When a team struggles for results as much as the Senators have over the years, their 6-5 overtime win to take down the Maple Leafs in dramatic comeback fashion must have felt like the Super Bowl.
Ottawa has four total wins this season. They have nine points. They’re in last place by a lot.
It’s weird to say they’re fun, but they truly are, and the numbers back it up.
The entire North Division is filled with good old fashioned Canadian fun, such as scoring goals at a ridiculous pace and not much of a defensive presence whatsoever.
Ottawa the most fun team in the league, you heard it here first. pic.twitter.com/rnOFJA9x9Z
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) February 16, 2021
The Senators follow that blueprint, and this past week they actually garnered positive results from it, first on Saturday when Brady Tkachuk scored a game winner against Winnipeg with just nine seconds in regulation — who doesn’t love drama? — and then Monday when Evgenii Dadonov tied the game with 2:01 left, then nabbed the overtime winner as well against the league-best Maple Leafs.
“We’ve been waiting for a long time for the win,” Dadonov told reporters after that game. “So I hope it’s going to happen more often.”
According to the league, the Senators had been 0-237-3 all-time when trailing by four goals. Now they get to add a one to that win column.
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The last time they tied the game after trailing by four was 2004 when they tied the Islanders. They’d come back to tie it just five times ever, garnering ties in three of those contests and losing the other two.
“That was awesome,” Senators forward Colin White said Monday. “I’d have to say that was my most memorable or favorite win.”
We had the Leafs at a 99.9% chance of winning after they went up 5-1 (and tbh it was probably higher due to rounding). You don't see a loss here often – maybe not even every season. pic.twitter.com/q9ZhgKStSi
— EvolvingWild (@EvolvingWild) February 16, 2021
That wildly fun game aside, Senators hockey hasn’t been a boring product. Their 41 goals are the fewest in the goals-crazed North, but they rank ahead of 12 other NHL clubs, and have just one fewer than first-place Boston, which is tied for the second most standings points in the league.
The difference is a -30 goal differential and the second-most goals surrendered this season at a whopping 71, something they and Matt Murray in net need to find a solution to, but that doesn’t impact the fun element, just the winning one.
Part of the thrill, and the goal total, comes from a team that is constantly letting it fly. Ottawa’s shooting percentage of 6.1% is ahead of just Buffalo. One team has ever finished with a shooting percentage lower than 7, so, the Senators really aren’t scoring at the rate their shots should indicate — but, shots and action at all, for a viewer, are entertaining. That’s also something that should regulate, if history dictates anything.
That trend is especially indicative of a team that can score at an even higher pace when you factor in, as much as their record is poor, the Sens are still 20th — not last! — in xGF percentage, according to Natural Stat Trick, and 14th in CF percentage.
Rebuilding teams can be exciting to watch in any circumstance, filled with young talent and elite prospects who will mark the next generation of superstars. For the Senators, that’s Tkachuk and defenseman Thomas Chabot and highly touted rookie Tim Stutzle. Especially as the Sens sell off veteran players to win now, like they did Cedric Paquette and Alex Galchenyuk earlier this week.
Young, hungry talent on a team with nothing to lose is always fun to watch at least play spoiler, and since there’s almost no chance the Sens get things together and make the postseason, they can still wreck chaos on teams like the Leafs and Jets with their excitable antics.
That’s what this past week was about; causing some mayhem and in the process put an enjoyable — if not very good — product on the ice, and let the kids have fun and develop and learn from these dramatic moments for when they really count someday.
When the results do start to fall their way, the young Senators will have taken their lumps but also have gained experience coming back, having big moments late in games.
Sooner or later, those games are going to mean something. For now, they’re enjoyable to watch.
Marisa Ingemi is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi.