The first thing that struck me about this game was the fact that Smith was in for all seven goals. Most coaches will change goaltenders after three or four, but that didn’t happen. My only speculative explanation for that was to embarrass the team, and not necessarily Mike Smith.
While it’s true that Smith should’ve had a couple of those goals, the fact is that he had no defensive support from much of anybody. Welcome back to last season, huh? Although, why Smith could deal with that on his own last season and not this one is a bit of a head scratcher. Probably because he thinks he shouldn’t have to? And he’s right – for the most part, anyways.
So many things went wrong in this game, but let me call out the one thing that went right first. Vincent Lecavalier was the only one who seemed like he cared last night. Other than Zenon Konopka and Steve Downie, of course. Which isn’t to say that the rest of the team didn’t, but no one else got angry over how badly they were playing. They were frustrated, sure, but not actually angry.
Vinny cared, and it was obvious. Not only was he genuinely angry about how the game was going, he worked hard to try to change how things were going and took charge on the ice. Sure, he didn’t end up with a shot on goal and he was a -3 on the night, but if you watched this game, you could see how he was playing. Usually, he’s so reserved that sometimes it looks like he’s just going thru the motions – when of course he isn’t. He wouldn’t be where he is if he was okay with losing. But he really needs to show that more.
As for the rest of the game, what could go wrong did. Two shorthanded goals by Ottawa – by the same player, no less – pretty much tells the story of how things were going on ice. Positioning was awful, defense was sketchy, no one was shooting, and no one was hitting. You can’t win games like that. Obviously. Just look at the score.
They should play better on Saturday night in Pittsburgh because of it, tho. But why does a team have to be embarrassed in order to play better? Shouldn’t that be a sustained effort regardless?