The Ottawa Senators may be many things but they aren’t boring.
Ah, the Ottawa Senators. Even when they are historically bad they are still entertaining as hell, and that was hammered home emphatically on Monday night after what can only be described as a truly bonkers chain of events in Toronto against the Maple Leafs.
Allow us, however, to set the scene a little first. We all knew this year was going to be a season of transition for the Senators who are rebuilding and are trying to flood their farm system with elite talent while developing a young, talent-laden core headlined by the likes of Thomas Chabot, Brady Tkachuk and German phenom Tim Stutzle.
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We also knew that the 2020-21 season was going to be pretty tough at times for the Sens, who are a million years away from the team that were a couple of games away from playing in the Stanley Cup Final in 2016-17. However, I don’t think any of could have predicted that this current vintage would be quite as bad as they have been.
Heading into Monday’s contest against the best team in the entire National Hockey League, the Senators were 3-12-1 with a league-worst -29 Goal Differential, while they were also 2-7-0 in their last 10 outings. They ranked in the bottom 10 of most categories and things just looked pretty bleak as far as this season was concerned.
Now, while it will still be a tough slog between now and the offseason, where this franchise will likely have another high Draft pick with which to carefully select the next substantial piece of their future with, they showed on Monday that they are capable of having some fun along the way and can produce the odd barnstormer in order to throw the ultra-competitive North Division into chaos.
The Ottawa Senators may be bad but they can be fun as hell to watch
Of course, both the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs largely stuck to the script for the first two periods of the game with the latter scoring twice in the first period and three times in the second, with Drake Batherson‘s second goal of the year for the Sens sandwiched in-between. Heck, even when Nick Paul scored shorthanded at 19:51 in the second period, you hardly blinked an eye.
Well, maybe you should have because, with 41 seconds played in the third period, that’s when the madness really started. Artem Zub recorded his first goal of the year and his first-ever career NHL goal with a filthy breakaway effort, before Connor Brown scored against his former team at 5:52 to get the nerves jangling in Toronto.
Even at this point you just assumed that the Maple Leafs’ collection of star power would wake up again and get the job done but, while we waited and waited, the NHL’s version of the Avengers did not come through. No, instead, Evgenii Dadonov showed off some good hand-eye coordination to bat the puck out of midair and into the net for the game-tying goal to send a thrilling contest to Overtime.
It couldn’t happen. Could it? Well, you bet your bottom dollar it could happen because it did as that man Dadonov came up with the goods again, doing his bit to prevent the Maple Leafs from scoring at one end before breaking up the ice and scoring the game-winner in Overtime at the other.
It was an unbelievable ending to what was an unbelievable game, and the jubilation amongst the Ottawa Senators players was clear for all to see. After all, it was the second time in a matter of days that they had played the role of heartbreaker, after scoring a buzzer-beater in the final seconds of regulation to stun another Playoff hopeful the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Saturday.
This time, the Senators managed to not only absolutely floor the best team in the NHL, but they also created some rich history. They had trailed by at least four goals in 240 regular-season games before Monday night, posting a 0-273-3 record in those contests, improving to 1-273-3 after last night.
That is pretty incredible.
And, that is the whole point here. While the Ottawa Senators are not a very good team at all in 2020-21, and they are likely to regress further if they sell off certain pieces at the NHL Trade Deadline, they have proved to be good entertainment value and they are a hell of a lot of fun to watch, if not widely unpredictable. But we saw on Monday night a team that will keep on swinging until the very bitter end, as they have in all four of their wins this year given that they have trailed in each and every single one, and that makes for incredibly compelling and, as was the case last night, bonkers viewing. And we’re all in for it.