There aren’t many things left to get excited about at this point in the season.
Yesterday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres was a good example of what fans can root for. It was exciting, goals were scored by likable players, and the end result was objectively a good one, even if it hurts to admit it.
Tonight’s game was not like that.
Tonight’s game exemplified everything that sucks about cheering for a team that’s been out of the playoff race since December and somehow still has 15 entire games left to play. There were no stakes, but it wasn’t exciting either. For the first 55 minutes, it was a struggle just to pay attention.
The last 5 minutes were fun. But that was about it.
The beginning of the game was depressingly uneventful. It was a perfect demonstration of Guy Boucher hockey, and Dave Cameron’s presence behind the Calgary bench was a reminder of exactly what that means. I never liked Cameron, and I’m still glad he’s gone, but I will say this about the guy: at least his style of play was exciting.
I can’t believe I’m actually defending Dave Cameron. These are dark days.
Less than five minutes into the game, the Sens collapsed defensively, giving Calgary an opportunity to open the scoring, which they did. Boucher challenged the goal for goaltender interference, but the refs quickly decided that Ben Harpur had pushed Sean Monahan into the Ottawa net, and the goal stood.
The Flames were all over the Sens after that. Most of the play took place in the Ottawa zone or the neutral zone. Every once in awhile, the Sens got a shot on goal, but it never resulted in any sustained pressure. The Flames didn’t look amazing, but they certainly looked better than their opponents.
Ottawa looked a little better in the last five minutes before the buzzer, but didn’t manage to even the score.
The second period featured much of the same. Calgary was clearly the better team right from puck drop, getting a few good chances on the first shift of the frame. About five minutes in, Mark Stone sent a beautiful pass to Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who got a nice shot on goal but didn’t manage to score. The play went right back to the Ottawa zone.
A few minutes later, Bobby Ryan created a decent scoring chance, and drew a penalty in the process. Surprisingly, the ensuing power play wasn’t abjectly awful and did actually result in the best scoring chance of the game for Marian Gaborik. Things were actually happening! Kind of!
Very little happened for the next little while, until Matt Duchene took a slashing penalty at the end of the period and we all got to see what an actual powerplay looks like.
The third period started out on a slightly better note than the first, with Ottawa gaining possession at the start and putting a bit of pressure on the Calgary defensemen. Johnny Goudreau got an early breakaway, but Condon made an excellent save to keep the score 1-0.
Still in the first three minutes, Stone made an excellent pass to Karlsson who tried to go short side on the Flames netminder but didn’t find the back of the net. It was a nice change of pace, even if it still wasn’t particularly fast or exciting hockey.
With just over 8 minutes left, former Senator Curtis Lazar assisted on the 2-0 goal for Calgary, sending the puck to Matt Stajan for an easy tip-in.
Things got slightly interesting over that.
The Sens got a powerplay, but Mike Hoffman neutralized it almost immediately. Then Pageau was awarded a penalty shot and actually scored a goal! There wasn’t really any hope that the Sens would come back, given the way they were playing, but it was still fun.
The last few minutes of the game were surprisingly eventful, with Ottawa getting a few good chances, including one while shorthanded. Still, it wasn’t enough to complete the comeback, and the Sens lost by a final score of 2-1.
Losing sucks, but I guess a better draft pick is all we can cheer for when the team is this bad.
- Mark Stone was good as always. He did leave the game at the beginning of the third period with an apparent injury, but came back pretty soon afterward. Hopefully that means it isn’t serious. And I say that entirely out of concern for Mark Stone the human being because it’s not like this hockey team needs him, or anyone, for its last 15 games.
- I don’t know if the stats back this up, but I liked what I saw from Chabot.
- Jean-Gabriel Pageau was definitely the best Senator tonight.