Nick and Connor recap and react to the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship so far, review the latest suspensions and injuries, look to the future of the NHL in 2019 and beyond, discuss 2019 All-Star Game captains, Jake Guentzel’s new extension and Jim Lites’ quotes on Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.
The Original Trio reunites to talk recent trades, recent coaching changes, the Buffalo Sabres current winning streak, a haphazard review of the Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers, as well as a look at the division standings as of American Thanksgiving.
Craig Berube is now in charge behind the bench of the St. Louis Blues and Ken Hitchcock is back from retirement to coach the Oilers after Mike Yeo and Todd McLellan were both fired respectively from their clubs.
Rasmus Dahlin continues to emerge as a star in Buffalo as the team rises in the standings– can the Sabres keep this up? Will Dahlin get some votes for the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year and does Phil Housley deserve credit for the team’s turnaround?
For the fourth time in his young career, David Pastrnak (2-2–4 totals) had a four-point night to snap a three-game losing streak and help the Boston Bruins beat the Ottawa Senators, 4-1, at Canadian Tire Centre Tuesday night.
David Krejci (1-1–2) and Patrice Bergeron (1-2–3) each had a goal in the Bruins victory, while Tuukka Rask (3-2-0, 3.38 goals against average, .901 save percentage) made 38 saves on 39 shots against for a .974 SV% en route to picking up his third win of the season.
Rask bounced back with an impressive showing since his last game (Oct. 17th’s 5-2 loss, 24 saves, in Calgary against the Flames) as Boston’s first line of Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Pastrnak combined for eight points in Tuesday’s win.
Ottawa netminder, Craig Anderson (4-2-1, 3.14 GAA, .915 SV%), stopped 28 out of 32 shots faced for an .875 SV% in the loss.
The Senators are now 0-2-0 against their division rival– the Bruins– this season after Tuesday’s loss and Oct. 8th’s 6-3 loss at TD Garden. Boston swept Ottawa last season in the season series, while the Sens swept the B’s in 2016-17.
Coincidentally, Rask was 3-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA against Ottawa last season.
Boston was 18-8-2 against Atlantic Division teams last season. They are 4-0-0 against division opponents thus far in 2018-19 (4-0 at Buffalo on Oct. 4th, 6-3 vs. Ottawa on Oct. 8th, 8-2 vs. Detroit on Oct. 13th and Tuesday’s 4-1 win in Ottawa).
Bruce Cassidy adjusted his lines without David Backes in the lineup for the second straight game, leaving what worked against the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 20th together on the third line with Anders Bjork sliding in on the left side of Joakim Nordstrom and Chris Wagner playing right wing.
In the opening minutes of the first period, Senators defender, Mark Borowiecki looked over his shoulder at an approaching Vaakanainen and promptly delivered an elbow to the 19-year-old blue liner’s face after a whistle.
No penalty was called on the play and Vaakanainen would not return for the second period. In fact, the rookie defender in just his 2nd career National Hockey League game was diagnosed with a concussion by the Bruins medical staff and shutdown for the rest of the night.
Cassidy juggled his remaining defenders for the rest of the night, with Carlo seeing some impressive play in his own end, including blocking shots and bailing out his team from errant pucks in the crease approaching the goal line.
Of note, injured defender Torey Krug started skating the other day and may return to the lineup next week. Kevan Miller and Charlie McAvoy remain out, however, in addition to the now uncertain timetable for Vaakanainen.
Chara was penalized for hooking Ottawa’s Matt Duchene at 3:59 of the first period, but Ottawa wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing power play. This, despite Bobby Ryan firing a shot through Rask that nearly crossed the goal line before Carlo squibbed it free from the blue paint.
Fresh off the bench in the midst of a line change, Danton Heinen sent the puck up to Pastrnak (9) who managed to break into the attacking zone and snipe a shot past Anderson to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead at 11:17 of the first period.
Heinen (2) and Krejci (6) were tabbed with the assists on Pastrnak’s goal.
