After a disappointing outcome on Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings, the Ottawa Senators have three "big" games ahead of them this week with match-ups versus the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, and Pittsburgh Penguins; all teams that the Sens could (should?) be jostling with for play-off positioning down the stretch. Is it too early in the season to get excited for important match-ups? I say no.
Meanwhile, we've got lots of other happenings around the hockey world to dig into:
-In the aftermath of the NHL's decision to ban players from displaying pride tape, there were almost immediately reports that many planned to defy the league's instructions and use the tape regardless. On Saturday night, Arizona Coyotes defenseman Travis Dermott was the first to do so. The league, predictably, did not have a good answer as to what comes next, though the NHL did tell Ian Mendes that "we will review it in due course" and Gary Bettman was also quoted as saying that the policy has been "terribly misunderstood and mis-portrayed." I had a good chuckle at that last part. I would say that the NHL's policy has, in fact, been understood exactly as it was intended and that's why Dermott's actions are particularly noteworthy. I will also highlight here that Dermott is not a star player with infinite financial resources and a guaranteed job: he is a fringe NHLer on a 2-way contract. Kudos to him for a principled stand.
-Speaking of players who are due for some recognition, Craig Anderson will be signing a one-day contract with the Sens on Tuesday to retire a Senator. There will also be a ceremony commemorating his time with the team before the game. Stay tuned to this space for a write-up of Andy's time in Ottawa!
-During TSN's broadcast of Saturday's game vs. the Red Wings, Bruce Garrioch intimated that the Sens could potentially be seriously exploring the possibility of trading Shane Pinto with the Dec 1st deadline to sign him creeping ever closer. Part of the rationale appears to be the stellar play of Ridly Greig, supposedly making Pinto redundant. To that I say: haven't the Sens spent most of the last three seasons with at least one of their top 3 centres injured? Depth is always a good thing, and barring some sort of totally unforeseen blockbuster, dealing a young, cost-controlled prospect with upside because of cap mismanagement would be a huge own goal.
-Calgary Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson has been suspended for four games for his brutal charging elbow on Patrik Laine at the end of Friday night's game in Columbus. This, to me, is a crystal clear case of the type of hit that must be punished severely: Andersson is making no attempt to win the puck, he leaves his feet, his leads with his elbow, he targets the head, and there are five seconds left in a decided game. No more of that, please.
-Connor McDavid is expected to miss 1-2 weeks after suffering an upper body injury during Saturday night's game vs. the Winnipeg Jets. If you were planning on tuning into the Heritage Classic next Saturday (can't say I knew there was an outdoor game this early in the season!) then you won't be seeing McDavid.
-Anze Kopitar, aka Patrice Bergeron without the hype, became the Los Angeles Kings' all-time leader in games played on Saturday. The word under-rated gets bandied about these days, but if Kopitar's not a surefire Hall of Famer than I don't know what we're doing here.
-After a hat-trick on Sunday, the league's leading scorer, with 12 points in 6 games: Alex DeBrincat. Hm. Neat.