FIVE QUICK THOUGHTS
-That’s the most complete effort of the season and to be honest, it’s tough to think of a game that comes close. The road win against Tampa Bay was impressive but not nearly as tidy.? The early-season win over the Toronto Maple Leafs was surprising but a little frantic. This was just a well-played game from start to finish.? The Ottawa Senators were in complete control from the moment the puck dropped and had all facets of their game clicking including a dangerous looking offence, a structured defence and solid goaltending. Hell even the penalty kill was perfect (0 for 0)!
-The seats may not be packed but the Senators continue to be a completely different team at the Canadian Tire Centre. It’s so strange to watch them play on the road and find yourself thinking, this team might never win again only to watch them on home ice and think, so how many points out of a playoff spot are they anyway? The speed, the precision and the aggressive style they play with is just so different and last night’s game is a perfect example. Especially when you consider that they’re playing the same Rangers team they had their issues with at MSG earlier this week.
-After four quiet games on the road, Drake Batherson reminded us all just how lethal he can be.? Batherson opened the scoring early in this one and then in the second period, made a pass that can best be described as NSFW. Like, how does he even see Matt Duchene on that play? And as a guy that has all of 8 games of NHL experience under his belt, how does he even think to attempt it? The look on Duchene’s face after the goal said it all. Putting Ryan Dzingel back on the line was a good move and gave them an immediate spark. After the way they were clicking last night, hopefully they can stay together for…well forever.
-As the final buzzer sounded, it became obvious just how much this one meant to Craig Anderson. And actually, you could see it earlier than that if you watched the way the Senators played those final five minutes. Despite holding a comfortable three goal lead, they were diving in front of shots like they protecting a one goal lead in a playoff game.? They desperately wanted to get this shutout for Craig Anderson in a year where he has been asked to carry an unreasonable work-load for this rebuilding hockey team.? The funny thing about last night’s game is Anderson actually had a relatively easy he night. Of the 27 saves he made, it’s hard to think of one that stands out.? Hopefully there are more nights like that in his future.
-Next up- The Return. Saturday afternoon’s showdown with the San Jose Sharks will be an emotional one. For Erik Karlsson, it will be a return to the city where he spent the first 627 games of his NHL career and for most Sens fans, it will be another painful reminder of a fan favourite lost. There will be a huge ovation, there better be a damn good tribute video and there will be an unhealthy amount of reflection on exactly what went wrong with Karlsson and the Ottawa Senators.? All the signs are there already- the Toronto-centred media is on the story like they ever cared and the local media is rehashing their own theories about how the relationship unraveled. A good piece of advice heading into the next 48 hours is to try to tune out a lot of the frenzy surrounding Karlsson’s return and as much as possible, make it about recognizing the incredible contributions of one of the best players to ever wear a Sens jersey. The media will do their best to make it about the drama surrounding his departure and maybe that’s fair. But it really should be about a warm welcome back.