After one period, Boston held onto a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard and a 15-10 advantage in shots on goal. The B’s also led in takeaways (2-0), hits (10-7) and face-off win percentage (57-43), while Ottawa had an advantage in blocked shots (7-6) and giveaways (5-1). The Sens were 0/1 on the power play entering the first intermission, while the Bruins had yet to see time on the skater advantage.
Noel Acciari was guilty of tripping Senators defender, Thomas Chabot, at 5:30 of the second period, but Ottawa wasn’t able to convert on their second skater advantage of the night.
Late in the period Brad Marchand and Zack Smith exchanged fisticuffs after Smith hit Grzelcyk hard in the corner. The hit was clean, but given the heightened tempers, Marchand wasn’t taking any chances with seeing another defender, let alone teammate, get roughed up without some kind of response (right or wrong).
A minute later on yet another questionable call by the refs, Chara was handed a cross checking minor for Mark Stone having grabbed Chara’s stick at 16:19.
In a test of Boston’s will to bounce back from murky calls, the Senators struck on the power play on a one-timer from the point thanks to Chabot (3) firing a shot past the screened Bruins netminder on the blocker side.
Ryan (4) and Stone (3) had the assists on Chabot’s power play goal at 17:51.
Nevertheless, Ottawa’s first minor penalty of the night came less than a moment later when Alex Formenton was guilty of a two-minute violation for holding the stick as Carlo drew a power play for the Bruins.
Almost 30 seconds later, the Senators bench bungled a line change and was guilty of too many men on the ice at 19:05, yielding a 5-on-3 power play opportunity for Boston for just over 80 seconds of a two-skater advantage.
That 5-on-3 power play would’ve carried into the third period, if it weren’t for Krejci (2) pocketing a one-timer from Pastrnak past Anderson while the Senators goalie dove in desperation across the crease four seconds into the two-skater advantage.
Krejci’s goal at 19:09 of the second period gave Boston the lead, 2-1, and was assisted by Pastrnak (4) and Bergeron (8) after Anderson bought Pastrnak’s head fake and left a gapping hole in the net for No. 46 in black-and-gold to complete the one-timer.
Through 40 minutes of play, the Bruins held onto a 2-1 lead, but were being outshot, 24-22. Ottawa managed to outshoot Boston, 2:1, in the second period with a 14-7 advantage in the middle frame alone.
Boston led in blocked shots (15-11), takeaways (3-1), hits (20-12) and face-off win% (57-43) entering the second intermission. Ottawa had an advantage in giveaways (7-1) and was 1/3 on the power play while the B’s were 1/2 after two.
Just 21 seconds into the third period, while still on the 5-on-4 advantage, Bergeron (7) buried a redirection past Anderson on a purposeful shot from Pastrnak to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead in the third period.
Pastrnak (5) and Grzelcyk (5) notched the assists on Bergeron’s insurance goal.
Moments later, Pastrnak received a transition pass and sent the puck further along to Marchand for a 2-on-1 opportunity. Marchand dangled, snuck the puck through his own legs and completely undressed Ottawa’s defense before sending a pass back to Pastrnak (10) for an elevated one-timer shot through the roof of the twine behind Anderson.
His second goal of the night, Pastrnak, gave Boston a 4-1 lead, while Marchand (11) and Bergeron (9) picked up their first and second assists, respectively in the game at 5:31.
Seconds later, Chara was called for tripping Ryan at 5:47 and the Bruins were forced to kill off another penalty. They did so successfully, until Marchand was guilty of slashing Duchene one second after Chara was freed from the box– then they had yet another minor infraction to kill off (they did).
At the final horn, the Bruins had won 4-1, despite trailing in shots on goal, 39-32 (and 15-10 in the third period) to Ottawa. Boston finished Tuesday with an advantage in blocked shots (22-15), hits (24-21) and face-off win% (55-45), while the Senators held onto an advantage in giveaways (10-3).
The B’s went 2/2 on the skater advantage, while the Sens finished 1/5 on the power play.
Pastrnak carried the weight of the first line’s eight-point production with four points (two goals, two assists) of his own, while Bergeron (one goal, two assists) and Marchand (one assist) completed the effort.
