As I watched the Senators take on the New York Rangers yesterday, that shootout seemed to encapsulate the whole game--a simple inability to win the game. Thanks to some steady goaltending from Brian Elliott, the Senators had no less than three opportunities to win the game.
Nick Folgino, Mike Fisher (otherwise great game, btw), and Jarkko Ruutu each could have won the game if they scored on their shootout opportunity.
That's three opportunities to get an extra point, and three opportunities to push the team a little further toward a playoff spot. It's something of a cliché, but it must be said that these games are just as important as the ones in April. When the Sens are desperate for points in the spring, I'll be recalling this game in my mind.
The inconsistent goaltending, of course, is not the fault of Elliott. That's the fault to Pascal Leclaire, who has single-handedly led us to question his abilities. I will play the part of optimist here and note the following:
- He's played 13 games and is above .500. That's far from terrible.
- Leclaire missed a whole year and could still be reconstructing his game and getting back into the groove on a regular NHL schedule.
- The Sens offence hasn't been too helpful recently. Few powerplays and fewer crucial goals.
- In his last 6 games, he's only allowed more than 3 goals once. Do not panic.
Who saw this recent wave of Alex Kovelav criticism coming from a mile away? Everyone! Every NHL pundit on the planet knew that Kovalev would be streaky. And now, while it's happening it's supposed to be surprising? No, sorry. We'll see what his stats are at season's end... Then I'll be pissed.
Tuesday versus Leafs good measuring stick
Next game is against the Leafs on Tuesday evening. I hope to see Leclaire return to the net, and put any potential controversies to rest.
Playing the Leafs is always fun because they set the bar for terrible teams in the NHL. If you can beat them, you're fine. If not, well, I might have to pick up some more of that 7.0% beer.
Stats you didn't want to hear (courtesy yahoo.com)
The Senators are 1-2 in shootouts this season and remain the worst team in the tie-breaking procedure with a 12-25 record since its inception. (Ben's note: The Sens were 1 for 1 after beating the Leafs in the first ever NHL shootout! woo!)
The Senators won 53 percent of faceoffs, but only because C Jason Spezza was 17-10 in the circles. Every other Senator had a losing record on faceoffs against a Rangers team that was without the injured Chris Drury and Brandon Dubinsky—two of its top three drawmen.