Senators lose 5-2 to Flyers after late-game collapse
Ottawa's struggle for consistency continued against Philadelphia as they fell 5-2 to the Flyers.
Above all, one thing strikes me about this team: Its fragility. The Ottawa Senators have no swagger and they seem to have no confidence, despite some colourful and self-confident individuals on the team. That's going to have to change if Ottawa's fates are going to improve, and Paul MacLean is going to have to figure out a way to address that challenge.
In this one, it was a tough break on a goal review that fractured the Senators' thin veneer of confidence. They'd fought their way back into the game after spotting the opposition a two-goal lead, and were looking good when Turris fired a puck at the net--only to have it blocked by Nicklas Grossman and (according to video review) kept out of the net. After the review, Philly came out strong, and scored two goals in 23 seconds to set Ottawa back. It was a tough collapse to watch as a fan of the team who a) thought they played pretty well, and b) is confident they've got the roster to do better than they are--but it's only the latest in that category.
The first period started badly, with a good scoring chance for Jakub Voracek just 10 seconds into the game, but things came around well for Ottawa and the teams were pretty evenly matched. But late in the period, Claude Giroux scored a powerplay goal to put Philadelphia up by one after 20 minutes.
Things were pretty ugly to start the second period, with a lot of missed passes and lost pucks setting Ottawa on its heels and giving Philly some early zone time that reached its pinnacle with Sean Couturier's first goal of the season when he sneaked a chintzy one past Robin Lehner. Just a couple minutes later, though, Clarke MacArthur cut the deficit in half with a perfectly-placed wrister on the powerplay. A good sign of intensity from Colin Greening came late in the middle frame, when he took exception to Luke Schenn's provocations and the two dropped their mitts. Greening took the decision on points and (warning: dubious opinion forthcoming) seemed to give the team some energy with the battle.
But that energy didn't translate to begin the third period; Philly came on strong and got the first few shots until Zac Rinaldo took a characteristically stupid penalty and gave Ottawa a powerplay opportunity--and on it, Kyle Turris batted a puck in out of mid-air to knot the game at twos. Ten minutes later, it looked like Ottawa might have taken the lead, but Nicklas Grossmann managed to stop Turris' shot at the empty net and play went on. There was a lengthy review of the play during the next stoppage, but refs ruled it inconclusive. After that, the Sens fell apart.
Within a minute of the review was ruled a no-goal, both Kimmo Timonen and Wayne Simmonds took advantage of some weak defensive zone coverage and got pucks past Lehner. Although Turris was awarded a penalty shot with about five minutes left in the game, Steve Mason stopped him to preserve the two-goal lead. An empty-netter for Adam Hall salted away the 5-2 loss.
Some years ago, an opposing player (I forget who) referred to the Ottawa Senators as the cockiest bunch of players to never win anything. A lot has changed since then.
Sens Killer: Steve Mason
He might have had some serious help from his defenders, but Mason once again stoned the Senators and held back their attacks with big saves. He stopped 31 of 33 shots faced, including a penalty shot, and all of a sudden the Flyers' acquisition of Mason doesn't look so crazy.
Sens Hero: Bobby Ryan
Although he had just three shots and no points, Ryan was buzzing all night and seemed like the straw that stirred the drink on Ottawa's top line. The more I see of him, the more impressed I become; there's a lot to like about him.
Sens Hero: Kyle Turris
He's going to have nightmares about the missed goal and penalty shot, but Turris had a solid effort in this one. He finished with a goal and an assist plus three shots and a 63 per cent faceoff proficiency.
Sens Killer: Kimmo Timonen
Out of nowhere, Timonen scored more points in this one than he'd scored in his previous 19 combined: One goal--the game-winner--and two assists to lead the Flyers to victory.
Sens Hero: Derek Grant
An unsung hero, Grant seemed uniquely immune to the lacking confidence that was apparent in his teammates. He just did what he did, maintaining a good presence in the offensive zone, killing penalties, and getting a few shots on net to boot.
Sens Hero: Milan Michalek
Although I've been looking for a reason to be optimistic about Michalek for some time, I think we might finally have seen a glimmer tonight. He was minus-2, unfortunately, but also led the team in shots (four) and also looked good killing penalties. He wasn't afraid to drive the net or unleash his speed, so maybe things are turning around for him. Few things could be better for the Senators' fate than an effective Michalek complementing the always-potent Turris line.
Sens Zero: Jared Cowen
Tonight, Cowen was on for three of the four goals against. He was also on the ice for three of four goals against versus Columbus. It might be that he's not that good or it might be the legacy of his surgery and missed training camp, but it doesn't matter: He's been terrible all season, and it hasn't gotten better. He's not a physical presence, he's not fast or mobile enough to offer anything offensively, and he's not even good on the penalty kill right now. The long-overdue scratching of Jared Cowen should not take much longer.
Dishonourable Mention: Robin Lehner
Lehner's first bad game of the season wasn't even that bad, but there are at least two goals he's got to be kicking himself about (the second and fourth) and there are likely Sens fans everywhere tearing their hair out tonight at the realization that Robin Lehner isn't a god after all.