Lost in the relatively mild media commotion after Monday's game against Pittsburgh was a very telling Yogi-ism from the Senators' new goalie.
“Some nights they’ll go your way and some other nights they don’t,” Pascal Leclaire said of the bounces in a 4-1 loss to the champs. “Tonight was one of them.”
Who could argue?
Meanwhile, also not going the Senators’ way once again was the officiating. The refs awarded the home team five power plays on the night. Five! How cruel. To both the Senators and their fans.
Another oh-fer night with the man advantage was punctuated by its ugliness. On their first two-minute chance, the Senators had the same number of shots on goal as the Penguins. On their third, too. On the second, at least they outshot Pittsburgh 1-0.
The third and fourth power plays were morphed together to give the Senators a 5-on-3 for 1:27. With one, then two, then one extra body on the ice from 14:44-17:17 of the third period, Ottawa had four shots on goal.
Three of them came with a two-man advantage in which Daniel Alfredsson gave away the puck twice.
“It was a little too little, a little too late,” coach Cory Clouston said when asked if he was at least satisfied that his team actually generated some chances for a chance. In their four prior outings, the Senators had drawn a grand total of 10 penalties. “They were toward the end of the game where we just lost all sense of urgency, and we didn’t execute. I thought (Marc-Andre) Fleury made about three or four very, very good saves.
“But that’s one area that definitely needs to be improved on.”
Fact is, there’s nowhere to go but up for the Senators power play. Entering last night’s games, it was ranked dead last in the league with a dreadful (1-for-15) 6.7% efficiency rating.
Jason Spezza was asked what’s needed to get the power play going.
“We’ve got to practise it, I think,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of new faces and we’ve got to establish what our objective is. We have a good power play. We’ve had a good power play in the past. It’s no time to panic, but it’s time to make sure we sharpen it up and just simplify everything.
“When the puck doesn’t go in on the power play and you start trying to get too cute, that’s when you get in trouble.”
To misquote Yogi: You can observe a lot by just listening.
RW Shean Donovan is producing with limited opportunity, although he’ll be the first to tell you he doesn’t lead the league in that department. “(Eric) Nystrom is pretty good,” Donovan said of the Calgary forward, who scored two goals with only 6:24 of ice time against the Habs last week. But Donovan is, too. Despite seeing two-plus minutes less ice time than any of his teammates with an average of 7:15 per game, he has a goal and an assist — and he didn’t even play in the season opener because he hadn’t completely worked his way from fifth line to healthy scratch to the lineup at that time. Donovan doesn’t complain about his lack of work. He says he’s pretty lucky to have had Dean McAmmond and now Chris Kelly as his centres over the last three seasons. “Kells could be playing on the third line anywhere in the league, I think,” said Donovan. Keeping one’s mind in the game with all that bench time can’t be easy, and Donovan says “younger guys” ask him how he does it. “I just try to make sure I’m ready,” he said. “You’ve just got to try and stay loud on the bench and stay into the game. Just know that any time you could be thrown out there. It sounds simple, but just work hard. Give ’er.”
The constant in all the line shuffling Clouston has done is that Spezza has had Milan Michalek as his left winger — the spot left vacated by Dany Heatley — for all five games. Finally, one of them has scored. “We’re starting to understand each other a little bit more,” said Spezza. “We play a little different system than they play in San Jose. For Milan, there’s a few adjustments. For me, there’s a few adjustments having a guy with that kind of speed on my line. I’ve just got to let him go sometimes. It takes time. I was fortunate in the past to gain instant chemistry with Heater and we went from there. But very rarely do you see it where guys click right away. We’ve played five games together now and I can see that our chemistry is coming. There’s definitely positive signs. It just wasn’t that automatic chemistry that is unexplainable sometimes.”