On the road in Abbotsford, the local fans were treated to a game of porous special teams, questionable defending, and a wealth of goal-scoring, as the Ottawa Senators took on the Vancouver Canucks. It’s pre-season, baby!
The Senators decided to sit their top line from last game, of Connor Brown, Colin White and Brady Tkachuk, while the Canucks came guns blazing with Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat. The outmatched Senators couldn’t overcome the Canucks’ firepower, losing by a final score of 6-4.
The Canucks controlled play for the majority of the first period, in large part due to the Sens’ early penalty trouble. They had to kill off two minor penalties early, but rebounded by opening the scoring. Bobby Ryan’s first goal of the year was a nice one, right in the slot off a one-timer feed from Chris Tierney.
Then things started to go south. Jordan Szwarz, who already took one of the minor penalties earlier, took a five-minute major for his and Scott Sabourin’s tag-team hit on Oscar Fantenberg, who didn’t return to the game. Vancouver capitalized twice to make the game 2-1 (both goals by J.T Miller), then once again before the end of the first period, from Alex Edler.
The pucks just kept going in during the second period, with Vancouver responding to every attempt from Ottawa to come back. Artem Anisimov scored a slick backhand goal, then Pettersson responded with a power play snipe. Rudolfs Balcers scored immediately after with a lucky bounce in front, but then Jordie Benn made it 5-3 in the dying seconds with a breakaway out of the penalty box.
It was certainly raining pucks in Abbotsford, because that wasn’t even the end of the scoring. The Sens’ next penalty kill resulted in, you guessed it, another goal for Vancouver, then Tierney got one right back on a play that I frankly can’t even remember anymore. No video replays from an off-site game + an abundance of goals is certainly not a good recipe for writing game recaps. Regardless, the Senators barely even pushed in the late stages, resulting in a final score of 6-4.
I said this in the last recap and I’ll say it again: this is pre-season!!! The 2016-17 Colorado Avalanche went undefeated in pre-season before stumbling into one of the worst seasons in NHL history. Single game samples are very susceptible to variance, but they can be used as a piece in a longer-term puzzle. Here are some small puzzle pieces I gathered from the loss:
- Like the last game, the special teams were the Sens at their weakest. It didn’t help that they took way too many penalties, but in their last two games, they’re now an astounding 3/10 on the penalty kill and 0/9 on the power play. Fingers crossed it’s just growing pains.
- The two players who mainly stood out to me today were Rudolfs Balcers and Erik Brannstrom. Balcers had a goal and assist, and seemed to be an offensive catalyst whenever his line had the puck in the offensive zone. He played a quick and tough game, showing he has the tools to be an NHLer. Brannstrom’s transition game was also fantastic, playing with plenty of confidence in the neutral zone.
- Belleville’s star trio of last season was reunited as this game’s first line — Nick Paul, Logan Brown and Drake Batherson. There were times where their chemistry was apparent, especially during their couple chances on the power play. But other shifts it felt like they were on their heels chasing the puck.
- The next round of cuts likely won’t happen until after the next game, but it’ll be a major one. Some more obvious names will be sent to the AHL or released from their PTO like Szwarz, Sabourin and Parker Kelly. Although there’s still some major questions that need to be answered: do Batherson and/or Brannstrom start the regular season in Ottawa? Will Paul or Balcers be able to push for a full-time roster spot? There’s no shortage of training camp storylines to follow this year.
No Game Flow or Heat Map available — the NHL’s stat tracking is very limited for off-site games. *shakes fist* ABBOTSFORD!!!
The Sens have their rematch against the Canucks on Wednesday at 10:00 PM.