Today’s game between the Ottawa Senators and the New York Rangers was a tale of two rebuilds. The Senators had been an awful team for years by design and spent those dark times stockpiling draft picks and developing prospects, and they seemingly began to turn a corner near the end of the 2021 season.
The Rangers have also done a decent job with their young players, but they’ve got some serious advantages, as well. They were blessed by the hockey gods in both the 2019 and 2020 draft lotteries. With their status as a big-market team, they’ve been able to attract franchise players through free agency, such as Artemi Panarin, as well as blue-chip college prospects for pennies on the dollar, like the reigning Norris winner, Adam Fox. Sens fans can only dream.
And in today’s game, the Senators were further disadvantaged by a myriad of injuries, particularly to Colin White, Shane Pinto, and Clark Bishop, while the Rangers were relatively healthy.
At the end of the day, it’s not a surprise that the Rangers won this game by a 3-2 score. What’s interesting is how they did it. Given how the teams looked on paper, you’d expect three periods of high-octane offense from the Rangers, with Ottawa relying on their physicality and goaltending to hold off the star-studded squad. But that’s not what actually happened.
Instead, the Senators attacked right out of the gate, with a wonderful zone exit from Tim Stützle’ leading to Nick Paul beating Alexandar Georgiev glove side 41 seconds in.
From there, Ottawa remained in control for the majority of the game. They outshot the Rangers 10-8 in the first period and 10-4 in the second. As for Stützle, it seemed his luck was finally turning around, as he drew three minor penalties in that stretch, and while Ottawa was unable to score on the powerplay, they did manage to hold off the Rangers on three of their own.
In the third period, Josh Norris doubled the Senators’ lead with a sneaky low shot that caught Georgiev off guard.
Everything was going Ottawa’s way until a fight between Paul and Sammy Blais. From that point on, the Rangers went on to dominate for the final ten minutes. With Ottawa’s depleted forward corps, Nick Paul going to the penalty box for five minutes is a terrible idea. First, a Parker Kelly penalty was followed by Chris Kreider cutting Ottawa’s lead to 2-1. Kreider also ran into Murray after the goal, forcing him to leave with an injury, and bringing an ice-cold Anton Forsberg into a nearly completed hockey game. No goaltender interference on the play, because it was after the goal. I guess after the play is over, it’s open season on goalies?
It was most likely accidental but you can’t convince me Kreider’s a player who’s earned the benefit of the doubt here.
Things got even worse, as Stützle’s fourth drawn penalty on the night was offset by an embellishment minor that was questionable at the very least. Generally speaking, when you are tripped, you fall over, so someone’s going to have to explain this to me.
On the ensuing 4-on-4, defensemen Ryan Lindgren made his way to the front of the net, received a pass from Fox, and beat Forsberg to tie the game with just over four minutes to go. Two minutes after that Barclay Goodrow tipped the eventual game-winning goal past Forsberg, completing the comeback and shattering the hopes and dreams of every fan in the building along with their beautiful hats.
Hold on, it gets better. With ten seconds left in the game with the goalie pulled, Norris had the puck behind the net, when Chris Kreider shoved him into the boards, taking a minor penalty while effectively shutting down Ottawa’s possession in the dying seconds.
Norris wasn’t injured on the play, but what a fitting end to this game.
- Obviously, a big part of this comes from sheer anger towards the outcome, but as someone who bore witness to embarrassment after embarrassment from the Senators for years, I really wasn't impressed with the Rangers today. They were outplayed for most of the game, scored two of their three goals against a goalie who’d been on the bench for over 50 minutes, and were aided by some suspect calls (or lack thereof) that went in their favor. Exhibit A:
- Thomas Chabot and Artem Zub were dominant today, posting a 5v5 expected goals share of 86.51% according to NaturalStatTrick. That top pair is starting to click.
- Excuses aside, the Senators did make mistakes that allowed the Rangers to turn the game around. Head Coach D.J. Smith acknowledged this in his press conference. For everything that went against the team today, focusing on improvement rather than dwelling on what can’t be changed is a good move. The team has looked decent this year and they’re only going to get better as the youth develops.
- Tim Stützle is going to be a star in the NHL by the start of the next season. Without a doubt.
Stats (from NaturalStatTrick):
- Look at that game flow. You can probably guess where Nick Paul’s fight took place.
- On Monday, October 25th, at 7:00 PM EST, the Washington Capitals pay a visit to the CTC as Ottawa’s homestand continues.