Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Senators Create Chaos vs. Calgary
Well, that was memorable for all the right reasons. The Ottawa Senators demolished the Calgary Flames on Thursday night by a score of 6-1, in a game that should probably cost someone in Calgary their job. The Senators were the better team by a not-insignificant margin until score effects took over, and were full value for their third straight victory. Here are tonight’s thumbs:
Thumbs Up: Matt Murray’s Goaltending
With the run support he received from the skaters in front of him, Matt Murray didn’t need to be at his best. He was anyways. Stopping 29 of 30 shots fired his way, Murray was a rock for the Senators. His only blemish was a Milan Lucic goal that he might like back; other than that, he was perfect. Murray was particularly good for Ottawa in the third period when Calgary started pushing.
Thumbs Up: Erik Brannstrom’s Second Career Goal
“Throwing the puck on net is never a bad idea,” they say.
I thought Brannstrom was quite good again tonight.
Thumbs Up: Drake Batherson Gets Bounces
For a guy who couldn’t buy a goal or assist to start the season, Drake Batherson sure has been piling up the points lately. Tonight, he and Tim Stützle teamed up with Artem Anisimov for a great goal off the rush. Stützle played the puck perfectly off David Rittich’s pads to create a juicy rebound for Batherson, who made no mistake firing the puck into the twine with conviction. Now with six goals and 13 points through 22 games, Batherson is rolling along at a 48-point pace (in an 82-game season). Just about everybody who follows the Senators would have signed up for that kind of production when the season began.
Thumbs Down: Anisimov on that Line
While they collaborated on the aforementioned goal, Anisimov, Batherson, and Stützle didn’t strike me as working particularly well together otherwise. Batherson and Stützle need more speed up the middle, and Anisimov just wasn’t capable of delivering it for them. The eye test evaluation was matched by the underlying numbers, which suggest that the trio was among the worst Senators skaters in terms of five-on-five shot attempt share.
Thumbs Up: Erik Gudbranson’s First as a Senator
It’s fair to say that Erik Gudbranson has struggled in the defensive zone since arriving in Ottawa, but that doesn’t make the hometown guy’s first goal as a Senator any less special. The 2-0 goal, which ended up being the game-winner, is something he’ll surely remember for a long time. Congratulations!
Thumbs Up: Colin White is a Machine
Even if you ignore the two goals he scored tonight, Colin White was phenomenal. He was one of the team leaders in five-on-five shot attempt share, and posted a very respectable five-on-five expected goal share as well. He, along with Nick Paul and Evgenii Dadonov, provided the Senators with consistently productive minutes throughout the evening. It was the kind of performance that makes you think the team was crazy for scratching White earlier in the year.
Oh, and then there were the two goals. The first should have been stopped without much issue, but the second was a true goal-scorer’s goal. After a phenomenal individual effort to break into the zone, White made his way to the slot and received a pass before snapping the puck into the net. Both goals were just rewards for a great outing.
Thumbs Up: The Senators, Actually Good?
My prediction that the Senators would be surprisingly competitive this season looked to be on the ropes for a while to start the year, but they are starting to deliver on some of that promise:
Thumbs Up: The North Division Wrecking Ball
Crazy comeback against Toronto. Getting Montreal’s coach fired. And now, this? The Senators are delivering entertaining chaos in the North Division.
The Senators will get another chance to take care of business against these Calgary Flames on Saturday.
As always, thanks for reading.