Small sample size, but Sens on target
Photo courtesy NHLI via Getty Images
The National Hockey League hype machine is officially – as with every season – firing on all cylinders. Happens every year around this time.
A couple of games in and the prophecy window is wide open for business.
The Senators are this, the Leafs are this, the Habs are that, the Oilers are this, the Flames are that . . .
Thanks to the rapid development(?) and kneejerk propensity of social media types, summations in this day and age arrive quickly and far too soon.
With that in mind, here’s what we know about your Ottawa Senators at this point.
With that in mind, as detailed above, keep the lid on the pot – seasons aren’t made through three measly games.
Compete level: Yep, Guy Boucher has this team competing hard. Given that there are zero expectations for the Senators this entire season, the heat is off, but the players still play hard. That’s a good sign, especially for the youngsters where the worry might be surrounding them in a stale atmosphere of losing and uncaring. That’s certainly not been the case so far.
Veterans who care: The cynic might suggest the only reason Mark Stone and Matt Duchene are rich with effort – so far (again) – is because this is an upcoming contract year. Basically, they’re showcasing their wares to the entire league, goes the thinking.
The cynic might be right, although both Stone and Duchene have shown to be never ones to ease the foot off the gas pedal, regardless of the standings or setting.
We’ll see how this one unfolds but so far (again, Part II) you have got to like the care-metre for both these vets.
Pierre Dorion is not a bad man: Face it, Dorion’s in a tight, unrelenting corner . . . governed by "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" or "the Dark Lord."
Did he get fleeced in the Karlsson deal?
Did he have an option here?
Well, we voiced the opinion here that King Karl should have been dealt a loooooooong time ago. Say, the draft or last season’s trade deadline.
Would have likely brought more riches for a team tucked in a corner.
Holding on to Karlsson through the summer was a bad move, but at least Dorion finally conjured a game plan for this flagging team – rebuild.
We’ve all been hamstrung by bosses/managers, Dorion is right there too. Unfortunately the hockey public gets a front-row seat to all the string-yanking from high on up above.
It doesn’t make him a bad guy.
There are pieces here to give hope: Watching Thomas Chabot stroll through the Maple Leafs a couple of times should generate optimism.
But are there enough Chabots at this juncture?
We like Brady Tkachuk’s gumption, and Alex Formenton’s speed game, but this is a building-under-construction.
Time will tell. And time isn’t a smart qualifier through three measly games.
Hey, enjoy the ride here. It’s not every day you get to witness a full-on rebuild in your backyard.
News, notes and notions: Lots not to like about Toronto’s first couple of games. The thing that stands out is ‘entitlement.’ The Leafs skate like a team not only reading but believing its press clippings that it’s entering ‘challenger’ territory. There appears to be a huge level of confidence there that has yet to be earned . . . One Toronto fan tweeted: “The Leafs are a thousand times more stressful to watch when they’re actually expected to be good.” Yup. Tell them that . . . My headline following Saturday’s upset win by Ottawa over highly touted T’ranna: “Jugger-not!” . . . Favourite HFBoards comment of the week came from one fan ‘lamenting’ the lack of toughness on the Maple Leafs and proposing this trade: “Nylander for GSP” . . . Auston Matthews is absolutely sizzling out of the gate (eight points in three games), yet you’re always left expecting more. The guy’s an incredible talent. Expectations follow this guy like he’s, um, Connor McDavid . . . Navel-gazers sporting an anti-Leaf agenda love to compare Matthews in a negative light to Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine. Spout all the BS propaganda you want to, but if you follow hockey at all, you take Matthews well ahead of the one-dimensional Laine. No kids, Toronto did not make a mistake drafting Matthews ahead of Laine in 2016 . . . Montreal looks good early. Paul Byron has been remarkable. The Ottawa-area native is a nice fit in Montreal – quick and razor-slick . . . I realize last week we tackled ‘predictions’ in this space. BUT, as per the Stanley Cup winner, that was skipped over. For the record, I’m taking Tampa to win it all.
Senators week ahead:
Wednesday, Oct. 10: Philadelphia at Ottawa (7:30 p.m.)
Saturday, Oct. 13: Los Angeles at Ottawa (2 p.m.)