**Editor’s note: I’m experimenting with a different format for the recap and would love to hear some feedback! — nkb**
If you tuned into tonight’s affair between the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators without knowing anything about how each team’s season had been going, you could be forgiven for thinking this was a preview of a potentially heated play-off series. The hockey was good, emotions were running high, and we had villains and heroes everywhere. For everyone that’s been watching Sens game as they play out the string, it was exactly the type of performance that rewards your perseverance. Efforts like these gives one hope for next season.
The Quick and Dirty:
- The Sens prevailed 3-2 by fighting back from a two goal deficit in the second period, thanks in large part to a lethal power play. They held onto the lead through some exceptional work on the penalty kill and a couple of key defensive plays. Brad Marchand clipped Connor Brown and got very worked up about being called for it. Curtis Lazar tried to fight Parker Kelly. Erik Brännström, of all people, threw a crushing check. In short, the game was physical and tense — and a lot of fun.
- After the Bruins exited the first period up 2-0 despite a lot of Sens chances, this game could have easily slipped away from the local heroes. Instead, Brady Tkachuk got Ottawa within one less than a minute into the middle frame. That goal kept the Sens in it, and set the stage for the actual decisive moment of the game: Josh Norris and Tim Stützle scoring power play goals less than a minute apart after Patrice Bergeron took a hooking penalty with the Bruins already down a man. The whole outlook of the game changed in those sixty seconds. The Sens’ PP has been absolutely lethal in the weeks since Norris and Drake Batherson returned to the lineup and tonight was no different.
- DJ Smith’s decision to be ultra aggressive by sending out five forwards to start the 5-on-3 power play is exactly the type of creative, data-driven decision I’d like to see more of from the coach. The Sens were trailing and presented with the best possible opportunity to get themselves back in the game via a two man advantage; with only half of a game left to play, this might be their single best chance. The move paid off in spades as the Sens scored quickly to equalize, then pulled ahead when Smith kept the first unit out (swapping Brännström in for White) despite their having played nearly a minute already. The whole sequence was evidence of great tactical courage and deserves recognition.
- It seems that we’re writing this virtually every game lately, but Stützle was absolutely sensational tonight. He notched a goal and two assists, and was an absolute terror with the puck all night. The Sens actually struggled somewhat at 5v5 as a team, but out-attempted the B’s 15-6 with Stützle on the ice, and out-scored them 1-0. Timmy Superstar, indeed.
- Connor Brown and Alex Formenton were absolute menaces on the Penalty Kill, with each of them garnering several high grade chances down a man — in Brown’s case, two breakaways in the same shift!
- Anton Forsberg once again made the saves he had to make. Barring some sort of major unanticipated off-season development, he’ll enter next season as the clear favourite to be the starter.
- I’m loathe to complain about the officiating, but the ref kicking the puck to the Bruins’ player certainly had me scratching my head:
What on god's green earth is this ref doing?! Kicks the puck TO the Bruins player. My lord. pic.twitter.com/A1t8o7HOC3— Lalime's Martian (@LalimesMartian) April 15, 2022
Game Flow + Heat Map: