FIVE QUICK THOUGHTS
-Bath Time, indeed! Talk about making yourself at home in your NHL debut.? So as you may have heard, Drake Batherson played his first game in the NHL last night. First, he managed to duck the customary hot lap. Within a period, he had viciously attacked a goalie negating an Ottawa goal. After two, he had his first career goal under his belt. Moments later, he was a trending topic on Twitter. When the final buzzer sounded, he had his first game-winning goal and on top of that, he notched some valuable Molson Cup points with a first star effort. Yea, that’ll do Drake. That’ll do. Batherson actually looked a little nervous early on but seemed to settle in as the night rolled along. And like he did through 14 games at the AHL level, he found a way to create offence. Can’t wait to see what he does as he gets a little more comfortable with the NHL game.
-Last night, the Senators did something they haven’t done in 12 games and that’s hold the opposition to fewer than two goals.? It has been a full month, in fact. And they certainly didn’t make it easy on themselves.? Not one but two penalty shots in the final period, both turned away by Craig Anderson who was rock solid in this one. He actually had a fairly easy night of it up until the third period but stood tall when his team needed him most. The Senators have been guilty of sitting on third period leads from time to time but none of that last night. Sure it resulted in two clear-cut breakaways and penalty shots but the way the penalty killing has been lately, perhaps that’s a better approach?
-This was one of those games where you could comfortably single out the performance of like 7 or 8 guys. Drake Batherson was the star obviously but I also really liked the game of Matt Duchene, Craig Anderson, Cody Ceci, Thomas Chabot, Mark Stone, Brady Tkachuk and Max Lajoie. And there are probably a couple still missing.? This was one of those nights when the whole team seemed engaged, with everyone pulling in the same direction. You know, that whole “we’re a team” thing we heard about in the preseason.? That was really on display in the first period, when guys were sticking up for each other all over the ice.? Didn’t see a lot of that last year.
-Glad TSN picked up on it last night because honestly, that second period may have been some of the best hockey Thomas Chabot has played in his young career. And he didn’t even come away with a point.? First of all, his ability to run a power play is nothing short of incredible. There are things he’s doing out there that are actually so difficult (walking the blueline, change speed to shake a defender) and he just makes it look so effortless. But what really caught my eye last night was his play in his own end. It just seemed like he won every single battle with a combination of quick reads, effective body positioning and an active stick. Chabot’s production to start the year has obviously been off the charts but the scary thing is I think he’s actually still getting better. And quickly too.
-The NHL flipped the OFFICIAL goalie interference coin on Thursday night and again, it was the Senators that ended up on the wrong side of a call. What’s most frustrating about the rule right now, besides the fact that there isn’t one, is that I can’t even figure out what they are trying to accomplish. It’s clearly not a crack-down on any unnecessary contact with the goalie as we saw during the game against Vegas the other night. Sometimes it matters if the player is pushed in but then other times that seems irrelevant, like last night. It’s not about sticking with the call on the ice either because we’ve seen it go both ways. Seriously, it just seems like they are making it up as they go right now and it’s annoying as all hell. It’s nice to be able to complain about officiating and still win the game because there were a handful of awful calls last night.
-Bonus Thought- Each time I watch Brady Tkachuk play, I can’t help but think how unfortunate it would be if he was on some other team right now.? Pierre Dorion takes a lot of heat as GM of this hockey team and some of it is deserved but man, am I ever glad he picked Tkachuk. It’s hard to project how the career of Tkachuk might go but it’s also crazy to think we’ve only seen him play eight games in the NHL. It’s like I’ve been watching him terrorize the opposition my whole life. Creating offence, parking himself in front of the net, constantly chirping the other team, smiling at everything and last night, sticking up for his teammates. He’s 19, he’s played 8 games and he’s already a one of a kind player.