If you fell asleep during this game, I’d forgive you. It was two of the worst teams in the NHL facing off in a game that hardly mattered at this point. Neither team had a tonne of great chances, and all of the scoring came in a span of 39 seconds in the middle of the first period. Jonathan Bernier was good enough for the Wings, and the Sens mustered almost nothing in a dull 2-0 loss.
It’s Hockey Is For Everyone month, and we got treated to a cringeworthy opening montage that featured every moment of inclusivity in the NHL you could think of: Tim Hortons bringing the Kenyan hockey team to Canada; Kendall Coyne skating at the All-Stars Skills Contest; Willie O’Ree talking to some kids. I think the fact that I could’ve predicted 80% of the montage before it started says that the diversity is the exception, definitely not the rule in the NHL.
The first period shots looked pretty good for the Sens (15-7), but the score was 2-0 for the Wings. And really, other than a post hit, I can’t remember any good chances for the Sens in the period. The shots seemed to be low-traffic, far-out shots, with no follow-up chances. The first goal for the Wings was a great example of the main issue I have with Cody Ceci on defence: for a 6’ 4” guy, he really can’t clear the front of the net. So instead he took away all of Craig Anderson’s vision, who never saw Danny DeKeyser’s shot as it whistled past him. The second goal, not even 40 seconds later, was a comedy of errors. Despite having four guys behind the puck, the Sens screwed it up. Mark Borowiecki decided the best defensive play was to tackle a guy not involved in the play. Mark Stone and Christian Jaros were back to defend, but Stone decided to flop down to cover the pass, allowing Darren Helm to float it over to Martin Frk. Frk passed it back to Helm who came in on a partial breakaway. Then Craig Anderson decided to play a lackadaisical poke-check like it was the All-Star Game, and Helm had his easiest goal in a long time. It was a goal so poor, you have to see it to believe it:
The second period was not good for the Sens. For a team down 2-0, it’s never good when you fall behind 7-2 in shots in the period. Part of that had to do with penalties though. First, Brady Tkachuk took a double-minor for hitting Luke Glendening in the chin. Then Zack Smith tripped Justin Abdelkader, and the Sens had 30 seconds of 5-on-3 to kill (which they did). Coming out of the box, Smith immediately swung his stick at a guy’s shoulder, but I guess the refs felt sorry for Ottawa so they decided not to call that one. It was then Ottawa’s turn for the powerplay, with Darren Helm taking two penalties, but Ottawa’s PP looking every bit as awful as it has in recent games. By the end of the period, Boucher was giving regular shifts to the “Almost Gone Line” (Dzingel-Duchene-Stone) in the hopes of getting at least one goal on the board before the end of the period. It didn’t work, and the Sens were still down 2-0 after being outshot 9-7 in the period.
Then came the third period. And what to say about the third period? The Sens looked disinterested in playing a hockey game. The first two scoring chances of the period were for the Wings. Somehow the Sens managed just five shots on goal in the first 15 minutes of the period. It was both boring and disheartening to watch. Finally, with 3:40 left the Sens put the puck into the net past Jonathan Bernier, but the whistle had already blown so it didn’t matter. To be fair, Bernier did have it covered under his pad before it was poked in. To be unfair, it was very similar to the game-winning goal the Blues scored against Anderson a couple weeks ago.
With 2:30 left, the Sens took over possession in the offensive zone and pulled Andy for the extra skater. There were a couple decent chances to score but Bernier kept it out like he’d kept everything out. The most exciting part came when Bobby Ryan missed a cross-crease pass, and the puck bounced out of the zone and straight for the empty net. Watching Stone hustle back to push the puck wide was probably the highlight of the third period. Detroit got a couple shots wide of the empty net, and that did it for the game. The final shot count was 33-21 for Ottawa, but shots don’t matter when you can’t beat the goalie.
Fun note: my wife, who doesn’t care about hockey at all, was watching when the game ended and switched to the Penguins-Maple Leafs game. She commented how much faster and more skilled the game was. I guess Ottawa-Detroit just isn’t what it was 10 years ago.
- Anderson seemed off this game. You know how every once in a while he has a game where he can’t seem to sit still? He missed a couple of pucks behind the net, and was beat to one by a Detroit player and was lucky for it to not turn into a goal. Not to mention his effort on that Helm goal was beer league stuff.
- Ryan Dzingel really stood out to me in the first period, when he used his speed to lead the break out a few times.
- Maxime Lajoie also looked composed with the puck, a sight I haven’t seen in a while. It took me a little while to realize why, but I think I’ve got it: he spent a bunch of the game with Dylan DeMelo. Amazing what being freed from Ceci will do for your confidence.