The Bruins finished their four-game road trip with a 1-1-2 record earning four out of a possible eight points, while improving their overall record to 5-2-2 (12 points) on the season. Boston is currently tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs in points for 2nd place in the Atlantic Division, however the Maple Leafs hold the tiebreaker by virtue of having one more regulation-plus-overtime win (Toronto has six, Boston has five, so far).
Ottawa fell to 4-3-1 (9 points) as a result of Tuesday’s loss, good enough for 6th in the division.
Boston heads home for a Thursday night matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden before hosting the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.
Next Tuesday (Oct. 30th), the B’s begin a quick, two-game, road trip at PNC Arena against the Carolina Hurricanes, before swinging through Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 3rd for a visit against the Nashville Predators.
Among other stats from Tuesday night’s win in Ottawa…
David Pastrnak and Zdeno Chara led Boston in plus/minus as each were a plus-two, while Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk led their team in shots on goal with five apiece.
Brandon Carlo led the Bruins in the hits department with four, while Chris Wagner, Noel Acciari and Chara each recorded three.
In addition to his plus/minus and hitting efforts, Chara led Boston in blocked shots with five. The next closest among his teammates was three (Joakim Nordstrom, John Moore and Matt Grzelcyk).
Matt Duchene and Dylan DeMelo were each a minus-two for the Senators in the loss, while Mark Stone led Ottawa in shots on goal with six. Mark Borowiecki and Ryan Dzingel each recorded four hits for Ottawa, while Christian Jaros and Chris Wideman each had four blocked shots.
Oh, and one more thing… David Pastrnak is the sixth different player in Bruins franchise history to record at least 10 goals in the team’s first nine (or fewer) games of a season.
The most goals in the month of October by any Boston player?
14 — Phil Esposito (1973-74)
12 — Charlie Simmer (1985-86)
10 — David Pastrnak (2018-19)
10 — Dimitri Kvartalnov (1992-93)
10 — Phil Esposito (1974-75)
John Tavares and Patrice Bergeron both had hat tricks in the last week, so Nick and Connor discuss hat trick ethics and more, since celebrations are hot topics these days. Also, everything else that happened in the first week of regular season action.
Patrice Bergeron was part of the Hart Trophy conversation last season until he was sidelined by injuries late in the year, but he’s making himself an early Hart Trophy favorite this season with his 4th career hat trick on the tails of a four-point afternoon for the Boston Bruins in Monday’s 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators.
It’s only October, of course.
In the calendar year, 2018, Bergeron has three hat tricks alone– including two last season (January 6th vs. Carolina– he had four goals that night, actually– and January 18th at N.Y. Islanders) and Monday afternoon’s matinee matchup. It was also his first hat trick against the Senators since January 11, 2011.
Bergeron wasn’t the only storyline for the Bruins against Ottawa, as David Pastrnak also had a four-point game, notching two goals and two assists. Brad Marchand had three assists in the effort as Boston’s first line led the offensive effort for the Bruins.
The two players with four-points in the game (Bergeron and Pastrnak) marked the first time in franchise history that multiple players recorded at least four points in Boston’s home opener.
Condon made his first career start at TD Garden for the Senators. His previous start “in Boston” was actually in Foxborough, Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium for the Montreal Canadiens in the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
Walpole, Massachusetts native, Chris Wagner, made his home debut with his new club in Boston, as did defender John Moore. Joakim Nordstrom was a healthy scratch for the Bruins and Jaroslav Halak served as the backup on the bench.
One more debut Monday afternoon was made by Senators forward– and 4th overall pick in the 2018 Draft– Brady Tkachuk in his NHL debut. Tkachuk played college hockey at Boston University and is the son of former NHLer and Melrose, Massachusetts native, Keith Tkachuk. Despite being born in Scottsdale, Arizona, the younger Tkachuk spent plenty of time growing up in and around Boston (as well as St. Louis, Missouri).
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy juggled the lines a bit between last Thursday’s shutout victory in Buffalo and Monday’s matinee, putting David Backes at center on the third line in place of Nordstrom and moving Anders Bjork up a line into Backes’s right wing slot.
