I'm not going to get too crazy criticizing the Ottawa Senators for the 7-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night. There were plenty of reasons to lose, including the emotional baggage, the fact that they flew into Carolina the morning of the game, the fact that they've lost five straight in Raleigh, and the fact that the Senators are always streaking one way or another. There were few reasons to expect a victory, but the optimist in me was hoping they'd prove more powerful. They didn't. The Senators looked like a team that definitely wasn't interested in playing hockey, and the Hurricanes looked like a team that was very motivated to bring their A-game.
Still, Ottawa's now lost two games in a row by a combined score of 12-2, and they've been outscored 18-6 in the last four games. It wouldn't take too many more games like this one to be a team on the outside looking in, considering how close the conference remains.
Sens Killer: Eric Staal
Staal powered the Hurricanes to their start in the first period. He didn't get a point on the first goal, but scored the second and third, and assisted on the fourth after ragging the puck around the offensive zone. Then he got an assist, and capped it all off by potting his hat-trick goal late in the third period. Finished with five points, could probably have had a dozen, Staal was definitely at his best on Wednesday.
Sens Zero: Brian Elliott
Obviously. Sixteen shots, twelve saves, four goals against, in 16:38 of playing time. That ought to wreak havoc on his goals-against average and save percentage. He wasn't ready to start the game once the game started, and got lit up because of it. Tough to single him out, but that's kind of what happens when you're a goaltender: You stand out when your team is shelled.
Sens Zero: The defence
I would like to draw your attention to the shot chart below. Notice, in particular, the number of shots taken from within a foot of the crease. Ottawa's defenders did nothing to clear the traffic around the net, and they didn't give their goaltenders any help clearing rebounds. Easy to see why the Sens' tenders allowed seven goals when you see that graphic.
Are you kidding?