The Ottawa Senators won their second game of the season, beating the visiting Detroit Red Wings 5-2 as Anthony Duclair scored twice and Chris Tierney, Mark Borowiecki and Jean-Gabriel Pageau each scored once each. With that win, the Senators ended a four-game losing streak and pushed the Red Wings’ losing streak to six games. The Senators’ record is now 2-6-1.
Why did the Red Wings lose? According to their head coach Jeff Blashill, “I thought (that) was the worst defensively we’ve played in a while.” Although Blashill noted that the Senators played hard, he critiqued his own team for giving up too many chances.
As Blashill said, “Sometimes when you try so hard you play a little bit dumb at times and you give up chances that you can’t afford to give up.”
In this post, I want to offer five takeaways from the Senators’ game.
Takeaway One: The Senators Play Hard
As Ottawa fans know, the Senators are going through a rebuilding season. They are not expected to have a contending team, and they don’t. They have a nucleus of good young players, but the team – as a whole – isn’t there yet.
That said, the one thing the Senators’ players can control is their “try.” How hard are they working? How much do they care? That’s been something new head coach D.J. Smith has preached and, for the most part, the players are buying in. In short, this team works hard and tries. Even the Red Wings’ coach acknowledged as much.
So, kudos to them for stepping up every night. And, when they do, a win is entirely possible.
Takeaway Two: Goalie Anders Nilsson Is Capable of Having Good Games
In this game, Senators’ goalie Anders Nilsson made 34 saves for his first win of the season. The 29-year-old now has a 1-2-1 record with a 2.73 GAS and a .935 save percentage. He’s given up only two goals in three straight games.
Nilsson noted, also talking about the team’s work ethic: “I think we outworked them from the first minute to all the way through to the last. It was nice to see that we got rewarded for all the hard work.” I’ve never been a goalie or competed in any sport at this level; however, I’m thinking that – as a goalie who can see all the play on the ice – it has to be heartening to see your teammates play hard in front of you. And, I’m guessing that your effort is lifted as you see their effort.
Takeaway Three: Having a Good Penalty Kill Unit Is Great
My now-departed friend, Larry Beauchamp – who coached men’s university hockey at Memorial University in Newfoundland and was the 1971-72 Atlantic University Sport Coach of the Year, used to tell me that good penalty-killing is simply a matter of really hard work. So, perhaps, this takeaway is also about working hard. However, one difference in this game was that Ottawa killed all of the Red Wings’ five power plays.
Coach Smith noted it specifically when he said: “Our penalty kill wins us the game.” He also added, “Our penalty kill has probably been the strongest part of our game all year.” Why, because “We’ve got a lot of workers. We’ve got guys who can kill penalties. … Wire-to-wire the penalty kill has probably been the best part of our game.”
Takeaway Four: Logan Brown Is Recalled from AHL’s Belleville
Logan Brown, the 21-year-old prospect who was chosen 11th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, was recalled from the Belleville Senators of the AHL and played in this game. He didn’t hit the score sheet, but it will be good to see what he can do with the big club. With the AHL affiliate, he had three goals, four assists, for seven points in five games.
There’s a chance he’ll get a good look with the team because both Colin White and Artem Anisomov were placed on the injured reserve list. White will likely miss three to five weeks with a sore hip flexor and groin injury. Anisimov will be out for two weeks with a lower-body injury.
Takeaway Five: Anthony Duclair Finally Has a Good Game
Anthony Duclair scored two goals in the win over the Red Wings. He came into the game with only a single goal on the season and without points in his last five games. His first goal gave his team a 4-2 lead in the second period and his last goal was an empty-netter with minutes remaining in regulation. He now has three goals and no assists in nine contests.
What’s Next for the Ottawa Senators?
The Senators now play two more games at home before hitting the road. They play the New York Islanders on Friday evening and the San Jose Sharks on Sunday evening. It would be great to see the team chalk up a second consecutive victory – perhaps even two more.
Every time I see the ticket prices in Ottawa – they can be had for about $13 CAD – I have two thoughts. First, how sad for the organization that the team can’t draw fans. Second, how fun would it be to live in a place where ticket prices were cheap enough to take one’s family.
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