The Ottawa Senators scored the game's first two goals and rolled to a 5-1 win over the visiting Calgary Flames on Monday night at the Canadian Tire Centre. Drake Batherson scored twice. Artem Anisimov, Colin White and Evgenii Dadanov had singles. Milan Lucic scored the only Flames’ goal.
After a scoreless first period, Ottawa took over the game in the second. Anisimov and Batherson scored a little over two minutes apart. Lucic brought the Flames to within one about two minutes after that. But Batherson intercepted a bad David Rittich clear and put it into the vacant net to close the second frame’s scoring. Ottawa outshot the Flames 36-28 in the game. One glaring stat was that the Sens had 13 takeaways in the game to Calgary’s 2. Last week, a Senators victory resulted in the firing of coach Claude Julien by the Montreal Canadiens. Rumours of the precariousness of Geoff Ward’s job have rumbled in the Calgary media. The Flames have won just three of their last ten games and their record now sits at 10-11-2 and they are currently in fifth place in the Canadian Division, a point behind the Habs, who have three games in hand on Calgary. Keep your eyes on the transaction pages over the next few days.
GOALIE WATCH In the episode of Seinfeld in which we learn about Frank Costanza’s creation of Festivus, Jerry was dating a woman – Gwen – who looked amazing in certain light (like Monk’s Coffee Shop) and not-so-amazing in other light (like the Costanzas' front porch). In a lot of ways, “good light/bad light Gwen” could be a metaphor for Senators’ goalie Matt Murray who backstopped his team to a 6-1 win over Calgary on Monday night. There have been nights on which Murray has looked absolutely great and there have been nights, well, you know. Monday night, as the Senators were playing, I kept an eye on Twitter and the number of times that people referred to the Ottawa goalie as “Good Murray” or something similar struck me. Yes, it’s true that there have been games in which Murray has alternated between a very good night with a save percentage well over .920 followed by a game in which his percentage is well below .900.
Last Sunday, February 21, The Sens edged Montreal 3-2 and Murray stopped 30 of 32 shots (.938). The following Tuesday, Ottawa dropped the Habs 5-4 in a shootout. That was the game in which the Brendan Gallagher goal with 2.1 seconds left was overturned and the game went to overtime and then the shootout. Murray stopped 32 of 36 (.889).
Then, Thursday, the Senators dumped the Flames 6-1 and Murray was great in stopping 29 of 30 (.967). That was followed by the game Saturday in which Murray got no help in the first period and Calgary had 20 shots. Murray faced 33 shots in 40 minutes and gave up six goals (.818). Fast forward to Monday night. Sens win 6-1. Murray stops 27 of 28 (.964). Good Murray showed up. Tuesday night, they play in Montreal. Ottawa fans are hoping that the lighting is good in the Bell Centre. CALGARY HAS GROWN TO HATE THE DRAKE Drake Batherson has stretched his goal scoring streak to six games after netting two on Monday night. Three of those six games were played against the Flames. He now has tied the streaks of Daniel Alfredsson (6-9-15) in January of 2007, Dany Heatley (8-4-12) in February and March of 2007, Bob Kudelski (7-3-10) in October of 1993 and Jason Spezza (7-1-8) in January and February of 2010. With those two goals, he leapfrogs over Brady Tkachuk to take the team scoring lead with 17 points in 24 games. The next Senators goal scoring streak is 7 games. Frank Nighbor did that twice. January of 1919 and again in January and February of 1920. THE NEXT SENATOR TO 1,000 GAMES? Braydon Coburn played on Monday night against Calgary. He has now played in 974 career NHL games. That means he needs just 26 games to get to 1,000 in his career. Ottawa has 32 games remaining in this 2021 season. So, if Coburn plays every game, he will reach the 1,000 mark at home against Vancouver in April. The problem there is that Coburn has played in only 10 of the Sens’ 24 games to date this year. The sentimental side of me is hoping he can get there this year as a Senator. The rational side of me fears he may have to wait until next season. NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT.... The recent stretch of good play by the Senators of late (6 wins in their last 9 games) has had a few people speculating on the chances of the Senators to make the playoffs. I am not on that bandwagon at this time. Not yet anyway. I’m not saying they won’t but there are a bunch of hills to climb before Ottawa fans should even think of that. Let’s look at some numbers just because we can. Right now, the Canadiens occupy the fourth and final playoff spot in the Canadian Division. They have 23 points through 20 games. That is a .575 points percentage. Let’s assume that we can extrapolate that out to be the points percentage necessary to hold on to that fourth spot. That would mean that the final playoff finisher in the division would require 64 or 65 points. The Senators have 32 games left. Their current record is 8-15-1 for 17 points. That means that in their final 32 games, they would need 47 or 48 points. 24 wins out of 32 games. Is that doable? Is that pace sustainable? By this Senators team? Again, my heart would love to see it. My head doesn’t see it even coming close to happening. If I’m wrong, I will say it. I’d love to hear an argument that could show it to be plausible. I just don’t think that argument can be made.
Have fun folks and stay safe!!