It’s the first week of the 2022 NHL Playoffs and I love it! Here are some Sens and non-Sens related thoughts this week:
Fiala and Giroux?
It’s no secret that Pierre Dorion wants to add a top-6 forward this off-season (re: every off-season ever), and two names that have constantly come up are Kevin Fiala and Claude Giroux. At first it was mostly fan speculation, but now there are legitimate reporters talking about it in the open, saying either one of these players are a possibility.
Bruce Garrioch predicted a specific date and time that Giroux will sign with the Ottawa Senators: July 13th at 2:00. That isn’t a confirmation that it’ll happen, but considering Garrioch’s close relationship with Dorion, I think there’s a real possibility Giroux comes home. Furthermore, he also mentioned Fiala as one of several options for Ottawa to go after in the off-season:
“The Senators have also been linked to Minnesota Wild forward Kevin Fiala, but you have to think GM Bill Guerin will try to find a way to keep him. The indication is Guerin told teams interested in Fiala at the deadline he wouldn’t do anything until after the season”...
“With five picks in the first three rounds of the NHL draft and a lot of prospects, the Senators could easily package something up to improve. Everybody agrees it’s time for this club to take the next step and the right move could push Ottawa over the top.
If that means packaging up a draft pick and a high-end prospect to get the help the Senators immediately then Dorion is open to going that route. It’s all about finding the right for both teams to make a deal work.”
I’m still much less confident in a Fiala deal happening because the 26-year-old just scored a whopping 85 points. No matter what, it’s at least exciting thinking about these possibilities.
Grain of salt
Pierre Dorion had an end-of-season press conference on Sunday, and there were many interesting things he mentioned. It wasn’t easy to find the footage of it, and because of that, one quote from him in particular got taken out of context, giving Senators fans some fuel for anger:
PD - We won't be spending to the top of the cap unless we sell out all 41 home games.— TSN 1200 (@TSN1200) May 1, 2022
It almost came across as a bit of a shot or threat towards the fans, and Twitter was understandably not having a good time with it. However, the TSN 1200 account has been notoriously poor at giving context in their tweets, and even the spelling and grammar can be far off at times. That context was quite important, as Ian Mendes later pointed out:
I don't think we can ever trust a TSN1200 tweet unless it's in quotation marks. Their tweet here is kind of what Dorion said, but my god is there a lot of missing context.— Trevor Shackles (@ShackTS) May 1, 2022
PD has never been good at messaging, but the actual quote is *fine* b/c they'll still spend a bit more pic.twitter.com/YrnoQN5JOa
Dorion actually said that the team will be able to spend a bit more next season, but because of the way that tweet was framed, most people assumed the spending would not be there. I had numerous people say their minds were changed after seeing the full quote provided by Mendes. I don’t expect them to spend to the cap right away anyway, especially with many players still on their entry-level contracts. It’s just a good lesson in taking out of context GM quotes with a grain of salt, especially if it’s coming from the TSN 1200 account, which seems to only want to get a tweet out as soon as possible instead of getting things exactly correct.
More pertinent information regarding the team from that press conference was that two players won’t be coming back to Ottawa for sure: Chris Tierney and Victor Mete.
Chris Tierney won't be offered a contract, Victor Mete won't be qualified #Sens— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) May 1, 2022
The writing was on the wall for both of them, as Tierney has gotten worse every season he has been here. He’s only 27, but he’s been poor at both ends of the ice and was essentially just an extra body. Mete began his Senators tenure with a bang as he looked like he could be a sneaky good waiver pickup, but this season he really took a step back. He’ll probably get a chance somewhere else as a 6th/7th defenseman, but I don’t think he’ll ever be a full-time regular.
There was one other player that will go to free agency as well: Tyler Ennis. However, there’s still a chance he may come back:
Tyler Ennis will be allowed to go unrestricted free agency. May be revisited #Sens— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) May 1, 2022
I’d love to bring Ennis back as he seems like a great player for the room, plus he was actually still a solid depth player with a 35-point pace. You’ve got to love a Short King too!
Who to cheer for
The playoffs are well underway now, and it’s always interesting waching them as a neutral observer. Of course, we’re never really neutral, as we all have our preferences outside of Ottawa. Here is what I think the Official Senators Fan Cheering Guide should be for all the matchups:
- Florida vs. Washington: Florida. It’d be nice to see Anthony Duclair do well, plus if Giroux wins the Cup, he’s more likely to come back home. Florida is also the poster-boy team for having amazing pro scouting...*looks over at the Sens front offce.*
- Toronto vs. Tampa Bay: Tampa Bay...no explanation needed, plus the man who does it all is there.
- Carolina vs. Boston: Carolina. The Bruins might be the third most-hated team behind Toronto and Montreal.
- New York vs. Pittsburgh: New York. Cheer for Mika Zibanejad, plus I’m still not over 2017.
- Colorado vs. Nashville: Nashville. Purely because of Mark Borowiecki.
- Minnesota vs. St. Louis: St. Louis. If the Wild lose, maybe they’ll shake things up by dealing Fiala.
- Calgary vs. Dallas: Calgary. If Matthew Tkachuk wins, that’ll only want Brady to win even more.
- Edmonton vs. Los Angeles: Edmonton. The Kings have won enough, plus I’ll feel happy for Cody Ceci after getting made fun of for years.
I’m sure some of you have different preferences, but I feel like this probably represents the majority of the fanbase.
As I mentioned, I love playoff hockey just like everyone else. And I recognize that it’s much different than the regular season, as the intensity is dialed up every night. That doesn’t mean dirty plays should just be swept under the rug beacuse it’s “playoff hockey.” If anything, they should be penalized more because you’re allowing teams to break the rules at the most important time of the season. A perfect encapsualtion of this was the incredibly dangerous and dirty crosscheck from Jared Spurgeon on Pavel Buchnevich:
Yeah that's no good, my friend pic.twitter.com/IGnlJKjg2e— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 3, 2022
Yet after that deliberate intent to injure, he was only given a $5,000 fine. I get that the NHL doesn’t want to suspend players quite as long during the playoffs, but not bringing the hammer down on a play like this is what allows players to keep making dirty plays. Spurgeon and others now have free reign (besides a measly fine) to do something like that just because it’s the playoffs. The NHL Player Safety has been toothless under George Parros, and I wish they’d treat malicious plays like this more seriously.