If, in your post-Christmas haze, you were too lazy to find the remote and watch this game, you didn't miss much. Similarly to many families this week, the Sens were sluggish. Unlike some families this week, they lacked any semblance of fight. In the end, they fell 6-2 to the New Jersey Devils in a game in which the score line probably flattered their uninspired play.
The game opened with a bit of a recurring theme, thanks to Drake Batherson potting his fourth goal in as many games just after a powerplay expired.
Unfortunately, another recurring theme defined the rest of the first: the Sens' Penalty Kill looking positively woeful. The Devil went 2/3 with the man advantage, with J'accuse, I mean, Jack Hughes getting the first one, and Jesper Bratt tallying the second one even though there were just 20 seconds left in the period when the penalty was called.
Things didn't get much better in the second frame, with the Devils notching a goal that should never have been. Zub made a horrible miscue to cough the puck up to Dawson Mercer, Greig played some of the softest 1-on-1 defence you'll ever see, and Korpisalo decided covering the post when a guy comes from beside the net is for suckers. It was almost comical how much of a gift this goal was. We
The Sens actually generated a few quality chances, including a Brady breakaway, but couldn't solve... Nico Daws? I'm like 82% sure I spelled that right. And wouldn't you know it, the only other goal of the period went to Tyler Toffoli, meaning that after going up 1-0 early, then Sens gave up four straight to be down 4-1 entering the third. Maybe more crucially, the Sens had only mustered 14 shots on goal through two periods.
The third period opened with what felt like an ode to Sens hockey of late. Ottawa pressed, earned a powerplay, and then took a high-risk low-reward shot just as the penalty expired, resulting in an easy breakaway pass for Brendan Smith who, upon exiting the box, scored his first goal since April 24, 2022 (that's 89 games). It very much felt like the dagger, and the way Ottawa just kind of collapsed into their own zone afterwards made it worse. That didn't quite do it for scoring though, as Jacob Bernard-Docker got yet another favourable weird bounce to score his third of the year. In case you thought that might spark something in the Sens, it sparked about a shift, before they went back to getting hemmed in and then allowing a final goal by Luke Hughes.
- This team's special teams still leave much to be desired. Martin's supposed to be a defensive specialist, why does this team's PK have no idea how to take away a lane or clear the puck out of the zone? It looks like we might have to wait a bit longer yet before there is marked improvement in that area.
- Greig has looked less impressive lately. Maybe it's because he isn't getting Tarasenko or Batherson on his wring. Maybe it's because he isn't getting powerplay time, in favour of... Jiri Smejkal... Whatever it is, I hope it's not fatigue after coming back cold from injury.
- I just noticed that Luke Hughes' jersey number (43) is half of Jack Hughes' (86). That's adorable.
- Maybe four times tonight I saw the Sens force the D-to-D pass at the offensive blue line and it was intercepted. The risky play is that much riskier when it's done reflexively without reading the play.
- Dawes looked like Dominik Hasek in this game. I don't know what it is about the Sens that gives unheralded goalies superpower, but Dauze was absolutely the beneficiary tonight. I'm still skeptical D'Awwws will supplant Schmid in the organizational depth chart, but tonight's performance should at least get Dahhzz another start or two.