Kukla's Korner


Senators Run Out Of Gas Against Canucks

Notes on Fisher’s adjustments and a bad Ottawa omen, but first. . .

From the Ottawa Citizen (and OS, SE, NHL), on Ottawa’s third period breakdown in their 6-2 loss to Vancouver,

“In our first two shifts (of the third), we just didn’t break the puck out the way we should, the way we needed to,” Senators coach Cory Clouston said. “Three or four times we had the puck on our stick and made wrong decisions and they capitalized.”
Leclaire and the Senators wanted so much more, aiming to prove themselves against the Canucks, who have the look and the personnel of Stanley Cup contenders. While Leclaire wasn’t terrible — Clouston said the Senators “didn’t give him any support” — the loss certainly isn’t going to help him steal playing time from fellow goaltender Brian Elliott. It’s also not going to provide the Senators with much confidence when playing against the league’s elite teams.
“I thought it was a pretty good game for two periods,” Leclaire said. “I thought we were playing pretty well and it was a good up and down game. Then we had a couple of turnovers and they made us pay for it and they got a few bounces and things were going their way. It was just boom, boom, boom and it was hard to come back.”

The third-period blowout took away from what had been two spirited, evenly played periods. It was a bit of a coach’s nightmare, with odd-man rushes, countless turnovers and bouncing pucks around both Leclaire and Luongo, but it made for great entertainment.

Scoring and chances matched for two thirds of the game, and then things got out of hand. Or right where you’d expect them to be.

After having complained that he didn’t win a single face off in the first period of their 0-2 loss to Montreal, Henrik Sedin improved his 13% showing up to 62% for Ottawa, with Malhotra at 59% and Kesler a dominant 85%, to help the Canucks control the puck from twice as many face offs as Ottawa, what I warned about yesterday. Possession as a whole was the doomsday spell for the Senators.

Seventeen giveaways by Ottawa only further tilted the lopsided possession in favour of the Canucks, and that doesn’t count Alfredsson coughing up the puck to his former Olympic teammates, allowing the Sedins to convert just 22 seconds into the game, Leclaire not having a chance staring down the psychic twins effectively 2 on 0. For the six goals Leclaire allowed in his return after four weeks on ice, the Senators hung him out to dry. Vancouver’s possession and speed burned Ottawa, as they lost track of the team in white. On one of Kesler’s goals, Gonchar did manage to come up with the puck along the boards, but he chased it up, with no one watching Kesler, who was free to take a pass and undress Leclaire in dragging the puck from post to post until Leclaire’s splits came up short.

The other factor I warned about was the Canucks’ penalty kill. In six minutes of power play time, the Senators managed just three shots, playing right into Vancouver’s hands, as no burning deflating goals were Ottawa’s to find. Regin’s goal, after many great missed chances, would fall into that category nearly, Luongo looking at the referee after Regin poked the puck in from where it was tucked under Luongo’s left pad. It wasn’t Ottawa’s worst game, but when you can’t keep up, can’t remember who to watch and allow so many open men in the slot or crease to convert, what do you expect? Plenty of scoring opportunities missed by more than just Regin don’t help either, but that’s what Luongo affords a team like Vancouver. Still more things could have had a real or imagined effect on the outcome.

From the Ottawa Sun, on Fisher’s injury-adjusted game and the Canucks’ wise respects paid,

Mike Fisher said he was doing the “doggy paddle” in the rehab pool the Senators have in their weight room Thursday morning. Fisher admits that whatever is ailing him has affected his play. “I haven’t made contact in three games, four probably,” he said Thursday morning. “I can’t be physical right now. Try to do other things. Instead of using my body, I’ve got to try and use my mind for once.”

Right there, lost is what makes Fisher and his line so effective, especially on the defensive side of the puck (Fisher was tied for a team worst -3 last night). Adding the never fully healthy Alfredsson and knee repaired Michalek to the line, and it’s a hobbling risk of a line, only able to combine for 2 hits on the night when a more grinding than finesse game is required of them.

All the reporters in the Senators dressing quarters after Thursday’s morning skate had to pay extra attention to where they walked.

Along with avoiding the team logo in the middle of the room, they had to make sure they didn’t step on Chris Neil. The Senators winger was doing some post-practice stretching on the carpet, right in front of the TV. Glueing his eyes to the set was the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph.

“It’s about paying your respects,” Neil said later when reluctantly discussing his interest in the commemoration.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault decided to bring his players to the ceremony instead of having them take a morning skate. Nice touch by him.

I’ll say it: shown up in our own city. I’d be anything but surprised to hear Don Cherry say it on Saturday, too. Then again, as the Canucks lost 0-2 to Montreal to turn it around and beat Ottawa yesterday, it may not bode well for the Senators that Price outduelled Rask last night as the Canadiens beat the Bruins 3-1. You can bet Thomas and his impeccable numbers against Ottawa will give Elliott (the likely starter) a run on Saturday, though for a comparison to Leclaire’s loss you’re more likely to have to wait for Philadelphia’s stronger set of scoring forwards to properly evaluate Elliott. Or February 7th when Ottawa visits B.C.

Filed in: NHL News, NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | SENShobo | Permalink


Da lil Guy's avatar

The Sens last few games have seen them bend but not break in the third period. It seemed we were repeatedly watching the same show where the Sens came out strong, got a lead, and held on despite a barely resisted third period push.

Last night they broke.

Not only did a strong start not translate into a lead, but the Sens decided to take the third period off just the same. And unlike previous outings, they were made to pay for it.

It may or may not be a coincidence that Leclaire was in for the big loss - as Elliott has had a lot to do with keeping the team alive when they stop moving in the third for the past few.

If the play in the first could have been sustained for an entire game, we’d likely have seen a different outcome. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen a full game at that level yet.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 11/12/10 at 01:10 PM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

Much better against the Bruins Saturday! Full 3 period effort.

Maybe this team does play better for Elliott?

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 11/15/10 at 11:31 AM ET

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About SENShobo

Native of Northern California.  Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.

I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle.  I watch, I react, I write it down.

My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked.  I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind.  When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom.  It hasn't, I don't think it will.  At all.

Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.

I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.

I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at talkingstick@petshark.net