I game into the game with a very cynical mind. I'm a pretty cynical guy, and today had numerous reasons for me to be more cynical. Valentine's Day is a nice idea, but it's become extremely commercialized. People spend way too much money on gifts just for the sake of living up to the pressure of the day. Nothing says romance like overpriced jewellery. To go with that, it was Hockey Day in Canada. Again, a nice idea in theory, but it's really become an opportunity for HNIC to run all day and generate a tonne of ad revenue. There's something about force-fed nostalgia that irks me a bit.
Anyway, the game started, and both teams looked pretty terrible. Both the Senators and Oilers were giving away the puck a bunch. Ottawa had the first good stretch of sustained pressure, but also took the first penalty. However, Ottawa had the best chance on Edmonton's powerplay, thanks to the speed of guys like Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Milan Michalek. With 13 seconds left, Ryan Hamilton took a weird interference penalty and sent the teams to a brief 4-on-4 before Ottawa went on the powerplay. On the powerplay, Teddy Purcell got a shorthanded breakaway, but some back-pressure and a reliable Robin Lehner kept it tied. Going back the other way, Milan Michalek made a great saucer pass to Mike Hoffman who simply put it low and hard on net. The rebound popped back out to Milo on the backhand, who tucked it into an open net.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Everyone's favourite stat (no PP points for Hoffman) is no more :(</p>— Silver Seven (@silversevensens) <a href="https://twitter.com/silversevensens/status/566679760739135488">February 14, 2015</a></blockquote>
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In his 51st game of the season, Hoffman finally got a powerplay point, after 76:13 of powerplay time this season. For all the complaints about his lack of powerplay time, he is tenth on the team in powerplay time, behind eight forwards and of course Erik Karlsson.
Just under the ten-minute mark of the period, a great play by Hoffman set up Bobby Ryan in front who rang the puck hard off the post. Mika Zibanejad got knocked into Viktor Fasth who was slow getting up afterward, but appeared to be OK because he didn't look for attention and play didn't even stop.
The commentators seemed like they could list two hundred things they'd rather be doing than watch the game, but they did break their spell of boredom to tell us that Ottawa native Derek Roy had 14 goals in 50 career games against Ottawa. Not long after that, Mark Borowiecki missed the puck on a pinch, and then Eric Gryba decided to pin a guy to the boards by the bench, so suddenly Ryan was the lone defenceman back to cover a 2-on-1 with Roy carrying the puck. Roy played his role well, continually looking to the pass. Ryan lost an edge and flopped down in the lane, so Roy decided to snipe it over Robin Lehner's shoulder. We found out that the commentators were as unexcited about Oilers goals as they were about Sens goals. Also, "total bust" Nail Yakupov picked up an assist, extending his point streak to four games.
In the last minute of play, Michalek walked out from behind the net and almost managed to tuck it in, but Fasth never bit on the moves and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a good defensive stick to throw him off at the last second. Patrick Wiercioch and Kyle Turris also got great chances as the puck bounced around, but they couldn't score. The period ended with the scored tied, and the Sens outshooting the Oilers 12-11.
The second started in great fashion for the Sens. Erik Condra picked up a puck entering the Oilers' zone, and passed it across to Cody Ceci who found the five-hole with a slapshot from a good distance. 16 seconds later, Mark Stone gave Kyle Turris a long pass who went in and shot it over the arm of Fasth. Two goals on two shots less than a minute into the period ended Fasth's afternoon, giving
Randy Richard Bachman his first appearance of the year for the Oilers. Edmonton would answer back when Mark Fayne's point shot took a deflection off Turris' stick and went high on Lehner. Only 40 seconds later, the Sens would answer right back. Some good work in his own zone by Mark Stone set up Turris and Michalek for a 2-on-1. Turris made the pass pretty early and Milo buried it. Suddenly it was a high-scoring affair. The next face-off gave rise to a fight between Luke Gazdic and Chris Neil. It was one of the most energetic fights I've seen in a while, and Neil's pump-up gesture seemed to get the commentators more excited than any hockey so far. We learned later that Neil broke his thumb on the fight, and could be out for weeks, effectively removing all but the slimmest chance of him being traded.
