This week needs no introduction. You know why we’re here.
It’s already five days old, and has been beaten to death by now, but I’ll be damned if we’re not going to relive it one more time.
The Ottawa Senators...nay; the TWO THOUSAND AND TWENTY ONE Ottawa Senators erased a four-goal deficit against the Toronto Maple Leafs, earning themselves a 6-5 win for the ages. As I said on my weekly radio hit on Rebel 101.7 Ottawa (shameless plug is shameless), no iteration of the Sens had ever won after trailing by four or more.
The best part about a victory like this — aside from it coming against the Leafs — is that it was ignited by Ottawa’s young players. Nick Paul, Drake Batherson, Tim Stützle, Brady Tkachuk, and Thomas Chabot all had points on the night, and they were the ones driving the comeback. Evgenii Dadonov finally breaking through with two goals, including the winner, was just icing on the cake.
Whatever happens through the rest of this season and beyond, you’ll always have this one, Sens fans. Enjoy it.
With the compacted nature of the 2021 NHL schedule, it only stood to reason that injuries would occur at a hastened clip. Perhaps it’s as simple as bad luck, but the Senators in particular have been ravaged by the injury bug’s bite of late, especially in net. They lost Matt Murray to a neck strain last week, and Marcus Hogberg was forced to leave last night’s contest in the first period.
Matt Murray in for Hogberg. Hurt himself here. pic.twitter.com/9tJ4w1T1dc— Alex Metzger (@nhlsensandstuff) February 19, 2021
This comes after Erik Brannstrom missed a week, as well, and Thomas Chabot also sat out last night’s game with an upper body injury.
With Hogberg unlikely to return before next week, we could see Joey Daccord make his second NHL start over the weekend. It’ll be interesting to assess the young netminder’s abilities, after he emerged as one of the AHL’s premier goaltenders last season, and threw his name into consideration for the Sens’ future in goal.
Hopefully Chabot is good to go for the weekend. Ottawa is already thin on the blue line, and his presence is far more appetizing than that of Braydon Coburn, or Josh Brown.
Logan’s Run Out of Town?
It has not been a good few months for Logan Brown. The 22 year-old didn’t make the Senators out of camp, and rather than practice as part of the team’s taxi squad, he had to wait another month for Belleville’s season to open. Were that not enough, Brown was sidelined with an injury yet again, after what bench boss Troy Mann described to Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch as two “very disappointing” games.
During TSN’s “Yea or Nay” segment at the intermission of last night’s game, Garrioch said that he felt it was time for the Senators to move on from Brown. A notion that prompted a whirlwind of reaction on Twitter, with a wide range of opinions on the matter.
It’s an argument that I can see both sides of. Brown has been given opportunities to make the Senators, but there’s merit to the idea that he needs an extended NHL look to make a true determination.
It appears that the issue Pierre Dorion and Co. are running into is that they’re walking a thin line with regards to Brown’s trade value. While not likely to recoup the first-round pick he was selected with, Brown likely maintains some value as a prospect. If Ottawa promotes him for 20 odd games, and Brown performs poorly, any remaining appeal could go out the window for other teams.
I personally believe it’s worth the risk, but as more and more information emerges, it’s beginning to seem that his days in Ottawa are numbered.
Artem Zub has taken the Sens-sphere by storm over his first 10 games in the NHL, and it’s easy to understand why. The team’s blue line was putrid to begin the year, and fans were all but begging to see younger talent inserted into the lineup.
Zub has provided instant relief to a beleaguered right side. His first NHL goal was the stuff of legends: a beautiful breakaway move in an epic 6-5 comeback victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Artem Zub's first NHL goal and it's a beauty out of the box!! Celly could use work... 5-3. pic.twitter.com/r5VrqCATA9— Alex Metzger (@nhlsensandstuff) February 16, 2021
It’s not just on the scoresheet that Zub has contributed, either. With a Corsi rating of 57.40%, and an xGF% of 52.83%, Zub is stifling chances in his own end, and creating them in the other team’s. At the risk of setting expectations too high, Zub has shown himself capable of a Dylan DeMelo-style impact, with perhaps more upside in the way of offence.
He is undoubtedly a player to watch going forward.
The Beast Fold
Some tough news to pass along here. COVID-19 has obviously done major damage to the finances of many a major sports team, and the latest casualty has direct ties to the Ottawa Senators.
After electing to sit out the 2021 season and prepare for next year, it was announced yesterday that the ECHL’s Brampton Beast — Ottawa’s affiliate — will be shutting down operations.
Today is a sad day, as a team and a family we're announcing that we have folded. We want to thank every person who has cheered us on over the years. It turns out that after years of playing hockey games, interacting at events and skating laps post game.. we're really fans of you pic.twitter.com/On3dfvz2xd— Brampton Beast (@BramptonBeast) February 18, 2021
It goes without saying, but this is a brutal development. The people that ran the Beast are first-class folks, and certainly not deserving of the uncertain future that they face. It’s devastating that, almost a year into this pandemic, people are still losing their jobs because of it.
For the Senators, the hope must be that they can find a new affiliate soon. The ECHL is a prime development opportunity, especially for young goaltenders, and goes a long way towards building a contender.
On a personal note, I interviewed Beast head coach Spiros Anastas on an episode of my podcast, and it was one of the coolest interviews that I was fortunate enough to conduct last year. He’s a great person, and given his extensive coaching pedigree, I’m confident he’ll find work again soon.
I’m left recalling some wisdom he imparted upon me during our conversation, that always stuck with me. Suffice to say, I don’t think he’ll be taking an extended holiday in Pityville.
"It's okay to visit Pityville, but don't break ground and build a foundation there"— Internal Budget (@InternalBudget) December 2, 2020
Brampton Beast head coach Spiros Anastas talks about the importance of staying positive during a challenging first year with the team.
Catch the full interview here: https://t.co/QZaNGqg6vb pic.twitter.com/3QM3mwLLoc