The Ottawa Senators have been the better team in this series. That’s not to say the Bruins have been bad - they definitely haven’t - but the Sens have been above 50% at 5v5 in terms of Corsi (shot attempts), Fenwick (unblocked shot attempts), shots on goal, and goals (all stats via Natural Stat Trick). Considering Ottawa was sub-50% in all of those categories but shots during the regular season, most expected the Bruins (2nd, 1st, 1st, and 17th in the league those categories respectively during the season) to dominate the possession battle. Instead, Ottawa has shown the ability to hang tight with the Bruins.
What has been infuriating, at least from my angle, is to watch the Sens undo all the great work they’re doing by making some stupid mistakes that lead to goals against. The first one I can think of is from Game 2:
Craig Anderson did a whoopsie pic.twitter.com/G8NJUcnLzZ— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 15, 2017
Ottawa had just scored to get back into the game. They were on the powerplay. Momentum was swinging their direction. And then the above play happened. Craig Anderson wandered a little too casually from his net. It seems to me that maybe once every 10 games or so, Andy gets a little to lackadaisical in regards to playing the puck and gets caught out of his net. With a forechecker closing in, he softly flipped it to the corner, where no one was to pick it up. Derick Brassard stuck at the side wall, not coming back to the net to bail out his goaltender after he gave up the puck and was standing 20 feet from his net. Thankfully Ottawa recovered and won this one in overtime, but that’s the kind of play playoff teams shouldn’t be making.
But don’t worry, the mistakes weren’t over. In Game 3, Ottawa was up 3-0 when this shot from the point somehow found its way through:
It was a great tip by Noel Acciari, and I get that Andy was trying to see the puck, but there’s no excuse for not being set at all when the shot comes. Most NHL goalies tend to default to the butterfly when they can’t see find the puck. Standing with your legs akimbo isn’t doing you any favours.
But that was far from the biggest gaffe of the period, whose honours definitely go to Bobby Ryan.
The Sens had been dominating this game, but they’d just let Acciari’s (or Chara’s if you’re Bob Cole) goal in. Ryan played this puck like there were three minutes left in a 6-0 blowout. Instead of settling the puck down, or blocking it with his skate, or anything to make sure he got it, he went for the casual one-time pass of a bouncing puck. As was most likely, he missed it. As was not most likely, he didn’t expect to miss it and was caught very flustered. In trying to turn around too quickly, he lost his balance, his stick, and his glove, sending David Backes in for an easy breakaway goal. Again, Ottawa would recover (and Ryan would get the OT winner on a beauty), but that was a sloppy, avoidable play that nearly cost the Sens another game.
I can’t think of a mistake that sloppy from the Bruins so far, which is amazing considering they’ve had 10 players make their NHL debuts in this series thus far. You expect guys playing in the fifth NHL game to make dumb mistakes. Ottawa won’t be able to continue to overcome shooting themselves in the foot once or twice a game. Boston is just too talented. If Ottawa wants to win this series, they need to clean up the sloppiness.
Besides, it would’ve been awful to have wasted this beautiful effort by Mike Hoffman. (And yes, I’m including just because I can’t get enough of the goal.)