Ah, it feels good to win again. That two-game skid felt a little rough for the Senators, but this win puts them right back where they belong. 7th in the league, 2nd in the division, and only two points behind the Canadiens who are a trendy Cup pick. Sure the Habs have a game in hand, but still, at 25 games into the season, you can’t say the Sens are just getting lucky for a couple games.
The game started as well as you could hope. Erik Karlsson opened the scoring on a play that was so Karlsson. After an attempted breakaway pass for Ryan Dzingel just didn’t quite connect, the Sens still entered the zone with possession. The problem was, they were in the midst of a line change, so Karlsson went to the front of the net. But once the Sens completed the change, he stayed at the front of the net. He attempted to one-time Dzingel’s pass from behind the net, but Jussi Jokinen got his stick in the right place. It didn’t matter to the captain though, because he just kicked the puck back to his stick and fired it home. Sometimes defencemen forecheck when their team is changing, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one (besides Karlsson) who will go play the front of the net while the forwards change.
It only took 20 seconds for the Sens to get their second. The entire play was a thing of beauty. First, Mark Borowiecki stood up his man in the neutral zone. It was a great example of how Guy Boucher’s system of pressuring the puck carrier by the left-side D fits perfectly into Boro’s game. Mark Stone would then carry it in and lose it, Mike Hoffman gathered the puck and fired a pass to Stone who somehow found his way into the slot. Meanwhile, Derick Brassard had headed right to the front of the net, Stone hit him with the perfect pass, and he deked around Roberto Luongo for the goal. Everyone on the ice played their role to perfection, and the goal was scintillating.
Unfortunately for lovers of offence, that would do it for scoring in the game. Fortunately for Sens fans, that means that team won with a shutout. From my opinion, Mike Condon wasn’t amazing for the shutout, but that says something - the team didn’t need him to be. He was strong on Vincent Trocheck’s breakaway, and stood tall when Florida pushed for goals with their goalie pulled with three minutes left, but the Sens did a decent job of keeping his night manageable. Ottawa was only outshot 24-21 in a game in which they led for 53 minutes.
Digging into things a little more deeply, you can really see the system at play. The Sens lost the 5v5 shot attempt battle (43%) but won the 5v5 unblocked shot attempt battle (53%). That shows you how much Ottawa is blocking shots, limiting traffic to the goalie. If you look at the shots below, you can see that a lot of Florida’s shots came from either sharp angles, or way back at the point. Most of Ottawa’s shots come from the middle of the ice, even the point shots. The fact that Ottawa could force Florida outside, and limit their shots, while protecting a lead is a testament to The System (TM). I don’t want to paint Guy Boucher as some kind of saviour, or say that all our hopes have come true, but this is promising overall.
Honourable Mention: Mike Condon
As I said above, this wasn’t a heroic shutout, but rather a well-earned team shutout. Still, you can’t get a shutout without your goalie doing his part, and Condon did that tonight.
Honourable Mention: Jean-Gabriel Pageau
It was a weird look at first to see him on Turris’s wing, but it ended up being a great fit. It freed him up to forecheck as a winger, and it seemed to suit his ability well. Dzingel-Turris have looked good this season, and if Pageau can work with them, that’ll be great until Bobby Ryan gets back.
Debut: Andreas Englund
I thought he looked nervous tonight, but not necessarily out of place. He’s obviously young, but I don’t remember any egregious mistakes. And his team didn’t allow a goal, so he’ll probably take that any day.