One would suppose that, given that hindsight is 20/20, it might have been entirely predictable to say that the Ottawa Senators would come out on the short end of the score on Saturday against the Calgary Flames. Sure, everyone had to know that Calgary would come out a lot harder after the clunker they laid out there on the Canadian Tire Centre ice on Thursday night. And they most certainly did do that. But the other thing to look at was the way the Senators finished their 6-1 win off that evening.
They played one of their best periods of the year in the first period on Thursday night, not only coming out of it with a 2-0 lead, but also the way they were using the rush to set themselves up offensively. In the second period on Thursday, they extended their lead to 4-1 and eventually chased the Flames’ starting goalie David Rittich. But it was in the third period that signs began to show themselves. The Senators lost some of their discipline when it came to puck management and forced Matt Murray to not only work a lot harder than he had in the first two periods, but he had to come up really large a few times because his teammates allowed their play in their own end to become sloppy. That lack of attention to detail was quite evident as the game opened on Saturday afternoon and it continued throughout that first period. The Sens gave up TWENTY shots in the opening frame and many of the Flames chances came when they were allowed to skate into the slot and take higher percentage shots than Ottawa had allowed them in the first two periods on Thursday. I know that there will be people who will fix the blame solely on Murray but when a team gives up the middle in their own zone the way that Ottawa did in the first period on Saturday, they are asking for trouble. This Senators team is still young and still has a lot of growing to do. Winning is not something that just comes with a snap of the fingers. It has to be learned. Having just won 5 of 7 coming into the weekend, the team exhibited more of their youth than they may have wanted to. The Flames consistently outskated and outworked Ottawa through the first two periods on Saturday. And the result showed up on the scoreboard. We’ll see whether or not the slap in the face that the team received this weekend gives them more resolve to stand up and work, or if it causes them to retreat into a shell. My bet is that, with D.J. Smith at the helm, he will have his young team ready to at least work as hard as they can. GOALIE WATCH It’s been really hard to tell so far in this 2021 season whether or not Matt Murray thrives on a lot of work in a game or if he prefers playing in a game in which he doesn’t get a lot of shots. We have seen examples of each of those types of games so far and he has performed really well in some and he has looked completely shaken in others. There are goalies who thrive on getting a lot of shots. And there are those who prefer to play as if they are in a rocking chair. Ken Dryden and Martin Brodeur were examples of goalies who played really well while getting a minimum number of shots. They were always mentally ready when the onslaught came no matter how long they had to wait between periods of action. But goalies like Craig Anderson and Gerry Cheevers were better when they were constantly mentally engaged. Cheevers was famous for zoning out when he had to wait a while between shots. He said that was why he would win games 6-4 and 7-5. He would generally win, but he was less effective when he got fewer shots on him. GOT TO LUVVVV THE DRAKE! Drake Batherson scored again on Saturday, extending his goal scoring streak to five games. There are four members of the Senators current incarnation (since 1992) that have had six-game goal scoring streaks. Bob Kudelski scored seven goals and added three assists in a six game stretch in October of 1993. Daniel Alfredsson had six goals and nine assists over six straight games in January of 2007. Later that season, Dany Heatley had eight goals and four helpers between February 20 and March 2, 2007. The last Senator to score goals in six consecutive contests was Jason Spezza. He scored seven and had an assist between January 23 and February 4, 2010. OUT OF THE FRYING PAN INTO THE.....? The next game for the Senators will be on Monday, March 1. The Flames and Senators will go at it at the Canadian Tire Centre once more. Then the Sens will head on a road trip starting in Montreal on Tuesday, March 2. After that, they head west for two in Calgary and three in Edmonton. The last time they played the Oilers out there (and in Ottawa when you think about it), it was not pretty. We’ll see how D.J. Smith has them prepared for this trip. But first things first. Will they douse the Flames on Monday night? That is the question. Have fun folks, and stay safe!
Howie Mooney | Sens Nation Hockey