Friends, there is nothing good to report about what took place during tonight’s game between the St. Louis Blues and the Ottawa Senators — unless you are a Blues fan, in which case: what are you doing here? Get out of here, go read some glowing write-up of how St. Louis ran all over the Sens. Ain’t gonna be no impartial, measured recap of the night’s events here.
I can count on both hands the total sum of quality opportunities the Sens created over the course of the entire game. Even Bobby Ryan’s lone goal, the result of some rare sustained pressure, wasn’t what one might describe as a high grade chance; it was a harmless looking wrist shot from the point that kicked off at least one, if not two, sticks before floating past a helpless Carter Hutton. It was the type of goal that good teams talk about earning through puck luck. You get enough chances, eventually one of them will go in, etc, etc. In the case of the Senators, these seem like the only goals they get.
So when there is so little of real consequence to discuss, what is there left to say about the specific events that took place? How do you describe a game where your hometown heroes barely registered a pulse? How to comment on strategy, adjustments, tactics when nothing is working at all?
The Sens played a decent enough first period, I suppose, limiting the Blues as they did to seven shots on net. Unfortunately Ottawa only had seven of their own and went a startling eight minutes without a single attempt on net. Eight minutes without even missing the net. At the end of the frame, Ottawa turned its own 5-on-4 powerplay into a 5-on-3 against with consecutive penalties by Erik Karlsson and Derick Brassard. That’s a rare feat, and when we look back at this flaming wreck of a season it might well be something we remember fondly. Right now, without the benefit of distance, it just all feels so hopeless.
This site published our mid-season report cards for the coaching staff and management yesterday, and in them Guy Boucher and his crew didn’t exactly score rave reviews. I’m maybe not as low on Boucher as some others in the fanbase these days, but if there’s one thing he’s done throughout his tenure here that’s most driven me bonkers it’s his habit of hard matching his “checking line” against the other’s team’s top unit; especially so when the Sens are at home. Tonight, Boucher’s checking line was made up of Tom Pyatt, Zack Smith, and Nate Thompson. Boucher’s ask of this ragtag group was that they keep Vladimir Tarasenko, Paul Stastny, and Ivan Barbashev in check. This was never a good plan, it was never going to work in the long run and lo and behold, Tarasenko opened the scoring early in the middle frame:
This tactical choice was hardly the worst offense of the night, there were just so many to choose from. The Blues proceeded to out-shoot the Sens 19-6 for the period and score two more goals. The Sens replied with the lone aforementioned tally by Ryan. Ottawa then generated very little by the way of quality chances in the third period, even with nearly two full minutes of the goal pulled. The Blues, of course, eventually scored into an empty net to fully salt the game away.
To give you a context of Ottawa’s futility in this game, the shot attempts were 67-40 for the Blues. But that of course ignores how much of the game, Ottawa spent trailing. Once we adjust for score and venue, and limit ourselves to 5v5 play, the tally comes in at 66-28 for St. Louis. Remarkable.
Watching the whole thing unfold just felt very...predictable. We’ve been down this road a couple of times already this year, the recent Blackhawks game and the game against the Jets in December come to mind, but this was almost more depressing. It was more depressing because it feels like the new normal. This wasn’t an anomaly of a game where all the bounces went the wrong way. Mediocre teams, even good teams, sometimes just play terrible games. It happens. For good teams, though, this kind of performance isn’t the usual. I’m afraid this edition of the Ottawa Senators are just a bad team, because this feels normal.
-None. No one was notable. I’m sorry, I wish I could tell you otherwise but it’s the truth.
Here are some charts if you feel like reliving the pain of this game in chart form: