The Ottawa Senators’ 2023 playoff chances were already on life support with little chance of recovery.
But if someday you’re asked to pinpoint the official time of death for their playoff chances, you’ll probably end up choosing the third period of their Saturday afternoon loss to Edmonton.
The Sens were tied with the Oilers at 3, hoping to nail down their fifth straight victory. Instead, the Sens fully collapsed and fell 6-3. But that was far from the worst thing that happened in that 20 minute span.
The Sens also lost Anton Forsberg for the season, their only healthy NHL goalie.
You had to feel for Forsberg, who had a real opportunity to grab the Sens net. He had a 4 game win streak going and with Cam Talbot out, the net was all his for the next little while. But during a goalmouth scramble Saturday, with his legs in the butterfly position, an Edmonton player fell on him, tearing Forsberg’s MCL in not one, but both of his knees.
The @Senators have announced that Anton Forsberg is out indefinitely with MCL tears in both knees. pic.twitter.com/aLzghlV8KI
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 12, 2023
Adding another unfortunate layer to a bad situation, Forsberg’s young children were in attendance and had to witness their dad yelling out in pain then being stretchered off.
“I haven’t had an opportunity to sit down and talk to him about that,” said head coach D.J. Smith. “But that’s terrible. His kids are just little, but enough to know Dad’s in there and Dad’s hurt. That’s the human side of it.”
That fateful third period also knocked rookie defenceman Jake Sanderson out of action with an upper body injury. Sanderson took a hit in front of the Edmonton bench where there’s no glass and suffered an upper body injury.
Entering the season, the Sens were already lacking at least one more top-four calibre defenceman. Then Artem Zub missed more games to injury than he’s played, while Thomas Chabot’s game has continued to deteriorate. You’d hate to think where the Sens would be without Sanderson, who’s been their best defenceman almost all season. We’ll have a chance to see exactly what that looks like as Sanderson goes off to heal up for at least the next couple of weeks.
No matter what your opinion is on D.J. Smith’s performance as an NHL coach, he’s definitely had more than his share of bad luck in the injury department.
“Centres and goalies,” said Smith, breaking into an incredulous smile. “A lot of injuries. Obviously, at centre, the shoulder issues continue to be talked about around the league. Young guys especially. And then the goalies…
It happens. It’s part of the game. It’s just unfortunate it’s happened as much as it has.”
As the Senators get ready for the Calgary Flames Monday night, their top two goalies are now Mads Sogaard and Kevin Mandolese. Smith will lean on the far more experienced Sogaard, who checks in with two career NHL starts.
By Steve Warne