After a comprehensive victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night, the Ottawa Senators and their fans are starting to feel good about the team's direction. Dominik Kubalik perhaps said it best following the victory:
“Where the puck goes, the reads are there,” said winger Dominik Kubalik, who scored Saturday against his former team. “It’s not just in practice now. The game is getting easier. We’re on the same page.”
Readers of the most recent newsletter will know that I've remained optimistic throughout some of the ups and downs, but I have to say it's a lot easier to look on the bright side with wins like the Sens got on Saturday.
I'd like some more of that, please.
Here's what else has been going on around the hockey world:
-In what surely qualifies as one of the stupidest moves in recent NHL memory, David Perron viciously cross-checked Artem Zub in the head on Saturday night while Zub was trying to protect Larkin after he had fallen to the ice. Perron, who has a long history of being a shit heel, has been offered an in-person hearing by the NHL to discuss potential supplementary discipline. An in-person hearing opens the door to the possibility of a suspension longer than five games, which is to my mind the bare minimum in this case.
-Speaking of supplementary discipline, Erik Gudbranson might be getting a talking to after he jumped Nick Cousins in retribution for a hit from behind late in the Sunday night match-up between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers. This video from Sportsnet has the full breakdown, including the Cousins hit that so infuriated Gudbranson. My take is you throw the book at both of 'em: Cousins' hit was outrageously dangerous and the fact that he was still in the game was shocking to me. At the same time, Gudbranson can't just dummy a guy and start swinging on him. Wild stuff all around.
-A little over a month ago, it seemed like the Edmonton Oilers were going nowhere fast. Their 5-12-1 start to the year was so ignominious as to lead many to write off a squad that was widely regarded as a pre-season Stanley Cup contender. As of this writing, they've won seven in a row, Connor McDavid has 23 points in his last nine games (!!) and are now receiving NHL-calibre goalie play. Look out, world.
-Over at TSN, Travis Yost breaks down the stellar goaltending performances happening simultaneously across the Pacific Division. You could make a case for four (!) of the goalies in the division winning the Vezina just past the quarter mark of the season.
-Jesse Puljujarvi has caught on with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The once-heralded prospect has battled injuries for several seasons, and is coming off double hip surgery.
-Gary Bettman recently floated the concept of a four team best-on-best tournament, and of course that has folks rushing to project hypothetical roster for each of the four chosen nations (Canda, USA, Finland, Sweden). Mike Zeisberger tries his hand over at NHL.com, and though I'd make several changes to each line-up myself, I regret to say that no matter how you slice it Team USA is absolutely stacked.
-The Sens are no longer teeming with the type of prospects that dominate the World Junior Championships, but here's some players to watch if you're still looking ahead to Team Canada's roster