Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo
You can't win every game, and after a 4 game winning streak you had to know that a loss was coming at some point, but is there more to be read into tonight's loss than just an inevitable loss?
Fighting, fighting, slashing, holding, slashing, roughing, roughing, unsportsmanlike conduct, interference on goalkeeper, roughing, misconduct, fighting, interference, fighting, unsportsmanlike conduct, cross checking, roughing, slashing, cross checking, slashing, tripping, roughing.
That makes up all 22 penalties called by Steve Kozari and Ian Walsh last night. The calls weren't weighted against the Montreal Canadiens in any way, but it set the tone for the sloppiest game of the year.
It's probably not a coincidence that the sloppiest game we've seen this year was played between two team who had played 3 games in 4 nights. Both teams were missing extremely important players, P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty were out for the Habs, their best defenseman and arguably their best forward, whereas the Senators were missing Jason Spezza and Sergei Gonchar, their franchise center and a second pairing defenseman.
I don't think we need to talk about the goals too much, instead we'll talk about the events during the game.
It was a frustrating night overall, and we saw some adjustments in how Therrien was using his lines. After relying on David Desharnais's line on the powerplay through the first 5 games, it was the Alex Galchenyuk line that ran the second wave after Plekanec's shift was done. That's surprising enough as it is, but Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher both got nearly as much ice time at even strength as Desharnais and Erik Cole. The latter who's failure to produce through 6 games is being noticed by the coaching staff it seems.
During the game it seemed like Cole was getting his chances but making bad decisions with the puck, but looking the fact that he rattled off 10 shot attempts, maybe I'm wrong there. In total the Eller - Desharnais - Cole line had 14 shot attempts (7 hit the net), while the rookie line of Brandon Prust - Galchenyuk - Gallagher fired 12 shots attempts (6 hit the net).
What isn't being noticed by the coaching staff though, is the penalty kill. Once again it was terrible. The scary thing is that it's not giving up as many goals as they likely deserve to be giving up. Colby Armstrong still played 1:30 on the PK last night, Lars Eller still played 0:00. Francis Bouillon has been the worst defenseman on the team on the PK, yet he played 3:03 there last night, tied with Josh Gorges for the highest of any Hab. If Gorges weren't playing poorly himself, it may not be that noticeable, but the pair of them have combined for around a -93 Corsi when down a man, nearly 20 shots worse per 60 than Gorges was last season.
Like Eller, Raphael Diaz was excellent on the second wave PK last year, and like Eller, I'm confused as to why he doesn't get any ice time there.
I'm beating a dead horse with the penalty kill here, but it's really the only major weakness in Therrien's coaching so far, or at least the only major one. WIthout adjustment, this could ruin a lot of close games.
Ottawa held the advantage puck possession wise for the first half of the game, or until they took a commanding lead and score effects took over.
Peter Budaj had a really impressive first period in his season debut, but in the end we were all reminded why he's the backup. Ottawa's first three goals were all dumb luck bounces, but the last two were probably stoppable in most situations.
What's obvious based on the possession differences between home and away games, is that this team needs some careful managing right now. Pacioretty and Subban being out really hurts on the road, where Therrien can't always get the matchups he wants.
The game really turned on a double minor handed out to Ryan White for roughing, then unsportsmanlike conduct. The Senators scored two goals on the ensuing 4 minutes of powerplay time. After the game Michel Therrien all but blamed White alone for the loss, and said action would be taken. I'm hoping this means a talking to, and not a scratch.
Yes, White lacked discipline. He has for the whole season, but he's also been far and away the best player on the 4th line at even strength and on the penalty kill. Overreacting to a loss that looks worse on paper than it was in reality would be a bad move.
The insertion of P.K. Subban to the lineup is going to be huge, and hopefully it happens next game.
For reaction from the winning side, check out Silver Seven Sens.