It didn’t take long for Boston’s offense to strike as Bergeron (2) found a rebound and slid it under Condon while falling to the ice 30 seconds into the action to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. Pastrnak (1) and Charlie McAvoy (2) had the assists on the goal.
The Senators failed to convert on the ensuing power play as Boston continued to do a better job of controlling the overall game flow, even through chaos at times where Backes was left to make a desperation save on a shot block midway through the period.
Mark Borowiecki tripped Brandon Carlo at 11:21 of the first period and gave the Bruins their first power play of the afternoon. Boston did not convert on their first skater advantage, but would connect on the power play the second time around when Colin White took a hooking penalty against Acciari at 15:31.
Standing from his stereotypical bumper position in the low slot, Marchand sent a pass to Bergeron (3) for the one-timer power play goal past Condon for a 2-0 lead. Marchand (5) and Pastrnak (2) notched the assists on Bergeron’s second goal of the day at 17:12 of the first period.
After 20 minutes, the Bruins led 2-0 and led in shots on goal, 15-9. Ottawa dominated in blocked shots (8-3) and takeaways (4-3), while Boston also held the advantage in giveaways (4-3) and face-off win percentage (55-45). Through one period, hits were even, 5-5, and the Senators were 0/1 on the power play, while the B’s were 1/2.
Ryan Dzingel (1) opened scoring in the second period and got the Sens on the scoreboard, cutting Boston’s lead in half to make it 2-1. Mark Stone (1) and Zack Smith (3) had the assists on Dzingel’s goal as Stone found Dzingel creeping down the middle to find a loose puck in the slot and beat Rask at 2:21 of the second period.
Ottawa came out of the first intermission with a lot of moxie, spending more time in the offensive zone than they did in their own end and in the first period. In fact, the Senators wound up outshooting the Bruins, 12-6, in the second period as part of their offensive display.
Moments after Dzingel made it a one-goal game, Charlie McAvoy fired a shot that was redirected by Chris Wagner (1) for his first goal of the season and his first with his hometown team since joining the Bruins via free agency in July after splitting last season with the Anaheim Ducks and New York Islanders.
McAvoy (3) and Kuraly (1) were credited with the assists at 7:08 and Boston led, 3-1.
Nearly four minutes later, while McAvoy fumbled a wrap around the boards in his own end, Dzingel (2) pounced on the loose puck and threw it on goal from halfway between the point and the face-off circle along the wall, squeaking one past Rask– as Zdeno Chara partially screened his own goaltender– and again pulling Ottawa within one to make it, 3-2.
Through two periods, Boston led, 3-2, and shots on goal were tied, 21-21. The Senators domination of the second period pulled them to within a goal and gave them the advantage in blocked shots (11-6), takeaways (8-6) and face-off win% (60-40). Both teams had six giveaways through 40 minutes and hits were even, 14-14.
Bergeron (4) opened scoring in the third period with his hat trick goal at 4:38. His third goal of the afternoon deflected off of Sens defender Cody Ceci and past Condon after Bergeron initially tried to send the puck to Pastrnak in the slot.
Marchand (6) and McAvoy (4) picked up the assists on Bergeron’s third goal of the day that made it 4-2 Boston.
A couple minutes later, Alex Formenton crashed the net and ran into the Bruins goaltender as Rask aggressively played the puck outside his crease and tripped up Formenton– sending the Ottawa forward airborne over Rask.
Bruins defender, John Moore, didn’t take too kindly to his own teammate’s antics and received a minor penalty for roughing Formenton at 6:42 of the third period.
While on the penalty kill, Bergeron attempted to clear the puck down the frozen river and instead sent the rubber biscuit over the glass and out of the playing surface. He was given a delay of game minor penalty and Ottawa went on a 5-on-3 advantage at 7:26 of the third.
The Bruins killed off both minor penalties.
David Pastrnak (2) added his second goal of the season late in the third period and made it a three-goal game for Boston. Bergeron (2) and Zdeno Chara (1) had the assists and the Bruins had a 5-2 lead at 16:31.
Less than a minute later, Bobby Ryan (1) deflected a shot from DeMelo through traffic and past Rask to bring the Senators to within two goals and make it 5-3 at 17:03 of the third period.
