Everything just feels better after a couple of wins, eh? The clouds have lifted, the future is bright once more. What a time to be a fan of the Ottawa Senators hockey franchise.
- Speaking of wins, Lauren Theisen had a great piece over at Defect about the Sens and their two unexpected victories over the Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche. I recommend a subscription to the site in the strongest of terms, if only so you can enjoy quality writing like this:
It’s incredible how every single Senators win feels like stealing fire from the Gods—like defying an ironclad law of the universe for one little thrill even as you know eternal torment waits around the corner. When you turn on the Sens, there’s at least a 7-in-10 chance that you’re setting yourself up for an ugly loss. But that other 30 percent … man, that’s something special.
- On Saturday, Pierre Dorion had something of an impromptu press conference where he shared his thoughts on the season. While he put a lot of the blame for the disappointing season on himself, Dorion also did say that he thought several players were underperforming:
I’m not going to name players, but a lot of the players on this team have underperformed this year to the level that they performed to in the second half last year or if you look at the whole season last year,” Dorion said. “The players have to step up, the coaching staff has to step up, the general manager and the management have to step up. We all have to be better.
I have to admit, I’m struggling to think of who he could mean by this. Virtually all of the returning players are playing at the same level they did last year — which is part of the problem because the roster just isn’t good enough. Injuries haven’t helped things, but I’d be careful saying too much of the downturn is because of underachieving individuals. Let’s check in on this around the trade deadline.
- In the weekend’s biggest news, Elliotte Friedman first reported Sunday night that Bruce Boudreau was the new coach of the Vancouver Canucks. The problem seemed to be that it wasn’t clear that Vancouver had fired their existing coach, Travis Green, just yet. Or that they’d made a move on Jim Benning, the architect of the last-place team, and someone that was in his eighth year in the role. As the chaotic evening progressed, it became clear that both Green and Benning had been fired. Stan Smyl will step in to lead the management group on a temporary basis while the Canucks search for a full-time replacement. Thomas Drance has a good write-up of the carnage over at the Athletic.
- Over at the Athletic, Ian Mendes had a nice Saturday column where he covered, among other things, who he believes to be the Sens’ MVP at the quarter pole. Mendes gives the nod to Chabot, and though I ultimately agree I think there is a case for Drake Batherson and a hard-charging Brady Tkachuk.
- In other minor Sens news, Pontus Åberg was placed on waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract on Sunday as it appears he is heading back to Europe. Pure speculation on my part here, but it seems like Åberg signed with Ottawa with hopes of cracking the NHL line-up and is now realizing just how far down the depth chart he really is. The BSens will likely miss him quite a bit, though.
- Nikita Kucherov skated with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, the first time he had done so since having surgery for a “lower-body” injury. Coach Jon Cooper suggested it would still be some time before Kucherov returned to the line-up. The Bolts, still without Brayden Point, have hardly missed a beat without their two top forwards and sit 15-5-4 for the year. The competition will be stiff, but I’d be careful to count Tampa out in their quest for a three-peat if everyone is healthy come play-off time.
- Tyler Johnson recently underwent the same, controversial neck surgery as Jack Eichel and is expected to miss three months’ time. Now that Eichel seems to be on a successful path to recovery, will players around the league be clamoring for this surgical method?
- In his quest to reach the top of the goal-scoring mountain, Alex Ovheckin has now notched 750 — a nearly unfathomable number in this era.