• By: Dave Gross

No surprises as Senators start season

ABOVE: Anton Forsberg has filled in while Matt Murray recovers from a flu bug. (PHOTO: courtesy NHL.com)

It certainly is, as they say, a small sample size.

Nevertheless if this is what the Ottawa Senators ‘are,’ no one should be terribly surprised. (Add in a Brady Tkachuk who plays Thursday against Erik Karlsson and his San Jose Sharks and the plot thickens greatly).

This will be a team which – when it wins – wins thanks to timely offence and stellar goaltending. After three games we’ve seen up-front evidence. Particularly in the net.

While Matt Murray gets better, he’s been out with what is reported as some kind of flu bug (not COVID related), the guys carrying the ball have done yeoman work. Anton Forsberg has filled in, so far, like Lou Gehrig on Wally Pip.

Spectacular. And the stats back it up with a .935 save percentage. Many of those (46) stops were of that spectacular variety in Ottawa’s opening night upset of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“We got away with it a little at the end of the game,” Forsberg told TSN. “I just tried to stay with my structure and play my game.”

Monday night as the Senators rolled to a 2-1 record, Filip Gustavsson took over and shut down Dallas stopping 34 of 36 shots (.941 save percentage).

Ottawa’s youth on the front end was big, as expected: “We play these young, fast teams and those are the ones you need to be careful of because they go all out,” said Stars’ forward Tyler Seguin to TSN.

But there remains one, small caveat to all the good news for Ottawa Fan – the defensive zone is like the staging of The Walking Dead, zombies everywhere.

The gaffes and mechanical-difficulties (as expected, folks) behind the blueline and in front of the goal harken back to last season. As many have projected, if Ottawa has any shot at the post-season the netminding must be not only solid, and here’s that word again, but spectacular.

But heck, two-out-of-three ain’t bad, right Meatloaf?

THOUGHT, SEEN AND HEARD: Don’t look now but Chicken Little has apparently moved to Montreal. Hell man, the sky IS falling . . . Is anyone surprised that the Habs are 0-3? No Weber, no Price? No surprise . . . The Senators have three straight left in the current home-stand before heading out to the mid-west US for three games . . . Tip of the cap to TSN’s Claire Hanna with her high-energy performances. Hanna is a former member of Canada’s national indoor volleyball team and is the new voice in Ottawa for the Senators . . . The actual definition of hockey frustration: Toronto’s Pierre Engvall . . . Engvall’s plum full of tools but the toolbox is seemingly missing a few nails . . . On the flip side – Jason Spezza. The former Ottawa captain’s unearthed the fountain of youth with the Buds . . . Also on the flip side: Michael Bunting. The Leafs have discovered a DarcyTucker-Light . . . Bunting is exactly what the sometime passionless, yet talented Leafs need . . . My new/yet-old favourite prized NHL club, those NY Islanders, starts the season with 13 straight roadies before the UBS Arena in Elmont, New York opens on Nov. 20th . . . As NHL.com points out the Isles will have travelled nearly 16,000 miles by the time the new rink opens its doors . . . The Islanders, with Bossy, Trottier, Potvin, Smith, Goring, Gillies, Parise, Westfall, Nystrom et all were this kid’s favourite in the mid-to-late 1970s . . . This new-look group has the same style of team play and grit but less star power . . . My pool team – which I know you’re terribly interested in – took a hit with the early loss of Mark Stone (lower-body injury). Vegas will also have to do without Max Pacioretty (broken foot) for a while . . . The Golden Knights better strike soon, this is an aging roster . . . Imagine the GK with Nick Suzuki? . . . Imagine the GK with Erik Brannst…oh never mind . . . You ever get the notion that Erik Brannstrom is not a DJ Smith-type player? Yeah, me neither (clears throat) . . . “Entertainment, for CATSSSSS.” Can’t get it out of my head. Thanks BMO.


Thursday, Oct. 21: San Jose at Ottawa (7 pm)

Saturday, Oct. 23: NY Rangers at Ottawa (1 pm)

Monday, Oct. 25: Washington at Ottawa (7 pm)