Just when I was thinking that this game had really been lacking in penalties, David Legwand took one against Gazdic. The penalty kill started well, with Ottawa getting an offensive zone chance, and to waste time, Stone passed it back to Gryba. Unfortunately, Gryba missed it and has no wheels, so it led to a long period of sustained zone pressure for the Oilers. Jeff Petry drilled the post, Jordan Eberle threw it across the crease, and Purcell got a great chance as the penalty expired, but Lehner stood tall when needed. In a game in which I thought he'd been pretty unlucky to have allowed two goals so far, I was happy to see him get a few solid saves like that.
Just when it looked like there wouldn't be any more goals in the final 16 minutes of the period, the Sens got another one. Some great work by Curtis Lazar, Alex Chiasson, and Condra got the team some extended zone time. Erik Karlsson crept in to keep the puck in the zone, and fed it to Condra behind the net. Condra for the second time in the game passed the puck straight up the slot. Chiasson fired it, broke Rob Klinkhammer's stick, and the puck fluttered over everyone and into the net. It was a lucky goal, but a good one for a player who's had some bad luck as of late. The Sens were carrying a three-goal lead into the third -- surely they couldn't mess this up.
Not much happened to start the third. Ottawa with some sustained pressure, Edmonton looking awful. All in all, it was a pretty boring period for most of it.. Eventually, Ryan skated fast enough to negate an icing call. He passed it to Mika Zibanejad who one-touched it to Hoffman in front. With one move, he was around Bachman for an easy tap-in. Teddy Purcell wasn't happy with the lack of icing call, and complained until he got a penalty and a ten-minute misconduct. On the ensuing powerplay, some good puck movement set up Wiercioch for a point shot that Legwand expertly tipped in. Even though the score hardly mattered anymore, I can't imagine Todd Nelson was very happy with Purcell for taking that penalty.
The game would end without much fanfare, the result known for quite some time. Ottawa tied their best game of the season, winning 7-2. Final shots were 42-27 for Ottawa.
Sens Hero: Mark Stone
For my money, he was Ottawa's best player today. Made tonnes of smart little plays, and got rewarded with two assists. He now has 15 points in his last 14 games.
Sens Hero: Milan Michalek
What happened to the Michalek of yesteryear? He looks so much better this year. Two goals in a game is a great night for nearly anybody, especially a guy who's spent time this year as a fourth-liner and a healthy scratch.
Sens Hero: Mike Hoffman
He had some great play today, culminating in a beautiful individual move for a goal. I really liked his work today. And every day if we're being honest.
Honourable Mention: Kyle Turris
I think he benefited from some great play from his linemates, but overall still a good night, picking up a goal and an assist of his own.
Honourable Mention: Erik Karlsson
Really, Karlsson could be a hero in almost every game of the year. He dominated possession, he played half the game, he was noticeable all night. He picked up two assists, including his 200th career assist. Among players drafted in 2008, he has the second-most career assists, only behind some guy named Steven Stamkos. Stamkos has 14 more assists in 98 more games.
Honourable Mention: Erik Condra
I also really liked Condra's game today. He set up shop behind the offensive zone net several times, and we got to see him make some great passes up the slot. He was rewarded with two points. For a guy known for his defensive side of the game, we got to see some of his offensive setup ability.
Worst play of the game: Eric Gryba
No dishonourable mentions in such a domination by Ottawa, but Gryba gets called out for that ridiculous play on the Oilers' first goal. Borowiecki pinches, which may or may not have been a good idea. But Gryba's gotta recognize that and not put himself out of position to make a hit. Great job by Ryan to be back on defence, but Gryba really should've made it a 2-on-2. Sorry Gryba, but I had to find something to be negative about, even if it was only one play.
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