Five Thoughts for Friday
Hockey started this week, and here are some thoughts on it!
1. That HST line
In the interest of slowly introducing Clarke MacArthur to the lineup, Dave Cameron put Kyle Turris and Mark Stone with Mike Hoffman against the Sabres. And man did they ever click, scoring on their first shift, combining for six points, and could easily have had more. I know last year, a few of us were advocating for Stone and Hoffman to play with Mika Zibanejad. But really, I think it's that most of us figured MacArthur-Turris-Bobby Ryan was a given. Stone and Hoffman are a great complement, and could probably play with any of the top three centres and look great (no offence to Zack Smith). And once MacArthur feels healthier, he could be the possession-driving winger for Zibanejad and Ryan, and the top six looks reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally good.
Bring on the HST refund!
I know we've been starved for hockey, but the way people make narratives out of a single NHL game is ridiculous. A quick cursory search of Google reveals people's disappointment that Phil Kessel didn't score, or that Connor McDavid failed to record a point (while Jack Eichel scored a top-notch goal, no less). The thing is, not everything we've projected for the season comes true in the first game. Otherwise, Erik Karlsson is set for a down year, Bobby Ryan hasn't bounced back, and the Senators will cruise to an 82-0 record. Maybe we should have a moratorium on analysis articles for the first two weeks of the season, because if Kessel can't score in his first five or six games, maybe then we can call it a scoring slump.
3. 3-on-3 OT
Oh man, did you see any of it last night? That Lightning-Flyers game had the first taste of 3-on-3 of the season, and it was hectic and amazing. Far more fun than a shootout in my opinion. The fact that defenceman Jason Garrison won it on a breakaway, especially after Nikita Kucherov couldn't on a breakaway? That was just beautiful. Ben Bishop said he didn't like it, and Jon Cooper said it was mayhem, and I can see why. As a goalie, there's not a lot you can do about series of odd-man rushes. As a coach, how do you prepare for something like that? There's not a lot you can do to get your team ready. There's only so much strategy you can plan. Still, as a fan, I think it's exciting, and I'm looking forward to the first time we get Karlsson-Centre-Winger out there for 3-on-3.
4. Milan Lucic and automatic suspensions
If you missed it on Wednesday, at the end of the Sharks-Kings game, Logan Couture threw a big (legal) hit on Lucic as he (Couture) was exiting the penalty box. Lucic took exception and chased him across the full length of the ice to deliver a cross-check to the head. Lucic got a match penalty for the play. After the game, he was saying he only got one because of his reputation. But I have two thoughts on that: first, anyone who chases a guy the width of the ice to give a retaliatory hit deserves more than just a minor penalty; second, isn't that Lucic confirming his reputation is deserved? Saying he got a match penalty because of his history basically confirms he's a dirty player.
Additionally, the league has rescinded the automatic suspension for getting a match penalty in a game's final five minutes. Why does the league still have this rule if it's rescinded every single time? I would've liked to see the league keep it in place for Lucic. The guy has to know you can't skate 85 feet to hit a guy in the head at the end of a 5-1 game. If he's too dumb to figure that out on his own, make him sit a game to learn his lesson.
5. Coach's challenge
I realize this isn't a Sens-heavy list, so here's my last thought. How great was it to see the Sens get out of a blown call by the linseman? Sure, it took almost five minutes to get it right, but they got it right. It's nice to see that added to the game.
Similarly, how about André Tourigny and the Sens' video team? It's very important for the team to have a video team that's on the ball. The fact that they got the attention of the Sens' assistant coach in time to make the challenge was huge.
And lastly, how is this for the NHL? 2/2 on this new rule to start the season. Can't say there have been any new rules ever that have been more successful in their inception.