FIVE QUICK THOUGHTS
-Two in a row! Don’t have the numbers in front of me but I am fairly certain that’s the first time the Ottawa Senators have won back to back games. Like, ever. Okay, maybe not but it certainly did feel that way in the midst of that eight game slide. During that losing streak, the game would start and it wouldn’t even cross my mind that Ottawa might win.? It’s amazing what one win can do.? The Senators have obviously dug themselves a ridiculous hole during the first half of the season but as we all know, there’s only one way to close a 13 point gap and that’s with lights out goaltending and a sweep through California. See ya Saturday, Erik.
-Anders Nilsson was the story again last night as he completely shut the door on the Kings, turning aside 33 of the 34 shots he faced. And while it’s not always pretty with Nilsson, not sure Sens fans should be picky about how their goalie is turning aside 97% of the shots he’s facing. What matters is the puck is staying out of the damn net. And they have a chance to win hockey games because of him.? Nilsson just looks so big in the net right now that even when his positioning is a bit off or he lets out a rebound, he’s able to compensate by just being there. Also, not sure if it’s considered a strength of his game but I’ve been really impressed with Nilsson’s ability to play the puck. Picks the right times to come out of his net and usually has a plan once the puck ends up on his stick.
-Bobby Ryan does it again.? For the second straight game, Bobby Ryan was front and centre, again scoring the game-tying goal.? Said it after the last game but this is some of the best hockey Ryan has played in a couple years and maybe since we got that wonderful glimpse of Playoff Bobby.? With Ryan, the biggest issue always seems to be confidence.? When he’s feeling good, his feet are moving, he is engaged physically and he’s comfortable with the puck on his stick. He’s one of the few forwards that can both make a play with the puck but also get to the front of the net. And that’s exactly how he’s scored his last two goals and why he has points in six straight.? Ryan is quietly on pace for a 50 point season.
-One of the most entertaining things about Brady Tkachuk’s game is the way he seems to proactively identify a player on the other team that he’s going to engage with early on. Almost like he’s trying to get himself into the game a little bit. On Wednesday night it was Ryan Kesler. Last night it was Drew Doughty. On his first shift, Tkachuk took a good run at Doughty and then the two of them went toe to toe in a goal mouth scrum on Tkachuk’s second shift of the game. It’s just amazing how instantly annoying he seems to be for the other team.? I would pay good money for a broadcast feature that included a mic’d up Brady Tkachuk at all times.? He’s still a little snake-bitten around the net but the chances are there. It’s only a matter of time before the goals start piling up again.
-More bad news on the injury front.? Colin White was on the wrong end of a massive hit by Jake Muzzin in the first period and did not return to the game.? According to the official update from the team, White suffered an injury to his left shoulder on the play. Better than head, I guess.? Watching the play in real time, it’s actually surprising White was able to get up at all let along get up and skate off the ice on his own. After the game, Boucher indicated the injury is likely to keep White out for a couple weeks. Goes without saying but the Senators really don’t have the depth to deal with another injury down the middle. White has racked up an impressive 26 points in 43 games so far this season.? If White is going to be out for an extended period, it would be nice to call up Filip Chlapik or Logan Brown. Nick Paul could slide up the depth chart obviously but it would be nice to get a look at a prospect that projects as a potential top six forward. In the short-term, Darren Archibald is on the trip and could play in San Jose if need be or Matt Duchene could join the team out West. We shall see.