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Special Teams Continue to Haunt Ottawa in 5-1 Loss to Winnipeg

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Dylan DeMelo tribute video compromised by being accompanied by hockey game

Winnipeg Jets v Ottawa Senators Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

With a myriad distractions off the ice and just one more game before the trade deadline during the coldest winter nights of a forgettable season, this game ended up aligning pretty much exactly with my expectations. While Ottawa’s feisty forwards made their usual admirable appearance and Marcus Hogberg provided a calm beyond his years, nothing really went right for the Senators against the Jets on Thursday night. Among the negatives, Ottawa wore the wrong uniforms. On the positive side, we got to enjoy Jayce Hawryluk’s Senators debut. Let’s sift through the rest of the rubble from another disappointing finish.

The Senators flew out of the gate in this one and controlled the even strength shot battle throughout the game and the quality chance battle for at least the first thirty minutes. Ottawa hit a couple of posts in the first ten minutes and kept applying pressure with Winnipeg’s back-up ‘tender, Laurent Brossoit, in net. Nick Paul cracked the egg about a dozen minutes in off a Colin White faceoff win:

And then everything started going wrong. Chris Tierney took a penalty deep in Winnipeg’s end (Ottawa took several of these offensive zone penalties) and Ottawa’s penalty-kill for the most part did not look up to the challenge posed by the Jets intimidating forward corps. Mark Scheifele had no problem sneaking behind Ron Hainsey and Nikita Zaitsev off the draw and made no mistake point blank on Hogberg:

To the credit of Ottawa’s penalty kill, they did get some good short-handed rushes courtesy of the usual suspects such as Chris Tierney and Anthony Duclair (keep in mind Namestnikov got scratched for this game). In their own zone, however, Ottawa’s PK just looked flat-footed and passive without the confidence to challenge the puck-carrier engage in the corners. So when Jayce Hawryluk went to the box for a high-stick mere moments after Scheifele’s first powerplay strike, we knew things wouldn’t get any better for the Sens:

The period ended on a bizarre note as Drake Batherson got into a scrap with Jansen Harkins. I know a lot of folks will praise Batherson for his enthusiasm and spark and I respect that opinion. I, respectfully, disagree with the decision however as Drake represents arguably Ottawa’s strongest case for a future elite winger and the Sens need him on the ice a lot more than they need him in the box. Above all else, the Sens need a healthy Drake Batherson and no one who gets injured over petty feuds. If you didn’t catch it:

After Ottawa controlled the five-on-five shot-volume throughout the first, Winnipeg came out with a flurry in the second. The Senators got the occasional look, capitalizing on some questionable puck-management from the Jets. However, Ottawa never cashed in on any of those odd-man rushes and Winnipeg padded their lead. First Mike Reilly blew his assignment leaving Kyle Connor all alone out front and then Ron Hainsey had a Blake Wheeler shot ricochet off him and before the game had reached the midway mark, the Jets had a three-goal lead.

Both teams continued to exchange powerplay time throughout the game, much to Ottawa’s misfortune as they failed to score with the advantage while conceding three powoerplay goals against. This game had a lot of unnecessary roughness, however, and Winnipeg exploited that while Ottawa stumbled. Among the more questionable moments, Andreas Englund drove Mason Appleton into the boards in a play that somehow didn’t result in a penalty to Englund and fortuitously didn’t result in an injury for Appleton:

By midway through the third period, although Ottawa continued to outshoot Winnipeg, the Jets knew they had this one sewed up and things just got progressively messier. Scott Sabourin drew a bench minor with his shenanigans and that seemed to only further motivate the Jets to embarrass the Senators at home. Tucker Poolman lined up Brady Tkachuk in the Jets’ end which resulted in an awkward and potentially dangerous collision that Brady didn’t appreciate. Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anthony Duclair stepped in to defend their linemate as a crowd of Jets swarmed him and ultimately Winnipeg received a powerplay.

After Marcus Hogberg had denied Mark Scheifele the hat-trick goal earlier in the third period with arguably his biggest save of the night, Scheifele completed the set with a couple minutes to play in the game and Ottawa’s penalty-killers completely out of gas:

Game Notes:

  • Dylan DeMelo played his usual role, this time not as a Senator, he flew under the radar in the good way. He kept it simple and made the smart plays. I just really hope watching this game provided me with the exposure therapy needed to get over my ex.
  • You could easily point to the final score and argue that Marcus Hogberg had a lousy night in giving up five goals and have a perfectly sound argument to make. I would make the case that Hogberg only gave up two goals at five-on-five and that, in both cases, his defence completely hung him out to try.
  • Scott Sabourin has a lot of the Mark Borowiecki of old in him. You love that the local guy gets to play for his hometown team even though he doesn’t have a tonne of skill. And then you watch them play and take a lot of bad penalties and contribute nothing offensively and it gets exhausting to watch. Let’s hope Sabourin takes a page out of Borowiecki’s book and learns the value of diversifying his style to prolong his NHL career.
  • Ottawa certainly had a lot of good zone time in this one and plenty of odd-man rushes exposing Winnipeg’s defensive holes. However, watching this team fail to convert on those chances consistently reminds me of the lack of upper echelon talent this team has right now. And I know that those players are on their way in the next couple of years. And if anything I see the positive in this because the Senators are laying a foundation of solid five-on-five play that creates chances-for while mitigating quality-against. I have a lot of hope for this group once they have those elite shooters to compliment the strong fundamental play we’ve seen from the likes of Thomas Chabot, Colin White, Brady Tkachuk, Drake Batherson, and Marcus Hogberg.

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