DeMelo (2) and Chris Tierney (3) recorded the assists on Ryan’s first goal of the season and Ottawa can thank the Erik Karlsson trade for the pair of former San Jose Sharks members that led to Ryan’s goal.
With 1:50 remaining in regulation, Sens head coach Guy Boucher pulled Condon for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as 28 seconds later Pastrnak (3) added an empty net goal to make it, 6-3, Boston.
Marchand (7) recorded his third assist of the afternoon on Pastrnak’s second goal of the game and the Bruins went on to walk away from their home opener with a 6-3 victory.
Ottawa finished Monday afternoon leading in shots on goal (31-30), blocked shots (14-8), giveaways (8-6) and face-off win% (57-43). Boston finished the afternoon with the win and leading in hits (18-17). The Senators were 0/3 on the power play, while the Bruins went 1/2.
Among some other stats from the matinee game…
Moore led all Bruins with four hits on the afternoon, while Boston’s fourth line combined for seven hits in the game with Wagner and Acciari each leading the Bruins forwards with three hits apiece (Kuraly had one hit).
Speaking of Bergeron, his first goal of the day marked the third fastest to begin a home-opening game in franchise history. Bergeron’s goal 30 seconds into the game trails Brad Boyes (18 seconds on October 19, 2006) and Terry O’Reilly (23 seconds on October 8, 1981).
98.5 The Sports Hub Bruins beat reporter, Ty Anderson, noted Bergeron’s hat trick was the first home opener hat trick since Cam Neely‘s 1995 home opener hat trick and The Boston Globe‘s Matt Porter followed that up with all of the home opener hat tricks for Boston since 1967, including Phil Esposito (October 10, 1973), Rick Middleton (October 7, 1976), Neely (October 7, 1995) and Bergeron (October 8, 2018).
Middleton’s No. 16 will be retired this November, joining Esposito’s No. 7 and Neely’s No. 8 (among others) in the rafters of TD Garden, so surely this means Bergeron’s No. 37 is a shoe-in to be retired someday.
The Bruins improved to 2-1-0 on the season and are currently tied for 1st place in the Atlantic Division with the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs. Each team has four points on the season.
Boston takes on the visiting Edmonton Oilers Thursday night at TD Garden.
28-43-11, 67 points, 7th in Atlantic Division
Additions: F Chase Balisy, D Julius Bergman (acquired from SJ), F Mikkel Boedker (acquired from SJ), F Paul Carey, G Mike McKenna, F Adam Tambellini
Subtractions: F Mike Blunden (signed, Austria), D Fredrik Claesson (signed with NYR), D Cody Donaghey (traded to SJ), G Chris Driedger (signed with Springfield Thunderbirds, AHL), F Mike Hoffman (traded to SJ, flipped to FLA), D Ville Pokka (signed, KHL), F Tyler Randell (signed with Rochester Americans, AHL), G Daniel Taylor (signed, KHL)
Still Unsigned: F Nick Moutrey, F Max Reinhart
Re-signed: D Cody Ceci, F Nick Paul, F Mark Stone
Offseason Analysis: The bottom fell out for the Ottawa Senators in 2017-18– not just on the ice, but off it too. It’s hard to ignore the dumpster fire near the Rideau Canal, but tires burn hot and bright. Everything, yes, everything is horrible in Ottawa– excuse me, Kanata, Ontario (since Senators owner Eugene Melnyk cannot get a downtown arena deal done).
There is no plan for a future (they protected their 2018 1st round pick from the Colorado Avalanche in the Matt Duchene three-way trade, leaving their 2019 1st round pick– and best chance at Jack Hughes– exposed) and the organization is rushing Brady Tkachuk into the big time when he could get just as much, if not more, for his development from another season at Boston University– where at least there’ll be a structured game-flow and not just a 1-3-1.
General Manager Pierre Dorion was faced with the tough task of having to trade one of his best forwards for almost nothing due to an off-ice controversy. In the meantime, superstar defender Erik Karlsson is still a pending-UFA in July 2019 on the roster.
