Five Thoughts for Friday

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Bobby Ryan has a beautiful shot. Here are some other things I'm thinking:

1. Whenever I get sick I'm reminded of just how physically awesome professional athletes are. I've spent this week bundled up, feverish, lying on the couch, and marathoning Doctor Who episodes, unable to do much of anything. But pro athletes frequently push through such symptoms to play. I can't imagine playing a sport, especially a high tempo sport where I have to wear a lot of equipment like hockey, feeling like this. And many of these athletes play well under such conditions.

2. How badly did Craig Anderson want to not only win, but play well, in his last 3 starts? Andy couldn't have been happy about not getting the start against the dominant San Jose Sharks a couple of weeks ago. Playing the best team in the league is a game the starting goalie wants. But he gave up a weak goal to Dustin Brown the game before and let in 3 first period goals (he finished the game with a .875 SV%) against LA and Robin Lehner got the call against the Sharks. Andy got the start the following night against the Ducks, but was pulled less than 5 minutes into the game after giving up 2 goals (.778 SV%). While his teammates deserve a lot of blame for the Anaheim disaster, Lehner's strong play (.948 SV% over those two games) gives Paul MacLean an excellent alternative to his starter.

Since the Anaheim game, Anderson has rebounded nicely. He turned aside 34 of 37 shots against Phoenix (.919 SV%). He was excellent against the Devils in the home opener, stopping 40 of 42 shots (.952 SV%) including a highlight-reel paddle save on Jaromir Jagr. Andy helped shut the door against the Red Wings, surrendering just a power play goal while stopping 31 shots (.969 SV%). It's a good thing his play has rebounded because there's a lot at stake for the 32-year-old netminder this season. He's a candidate for the US Olympic Team and his value going forward (as an Ottawa goalie or as a trade candidate) will be buoyed by his play this season.

3. Just how well is Jason Spezza playing? He's scored on 6 of his last 8 shots and while Ottawa fans would love that percentage to continue, that seems most unlikely. His line has already received some criticism. Spezza started the season nursing an injury and Milan Michalek, while recording 2 goals and 5 points so far this season has at times been invisible. Michalek and Spezza trail Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur in Corsi For (MM 46.5%, JS 45.6% versus KT 61.2%, CM 64.3% at 5 on 5 close) despite significantly favourable offensive zone starts (MM 36.8%, JS 37.4% versus KT 20.6%, CM 21.1% OFZst%).

4. While his line has room to improve, Spezza has excelled at statement games. Spezza came up big against Detroit on Wednesday night, scoring two goals. It was a game in which Spezza's leadership and skill were going to be compared to Daniel Alfredsson, and Spezza rose to the occasion, out-playing his former captain. Perhaps his hat trick against Phoenix last week was more important. After a tough western road trip, grumbles were aired by fans and media alike. Spezza's three goals calmed the storm and sent the Sens home on a winning note. As part of TSN's pregame torture, Sens fans were treated to highlight after highlight of clutch Alfredsson goals. Spezza will always have detractors, both those who question his style of play and leadership ability, but if he keeps scoring important goals, it will go a long way to quieting his critics.

5. At some point Clarke MacArthur will score. Then he'll score a few more. But as things stand, he'll play his tenth game as a Senator tonight and is still without a goal. He's shown excellent chemistry with Turris both winning all the Corsi and killing penalties. Linemate Turris has just one goal. Turris' current shooting percentage is four; MacArthur's is much worse; both are bound to improve. With the addition of Bobby Ryan, this line is only going to get better and the goals will start coming from Turris and MacArthur as well.

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