• By: Dave Gross

Not all miserable in Senator land

Photo credit: NHLI via Getty Images

Well now, wasn’t that a party?

Not the kind where everyone has a festive time and hugs, good feelings and smiles are shared around the room.

Nope, this was more of the kind of party where your guests drink too much, break some chairs, accidentally let the dog out onto the street and leave the toilet seat up.

That in a nutshell was the Year It Was for the hockey team in the nation’s capital.

Sure thing, we could spend the rest of this space detailing the disaster on the ice, the disaster off the ice and the potential disaster awaiting at next summer’s draft.

But let’s go a different route as we look ahead (not behind) to 2019. There are – believe it or not Ripley – a few items to get smiley about with this team that just endured one of the worst seasons in professional sports history.

Item 1: Hey, that Karlsson swap didn’t turn out as bad as everyone thought.

Erik’s been sort of okay for the San Jose Sharks, but a long way from that generational talent he’s known to be around these parts.

The return is still up in the air, what with all the draft picks and very young, undeveloped talent, but Chris Tierney and Dylan DeMelo have been pretty decent add-ons.

As for King Karl? He might be moved at the trade deadline if the Sharks continue to play somewhere around the middle of the pack in the Western Conference.

Item 2: Hey, that Brady Tkachuk pick wasn’t such a bad one, eh?

While the points have dried up substantially the last while, young Brady continues his goal of being the most annoying player to play against in the league.

This is a good thing.

Folks lamented the pick (4th overall), but Tkachuk’s given life to a pretty dull team.

And here’s your insight of the week: He’s only going to get better . . . and bigger.

Item 3: Hey, that Craig Anderson guy is pretty sturdy, right?

He’ll be 38 in the spring. He should be breaking down. He’s not.

Anderson’s faced the most shots in the league (by a few hundred miles) and has done a superb job at stopping most of them.

Think of where your heroes would be without Anderson who is peppered on a nightly basis and played in 29 of Ottawa’s 34 games.

Another side-note-good-news-story lately is the play of backup Mike McKenna who has fashioned four pretty solid starts in a row.

If you’re looking for a most-valuable-player award for the Senators, that’d be Anderson.

The team won’t make the playoffs but at least there will be meaningful hockey played in January and February.

Item 4: Hey that Thomas Chabot guy’s come a long way, eh?

What can you say about Chabot’s improvement – lots.

He still needs to work out the wrinkles in the d-zone but, hell, the kid’s only 21 (22 next month).

Chabot’s tied with Toronto’s Morgan Rielly and Washington’s John Carlson for the defencemen point lead with 35.

And here’s your insight of the week (Part II): He’s only going to get better.

So smile a bit there Ottawa, 2018 is nearly behind y’all. And there’s a glimmer of hope for 2019.

News, notes and notions: I am not a Jamie McLennan fan (TSN) but don’t disagree with his analysis that Mark Stone is the “unofficial captain” of the Senators . . . In a perfect world wouldn’t WWE advocate Paul Heyman be the ideal guy to announce goals from “his client” Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks? . . . With Tampa’s resounding win over the Leafs this past week, the Lightning have further established themselves as the cream of the crop in the NHL. That’s an awfully fast, lethal and deep squad . . . Ottawa gets itself a bit of a Christmas break this year. After a visit from Washington on Saturday, the Senators don’t play again for six days – facing the NY Islanders at Barclays Center on Dec. 28 . . . Toronto and Montreal are also off until the 28th . . . We’ll be taking next week off as well. The column returns early in the new year. Merry Christmas to all!

Senators week ahead:

Monday, Dec. 17: Nashville at Ottawa (7:30 pm)

Friday, Dec. 21: Ottawa at New Jersey (7 pm)

Saturday, Dec. 22: Washington at Ottawa (7 pm)