Sens Out-Matched in Dion's Debut
The Senators powerplay fails to take advantage of numerous opportunities as they drop Wednesday's game 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings
red-hot room-temperature Ottawa Senators took their two-game winning streak on the road down to Joe Louis Arena to take on the Detroit Red Wings. Having out-scored their opponents 11-2 over the past two games, the Sens were hoping for more of the same on Wednesday night.
The main story of the night was the debut of newly-acquired Sens defenceman, Dion Phaneuf. After an uneventful and quiet first shift by Phaneuf, the Red Wings' Danny Dekeyser got to a loose puck in the slot and fired it off a Sens stick and past Anderson. The Sens are down 1-0 early...again. Of course this comes as no surprise to Sens fans as it's the 35th time they've given up the first goal of the game.
When Phaneuf hit the ice next, he provided fans with their first opportunity to share their first "UGH!" moment as his second shift was a little... floppy. He got a little crossed up as Gustav Nyquist was rushing in on him and he dropped like a pile of bricks. Luckily, Craig Anderson was there to bail out his new teammate with a big stop.
It's obviously no easy task to play under the microscope after a huge trade but it did seem that Dion's nerves calmed down and he settled into his game.
Despite not giving up any goals in the second period, it wasn't pretty for the Sens. While I'd like to use the cliche that they were losing all the puck battles, it seemed that the Sens weren't even taking part in any of the battles. They were always second to the puck, and rarely looked interested in going after the loose puck.
The Smith-Pageau-Stone line continued their strong play of late, but weren't able to capitalize on their opportunities. Their hardwork approach to a cycle game will hopefully pay off in the long-run, but they spent a lot of their time along the boards and their attempts to move the puck to quality scoring areas were put to a halt by the Red Wings defencemen.
Early in the third, Henrik Zetterberg broke down the right wing and beat Dion Phaneuf to the outside. Phaneuf appeared to have good body position on him, but Zetterberg snapped it top shelf over Anderson's shoulder for a highlight reel goal.
In the third period, the Sens went to the powerplay four straight times and each time was more of the same. Too much passing. Too high-risk with their puck movement. Not battling for loose pucks. Not enough pucks to the net. It appears that they are looking for a set play all the time instead of just sticking to the basics.
In the dying minutes of the third with the goalie out, Mike Hoffman ripped one from the top of the circle that tipped off Zack Smith's stick and into the back of the net to cut the lead to one. Cue the comeback!
The comeback dreams were squashed as quickly as they came as Darren Helm found the empty net from center ice to make it a 3-1 game.
Overall, Phaneuf's first game as a Senator left plenty to be desired, but I don't expect the microscope to be off of him anytime soon. It will definitely take some a while to get used to seeing Phaneuf in a Sens jersey.
Sens Hero: Erik Karlsson
He was one of the few who had their wheels tonight. End-to-end rushes and blowing by defencemen in typical Karlsson fashion. He tried to do it all for his team tonight, but no dice.
Sens Hero: Craig Anderson
The first goal was a bad deflection off his own teammate and then Zetterberg potted a beauty on him. He kept the Sens in a game that they seemed disinterested in taking part in.
Sens Zero: The powerplay
The Sens were handed numerous opportunities to get back in this one, but their powerplay struggled mightily by going 1 for 7. Their lone successful powerplay was actually a 6-on-4 as they tried to mount a late comeback. Overall, way too much passing and a lack of urgency to retrieve the puck.