Five Thoughts for Friday

Matt Duchene getting in the groove, Mark Stone’s All-Star case, the satisfaction of beating the Leafs, and more!

There’s another six days until the next Ottawa Senators game, so why not read this week’s five thoughts to satisfy your Sens content?

Here they are:

Beating Toronto is always satisfying

I’ve given up on Ottawa’s playoff hopes for this season, and I believe that a top-5 or even top-3 pick could really change their fortunes. So when I see that they have lost, I’m not exactly upset. However, when they’re playing one of the Montreal Canadiens or Toronto Maple Leafs, things are different.

If you don’t have a presence on twitter then you may not experience similar things that I do, but I really enjoy the banter Senators fans are able to get involved in. It’s a win-win scenario for me (and I’m assuming a lot of us) because I’m totally fine with a loss, but if they do win, then bragging rights go to us.

The fact that Gabriel Dumont and Tom Pyatt scored both goals in the third period only makes it even more fun to gloat.

Did you know that Ottawa is 11-1-2 in their last 14 games vs. Toronto? It’s true, and every one of those victories is so entertaining.

Matt Duchene looking like himself

The first few games for Duchene as a Senator were impressive, even though he was held pointless. He was generating a ton of chances and looked electric. But then his pointless streak kept extending, and it reached a point where he wasn’t even playing well anymore.

I guess it’s fair to say that not every player hits the ground running when they come to a new team, and I’m hoping that Duchene has finally settled in.

In his first 12 games here he had just one goal and one assist, but in the past seven games he has four goals and three assists. Not only that, he looks more comfortable and perhaps he is getting used to Guy Boucher’s system. He has built some chemistry with Mike Hoffman, and if that’s enough to keep Hoffman here, then I’m ecstatic about that (It may be too late though, according to Bob McKenzie).

Whatever the case, Ottawa needs Duchene to be the top line player he can be, or else we may have to question whether or not he should sign a big extension before next summer.

No sugar-coating the defense/goaltending

The biggest reason for the Senators massive drop-off this year is the goaltending, although their poor goaltending is also tied in with their poor defensive play. That tends to happen when Johnny Oduya is a mainstay and Dion Phaneuf/Cody Ceci make up the second pairing.

Craig Anderson and Mike Condon have combined for an .894 SV% this season, which is somehow only 4th worst in the league. The team has also allowed 3.43 goals against per game, which is the most since 1995-96. In fact, the only time they’ve allowed more is the first four seasons of their existence.

It’s not just the actual goals, either. Ottawa sits 3rd last in shot attempts against, and 8th last in expected goals against. I really don’t think a massive overhaul needs to take place on defense (especially if they luck their way into Rasmus Dahlin), but they need to recognize who the anchors are amongst this group, and who can actually contribute something positive. Because at this point, the Senators overall defensive play is god-awful.

The Anderson/Condon situation is equally as worrisome, but we’ll cross that bridge in the off-season.

Everyone knows Stone is an All-Star

The NHL All-Star rosters were released on Wednesday, and Erik Karlsson will be the lone Senator representing Ottawa at the festivities. While that may seem like a massive slight towards Mark Stone, you have to realize that there wasn’t really any room for him.

Yes, he’s been phenomenal this season with 42 points in 42 games, but every NHL team needs at least one representative, and only six forwards from the Atlantic division are going. Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are a given, and then Auston Matthews, Alex Barkov, Jack Eichel, and Brad Marchand are obvious picks to represent their teams.

I think everyone recognizes that he’s having an All-Star caliber season, but he was caught in a numbers game. I don’t think many people were that upset, but for the few who were, just remember that it wasn’t because he wasn’t good enough. And who knows, maybe his agent would ask for more money on his new contract if he could point to an All-Star appearance.

Ryan’s injuries are getting ridiculous

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Bobby Ryan is out with a hand injury. Substitute hand for finger or wrist, or anything in that area. It’s incredible how many times his hands have gotten hurt, and it seems like they always come right after he has a stretch of playing well.

Here is a list of all of his injuries in Ottawa, not including the most recent one:

I don’t get how his fingers and/or hands haven’t been completely chopped off yet, because this list is ridiculous.

Perhaps he’d be performing better in his career as a Senator if he was healthy the entire time, but we can’t assume that. All we know is that there’s always an excuse with Ryan, whether legitimate or not. And I don’t blame him for getting hurt, because it’s not his fault that he keeps getting these injuries.

It’s just incredibly frustrating that he can’t stay healthy, because even though he isn’t the player we need him to be, he’s better than the alternatives. This isn’t the last hand injury we’ve seen from him.

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