Carkner. Carkner fought Chara, barely dodging a knockout punch before throwing him into the Boston net. But Carkner wasn't done there, though he earned hero status at that point. He chalked up a second fight with Shawn Thornton, who apparently had taken issue with the punches thrown at Chara earlier. There wasn't anyone else with the fire like Carkner tonight.
Sens Zeroes: Everyone else
Bright spots were hard to find tonight, but mistakes were plenty. Special shout out to Filip Kuba, who was Ottawa's worst defensemen despite scoring the team's only goal. He dragged down his partner, Erik Karlsson, to a team worst -2 on the night. Not that Karlsson was any better at clearing net traffic tonight.
- Kuba's goal came on the powerplay. When he scored, Kevin Costner called me and yelled "THE POWER PLAY GOAL IS NOT A MYTH!" True story.
- Pascal "Stealth Elliot" Leclaire played very well once he was in net, hopefully well enough to regain some confidence from the shellacking he got from Philadelphia.
- There was a scare when Anton Volchenkov dropped a Bruins player right on Leclaire's ankle. Despite rumors of his death in the game day comments thread, Leclaire recovered after rolling around on the ice a bit like an injured player from NHL '96.
Dishonorable Mention: Chris Neil, for unleashing a cheap head shot late in the game. That is the Neil from last year, not the Neil from this year
Next game is Thursday in Washington against the Southeast-leading Capitals. Look for Ottawa to bring a better performance than this game, because if they don't, it's going to be a bloodbath.