Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Senators Somehow Keep Potential Blowout Close
The Ottawa Senators made the score interesting at the end, but were ultimately deserving of the 4-3 loss they were handed by the Winnipeg Jets on Monday night. Not much went right. It was just one of those games. Here are the thumbs:
Thumbs Up: Nikita Zaitsev Had a Memorable Night
The underlying numbers for every member of the Senators were ugly tonight, but relative to his teammates Nikita Zaitsev had a very strong night. Per Natural Stat Trick, he generated a positive shot attempt and expected goal share at five-on-five relative to the rest of the Senators. Beyond the numbers, though, was the way he battled through what looked like an agonizing injury. After fearlessly blocking a shot and needing help to get off the ice, Zaitsev somehow returned to the game. DJ Smith calling him a “warrior” after the game was certainly an apt description.
Thumbs Up: Anton Forsberg’s Goaltending
The only reason that the Senators were able to recover and make this a seemingly respectable 4-3 game was the play of Anton Forsberg, who was simply fantastic. He kept the Jets to only four goals on more than 40 shots, and was under siege for most of the night. With both Matt Murray and Marcus Hogberg reportedly getting closer to returning, it will be most interesting to see what the Senators do in the crease. The replacements they’ve used in recent weeks have been far better than what they were getting from the two netminders that started the year in the lineup.
Thumbs Up: Ryan Dzingel’s Non-Existent Trade Value
Reports from various insiders earlier in the day suggest that Ryan Dzingel is generating exactly zero interest on the trade market in advance of this year’s deadline, but that didn’t stop him from doing everything in his power to increase his value tonight. Dzingel scored a goal of his own, and added an assist on Josh Norris’ ninth tally of the season. While his goal was a little bit lucky, Dzingel’s power play assist was a thing of beauty. That kind of puck movement has been sorely lacking on the Senators’ power play on too many nights this year.
Thumbs Up: Brady Tkachuk, Everywhere but the Scoreboard
Brady Tkachuk was making friends all over the ice tonight, once again showcasing the attributes that make him such a valuable leader on this team. Even when the night was running away from his team, Tkachuk was out there still trying to finish every check, still trying to agitate his opponents, and still trying to generate opportunities where he could. Per Natural Stat Trick, he was the ONLY Senator to generate a five-on-five expected goal share north of 50%.
Thumbs Down: Just About Everything Else
The small handful of good news stories wasn’t enough to distract from what was ultimately a very disappointing night for Ottawa. Nights like this are part of the growing pains that we should all expect from a young team like this, but that doesn’t make them any more fun to watch. The Jets showcased more speed and overall competence than the Senators could contend with. One day, it will hopefully be Ottawa delivering that kind of punishment to opponents on a consistent basis.
The Senators will see the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.
As always, thanks for reading.