In case you ever doubted it, these two teams are exactly who we thought they were. The Edmonton Oilers still have a couple of the best players on the planet without much in the way of a supporting cast while the Senators have a handful of talented youngsters and arguably the worst depth players in the league. Throw in Ottawa’s ungodly goaltending at one end and a netminder making his NHL debut at the other end, and you get an 8-5 final score where the Senators owned the shot volume while basically never having a chance in the game.
Right off the second draw of the game, Dominik Kahun sent a puck towards the net that deflected off of Josh Norris’ stick and over the shoulder of Matt Murray, and that set the pace for the rest of the night. Shortly thereafter, Mike Reilly continued his fascinating season with another silly penalty after failing to clear the puck from the defensive zone. As it would for so much of the night, the Oilers’ powerplay globetrotted around the Senators’ atrocious penalty kill collapsing-box trick and known guy-who-doesn’t-score-goals-anymore James Neal initiated the bloodbath.
The Senators showed life nonetheless as Colin White demonstrated some remarkable hand-eye coordination to get Ottawa on the board and within one (this goal stood after a high-sticking review):
I can’t overemphasize the importance of that goal (and its confirmation upon review) for Colin White. White puts up solid nerd stats every night he gets into the lineup and he needs these kinds of palpable moments to get the coaching staff and the rest of the fanbase back in his corner. He makes this team that much more competitive and slightly less of a tire-fire when he gets in the lineup. The momentum came to a halt when Drake Batherson took a penalty in the offensive end. I didn’t really mind it from Drake as he was trying to establish position to win the puck battle and didn’t do anything egregious. It was one of those nights when the refs were calling it. Anyway, Tyson Barrie scored on the powerplay and Matt Murray’s night concluded after three goals on nine shots. Hog time!
Things didn’t go much better for Marcus Högberg than they did for Murray, as Edmonton scored again off the the draw, courtesy of Neal again. Already down 4-1 in the first period, Erik Gudbranson took it upon himself to flip the puck over the glass and out of play, leading to another Oilers powerplay goal, and, again I can’t stress enough how passively the Senators attempt and fail to box out opponents on the penalty kill. Just four dudes on cinder blocks out there.
Down 5-1 in the first frame, I could forgive just about any player for mentally checking out so extra credit to Brady Tkachuk for this beautiful individual play when it felt like the game had already ended after 15:
Part of the book on Brady hast to do with his lack of finish and shooting talent despite the amount of time he spends in the high danger areas. And while I hear those concerns, every now and then he uses his release like he did tonight and I feel like the best is yet to come for Tkachuk. In what felt like a completely unprecedented series of events, the Senators kept rolling as they drew a penalty and actually converted on the powerplay courtesy of Drake Batherson who notched his first of the season:
The Senators ended the first period and started the second on the penalty kill and naturally the shame never subsided. Connor McDavid did his thing and scored one on the powerplay. Darnell Nurse scored on a delayed penalty call against the Sens, and Kailer Yamamoto added an even strength goal to close out the period. If Ottawa could find any silver lining in the second period, they did successfully kill one(1!) penalty shortly before the Yamamoto goal made it 8-3.
The Senators managed to get within three (if that means anything) and piled up the shots at five on five without ever really realizing they had a goalie making his NHL debut in the opposing crease, and the powerplay for Ottawa only got less inspired as the night wore on. Even when the Oilers looked rather fatigued, you could tell the game ended back in the first. So to try to end on something of a positive note, enjoy this beauty from Tim Stützle:
- If you thought, naively like me, that the Senators organization learned their lesson about becoming overly-reliant on one defender, you were wrong. This team can just about tread water with Thomas Chabot healthy and should get relegated to the ECHL without him.
- If I can find some solace in what has thus far felt like an insufferable season of NHL hockey, it reassures me somewhat that the Senators have kept things close on several nights in terms of five on five shot volume. They have a long way to go in terms of goaltending, defence, and finishing of course. After the last era of Senators hockey, however, it feels kinda nice to watch a team that doesn’t get caved in terms of corsi while relying on a handful of players to compensate.
- On tonight’s heatmap you can distinctly see where Chabot was missing on offence. While on defence, the right side D got pummeled for Ottawa.
- Giving Tim Stützle fewer minutes on the powerplay than Derek Stepan, Connor Brown, and Evgenii Dadonov is certainly—a choice.
- Only five Senators did not register a point tonight and Dorion brought four of them in just this past off-season—not optimal!
- According to NaturalStatTrick, all of Ottawa’s six youngest forwards had multiple scoring chances. Artem Zub very quietly got his first NHL point and broke even in most on-ice categories.
- All of the Senators’ skaters broke even in five on five corsi. Mike Reilly and Josh Brown had the lowest rates at 52-55%. Erik Gudbranson and Braydon Coburn led the way at over 72% each because sure why not.
- Every Senator was on the ice for at least one goal-against and only Cedric Paquette was not on the ice for a goal-for. Chris Tierney, Connor Brown, Erik Gudbranson, and Nikita Zaitsev were all on the ice for four goals-against. Veteran leadership!