Contrary to expert analysts’ opinions (and regular fans’ opinions) around the sport, Ottawa does not have to trade Karlsson. There is no timetable other than the chance that Karlsson walks away for nothing next summer.
The Duchene trade didn’t happen until last November. A Karlsson deal can happen anytime.
It’s understandable that a fanbase would want to get something rather than nothing– even more so when the fate of Karlsson in a Senators uniform is all but sealed. Melnyk doesn’t spend money on good, franchise, players. Just ask Jason Spezza five years ago.
He does, however, still want to move Bobby Ryan’s massive $7.250 million per season contract through the end of the 2021-22 season.
Rebuilds don’t happen in one offseason.
Unfortunately for Sens fans, this might not be rock bottom yet. It might take another frustrating year (or several), especially the longer the franchise waits to shake things up in the front office.
Dorion and Head Coach Guy Boucher can– without a doubt– expect not to see the results on the other side of these trying times.
Nine current NHL roster players are pending-UFAs in 2019, including Duchene, Mark Stone and Karlsson.
Yes, that’s right, Ottawa may lose their three biggest remaining pieces from 2017-18’s dumpster fire during or after the 2018-19 campaign.
Stone agreed to a one-year extension in August. The 26-year-old forward will be making $7.350 million this season with no years of UFA protection from an organizational standpoint.
There’s really nothing else to say about the Senators situation. Dorion waited too long to move assets that could’ve been dealt leading up to or at the trade deadline, controversies came out publicly and now the ship is already primed for the bottom of the Atlantic (Division, if you will accept the metaphor) without any guarantee of landing a top prospect in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
This colossal mismanagement starts at the very top.
Despite all considerations of defining an offseason timeline as truly just the offseason, unless Ottawa trades someone tomorrow, they have failed in every sense to get better.
Offseason Grade: F
Buying out Alexandre Burrows after acquiring him and signing him immediately to a two-year extension in a league that is only getting younger and faster, while also handing Cody Ceci a one-year, $4.300 million extension this offseason (because you lack defensive depth past Erik Karlsson) doesn’t look great, especially when your biggest addition was Mikkel Boedker (at the expense of trading Mike Hoffman to the San Jose Sharks because you didn’t want him to go to a division rival– oops, would you look at that, San Jose flipped him to the Florida Panthers).
Sure, Brady Tkachuk exists, but if there’s nobody left to match his playing style, well, it’s going to be a long season.
Continuing our offseason previews for all 31 National Hockey League teams, today we begin with the Ottawa Senators and continue working our way through the 2018 NHL Entry Draft order (if every team still had their first round pick).
After reaching the 2017 Eastern Conference Final and succumbing to the eventual 2017 Stanley Cup champion, Pittsburgh Penguins, in double-overtime in Game 7, the 2017-18 Senators were quite a disappointment.
Ottawa was one goal away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in franchise history and first time in ten years, but Chris Kunitz‘s game-winning goal ended the Sens magical 2017 postseason run.
A rocky start in October led to a dismal November after acquiring the services of Matt Duchene.
Though the team’s effort was not Duchene’s fault alone, trading away Kyle Turris in the three-team Duchene deal– and later sending Derick Brassard to the
Vegas Golden Knights Pittsburgh Penguins (after making a pitstop in Vegas) as part of a three-team deal leading up to the 2018 trade deadline– didn’t do much to help Ottawa’s cause as Guy Boucher’s 1-3-1 was ripped to shreds on a night-to-night basis.
The Sens finished 2017-18 with a 28-43-11 record, notching 67 points and finishing 7th in the Atlantic Division.
Erik Karlsson‘s displeasure with the organization has the trade rumor mill searching for a new home for the defender with one-year remaining on his current contract, while Thomas Chabot and Filip Gustavsson show promise for a hopeful future on the current roster and in the system, respectively.
2018 NHL Entry Draft
Between Filip Zadina, Brady Tkachuk and Oliver Wahlstrom, there’s bound to be a top-quality prospect that could make quite a world of change for the organization. Zadina or Tkachuk could very well be selected 3rd overall by the Montreal Canadiens leaving the Senators with the next best available player to select.
