Senators struggle after Olympic break, lose 4-1 to Rangers

Things started relatively well. The Ottawa Senators struck first with a Milan Michalek goal in the first period that came from a beautiful Jason Spezza pass. They went into the first intermission with the 1-0 lead, and that was about the highlight of the night, because it was all downhill after that.

The second period was an exercise in futility for the Senators. Though the Sens outshot the Blueshirts 11-7, the Rangers scored on 4 of those 7 shots. The Senators? They couldn't convert on one of those shots. The biggest problem was in their own zone, obviously, as defensively responsible blueliners like Matt Carkner and Anton Volchenkov were absolutely pitiful in their own zone. The forwards didn't help either, with tons of giveaways in the period. After the fourth goal of the period, Brian Elliott was pulled from the net, letting Pascal Leclaire get in a bit of action.

Sure, the Sens can make excuses. Yes, they had a long break so their timing was off. Yes, Filip Kuba left after the first with a lower body injury, forcing the Senators to shuffle defensive pairings. However, neither of those things excuse the pitiful display the Senators put on in front of their hometown crowd tonight.

Sens Heroes: Chris Phillips, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek
Despite all four goals against being even strength, these three managed to be +1 (along with Daniel Alfredsson). Phillips was his usual solid self, making his defensive partner look good no matter who it was, while Jason Spezza was creating many chances with his speed, stick handling, and gorgeous passes. Spezza was also 65% on the faceoff dot tonight. Michalek got the goal, and also worked his tail off during the game.

Sens Zeroes: Anton Volchenkov, Brian Elliott, the powerplay
Anton certainly did not play like Anton tonight. He was lost in his own end, gave the puck up frequently, and finished -3. Brian Elliott let in four goals on seven shots in the second, and even though he was hung out to dry on most of them, a goalie cannot let that happen. The powerplay, meanwhile, never could get set up and though the Rangers didn't get any shorthanded goals, the Senators didn't get any points from it either.

Sens killers: Ryan Callahan, Sean Avery
Callahan had two goals, while Avery had a goal and an assist. These two guys played physical hockey but also put points up on the board. Both had great games.

Any other positives?

  1. Pascal Leclaire did not get hurt, and was perfect during his 22 minutes on ice.
  2. In their very brief moments together, the Shannon-Regin-Kovalev line looked sharp.
  3. It sure is nice to see Erik Karlsson playing again. He made a couple of bad plays that turned the puck over, but his crisp passes looked great and he had a few nice shots as well. He even blocked 3 shots, which was nice to see.
  4. Matt Cullen still hasn't been dangerous in the attacking zone, but he's a very smooth skater and his defensive awareness is fantastic.
  5. The Buffalo Sabres also lost tonight, keeping the Senators at the top of the Northeast Division.
  6. If anyone questions why the Senators traded for Andy Sutton, Bryan Murray can simply play this game tape.

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