Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Flames Strike Back, as Senators Drop 6-3 Decision
The good times couldn’t roll forever. After earning three straight wins, the Ottawa Senators dropped a disappointing 6-3 decision to the Calgary Flames yesterday afternoon. Sunk by weak goaltending from Matt Murray and quick-strike offence from the Flames in the first period, Ottawa really didn’t have much of a chance. Here are yesterday’s thumbs:
Thumbs Down: Matt Murray’s Goaltending
It was a return to unfortunate form for Matt Murray, who looked more like the goalie that couldn’t stop a beach ball to start the year than the goalie who seemed to be settling into a rhythm over the last couple weeks. Neither the first nor the second nor the third goal of the game for the Flames inspired much confidence in the Senators goaltender, and from there Calgary was rolling. Ottawa was done.
The sample size is getting to a point now where it’s probably fair to conclude that this is who Murray is as an NHL goaltender. The best descriptor I’ve seen is as follows:
Thumbs Up: Joey Daccord Gets Game Action
The one positive to come from Murray’s underwhelming performance was that Joey Daccord got to play the third period. He wasn’t particularly busy, facing only five shots, but he stopped everything he saw. It’s his first taste of NHL action since 2018-19, and represents a small step in the right direction for him and his career. Hopefully this gives DJ Smith confidence to give him a start at some point in the near future.
Thumbs Up: Drake Batherson Extends His Streak
After not being able to buy a goal or assist to start the year, Drake Batherson has now scored in five straight games and has eight points over that stretch. He is showing that he is a bona fide top-six forward in the NHL. It remains hilarious – and, yes, I’m going to keep pointing it out – that they wanted to scratch him earlier in the year because he wasn’t scoring.
With his goal yesterday, Batherson is sitting on the cusp of Senators history:
Thumbs Up: The Batherson / Stützle Connection
One of the major reason for Batherson’s surge up the scoring leaderboard is the way he and Tim Stützle have started to form some incredible chemistry. They work off each other really, really well, which continuously opens up opportunities to create offence. The Senators haven’t yet found a good centre to put between those two, though Artem Anisimov was fine yesterday. Long-term, though, it certainly looks like there could be something special with this duo.
Thumbs Up: The Power Play
Much like Batherson, the power play unit couldn’t buy a goal to start the year. It clicked yesterday, going 3/6 on the afternoon. DJ Smith was right when he spoke earlier in the year about his group’s man-advantage unit being better than its results would suggest; the Senators are currently the 16th ranked xG/60 team at five-on-four despite having one of the league’s worst-ranked power play conversion rates. Results like yesterday afternoon will certainly help things regress to the mean.
Thumbs Down: The Nick Paul Line
Typically, the Nick Paul line can be relied on for consistent, underrated, quiet minutes with the odd offensive contribution thrown into the mix. We got the offensive contribution yesterday, when Colin White scored a power play goal assisted by Paul off a faceoff, but at even strength things looked anything but normal. Calgary feasted on the Paul line, generating both quality and quantity in the Ottawa zone whenever they were on the ice. There’s enough of a track record to chalk this up to one bad afternoon and nothing more, but it was still disappointing.
Thumbs Up: Sens Nation
In memory of 580 CFRA’s (and Sens Twitter’s) Brian Fraser, who tragically passed away after a long battle with cancer earlier this week, Sens Nation stepped up:
I didn’t know Brian, but the impact that he clearly had on so many within this fan base was immense.
The Senators will be back in action tomorrow against these same Calgary Flames.
As always, thanks for reading.