• By: Dave Gross

Batherson’s the real deal . . . and other stuff

It’s been a hectic past couple of weeks across the NHL with coach firings, player movement, injuries, some player growth (hint: here in Ottawa) and of course – the lead-up to the trade deadline.

Here’s some relevant stuff to pass along.

  1. That Drake Batherson kid? He can play: Took a while for me to

gain a full scope on this youngster. It’s not a stretch to contend the 21-year-old has been Ottawa’s best forward the last two weeks. Didn’t realize he carries a hefty physical element in the back pocket of his game as well. Creative and slick, sky’s the limit.

  1. That Marcus Hogberg can play too: The rookie has lured a whole

bunch of praise for his play while Anders Nilsson recovers from a troubling concussion. Makes you wonder, why not trade Craig Anderson if you’re offered something halfway plausible (rhetorical).

  1. Auston Matthews has arrived: No question since the firing of Mike

Babcock that Matthews has soared. The biggest change is the big centre’s ability – and want – to engage and dig hard for the puck. Now if we could dust the mustache all would be good.

  1. Who’s running the clock on suspensions anyway?: Evander

Kane gets X-number of games for an infraction, Zdeno Chara gets off with nothing. Does the NHL’s department of player safety have any sense of protocol or a template for suspensions? Given the willy-nilly way punishment is doles out, I’m betting no.

  1. Really, Ottawa? Really?: That was one humdinger of a crowd

Saturday night. Too bad 16,000 of the bums in seats were donning the blue-and-white (unless you’re a Leaf fan, and apparently Ottawa’s rich with Leaf fans. Ok. Scratch the ‘apparently’). Wasn’t this apparition supposed to fade as the Senators got more established in the community (like, um, 1992 was juuuuust a few years ago?)?

News, notes and notions: Not a good week (yup, another one) in San Jose land. Erik Karlsson announces he’s done for the year (broken thumb) while top winger Kane landed a three-game suspension. Scratch the ‘not a good week’ and replace it with ‘not a good season’ period . . .  You have to love the ramped-up goal-scoring race between Alex Ovechkin, David Pastrnak and Auston Matthews. My heart says Ovie, but my gut says Matthews. And as that tub of ice cream last night can attest, always trust your gut . . . Didn’t much care for new Toronto goalie Jack Campbell’s game the first few he played as a Leaf – thought he sat too far back in the net – but he’s won me over the last couple . . . The Bruins are enjoying another stellar season but not enough has been made of the contribution by Tuukka Rask. Rask leads the league with a 2.08 goals-against average and tops out as well in save percentage (.931) . . . Been a tough and frustrating career for Buffalo’s Zach Bogosian. The Sabres placed the former third-overall pick on waivers this past weekend. Injuries have been his downfall. Bogosian, a local product (Massena, NY) of sorts, was part of the 2008 draft class which was held here in Ottawa. The others in the top-four selections? Steven Stamkos (1st), Drew Doughty (2nd) and Alex Pietrangelo (4th) . . . Just a heads up – next week’s column won’t be published until Tuesday as the trade deadline hits stores on Monday. We’ll have a look at what the potentially active Senators do or don’t.

Senators – the week ahead:

Tuesday, Feb. 18: Buffalo at Ottawa (7:30 pm)

Thursday, Feb. 20: Winnipeg at Ottawa (7:30 pm)

Saturday, Feb. 22: Montreal at Ottawa (7 pm)