SENATORS: What We Learned Last Week
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
From the highly anticipated "Things-We-Learned-This-Past-Week" department:
- If Bobby Ryan didn't have bad luck, he likely would have no luck at all. The rejuvenated – and formerly vilified – Senators' winger hadn't yet scored in his first eight games but his overall play (including six assists and a plus-minus of +8) was a marked improvement over last year. Saturday, he breaks a finger against the Maple Leafs and is now on the shelf for the next month. Set-back city.
- If the Toronto Maple Leafs are indeed the Stanley Cup favourite, as certain betting agencies decreed, I'll eat my hat. Offensively there's not a better group in the entire NHL; defensively, there are few worse. Playing behind their own blueline, Toronto is like a pinball game – bouncing around with no direction. Again (as stated in this space countless times . . .) If GM Lou Lamoriello doesn't land a thoughtful, veteran defensive presence or two, you can forget about a long playoff run.
- Ottawa played one of its most complete games of the season against the Buds on Saturday. What'd I tell you in my season preview? This is a deep, talented bunch playing a smart system. Tough to beat that. Ask Auston Matthews: "They just kind of bore you to death, almost. They're really good at what they do. You get really anxious. You get the puck, try to get it in or go through guys, and they all collapse on you and they're going the other way. You've got to give credit to them," The Leafs wunder-kid told NHL.com.
- Another week of poor attendance can't be overlooked. A smidge above 13,000 showed up Thursday to watch the New Jersey Devils at the Canadian Tire Centre. Good crowd of course against the Leafs for Saturday's tilt, but the fact is Ottawa now ranks 26th in attendance with an average bums-in-seats count of 15,228. That's just ahead of Florida. Ugly.
- Notable numbers heading into this week? Derick Brassard now leads Ottawa in goals (6) and points (10). That probably won't last – some guy named Karlsson just got back and has six assists in just three games.
- Everyone preaching the "Hell, we've got tons of defensive depth, let's sell one off for a forward," mantra should shush. As GM Pierre Dorion pointed out on TSN 1200's pre-game show Saturday, the minute you trade one of these assets, the very next game, two of your d-men go down to injury. It's a well-trodden cliche but accurate: You can never have too many NHL-calibre blueliners.
NEWS, NOTES AND NOTIONS: How bad have things become for the Buffalo Sabres? Friday night, noted 'sniper' Derek Dorsett bags two against you and adds an assist in a 4-2 loss to Vancouver. Appears to be another long season for the Sabres and you have to wonder if this is ever going to turn around. You look at the relatively young and somewhat dynamic roster and just, well, shake your head . . . As poor as the situation is in Northwest NY State, what is happening in Southern Quebec? The Habs were dummied in three straight through California this past week, by a combined score of 16-5 (lost to Anaheim, San Jose and Los Angeles). Carey Price, the all-world goaltender, looks below ordinary; the team in front of him can't score; and head coach Claude Julien would be pulling the hair off his head – if he had any left. What a mess . . . Montreal sports radio sure is a whole lot of fun to listen to these days, unless you're a Habs fan of course . . . As John Shannon (Sportsnet) tweeted this past weekend: "It's one thing to be the lowest scoring team in the NHL (13), but Montreal has allowed more goals against than any team in the league (33)." . . . Wondering what the Canadiens will look like when they visit Ottawa on Oct. 30th. Patience is not a lengthy visitor among the hockey throng in Montreal when things are going sour . . . Ottawa had its first regular season glance at the New Jersey Devils last week and the Devils came as advertised. This team can motor . . . One coach who I would pay to see during his post-game meet-ups with the media is Edmonton boss Todd McLellan. He's never dull and is reaching 'Tortorellian' heights these days.
THE WEEK AHEAD:
Tuesday, Oct. 24: LA at Ottawa (7:30 pm)
Thursday, Oct. 26: Philadelphia at Ottawa (7:30 pm)
Friday, Oct. 27: Ottawa at New Jersey (7 pm)