February 1920 – They are who we thought they were – First Line Rover

Headline – Playoffs deemed unnecessary

Remember last month how we said the Senators were that good? Yeah, they are. We haven’t seen a single team this dominant since the 1912-13 Quebec Bulldogs, who went 16-4-0 in their season before steamrolling the Sydney Millionaires in the final.

These Senators are something different. Their defense and goaltending is on a completely different level. If you can actually get through the defense of Eddie Gerard, Sprague Cleghorn, or Georges Boucher, you’ll still have Clint Benedict to beat in order to score. Combine that with their forward group actually scoring, they are unbeatable.

With 95 goals for and just 41 against in 20 games (an average margin of 5-2), their Pythagorean record suggests they deserve 34 points out of a possible 40. They have 32 (16-4-0), and are by far the league’s best team. Because of the first half/second half schedule, we already know they will represent the NHL in the Stanley Cup Finals. It’s only a matter of when.

How they came together

So how did Ottawa put this, the best hockey team in years, together?

It began in 1910. Jack Darragh was one of their young up-and-comers after the NHA owners decided to implement a salary cap, infuriating some of the players. He originally came from a local league in Ottawa, and the Senators signed him up and were not disappointed. Punch Broadbent debuted a couple of years later after some years in Ottawa’s amateur scene, and was paired together with Darragh on their top scoring line.

Clint Benedict, the backbone
of the Sen’s defense

Also coming from the local area that time was their goalie, Clint Benedict. Benedict, known as Praying Benny, became one of the first goalies to fall to his knees to stop the puck. The playing style was frowned upon, and even illegal at times, but he still went on with his style until it was legalized by the NHL. Eddie Gerard and Georges Boucher came along from local outfits as well in the mid-1910’s to round out the back end.

The first help from outside the Ottawa area came from Frank Nighbor, coming over from the defending Stanley Cup Champion Vancouver Millionaires. Cy Denneny was acquired via trade from Toronto the following year. The last piece of the puzzle came in the form of then-injured Sprague Cleghorn, who at the time was property of the Montreal Wanderers. Cleghorn was picked up in the Wanderers’ dispersal draft.

It took a year for them to really gel together, but they look like a team capable of stringing together some good seasons and becoming what may be the NHL’s first dynasty.

Game of the Month

2/4 – Canadiens 6, St. Patricks 5 – Early on in the second half, the Canadiens actually had a chance in giving the Senators a run for their money for that second half win. They knew they needed every win to make it count.

The first period of their first second half game ended 2-2. Newsy Lalonde completed his hat trick early in the second, and Amos Arbour scored his second of the game to give the Habs a 5-2 lead going into the third. Odie Cleghorn scored five minutes into the third, salting the game away…

…Or so they thought. With just five minutes to go, Cully Wilson scored to cut the lead to three. Joe Matte and Babe Dye each scored in the next three minutes to pull the St. Pats to 6-5. It wasn’t enough, but it put a good scare into the Habs. Also made for a pretty wild game.

Power Ranking

  1. Ottawa Senators (16-4-0, +54 Goal Differential)
    It remains to be seen who they’ll play in the Stanley Cup Final. Whomever it is, the Senators should be way better than them. The PCHA have three teams, and they’re all really even.
  2. Montreal Canadiens (11-9-0, +6 GD)
    They actually have scored more goals than the Senators, for all the good that does them…
  3. Toronto St. Patricks (10-10-0, +5 GD)
    They may not have gone anywhere, but at least they pulled the Habs down with them. Their February 18th 8-2 win was probably the straw that broke Montreal’s back.
  4. Quebec Athletics (3-17-0, -65 GD)
    Joe Malone’s still got it, with 30 goals in 20 games. Too bad everything else stinks…


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