After shutting out the Montreal Canadiens in arguably their best defensive performance of the season, the Ottawa Senators embark on their second last Western Canadian mini-roadtrip of this abbreviated season. The stakes feel lower with the Northern division mostly sorted (with the exception maybe of home-ice advantage between Edmonton and Winnipeg) but fans still have plenty to watch for in Ottawa now that Alex Formenton, Jacob Bernard-Docker, and Shane Pinto have joined the likes of Josh Norris, Tim Stützle, and Erik Brännström in the nation’s capital. While we await the action in Calgary later tonight, enjoy some links, news, and notes:
- As I fleetingly noted on Saturday, Cole Reinhardt has signed his entry level contract with the Senators, taking effect next season. The 21-year-old Calgarian has racked up three goals and four assists through his first 22 games in Belleville (on a tryout basis for this year). Reinhardt along with Angus Crookshank will likely face the task of stepping into Formenton and possibly Vitaly Abramov’s previous roles in Belleville next season on the wing.
- Depending where you go for your playoff odds the numbers tend to vary but friend of the blog Micah Blake McCurdy has the Philadelphia Flyers currently at a 1% chance of seeing post-season action. While some folks might look out to Western Canada or Ohio, this fall from grace surprised me the most (albeit as someone who hasn’t watched a minute of American hockey this season). Last season, Philadelphia finished second in their division and made it to the conference semi-finals. This year they find themselves in the dreaded purgatory of playoff inaction with no real shot at winning the draft lottery. As it turns out, you need steady goaltending to win in the NHL. No one tell Toronto.
- So this Patrick Marleau guy—have you seen this, have you heard about this?— this guy has now played as many NHL games as Gordie Howe. And look at that hairline! Get it, Patty.
A look at Marleau over the years...— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) April 18, 2021
Congrats on tying Gordie Howe's record tonight, Patty! pic.twitter.com/t5ek4sdhyY
- With the Senators having all but locked up a spot at least in the top-five (if not the top-three) in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the time approaches when we collectively and rationally reach an objective consensus as a fanbase as to whom Ottawa should select. Just kidding, we’ll argue. While you’ll have to wait a little longer for our pre-draft coverage, our sibling site out of Nashville has recently posted their top-32 if you want to get an early start on your homework. I personally feel immensely less anxious about this draft perhaps because scouts have ranked so much more disparately or because Ottawa doesn’t seem to have the same pressure this year to find a franchise-altering player. For whatever reason, I look forward to the Senators getting a complimentary piece to an already strong system.
- With some upcoming games for Ottawa against the Vancouver Canucks and with so much to unpack in terms of the Canucks’ return to play so quickly after their internal COVID outbreak, I recommend checking out some of the literature over at Nucks Misconduct including this article on the immediate challenges facing Vancouver and this roundtable that includes insight into the organization’s and the league’s mishandling of the outbreak and return to play.
- Now stop me if you’ve heard this one before, Tom Wilson hit another opposing player in the head yesterday. I know some fans will always defend Wilson’s style of play and I don’t expect everyone to appreciate the seriousness of these incidents even if you deem them unintentional. Repeat offenders like Wilson don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt though and on top of everything else going on in terms of player health and safety I have no idea how the league continues acting oblivious to this stuff.
- And finally, to end on an inspirational note, Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson made a guarantee that the Yotes would rally back from a 2-0 deficit after the first period against the St. Louis Blues to honour the memory of Arizona fan Leighton Accardo whom the team welcomed to their ring of honour on Saturday night after Accardo lost her battle with cancer in November, and OEL made good on his promise as Arizona prevailed 3-2: