I don’t even know what to say.
For the first time since the playoffs started, I am truly at a loss for words. What’s worse? I don’t even really want to talk about the Sens. I don’t want to relive the game through the recap. I don’t want to wear a Sens jersey in public so that I can talk to strangers about the team. All I want to do is get in my car, go see Gifted at my nearest movie theater, and forget this game ever happened. I actually cancelled plans to watch this game. I figured I didn’t want to miss the most important Sens game of these playoffs, but I guess this team didn’t get that “most important game” memo.
In fact, this game was such a waste of time that I’m not even writing this intro at the end of the game, but during the third period, which I simply cannot bring myself to devote my full attention to. So if you’re reading this, that means the Sens continued to play like utter crap in the third period and I had no need to edit this before publishing. So that’s great. Sorry Silver Seven readers, you guys deserve better. You know who else deserves better? Every single Senators fan who gave up three hours of their long weekend to watch this. Oh look! It’s 7-0 now. Just wonderful.
Realistically, I know the series isn’t over yet. This team has given us every reason to believe they’ll manage to bounce back after a bad game and even the series at home. Maybe, by the end of the week, we’ll get to look back on this game and laugh at ourselves for thinking the sky was falling after one blowout loss.
But good god, that was embarrassing.
The first big disappointment in the game happened just minutes before it began: Guy Boucher got our hopes up by having Colin White skate in the warmup, then crushed them by announcing he was going to play 7 defensemen instead. While the decision to dress an extra defenseman was a little weird, I can fully understand why Boucher didn’t want to try out an untested rookie in such an important game. However, the idea of White drawing into the lineup was extremely exciting as a fan, and it was disappointing to have that hope ripped away at the last minute.
The first period looked a lot like a role reversal of game 3, with Pittsburgh firing on all cylinders and Ottawa looking like they just got out of bed. The Sens got a lucky break when the refs didn’t notice that they had too many men on the ice, and spent a brief period of time in the Penguins’ zone before reverting back to the sleepy, messy play that would persist throughout the remainder of the game.
Unsurprisingly, Pittsburgh scored early, off a brutal turnover by Mike Hoffman and a series of bad defensive plays in the Ottawa zone.
The Sens got an opportunity to finally end their power play slump, but instead gave up a shorthanded breakaway that thankfully didn’t lead to a goal against. Stone then heroically neutralized the powerplay with a pretty questionable penalty.
The Penguins scored two more goals without much happening in between. Ottawa looked about as bad as they did against New York in games 3 and 4, without any life in them at all. It was, to put it simply, painful to watch.
Neither of the first three goals were entirely Craig Anderson’s fault, but Boucher decided to pull him in favour of Mike Condon. Whether it was mercy, an attempt to shake things up, or a belief that Anderson wasn’t playing well, we’ll probably never know, but it’s not like it made a difference in the end. Strangely, Condon was only in net for a few minutes before Boucher went back to Anderson for the remainder of the first period. Pittsburgh went up 4-0 off a slightly fluky goal that nevertheless should not have happened, and the Sens went back to the dressing room having dug themselves a hole they were clearly not in any mood to climb out of.
Condon returned to the net for the second period, and the poor guy would stay in for the rest of the game. The frame started off with quite possibly the only good Senators scoring chance of the entire game, which Brassard failed to convert on.
Any hope of a miraculous comeback was quickly dashed when Pittsburgh went up 5-0 and the Sens failed to produce anything resembling a decent scoring chance. At this point, the Sens’ only objective should have been to rest their stars and avoid injuries.
But even that didn’t work out for them! Brassard, who has undoubtedly been one of Ottawa’s best forwards during this run, was slow to get up after a hit to the head from Chris Kunitz. The hit wasn’t actually that dirty - Kunitz hit him with his forearm instead of his elbow - and Brassard is probably fine, but at that point it really felt like nothing would ever go right for the Sens.
Then, as if things couldn’t get any worse, Karlsson went to the dressing room after hurting his foot, and didn’t return for the remainder of the game. It sucks that that happened, and losing Karlsson would certainly spell the end of this playoff run, but I wouldn’t panic just yet: there’s a good chance he was just resting because there was no point in keeping him in for a blowout loss. Also, Cody Ceci did not take the ice for the third period (insert “but Ceci NEVER shows up!” joke here). I’m not the biggest Ceci fan (see: previous sentence), but he’s still better than the guys behind him, and it’s never a good thing to lose a player at this point in the season. Let’s all hope he’s okay.
And then the Sens scored 5 goals in the third period and won in overtime. Yup. Totally happened. Pittsburgh did not score two more goals. Ottawa did not play like garbage. We all went home happy. It’s 2017 and I am choosing to believe this particular bit of #FakeNews.
I’m not even going to bother with Notable Performances tonight, because everyone was bad and I don’t feel like picking it apart.
However, I do want to finish this on a positive note, so I want to remind you of four moments from the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs that can give us all a tiny dash of hope.
- Game 4 of the first round series between the Sharks and the Oilers. The Oilers lose 7-0, then bounce back and win their next 2 games on their way to a series win.
- Game 6 of the second round series between the Oilers and the Ducks. The Ducks lose 7-1, then go on to win game 7 and advance to the Conference Finals.
- Game 2 of the first round series between the Senators and the Bruins. Boston is up 3-1 after two periods, with a chance to head home with a 2-0 series lead. I don’t know about you guys, but at that point I was thanking every deity I knew of that the Sens were embarrassing themselves against the Bruins instead of the Leafs. We all know what happened after that.
- Games 3 and 4 against the Rangers in the second round. Remember how demoralized we all were? We didn’t think there was any way the Sens could come back and win the series.
See? History is on our side.
This game sucked, and we’re allowed to be mad about it. We’re also allowed to be mad about all the missed opportunities in games 2 and 4, which the Sens didn’t show up for either. But let’s not pretend this series is already over.
After all, anything can happen in the playoffs, and this team has made a habit of doing the impossible.
We can still do this.
Sens in 7.