This year’s Ottawa Senators might be the worst defensive team in recent NHL history.
Going into Saturday’s tilt against the San Jose Sharks, Ottawa had allowed a league-worst 4.12 goals against per game. For some perspective, the last time that a team gave up more than four goals against per game was the 1995-96 Sharks (4.35).
Yesterday afternoon, today’s Sharks turned back the clock to the Jim Wiley era in a 6-2 loss to the Senators.
Where do we start?
Yielding a 3-on-1 on the penalty kill? Surrendering an open scoring lane to a blueliner — Ben Harpur — who last scored more than five goals in a season in midget? Back-to-back goals allowed off San Jose offensive zone draws?
Let’s look harder at the second of those back-to-back embarrassments: Less than a minute after Harpur’s first NHL goal — a gift that Martin Jones probably wants back — the generous Sharks gave a present to former teammate Mikkel Boedker (89).
Joe Pavelski (8) won the draw clean. Brent Burns (88) walked down, and as he has so many times, searched for the Pavelski tip, which sailed wide.
It was all good here: Burns has tried a bread-and-butter Sharks play, Evander Kane (9) covered, Joakim Ryan (47) had the left point.
This was where it broke down.
Joakim Ryan chased an unlikely pinch. Bobby Ryan (9) beat him to the puck easily, advancing it to Chris Tierney (71). It was now a 2-on-1, Tierney and Boedker against a forward. Kane forced Tierney’s hand, but the ex-Shark completed a brilliant backhand area pass that the other ex-Shark could skate into.
Boedker did the rest, putting the Senators ahead 3-1.
It was ugly hockey for San Jose. It was, frankly, Ottawa-caliber hockey.
If the recent 6-0 humiliation to Vegas wasn’t enough, perhaps being blown out by Erik Karlsson’s former, presumably rebuilding team will strike a match under the ice-cold Sharks.
Perhaps. Because the only heat they’re generating now is under Peter DeBoer’s seat, as the team adds a fourth loss to this current streak.