Looking at the Sens Neighborhood Rivals
SENATORS: A Week in Review is a weekly column looking back at the week in Ottawa Senators hockey written by OLMSports Dave Gross.
Feature photo Courtesy NHLI via Getty Images
As story development among three neighborhood rivals looks, this could be quite the blast.
The next few weeks – give or take a couple of days – should give an indicator as to where the fortunes of the Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens are headed.
As we've been told several times by several media outlets, where your team is situated around the American Thanksgiving period is basically where they'll finish – this particularly holds true when talking about nailing down a playoff spot, or not.
Oh it's true, it's damn true.
Not sure how the theory works mathematically, but historically if you're on the outside looking in, don't be planning any playoff ticket pre-sale parties.
Schedule-wise, the three Eastern chums sport different storylines.
Let's look at Ottawa first.
The Sens close out October against Montreal Monday night before what looks like a tasty November.
In spite of one nasty, busy week halfway through the month, this looks like a choice time to make hay.
Of their 11 games, Ottawa gets to face Colorado twice. Both those are in Sweden which might give Erik Karlsson a little motivation. (You think?).
Arizona and the Islanders will visit CTC next month as well – highly winnable games. Ottawa also gets to see Montreal (again), the Rangers and Detroit. Not exactly world-beaters.
It's a great time to bank points.
Montreal's schedule is fairly hellacious – 15 games in 30 days.
They'll also be racking up the air miles, starting with a jaunt through Minnesota, Winnipeg and Chicago to start November, then back-to-back games in Dallas and Nashville mid-month. It's a tough stretch to rectify what has been a disappointing season so far.
Toronto also starts November with a daunting task with another 15-in-30 stretch.
The Leafs swing out West this week with games in San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles before trekking back (somewhat) to play the Blues in St. Louis next weekend. That's four very tough road games in six days.
In fact, once the Leafs gets back home, they'll start in on another four-games-in-six-nights tour.
Telling Part II.
The grind doesn't get any easier as Toronto once again swings out West late in November for matchups in Calgary and Edmonton.
Of the three East rivals you have to like Ottawa's schedule most during this very key point in the season.
Bank the points and win the winnable games and Ottawa is in the driver's seat.
But hey, that's why they play the games, right?
NEWS, NOTES AND NOTIONS: Sean Avery has a book out and I'll be damned if I'm not going to buy it (Offside: My Life Crossing the Line). See, I covered Sean during his OHL years with the Owen Sound Platers (before being swapped to Kingston) and there wasn't a better quote-machine than the Pickering troublemaker. Those long bus trips to the Soo and Windsor and Erie were pretty much saved, entertainment-wise, by his lip. In fact, his first year, Avery sat directly behind me on the team bus, so I got an earful. He also had a propensity for kicking the back of my chair. Consistently. Was he a pain the ass? Yup. But did he give his team a little swagger? He sure did. Yes, he's said some pretty brutal things during his time in hockey, but Avery was/is never dull. Refreshing in this day and age . . . Not sure how or why, but the expansion Golden Knights are rocking. The team set a record this past week for best start ever for an expansion team when they pasted Colorado 7-0 to move to 8-1. To add to the intriguing mystery, the Golden Knights continued to win with both of their Top-2 goalies on the shelf. Vegas is here in Ottawa to face the Senators next Saturday afternoon . . . It promises to be a stiff test for Vegas this coming week though as they swing through the Eastern Conference games on Long Island, then to New York to face the Rangers and finally in Boston before Saturday's tilt here.
THE WEEK AHEAD:
Monday, Oct. 31: Montreal at Ottawa (7:30 pm)
Thursday, Nov. 2: Detroit at Ottawa (7:30 pm)
Saturday, Nov. 4: Vegas at Ottawa (2 pm)