OTTAWA – Coming off a miserable stretch of road games throughout the month of November into early December where they won 12 of 13 games, turning things around and starting a winning streak is exactly what Ottawa needs right now. They scored six goals in two games against some of the league’s best net minders in Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price, and seem to be getting back to their game that’s hyper focused on shutting down their opponents neutral zone activity. An 11-13-7 record certainly proves there’s lots of winning that needs to come before this club can truly turn things around, but it seems something their confident enough that can be built upon.
“I thought defensively the last couple games have been two of our most outstanding games throughout the year” said Craig Anderson Saturday night, after posting his second shutout of the season (the 40th of his career) in Ottawa’s 3-0 win in the freezing cold NHL 100 Classic played on the field at TD Place.
Montreal generated few moments of offensive success. And you can drum up some of that to the conditions of an outdoor game, or the fact that they, like the Senators, are among the basement dwellers of point production in the league so far, but give credit where credit’s die for the Senators when it comes to defending.
Erik Karlsson led the charge. He blocked 8 shots and played over half of the game – a record for one played outdoors with 32:55 TOI – likely, just trying to stay warm. But the rest of the d-core followed.
“Were moving in the right direction,” said head coach Guy Boucher, “mainly, it’s shape for Erik (Karlsson), but it’s chemistry for the rest of the players, too”.
Production for Bobby Ryan put a smile on the coaches face too, but seeing Karlsson back in what looked like his pre-surgery form was a welcomed sight. The big question that looms now, is whether this can continue into a stretch that can make up for some time time lost that sent Ottawa flying down to the bottom of the eastern conference standings.
Heading into the holiday break, Ottawa hosts the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night before taking a quick two-game trip down south to face the Lightning and Panthers in Florida. The most telling games of those will be on Thursday, when Ottawa faces Tampa, who have been the talk of the league lately, leading the league with 50 points, having lost only 6 games.
If you’re Ottawa right now, to get things back on track, winning two of three is crucial to be able to take the Christmas break with some piece of mind. And stretching your streak to three with a win Tuesday night is a great way to start.