A Closer Look At The Loss


In a previous post I pointed out the huge discrepancy between winning when leading after one, and losing when behind after one.  I also surmised that not giving up leads early would be a leading indicator that this team has made some strategic improvement in their play.

Unfortunately last night was a big step back.  By once again surrendering a massive early lead, the Sens lost the game within the first 20 minutes.

But all is not lost.  In many ways, this loss not only highlighted the strategic problem of giving up early leads, but it also highlighted the tactical issues causing this situation.  Goaltending, and Defense.

Goaltending

Alex Auld is a capable back up and, at times, played some very good hockey last night, but alas, that’s what makes for a back-up vs. #1.  Back-ups make some spectacular saves, but then allow some relatively easy goals.  It’s not that they’re bad goaltenders, it’s just that they can’t be consistently good, and Auld typified that last night, allowing 3 stoppable goals.  Had Auld made even one of these stops it *might* have been a different outcome.  In fact, when comparing scoring chances, it could be argued the Sens outplayed the Bruins, but at the end of the day the Bruins have a number one goaltender, who didn’t allow any easy goals, and Ottawa doesn’t (yet).

Defense.

Much like the goaltending situation, the difference between the play of the top 2 Bruins D to that of Ottawa was startling.  Going deeper into the defensive depth on both rosters only had the skill gap widen.

Chara (25:41 TOI) is the prototypical Elite #1.  He can fight, he can defend, he can hit, he can contain, he can score, he’s your #1 PK guy, and your #1 PP guy, and he can log big minutes.  No player is perfect, and Chara’s weakness is his agility, he can be beaten if you get him moving laterally.

Compare that to our leading ice time Dman last night…Campoli (25:04).  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not throwing Chris under the bus here, he is proving to be a very capable transition Dman, and sound as a PP QB, but as a #1, he is not even close.  Last night, due in part to injuries, was defense by committee.  Ottawa did not dress a defenseman who could play in every situation, and it showed.   Bell (21:44) was Ottawa’s second highest icetime Dman…yes, the kid who may or may not be in the NHL next year.  This is just not good enough to compete vs. the top teams in the league, and it showed, in spades.

When Kuba returns this situation is improved, even if only with addition by subtraction (Schubert).  Many argue Kuba is not an elite #1, and they’d be right, but he is this teams number one, for better or worse, and when compared to Campoli, in this role, he is an upgrade.

Smith is also out, and his absence has forced Clouston to play young defenseman in PK situations that do not suit their abilities.  Smith has certainly lost a stride, but as of late he is showing his physical side, and Cloustons game is far more suited to his abilities by not forcing him to repeatedly skate up and down the wing in pursuit of streaking wingers.  He can now hold the offensive blue line, knowing a high forward will cover him, and he can also stand up at the defensive blue line, with a forward dropping back to work in a puck retrieval role.  Is he worth his salary…maybe, if intangibles are factored in, but I’m glad next year is his final year on that deal.

So where does this leave the Sens?  In need of a true #1 dman, and a true #1 goaltender.  Murray thinks (hopes) he has locked up the goaltender in Leclaire, and will work towards signing his dman this off season.

As far as the forwards are concerned, they had their chances, and although they were blanked on the PP, it struggling to find their composure in the 5 extra man opportunities, they did score 3 EV goals, which is really all one can ask, especially against the team with the best GA/G (2.23) in the league.

Was it a “good loss”, sure, I guess, in that the offense was there (which is a critical improvement), and the failures were a result of known and partially addressed skill deficits.

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2 Responses to “A Closer Look At The Loss”

  1. It was atleast an entertaining game to watch even if it was a loss in the end. I agree Auld is ok but theres no way this team moves forward without better goaltending as this was was killed them late ;ast season and through all of this season until elliott stepped up.

  2. Buzz, yes Elliott has been an improvement, but I think Cloustons system has relieved some of the pressure on the goaltenders by instead putting it on the opposition. I’ll be surprised to see Auld here all next season myself, unless Elliott stumbles badly in the interim.

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