It’s the first Five Thoughts where we get to talk about actual hockey games!
I Hate Auston Matthews
I think we all do at this point. It’s not that I hate the 19-year-old as a person, but I’m going to hate him because of how good he is going to be for the next 20 years. He may not be with the Leafs forever, but he’ll be in Toronto for at least the next seven seasons, unless they trade him for some reason.
He scored four goals in his first game, and I don’t even want to imagine how good he’ll be at his peak. I just don’t want to imagine Toronto actually being good. It may come sooner than we think...
Auston Matthews gets his second goal of the first period. Unbelievable. pic.twitter.com/Z1hAct2TSL— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 12, 2016
Kyle Turris is Quite Good
I don’t know why, but after Turris’ injury last year, fans seemed to forget just how good he can be while healthy. He finished the year horribly, but that’s because he was playing on one leg. I see no reason why he can’t put up 60 points again, and he already has two goals in the 2016-17 campaign.
If the Senators are going to be successful this year, I’m sure that Turris will be one big reason why. I’m glad he’s back to full health.
Sens Need Time to Adjust to Boucher
Guy Boucher has touched on this before, but it needs to be repeated: the Senators need time to adjust to his style of play. The team is not going to change over night, and it may take a month or two (or even more!) to turn into the team that Boucher wants.
I’m not surprised Ottawa did not look much different than last year on Wednesday night, and that’s because changes take time. I’m willing to give Boucher some rope and hopefully by December the team’s underlying numbers improve compared to last year.
When players are so used to a certain way of playing, old habits are inevitably going to creep in, and all Boucher can do is try to hammer home his same messages every single night. It may not look so great early on, but give it time.
Defense is Not Good Enough
I’m going to say this a lot over the course of the next few weeks: It’s early but...The defense was not good last night. Obviously I have to be patient like I said in my previous point, but I can still point out that they were unimpressive. Mark Borowiecki got his teeth knocked in (not literally) while rocking a 25 CF%.
Even the second pairing which is supposed to be much improved did not look so sharp. Just by looking at the scoreboard, it’s pretty obvious that it was not a great night for the Senators defensively. Yes, the Maple Leafs have some fantastic offensive weapons, but four goals and 38 shots against (with 81 attempts) is never good.
I am worried that the defense might be pretty similar to last year, although I can’t contradict myself too much: I’ll give this some time to work itself out. But if this is still going on in December, then it’s fair to say that the personnel on defense is not good enough.
Sidenote: The number one thing this team can do to improve its chances of winning is to put Thomas Chabot in the lineup over Borowiecki. I can’t wait to see how he does.
Need to Take Points Early on
Like I’ve mentioned, Ottawa may not play to their potential early on because of some growing pains adjusting to Guy Boucher. Hopefully that settles itself out over the course of the next month or two, and then they can ramp it up. However, they might not be able to afford playing sub-par hockey for a long period of time.
They don’t have much wiggle room as is, and it’s imperative that they get off to a good start so that once they’re settled in, they have a good enough cushion to make the playoffs. It might not be pretty, but they need to scratch and claw their way to some wins in October and November, just like they did last night.
They were playing over the heads in the beginning of last year, and their record was actually quite good (12-5-5) at one point. The only thing was that their style of play was not sustainable, whereas this year it’s conceivable that even with a drop-off in luck, they can hold off regression due to improved systems. If they can pick up points while getting used to their new coach, they could be sitting pretty come Spring time.