1. Mark Stone's suspension
Mark Stone deserved to be suspended, in my opinion. It was a play in which he could've avoided the guy's head, and didn't until it was too late. That hit should be out of hockey.
I also think the Wheel of Justice is unequal. Henrik Zetterberg delivered a flying elbow to Jean-Gabriel Pageau's head in the dying minutes of an obvious Red Wings victory. Dustin Byfuglien threw himself into Brendan Gallagher's everything (including head) before Gallagher got the puck. Byfuglien's even a repeat offender. Neither got anything in the way of supplemental discipline.
However, neither of those things changes the fact that Stone deserved a suspension. And let's be real, most of us wouldn't care much if it wasn't Ottawa's best forward being suspended. Last year, most of us didn't think Jared Cowen deserved his suspension, but didn't complain when it happened. We joke about that time Shea Weber threw Zetterberg's face into the glass and didn't get suspended, but it doesn't bother us the same way. I don't think there's any kind of conspiracy against Ottawa. And it wouldn't have helped out Ottawa's most recent games if Zetterberg was also suspended.
Side note: Ray Ferraro told the TSN 1200 crew how he was glad he wasn't working that Senators-Wings game when his son, Landon Ferraro, got hit by Stone. I can't imagine watching that happen to your child while it's your job to talk about it. I'm glad L. Ferraro is OK.
2. Craig Anderson's play
Don't look now, but Andy's rocking a .961 save percentage over his last two games. Against the Canadiens and Jets no less, after having much worse games against the Flames and Coyotes. What's to blame for that? Well I'm hardly a goalie expert, so don't take my word as absolute truth. (Whereas normally, you still shouldn't take my word as absolute truth.) But one thing I have noticed is that Andy has seemed less vulnerable to the wrap-around. The Habs seemed to go for it multiple times, and he wasn't so aggressive that he could be caught out of position trying to get back to the post. The shallower nets seemed to give him trouble last year and the start of this year. James Neal scored two near-identical goals to allow the Predators to beat the Sens in a shootout. But if Andy's settled in to being better able to handle wrap-arounds, I think that'll do wonders for his game.
Now hopefully teams don't update their scouting reports and keep going for them even when there's a better play available.
3. Curtis Lazar's ceiling
Lazar has been talked about quite a bit recently. The advantage of not starting on Five Thoughts until Friday morning is that you can see Friday morning tweets:
The sequence last night where Turris got on the forecheck, Hoffman scooped up the loose puck, set up lazar who fired it right into Hutch— Nate (@NKB121) November 6, 2015
That sequence was probably the perfect embodiment of why Curtis Lazar may not be top 6 player. + skater, great game sense, hands o stone— Nate (@NKB121) November 6, 2015
And you know what? He has a point. I was pointing out that last year there was a sequence in which Lazar scored three goals in four games, all off wrist shots from the circles. I hoped that was what we were going to see this year. Instead, it looks like Lazar is a solid two-way player with good skating and awareness, but doesn't have the hands to be a cemented top-six player. He can have a nice shot, but he doesn't have it reliably like a Mike Hoffman.
Trevor was saying in last week's Five Thoughts that Ottawa should trade Lazar while his value is high. Shawn Simpson was saying yesterday on TSN 1200 that he thinks Lazar will be like Brendan Morrow, a grinder with enough offensive flair to be a regular top-six player. NKB was arguing that he'll be more like an improved Erik Condra (which was meant as a compliment). Personally, I see more offensive ability in Shane Prince and Matt Puempel. If we're setting up to have Pageau-Lazar on the third line and the top penalty kill for the next eight years, that's something I can get behind. Things could be much, much worse.
4. AHL salaries
Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts from 10 days ago had an interesting tidbit about AHL salaries. He was talking about the number of AHL players whose salaries are above $100,000. The Sens have quite a number. Here are the guys on two-way contracts whose AHL salaries are above $100,000: Shane Prince ($120k), Chris Wideman ($400k), Mike Kostka ($300k), Mark Fraser ($125k), Eric O'Dell ($300k), Cole Schneider ($110k), Patrick Mullen ($150k), and Zack Stortini (AAV of $187.5k). For a budget team, that's a lot of guys in the minor leagues making a lot of money. On the one hand, it could be that Ottawa has learned the value of having professionals in the AHL. As much as stats people like to mock intangibles, having a mature veteran player who can be a role model for your prospects in the minors is huge. On the other hand, my inner pessimist worries this will affect the team in the future. If $1-million in AHL salary is the difference between trading and keeping Hoffman, I won't be impressed.
5. Ottawa and the shootout
Ottawa has been in 5 of the 12 shootouts so far this season. That’s a whole 42% (!!!)— Ryan Atypical (@ryanclassic) November 6, 2015
That's a ridiculous stat. 15 teams haven't been to the shootout at all this year. Besides the Sens, only the Maple Leafs, the Devils, the Predators, and the Ducks have had more than one shootout this year (and all of those but the Ducks have had one against Ottawa). The question is, why? Some have said the Sens have been playing tight defensive hockey in 3-on-3 OT, but based on last night's game and Tuesday's game, I don't think that's true. I'd argue the Sens have just had a ridiculous amount of luck to this point. Last night, Erik Karlsson had a breakaway from centre ice. Normally that's a goal. The Jets hit both the post and the crossbar in OT. The extra frame should've been over in the first minute, but the goalies made some great plays. I think it's only a matter of time until the Sens start ending games regularly in OT.
Besides, Ottawa is nowhere near the best team defensively in the league. I have a hard time believing that when OT hits, they suddenly learn how to play Year-2000-Devils-style hockey.