FIVE QUICK THOUGHTS
-After those two losses to the Montreal Canadiens, this weekend back to back against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins looked like a bit of a buzz-saw. Especially when the news came down that they would be playing without two veteran forwards in Matt Duchene and Bobby Ryan.? Give the Ottawa Senators credit though- three of four points this weekend is a damn good outcome.? While the shots against were still a little too high, it’s encouraging to see them hold the opposition to just three goals.? It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t the high-flying Sens we’ve come to expect in the first couple months of the season but they did what they had to do to grind out a few important points.
-There has been a lot of talk about the idea that Pierre Dorion needs to go out and find some goaltending help.? Craig Anderson is overworked and Mike McKenna is a 35 year old journeyman goalie that has never really had what it takes to hold down an NHL job.? On the surface, that makes sense. But Mike McKenna is doing his best to change that perception.? McKenna was outstanding last night, turning in one of the best outings of his NHL career and helping steal a point in the process. In fact, McKenna last two starts have been pretty solid and if nothing else, he’s showing that he might actually be capable of giving Anderson the rest he needs over the next few months.? That two-pad stack he pulled off in overtime was like a throwback to the early 90’s. Looked like a young (er old?) Tom Barrasso in there.? It’s a damn shame they couldn’t win it for him.
-I was fortunate enough to sit a few rows from the ice last night and as if often the case, I was blown away by the speed of the game. And impressed by the skill that basically every single NHL player possess. Those little split-second decisions players make regularly throughout a game that we criticize from the comfort of our couch look next to impossible when you watch from up close.? And it also makes you appreciate the high-end skill guys like Thomas Chabot and Mark Stone from the Senators and David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand from the Bruins.? There are no many subtle little plays that these guys make over the course of a hockey game that you can really appreciate from up close. The way they can make skilled plays at high-speeds but then at the same time, slow the game down at times is fun to watch. Also, from up close, Brad Marchand’s nose is truly a sight to behold.
-There’s no doubt that fighting is losing its place in the game of hockey.? There was a time not long ago when you could count on at least one scrap a night and usually more.? Staged fights are long gone and so too are the day of designated enforcers.? And while the league has done a fine job of eliminating unnecessary fighting, there is no doubt that it remains as one of the most exciting parts of the game. Take last night’s tilt between Ben Harpur and Sean Kurlay, for example. When those two dropped the gloves last night, it was probably the loudest the crowd got at any point during the game. The impact on the game is certainly up for debate but there’s no doubt that the crowd got a boost from it and so did the Ottawa bench.? It’s a damn shame they gave Harpur and extra 12 minutes in penalties for being a better fighter than Sean Kurlay though.
-It’s not going to get an easier for the Senators this week.? Matt Duchene, Bobby Ryan, Dylan DeMelo and Mark Borowiecki are all expected to be sidelined for this week which means they may need to call up another defenceman for the upcoming road trip.? The Senators are in Nashville tomorrow night to take on the Central Division-leading Predators before a tough back to back on Friday and Saturday in Detroit and then in Montreal.? It’s no secret that the Sens have struggled on the road this year going 3-9-1 away from the CTC. That’s compared to a 10-5-3 record on home ice. The Senators are hanging around in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race but they’ll need to find a way to bank some points on the road if they want to stay in the mix.