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Lafreniere’s Feat, Pinto’s Travels, and Borowiecki’s Future

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All that and more in Monday’s Links, News, and Notes

Tampa Bay Lightning v Ottawa Senators Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

The Senators kicked off the new year with a pair of respectable losses to their Florida foes. Against both the Panthers and the Lightning, the Senators fared decently in shot-volume (particularly considering the number of injuries on defence) and the offence continued to impress. Alas, the aforementioned depletion of the d-corps and some less than memorable goaltending performances kept Ottawa right where they want to be in the standings. This morning we’ve got a mix of stories from Sensland and elsewhere in the hockey world to keep you busy until Ottawa heads to Washington for a game Tuesday night.

  • The World Juniors wrapped up yesterday with a barn burner between teams Canada and Russia. After falling behind 3-1, the Canadians scored three in the final frame to erase the painful memories of a listless 6-0 loss against the Russians back on December 28th. Alexis Lafreniere, who injured his knee in that abysmal loss, returned for the elimination round and earned tournament MVP honours. Fellow Canadian Barrett Hayton, who was a game-time decision heading into the gold medal match-up, tied the game with less than ten minutes to go and Akil Thomas scored the winner in the final five.
  • After Lassi Thomson’s Finnish team eliminated Shane Pinto and team USA from the World Juniors on January 2nd, Pinto went planes, trains, and automobiles to get back in the lineup for the University of North Dakota on Saturday night. Pinto had an excellent individual tournament with seven points in five games before that quarter-final elimination. Pinto now has 15 points in 18 games in his rookie season with UND including a goal upon his return to NCAA action this weekend.
  • Closer to home, the Senators held their annual Sens Skills event on Sunday and Mark Borowiecki’s team red took home the bragging rights in this edition. The young guns were on full display as Christian Jaros won fastest skater, Colin White won the accuracy shootout, and Nick Paul repeated last year’s accomplishment with hardest shot. At the end of the day, the organization raised money for charitable causes, minor leaguers got to take the ice with the pros, and Craig Anderson gifted us with an incredible celebration:
  • In a storyline that will linger until the trade deadline has come and gone, speculation continues to swirl about pending unrestricted free agents Mark Borowiecki, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Craig Anderson. At age 38 and having played for four NHL teams, (and having affiliations with three others) Anderson knows this song and dance. Although after almost a decade in Ottawa, it does seem bizarre to picture Andy in a different uniform. Pageau at age 27 and on pace for a 25-30 goal season, has the most intriguing months ahead of him as he will likely sign the largest contract of his career. Borowiecki remains somewhere in the middle: a veteran shutdown defender at age thirty and yet he has never cracked $1.5M in annual salary. Mark recently shared his thoughts on his future considering his unique place in the league and his responsibilities as a husband and soon-to-be father. His celebration really said it all on Saturday night after scoring one of the nicest goals of his career.
  • Lastly, and I know I apologize every week for providing Sharks updates, San Jose found a historic new way to grab defeat from the jaws of victory on Sunday and continued to plummet in the pacific division standings. With Detroit firmly entrenched at the bottom of the league standings, all three teams from California seem eager to join Ottawa and New Jersey for those remaining spots in the basement. Don’t expect the mock drafts to subside any time soon. With scouts updating their rankings after the world juniors and the lottery odds becoming increasingly clearer, fans in Ottawa can’t help but speculate about the names getting called at the draft this summer.