I don’t think many Sens fans had high expectations going into tonight’s game against Minnesota Wild. Despite the fact that the Wild were on a downward spiral, having lost 9 of their last 10 games, and starting an AHL-callup goalie in his season debut, it seemed like a guaranteed loss for Ottawa. Karlsson and Methot were both out with injury, and it seemed the best we could really hope for was for Anderson to stand on his head as the rest of the team hung him out to dry.
The amazing thing about this game is that that last part actually happened. The team did hang Andy out to dry, and he did play a great game. And yet the team was so lifeless, so pathetic, that it didn’t even matter.
This little slump the Sens have been on for the past month has gotten more than a little worrying. It would still take an epic slide for them to actually miss the playoffs, but nobody wants their team going into the postseason completely unable to score goals or to summon any amount of energy for a game. I can only hope they’ll get their groove back once the stakes are higher, because this is probably the least confidence I’ve ever had in a playoff-bound team.
Or maybe they’re just getting all their losing out of the way now, just like how they’re getting all their injuries out of the way so that they can be in top shape for the postseason. That’s how that stuff works, right?
Oh, and did I mention that all the teams the Sens are currently battling for a playoff spot won tonight? It was a great night all around.
The first period wasn’t terrible from a Sens perspective: though the Wild carried the bulk of the play, Ottawa got a few good looks at the net, including one particularly good shot from Chris Kelly. They even managed to score the first goal of the game, when Mike Hoffman blasted home his third shot in one shift from the same spot on the ice, in the most typical Mike Hoffman goal imaginable. Not all was lost. Perhaps the team would manage to get at least a point out of this game.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long at all for the Wild to respond, evening the score. The game was all downhill from there.
The Sens began the second period without Zack Smith, who left the game with an upper body injury after the first period. Minnesota continued to skate circles around the team, but Anderson stood tall to keep the Sens (sort of) in it. The only real highlight of the period was a surprisingly impressive Ottawa powerplay, which strangely seemed to have benefited from no longer having Karlsson there for everyone to pass to. I guess the players all realized they had to actually do things themselves without the captain on the point, and the results were impressive.
However, the improved powerplay did not result in a goal, and the Sens soon found themselves down 2-1 when Nino Neiderreiter scored his second of the game. Ek Eriksson also scored to put Minnesota up 3-1 going into the final frame.
Look, I’m going to be honest here: nothing noteworthy happened in the third period. It was mind-numbing. Sad. Painful to watch. Probably the best possible demonstration of why Erik Karlsson should win both the Norris and the Hart. His absence was glaring.
The Wild continued to dominate and scored two more goals. Why didn’t Guy Boucher leave this game early?
Sens Hero: Mike Hoffman
It feels weird calling anyone a hero when the team looked so bad, but Hoff was pretty good all game.
Sens Zero: Depth
To be fair, I don’t think any NHL team would look good without their top defensive pairing, but still.