The final Five Thoughts of 2016. You know the drill!
Favourite Alfie Moments
This isn’t really a thought, but it is an attempt to get some discussion going in the comments section. There are tons of memorable moments from Daniel Alfredsson throughout his career, but what are a few of your favourites? I’ll start it off with an easy one: his overtime winner against the Buffalo Sabres to send Ottawa to the Cup Finals.
I was only 11 at the time, so of course hockey was my whole life. I just remember going crazy when he scored, and I was probably too confident that they would win it all (and keep winning for years to come). Nevertheless, it was easily the biggest goal of his career, and quite the moment. Let’s hear some of his other career highlights in the comments.
Alfredsson Was The Team’s Glue
Ian Mendes had a great piece on Alfredsson on Wednesday, and of course, his final word count was 1111. In it, he talks about how the franchise hasn’t been the same since his departure:
Of course, there are other factors involved, but you have to wonder how different the past three years would have gone if he had never signed a one-year deal with Detroit. For one, it’s highly unlikely Bobby Ryan is a Senator. Perhaps Bryan Murray would’ve made a smaller move for a forward, but it’s clear the reason they made that deal was to compensate for the loss of their longtime captain.
Alfredsson was someone who the team, coaches, and fans needed in Ottawa. Three years after he left for a brief time just shows how much of an impact he had. Luckily last night we were able to appreciate him properly, because he embodies who the Ottawa Senators are. You’re the best, Alfie.
Brassard Picking it Up
Although Derick Brassard hasn’t had the greatest beginning to his tenure in Ottawa, he’s been much better of late, and he was due for some better luck. In his past eight games, he has four goals and two assists, which isn’t outstanding but that’s better than his production earlier on.
Furthermore, he’s actually been Ottawa’s best possession player with a 55 CF% and a +8.6 CF% relative. It’s not as if he has provided no value so far, because he has the fourth best 5v5 shots per 60 on the team, and his 2.20 shots per game is the third best of his career. Whenever he’s been on the ice, the Senators have been in the offensive zone more often than not, and he’s getting the puck on net.
Sure, he doesn’t have the counting numbers just yet but they will come. If anything, at least he has very solid possession numbers so he’s limited the amount of chances in the defensive zone. Perhaps we need some patience with Brassard.
Top 3 in the Division or Bust
The Metro division so far has been pretty ridiculous. The Philadelphia Flyers have 44 points (same as Ottawa), yet they’re fifth in the Metro. In fact, the top three teams in the league and four out of the top seven are from that division. Therefore, if Ottawa wants to make the playoffs, they might not be able to sneak in as a wildcard team.
It’s doable, but it’s going to be an absolute knife-fight until the end. Ottawa will have to battle against Boston, Tampa Bay, Florida, and even Toronto for just two spots. Boston, Tampa Bay, and Florida all have a good enough team to make the playoffs, so the Senators need to outplay playoff caliber teams the rest of the way.
Luckily they have a bit of a cushion heading into the new year, but by no means are they a lock for the playoffs.
Mike Condon a Huge Piece Moving Forward
Whether we like it or not, the Senators will have to continue to rely on Mike Condon playing well. He’s done a fine job stepping in for Craig Anderson so far, as he’s posted a .915 SV% in 16 games. Obviously the team didn’t think their backup goalie would have to play this much going into the season, but given the circumstances, certainly nobody is blaming Anderson for missing time.
Guy Boucher said that Anderson won’t be back with the team until at least mid-January, so plans have changed a bit:
Boucher says it will be a long time before Craig Anderson plays a game again. If he returns in mid January be has to get back in game shape— Dean Brown (@PxPOttawa) December 28, 2016
It’s possible that Anderson does not play the entire month of January, in which case Ottawa is going to heavily rely on the play of Condon. With Andrew Hammond being out, he isn’t really an option at this point, and neither Matt O’Connor nor Chris Driedger inspire much confidence.
I wonder what will happen as the season gets closer to the finish line, especially if Ottawa is barely hanging on to a playoff spot. I’ll just expect Condon to be the starter for a while, and if Anderson does return, even better. But for now, Condon is a huge part of the team.
And with that, I hope everybody has a safe and happy new year!