With only a handful of games left to play before the offseason, we’re not asking for much when it comes to Sens hockey.
We’re not really asking for wins, because regardless of your views on tanking, it’s hard to deny that winning these last few games would be bad for this team in the long run.
But we’re not exactly asking for losses, either, because losing sucks and nobody wants to watch it.
What we are asking for is entertainment, and the Sens provided that tonight. On fan appreciation night, we may not have gotten the chance to watch a particularly close game, or one with any stakes whatsoever, but we did get to see Thomas Chabot almost get a hat trick, Christian Wolanin score his first NHL, and Matt Duchene play like the superstar we all know he is.
This is why we keep watching. For these little moments. It’s not much, but it’s something.
Let’s not talk about Erik Karlsson for now. Let’s also not talk about what it means that two young defensemen are performing incredibly well right when this organisation is seriously considering what would undoubtedly go down as the dumbest decision it has ever made. We’re also not going to talk about the fact that the captain got his last point with 65 seconds left, to make the score 6-5, and then took the puck after the game. Nope nope nope. We’re focusing on the positives tonight.
And there were positives! Many of them! Just not in the first twelve minutes.
Or maybe it was in the first twelve minutes that things started to go right, depending on your perspective.
Winnipeg got off to an excellent start, scoring less than three minutes into the game and dominating possession for the next little while. The Sens showed a few flashes of brilliance (and by “the Sens” I really mean “the Duchene line”), but for the most part it was all Jets.
It didn’t take long for Winnipeg to double their lead, and spend the next few minutes of play making the Sens look extremely silly in their own zone. Almost as soon as Ottawa actually managed to break out of the defensive zone, the buzzer went off to announce that the Jets had actually scored a few seconds ago, but the refs hadn’t noticed.
We were only twelve minutes into the game, and Ottawa was already down 3-0. Sounds like the worst possible performance for fan appreciation night, right?
The Jets taking such a big lead so early on allowed Ottawa the opportunity to score a few goals without fans having to worry about it hurting the tank. And Thomas Chabot took that opportunity.
Yes, with the man who gave him his nickname cheering him on from the stands (or possibly passed out somewhere in the CTC; we’re not sure), Hotsam Batcho scored the Sens’ first goal of the game, off an absolutely beautiful assist from the captain Erik Karlsson.
Maybe, and I’m just spitballing here, it might be a good idea to keep those two together?
The Sens got a few chances in the last few minutes of the period, but finished it down 3-1.
The second frame actually got off to a pretty good start for the Sens, as they got a number of chances right away. They also got an early powerplay, which actually led to a goal by Matt Duchene. Honestly, at this point, the game was a lot of fun and I’m sure I’m not the only Sens fan who was thinking that spoiling the tank wouldn’t be the end of the world if it meant the Sens could keep playing like this.
See? That’s is the thing with tanking. If the games are both boring and meaningless, why on earth would we want this team to win? But if the games are exciting... the wins might be worth it even if they ruin our draft position.
Anyways, Chris Tanev responded a few minutes later with a shorthanded goal for the Jets. It was okay, though, because that goal would allow the Sens to keep scoring without actually winning.
And score they did. After an extremely dangerous sequence in the Jets’ zone, Thomas Chabot scored his second goal of the night, just over halfway through the game. The #ChabotHatTrickWatch was officially on.
After everything we’ve had to put up with this season, we deserved this one good thing.
It didn’t take long at all for the Jets to extend their lead to 5-3. It’s almost like they were trying to set up Hotsam Batcho for a hatty.
The second half of the second period was extremely exciting, featuring lots of back-and-forth between the two teams. Karlsson had a few good moments, as did Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Craig Anderson didn’t look particularly good but he did stop a lot of shots.
A late powerplay yielded no results for Ottawa, although there was a funny moment at the end of the period when the Jets came incredibly close to scoring on an empty net, but the buzzer sounded to stop the play.
The Sens started the third frame surprisingly well, getting some decent chances from some pretty bad players. Tom Pyatt got sent to the box for holding (in a pretty weak call, might I add). Unsurprisingly, Jean-Gabriel Pageau was very good on the penalty kill, although there were no goals scored on either side of the ice. The Jets got a terrifying 2-on-0 right after the penalty expired, but Anderson stopped it.
With less than five minutes left in the game, another amazing thing happened. No, Chabot didn’t finish off the hat trick, unfortunately. But Christian Wolanin did score his first NHL goal. It’s moments like these that remind us why we’re still watching the games.
Winnipeg got a lot of excellent chances right after that, and eventually scored their 6th of the night, providing Chabot with the perfect opportunity to score his third.
To make things even better, the Sens soon got a two man advantage with only a few minutes left in the game. Time for Chabot to shine. Right?
For some reason, Boucher did not put Hotsam Batcho on the ice to start the powerplay. This does not make any sense at all, because whether your goal is to get a rookie his first hat trick or to spark a last-minute comeback, putting Thomas Chabot on the ice would be an excellent idea.
But what do I know? I’m not an NHL coach.
Oh yeah, and Craig Anderson wasn’t even pulled. It’s like Boucher knew there was no chance the Sens would score on a 5 on 3.
Duchene did score at the very end of the game, for his 200th career goal. It was a nice goal, I guess, but not exactly the one we wanted.
- Thomas Chabot had two goals, and made a lot of really great plays in all three zones. I am so excited to see him develop.
- Matt Duchene was absolutely on fire tonight.
- Karlsson was pretty great too.
- Craig Anderson did not have a good game at all.