It was by far Craig Anderson’s best performance of the season, but it still wasn’t enough to propel the Ottawa Senators to victory over the Minnesota Wild. By beating the Senators on Canadian Thanksgiving Day (October 14), the Wild scored their first victory of the season.
It seems as if points will be hard to come this season by for either team and this time the winner happened to be the Wild.
In this post, I want to look at five takeaways from the game.
Takeaway #1: Goalie Craig Anderson Still Has Game
Craig Anderson had his best game of the season stopping 33 of the 34 shots poured at him by the Wild. The 38-year-old Anderson turned in his best start of the young season, with only Victor Rask scoring a goal in the middle of the third period. The final goal was scored by Zach Parise, who added an empty-netter for the 2-0 win.
Prior to this game, Anderson had allowed nine goals in his first two starts of the year, so this game – even though it was a loss – was encouraging. Sadly, I’m thinking Anderson is going to have to win some of these games himself because it doesn’t look as if the offense will score a ton of goals or the defense will stop him from seeing a ton of shots. Unless things change, and I know that is the goal of head coach D.J. Smith, support at both ends of the rink might be rare on most nights with the 1-4-0 Senators.
Takeaway #2: The Senators Need a Power-Play
I know the season is young, but the Senators have yet to score a power-play this season.
Senators head coach D.J. Smith said, “We might have had one good power play I thought. Just not enough chances going toward the net. I didn’t think we worked hard enough to get pucks back and to stay on pucks and that’s something that has to change.”
It’s interesting to note his use of the phrase “didn’t work hard enough.” That doesn’t bode well for a team that has youth but is lacking experienced, high-end talent.
Senators’ veteran Bobby Ryan discussed the pressure the lack of execution on the power-play can cause. He noted, “When you’re a power-play guy you kind of put it on your shoulders and take it a little too personally at times. You over-grip the stick, you over-analyze every pass and I think sometimes you just have to forget and just play and get three, four guys going to the net and find a way to get an ugly one.”
The Senators could use any power-play goal – ugly or not. During the last minutes of the game, Ottawa had a power play and pulled Anderson to create a two-man advantage. However, the team didn’t have a shot on goal.
Takeaway #3: It’s Going to Be a Rollercoaster Year for the Senators
Actually, when you look at how the Senators played during the game, it wasn’t as if the team laid an egg. Still, the team simply didn’t have the offensive flow it needed to put together much pressure.
Given the confidence the Senators should have come into the game with – they had just beaten the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night 4-2, it must have been a disappointing game for the players. They had hoped to build momentum through a second game. However, in the end, neither team had any momentum.
Anderson admitted as much, ”We did get some confidence from the other night. Coming in I thought we were playing the right way. We had some golden opportunities and just weren’t able to capitalize.”
Takeaway #4: Hockey Can Be a Scary Game
I’ve seen it a couple of times already this season, where a little check has thrown a player into a somersault where his feet come over his head and his skates actually clip somebody around the face. In this particular game, there was a scary moment late in the second period when goalie Anderson took a skate in the head when Jason Zucker fell after being tripped by Thomas Chabot. Fortunately, Anderson was not hurt and remained in the game.
Anderson was fortunate. I’m surprised more players aren’t badly hurt by flying skates. I remember that scare many years ago when Buffalo Sabres goalie Clint Malarchuk was sliced across the neck by the sharp edge of the skate blade.
For those who don’t know the story, during a game between the St. Louis Blues and the Buffalo Sabres on March 22, 1989, the Blues’ Steve Tuttle and the Sabres’ Uwe Krupp crashed into the goal crease during play. Tuttle’s skate blade hit Malarchuk’s neck and severed his carotid artery.
Malarchuk thought he was going to die and said later that all he wanted to do was get off the ice. His mother was watching the game on TV, and he didn’t want her to see him die. Knowing that his mother was watching the game, he had an equipment manager call her to tell her he loved her. Then he asked for a priest.
Malarchuk would have died except for the quick action of the Sabres’ athletic trainer, Jim Pizzutelli, a former Army combat medic who served in Vietnam. He gripped Malarchuk’s neck and pinched off the blood vessel, not letting go until doctors arrived to begin stabilizing the wound.
How devastating was that injury on Malarchuk? He played again, but he was never the same. Later in life, he was treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.
What’s Next for the Ottawa Senators?
The Senators start a three-game road trip in Las Vegas on Thursday evening against the Golden Knights. The Golden Knights are tough, but the Senators – if they play well might be able to salvage a win or two from the Arizona Coyotes or the Dallas Stars, who the team plays in the final two games of the trip.
We wish them good luck.
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