I Need The Senators To Sit Down And Explain To Me What’s Acceptable To Do To An Empty Net And What’s Not

The Senators were officially eliminated from playoff contention Saturday for the seventh straight season, with a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to the Devils that saw Ottawa come oh-so-close to tying things up several times in the waning seconds. It was especially frustrating for Brady Tkachuk, who was zipping around like an angry bee stuck in a car; Tkachuk scored his 34th goal of the season and recorded 16 hits, a single-game record since the league started tracking them in 2005. Not even the final horn could quench New Jersey’s desire to put the puck in the net—or Tkachuk’s desire to hit someone.

After the Sens’ last-ditch efforts failed by the width of a post, Nico Hischier carried the puck out to safety. With the buzzer sounding right as he entered the zone, Hischier turned off the jets, skated on the empty net, and dumped the puck in. That made Tkachuk lose his damn mind.

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This would be a forgettable bit of post-whistle pushy-shovey had it not involved the Senators, who earlier this year found themselves in the position of defending empty-net shenanigans when the Maple Leafs tried to cite the unwritten rulebook. In February, Ridly Grieg punctuated an Ottawa win by winding up and clapping the puck into a wide-open cage, drawing the ire and cross-check of Morgan Rielly. “We as a group, we stand behind [Grieg],” Tim Stützle said.

I would love to pick Tkachuk’s brain on this. I would love for him to explain to me that Grieg’s clapper was just good clean fun (it was!) but Hischier is disrespecting the game by nestling the puck safely in net a second or two after the game ended. I would love to hear him acknowledge that the Leafs wouldn’t have had a beef if the actions were transposed and Grieg had softly shepherded the puck home, and that he, Tkachuk, would’ve had to go double-turbo-nuclear if Hischier had wound up for his post-game shot. I get the logic behind all this; it’s just very silly and I want to hear it explicated. Maybe the unwritten rules are unwritten because they’re stupid.

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