If you had told me last week that this series would be tied 2-2 after four games, I would have been content with that. But I’m not happy with how it actually transpired.
There aren’t many good things to say about tonight’s game, and I’m sorry if this is going to be too negative for your taste. To preface everything, this series is far from over. They have two out of the last three games at home, and it’s certainly possible to bounce-back from two bad games. But even the strongest optimist can not have many positive thoughts from tonight.
Game 4 was a different story though. Everyone expected Ottawa to win this one, because blowing a 2-0 lead and putting the series back at square one was not going to be acceptable.
Well, the Rangers felt like it would be unacceptable for them to lose as well, and it showed. New York was the better team tonight, and it wasn’t even close. These past two games, Ottawa hasn’t even been competitive, which we could not have said about any of their previous playoff games.
After a terrible performance in game 3, you’d hope that Ottawa would come out hard in the first period. But that kind of play did not happen in the first 20 minutes. The shot attempts were actually 20-18 for the Senators, but it certainly did not feel that way.
Ottawa never seemed to get fully set in the offensive zone, and their best chance ended in a broken stick from Erik Karlsson.
Perhaps if the score had been 0-0 after the first, it wouldn’t have seemed so bad. However, Nick Holden made sure the Rangers took the lead first.
The video doesn’t fully show it, but it all started with a Mark Stone giveaway in the offensive zone. It’s discouraging to see him make so many mistakes these playoffs, but there’s no chance he’s 100% healthy. Having said that, the puck did bounce up on him, so it’s not as if it was an easy play.
As the game progressed, things did not get much better.
Ottawa had a few more chances, but it seemed like every time New York came down the ice they were on an odd-man rush. After an ill-advised shot from Ben Harpur, Oscar Lindberg doubled the Rangers lead.
When one breakaway at a time just won't do. pic.twitter.com/jDBPiFy67C— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) May 5, 2017
The Senators powerplay looked lifeless, and although there were a few glimpses of resuscitation, they could not get any sustained momentum. There were a few more odd-man rushes, and Ottawa could not string together a few clean passes in a row.
To say it was frustrating is an understatement.
Then, somehow it got worse. Cody Ceci shot the puck up to the point in the defensive zone, and Lindberg scored his second goal on a shot that should be stopped 10 out of 10 times. At first I thought Tanner Glass got a piece of it, but no. Anderson most likely got distracted by Glass’ blade, but that’s no excuse.
After 40 minutes, Ottawa was at their lowest point of the series.
To begin the period, Anderson was pulled, and Mike Condon came in relief. Not only that, Erik Karlsson left the bench and did not play the rest of the game. Considering he was playing through a broken foot before this, it’s not a good sign that he was unable to play through something.
Hopefully Boucher just realized that Ottawa probably wasn’t going to come back, and that Karlsson could use the rest. Because if he can’t play the rest of the series, then the series shifts in a big way towards New York.
(UPDATE: Looks like he was just resting him):
Boucher says they just held Karlsson out of the 3rd (lower body) could have come back. Expects him ready for game 5— Brent Wallace (@tsn_wally) May 5, 2017
The Senators had a bit of life in the third, but it was way too little too late. Chris Kreider would actually extend their lead to four on the power play before Kyle Turris finally put Ottawa on the board to make it 4-1. It’s a shame that Turris’ goal didn’t matter, because it was quite the wicked shot.
Turris with the sole goal for the Senators but it isn't enough to get the Senators past the Rangers pic.twitter.com/FqrCf5egFQ— Hockey Night Punjabi (@HkyNightPunjabi) May 5, 2017
They were better in the third period, but that was to be expected while being down by three goals. Even with score effects though, they weren’t as good as they needed to be.
In the end, the final score was 4-1 once again, but this time, the fanbase had a much different reaction to the loss.
It’s obviously not impossible for Ottawa to regroup from these losses, but these two games in New York made them look like a non-playoff team. If they had been competitive and lost 3-2 in both of these games, I wouldn’t be nearly as upset.
But instead, they allowed an exorbitant amount of odd-man rushes, could not keep any offensive pressure, nor did they have any answer for the Rangers speed. All in all, it was a frustrating night with not a lot of good things happening.
If you’re looking for a silver lining, like I said earlier: they still have games 5 and 7 at home, so you’d think they’ll be able to play much better in those games.
The Good: Jean-Gabriel Pageau
He seemed like the only skater that cared. He finished his checks, had a few chances, and he was a lot more noticeable than any other forwards on the team. Pageau has easily been the Senators best forward this series.
The Bad: Almost Everyone Else
I don’t want to single everyone out, because most players were equally bad.
For example though, Craig Anderson wasn’t horrendous, but he has to stop that third goal. Mark Stone has to bury his chances, and has to stop turning the puck over. Alex Burrows needs to be visible on the ice. The rest of the top-six needs to wake up and not expect Pageau to score every goal. I could go on and on, as it was not pretty.
Let’s hope there’s a better game on Saturday.