But anything’s possible, as we’ve come to see time and time again in the draft.
Ottawa could trade their pick, take someone off the board that they’re more comfortable and confident with or be predictable and select the “best available” player.
Despite this year’s draft being deeper than recent drafts, one player alone isn’t going to fix the Senators (on-ice product, at least– we’ll save their front office for another day).
Pending free agents
With almost $15 million in cap space this offseason, Ottawa has a chance to make a dent at attracting one of the better players testing the market this July. However, the Senators have a couple of important names that are worth holding onto in Mark Stone (a pending-RFA) and Chris Wideman (a pending-UFA).
Other pending free agents currently on the NHL roster in Canada’s capital include the likes of Fredrik Claesson and Cody Ceci. Both are pending-RFA blueliners that are arbitration eligible if they are not tendered qualifying offers or already re-signed by July 1st.
In terms of priorities, keeping Stone and Wideman could play vital roles for Ottawa’s second/third line (Stone) and top-4 defensemen (Wideman). Neither are stellar standouts so somewhere around $3.000- 4.000 million AAV deals seem reasonable– at most– considering the 2019 crop of pending free agents Ottawa will have (including Duchene, Karlsson and others).
But Ottawa has bigger needs with six forwards over the age of 30 and nobody to match Karlsson’s playing style on the first defensive pair.
It wouldn’t be unwise for General Manager Pierre Dorion to find some trading partners to take on 37-year-old Alex Burrows, 36-year-old Marian Gaborik and the contract of Clarke MacArthur (if MacArhtur’s playing days are indeed over and the Senators no longer wish to place him on the long term injured reserve from season-to-season).
If Karlsson is to be traded, then the Senators will have to hit a home run on the package in return. But the real home run for the organization might be finding someone to take on Bobby Ryan‘s $7.250 million cap hit through the 2021-22 season in a trade, as Ottawa’s owner, Eugene Melnyk dreams.
The Sens need to get younger, more skilled and faster. They’re almost figuring that out on the blueline, but even then, they’ve got some decisions to make– keep either Claesson or Ceci and find a new defender or two via trade or free agency.
Other pending free agents throughout the organization include:
Nick and Connor discuss the hullabaloo regarding the fallout of the Ottawa Senators and whether or not they should trade Erik Karlsson (thereby tanking and rebuilding). A quick look around California reveals contenders and pretenders, while All-Star talent and rookies are also reviewed.
Wanna see a cool trick? I’m going to list the four games on today’s schedule, and I want you to pick which one is actually a rivalry, and which one is being promoted as such by the NHL’s preferred American broadcaster.
Half of tonight’s contests drop the puck at 7:30 p.m. (Tampa Bay at Boston [NBCSN] and Ottawa at Montréal [RDS/SN]), followed by Anaheim at St. Louis at 9 p.m. Finally, tonight’s nightcap is slated to start at 9:30 p.m., featuring Winnipeg at Colorado. All times Eastern.
Salty is probably too strong a word, but I’m definitely not a fan of being sold a rivalry on the simple basis that the Lightning and Bruins both play in the Atlantic Division – especially since the league’s 2013 realignment.
As such, consider yourself a lucky member of my protest being waged on the National Broadcasting Company. Instead of watching their so-called rivalry, we’re just going to watch what we want: a real feud.
Oh, you say the Ottawa-Montréal game isn’t being broadcast in the United States? Well, while that does make our protest a little bit more difficult, we must press on for the integrity of the word rivalry!
Unfortunately, this rivalry is not currently as important as many would have expected during the preseason, as both teams currently rank in the bottom-five of the Eastern Conference.
Expectations were especially high for the 8-8-6 Senators after their trip to the Eastern Finals in May, but losing six-straight games (one in overtime) since returning from Stockholm, Sweden has pinned them third-worst in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.
The primary reason for this skid has been a major scoring drought. Starting with November 16’s game against the Penguins, Ottawa has scored only eight goals in six games. As you’d expect, that’s the lowest output of any team in the league in that time.
