Three seasons ago, the Senators went on their California road trip in February with their playoff hopes hanging on by a thread.
They miraculously won the first two games against Anaheim and Los Angeles, and coming into their last game against San Jose, the mood from fans (myself included) seemed to be “if they can win this, then I’m back in on this team.” Fast forward to present day, and the mood at the end of this three-game gauntlet (within a larger road-trip) is completely different.
It honestly feels like this organization is an absolute mess right now, which is incredible considering where they were six and a half months ago.
Although there are still four months to go in this long season, the Senators are playing so poorly that they are reaching “unsalvageable season” levels. With another loss tonight, they have an unfathomably poor record of 1-9-2 in their last 12 games.
When things are going really bad, it’s always hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can sit here and say that their luck will change, but that isn’t going to happen if they keep having efforts like they did tonight.
If there was a silver lining in the last game against the Kings, it was that Ottawa probably deserved to get two points that night. So the hope was that they could have another solid effort like that, but they didn’t exactly start out so fresh.
In the early going, the shots were 9-0 for San Jose, and you seldom saw the puck even exit the Senators zone. Part of that pressure was due to an interference penalty from Dion Phaneuf, but when Ottawa got their first powerplay with 3:05 to go, it’s not as if the tide began to turn.
If you have been watching this team for the past few weeks, it was not surprising to see Logan Couture open the scoring in this game. A bouncing puck eluded Erik Karlsson and Zack Smith, and a bit of an unlucky play gave Couture a prime opportunity on Craig Anderson—-which he took advantage of.
That’s 15 for @Logancouture.#SJSharks up 1-0 pic.twitter.com/i3LWBFkFsW— Brodie Brazil (@BrodieNBCS) December 10, 2017
After another disappointing period, it was 1-0 San Jose.
Perhaps Guy Boucher then threw a tantrum in the intermission to get the Senators going? If he did, they obviously didn’t respond very well to his wishes. A few minutes into the period with Johnny Oduya and Cody Ceci stuck in their zone, Oduya took a lazy tripping penalty to put the dangerous Sharks powerplay unit back on the ice.
Just as the penalty had expired, Marc-Edouard Vlasic doubled the lead for the Sharks on a shot from the point. And on that goal, I audibly laughed. That’s what these games are coming to right now, because what else can you do but laugh? Taking this too seriously is going to make me go insane.
The period didn’t get any better from there, as Melker Karlsson scored an easy goal while being left wide open at the side of the net with Anderson looking the wrong way.
The rest of the period included a few more chances from the Senators, but nothing really that substantial until the final 30 seconds when Matt Duchene and Cody Ceci had a couple quality chances. A goal to get within two before going into the second intermission would have been a huge lift, but alas, the score was 3-0 after 40.
While on another early powerplay in the third period, the Sharks decided that they weren’t done with the bloodbath. After Karlsson failed to clear the puck, San Jose moved it back and forth before Logan Couture ripped a shot from the point that was tipped by Joe Pavelski to give them a 4-0 lead.
There was nothing Anderson could do on the play, but it was another night where he gave up too many goals.
Although it wouldn’t have mattered in the grand scheme of things, Bobby Ryan was denied a goal a few minutes after Pavelski’s goal, as Vlasic pulled the puck “off the line.” Play continued for a few minutes until the replay could be viewed at the next stoppage of play, and it looked like it might get overturned:
why was this ruled as no goal?? @NHL pic.twitter.com/kRWt0eR0nl— kev⚒ (@kevinTDMA) December 10, 2017
However, there must have been a tiny ounce of doubt in the minds of those in the control room, so the call on the ice stood. Perhaps it’s time for the NHL to adopt goal-line technology...
Ottawa would get one more powerplay opportunity before the game ended, but that was cancelled out by a 5-minute major from Alex Burrows. Tomas Hertl added a fifth goal for good measure, making it two 5-0 losses in seven days. When all was said and done, there was zero pushback, even when the lead had reached 3-0 and 4-0.
It is incredibly embarrassing that despite being down by three heading into the third, Ottawa had only four shot attempts to San Jose’s nine at even strength. It’s simply not good enough.
And now you have to wonder if changes are coming. How long does Guy Boucher have if they continue to play this poorly? When will Pierre Dorion contemplate selling at the trade deadline? Due to the horrible division that they are in, the organization probably believes that they still have a chance.
But considering how horrendous they have looked, I wouldn’t count on them bouncing back very much.
- A few have mentioned this recently, and it is true: besides Mark Stone (who is always on his game), Ryan Dzingel has been the most consistent forward on this team. He seems like he actually gives a damn about this team, and for those who like integrity and “heart,” Dzingel showed that by dropping the mitts tonight. Ottawa needs more efforts similar to Dzingel’s.
- Johnny Oduya took two tripping penalties, and I am consistently asking myself why he is in the lineup, especially over someone like Fredrik Claesson. He doesn’t bring anything to the team, and it’s okay to cut your losses with him. Sadly, I can’t see that happening at all.
- You have to feel for Craig Anderson at this point. He did allow five goals, but there was nothing he could do on a few of them. He’s certainly at fault for the Melker Karlsson goal, but it’s hard to get mad at your goalie when he stops 45 shots. It just doesn’t help when he’s already gotten off to a terrible start to begin the season.