FIVE QUICK THOUGHTS
-Bobby Ryan’s chance pulled off the goal line on the first period power play. Colin White missing a wide open net in the second. Mark Stone’s sure goal knocked out of mid-air by Brandon Carlo. There are just some nights when the bounces aren’t going your way.? Not that the Senators necessarily deserved to win the game but they just didn’t catch a break all night.? Otherwise, this felt like a pretty even hockey game.? Maybe the Sens have had more than their fair share of good fortune up to this point but it just wasn’t happening for them against the Bruins. Mix in some missed calls, a couple ill-advised penalties (Formenton and Stone especially) and game-breakers like Pastrnak, Bergeron and Marchand and you’re in tough.
-Okay, that Bruins top line has to be the best in the NHL right now.? Their ability to break a game open is unlike any other trio going these days.? Even when you think you have them shutdown for the most part, they always seem to find a way to break through.? While the Senators probably didn’t do themselves any favours by trying to play a match-up game with the likes of Paajarvi/Smith/Pyatt/Borowiecki/Jaros, I’m not sure it would have mattered. They just always find a way.? It’s sort of unbelievable that the Senators managed to beat this team in a playoff series not too long ago.? The Bruins have won six straight games against the Senators since then, by the way. The good news is we don’t see them again until mid-December.
-One of the biggest differences between this year’s team and last (and there are many) is the amount of pressure they are able to apply on the forecheck. Improved team speed is a big reason for that but it’s also a pretty clear shift in mentality from Head Coach Guy Boucher. There are still rare instances where the Senators revert to a more reserved approach but at times, like the second period of last night’s game, the team is barely recognizable when compared to what we saw last season. They weren’t able to score at 5 on 5 but you could tell they were giving the Bruins fits, pressuring their defenceman and forcing turnovers all over the ice. On a couple of occasions, the Senators managed to change an entire forward line while maintaining control of the puck. Boucher deserves a lot of credit for adapting his philosophy from year to year.
-Now I’m not one to tell a professional hockey player what they should or should not wear but we are approaching the point where I think it’s time to start a petition to have Craig Anderson switch back to his old white pads.? Okay maybe a petition is a bit much but a polite suggestion on Twitter perhaps?A rally on Parliament Hill? Billboards? Either way. It’s time to change ’em up. Don’t get me wrong. I love the new look. And I liked the different sets he used last year too actually. But there is just something about dark pads that gives me this unshakable Pascal Leclaire vibe.? There’s a school of thought that says dark pads allow the shooter to see more of the net and while I have no idea if that’s true from ice level, it’s certainly applies for me while watching on TV.? The changes in equipment size around the league are probably a big part of it but there are nights when Anderson just looks so small in the net. So, it must be the pads. Bring these ones back, Craig.
-The Senators are getting close to the point where they have to make a difficult decision on Alex Formenton. He returned to the Ottawa line up last night, suiting up for his 5th game of the season. In the preseason, I would have guessed there was zero chance of Formenton going back to Junior but the more I watch him, the more I think it might be a good idea for him to go back to London for the year. There’s no doubt he has the speed and drive to compete at the NHL level right now but he’s still missing some of that patience and poise with the puck. He’s sort of at that turning point where he can settle into a role as an effective 3rd line guy that can take a shift on the penalty kill or ultimately become a top six guy down the road. It’s a tough call but some big minutes as the go-to guy in London and a top line role at the World Juniors might not be the worst thing for his development. And if he does stay here, well that’s good too because man oh man, is it ever fun to watch him skate.