Since mid-November, I suppose you could say RW Mark Stone (1-3-4 totals) and F Mike Hoffman (2-1-3) have been Ottawa’s biggest offensive stars, but it’d probably be disrespectful to use the same word we’d use to describe Vegas’ F Jon Marchessault, who has scored a league-leading 4-7-11 effort in the same time span it’s taken Hoffman and Stone to earn their combined seven points.
While their efforts aren’t exactly superb, at least they’re trying to get the Sens rolling again. Instead, the biggest problem I can find with the Senators right now is found at the bottom of the list. No, not those players who only have one point to their credit – I’m looking beyond the 13 players who have gotten on the scorecard in the past six games. Listed behind them are D Erik Karlsson and W Bobby Ryan, who have a combined zero points.
For those wondering, the last time Karlsson scored a point or earned a personal goal-differential that was not negative was against the Avalanche in Sweden, the last time Ottawa won. Coincidence? I think not. His performance on both ends of the ice is of the utmost importance to the success of this Senators team, and until the captain gets out of his rut, Ottawa will continue to lose.
Of note for the Sens is 1-0-3 G Mike Condon will be the starting goaltender tonight. This will be his first time in net at the Bell Centre since April 9, 2016 as a member of the Canadiens. In five starts, Condon has a .904 save percentage and averages three goals against per 60 minutes on the season.
Meanwhile, the 10-12-3 Habs are trying to take advantage of a weak Atlantic Division and salvage their slow start to the season.
Similar to Karlsson’s importance to the Sens, there’s no doubting how integral 5-7-1 G Carey Price is to this Montréal team. Since returning from a lower body injury that sent him to the press box for 10 games, he’s managed an incredible .986 save percentage and .5 GAA in two starts.
With Price seemingly back to the form that earned him basically every individual trophy he could earn during the 2014-’15 season, the offense has also rediscovered the art of scoring to register three goals against both the Sabres and Blue Jackets – well above their 2.36 goals-per-game season average that ranks second-worst in the NHL.
The positive momentum is absolutely contagious, as those six goals have been scored by six different players. My biggest concern about the Habs is that their captain, LW Max Pacioretty, is not one of those six skaters, but I doubt Head Coach Claude Julien is complaining as long as his club is winning.
Considering how well Price has been playing, Karlsson will be hard-pressed to end his point skid tonight. If that proves to be the case, I see no reason why Montréal can’t win its third-straight contest.
Though backup G Anton Forsberg tried to do his best G Corey Crawford impression, it wasn’t enough to stop the Nashville Predators from beating the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 at Bridgestone Arena in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.
The Preds’ offense made a habit of scoring early, as they scored a goal within the first four minutes of each period. First Star of the Game F Filip Forsberg (W Viktor Arvidsson and F Ryan Johansen) was the first to score for Nashville, as he buried a wrist shot 3:16 into the game to give the Predators an early lead. That lead didn’t last long however, as F Tommy Wingels (F Alex DeBrincat and F Patrick Sharp) banged a wrister past Second Star G Pekka Rinne only 1:54 later to level the game at one-all.
The game remained tied until the 3:48 mark of the second period when Nashville found its second goal on F Austin Watson‘s (D Matt Irwin and D Anthony Bitetto) stick. Watson’s tip-in set the score at 2-1 and gave the Predators a lead they would not yield.
Though winning face-offs isn’t the most important thing in a hockey game, it can certainly be a very important task in certain situations. C Colton Sissons did his job at the right-most neutral zone face-off dot nearest A. Forsberg to get the puck to Turris. The former Senator advanced into the offensive zone along the right boards and attracted all four Chicago defenders before sending a crossing pass to a totally uncovered Josi at the left point. No Hawks had a chance to block the captain’s slap shot from the top of the left face-off circle, including A. Forsberg, who watched the puck sail over his glove and into the back of the net.
Rinne earned the victory after saving 37-of-39 shots faced (.949 save percentage), leaving the loss to A. Forsberg, who saved 28-of-31 (.903).
Currently riding a four-game winning streak, hosts in the DtFR Game of the Day series now own a 31-19-6 record that is 13 points better than the visitors’.