-Ottawa plays Montreal (4-1-0) tonight; the Habs are lead by Andrei Markov and Raphael Diaz (7 points) and are backstopped by Carey Price (4-1-0 1.98 .924). Jason Spezza will miss the game as he remains injured.
-Here are my thoughts on last night’s game. Scott had the scoring chances 10-14. Jeremy Milks has a good blog talking about the game and the performances of individual players, but as always he can’t stop beating a dead horse:
Keith Jones on NBC last night said he liked the increase in fighting this year and had no problem with fights off the opening faceoff. As a longtime NHL player, Jones understands the motivation behind it. While most journalists and commentators shift ncomfortably when the subject comes up because they don’t want to come off as barbarians in today’s buttoned-down environment, Jones was genuine about it and didn’t try to soften it up for the viewers.
What is Jeremy’s point? All I can see is that Keith Jones likes fighting which is good because fighting makes some people uncomfortable.
–Nichols continues his yeoman’s work of transcribing interviews and in this case it’s Paul MacLean who had the following to say:
Well it is for sure. Again, it’s like a playoff mode where you have to have the ol’ three legged stool of power play, penalty killing and goaltending. I think that’s really what it is right now and for us, we’d really help our penalty killers and our goalie a lot if we didn’t take our five or six minor penalties every night. Again, that sense of sloppiness and execution in our game, if we clean that part up, we feel we’ll take less penalties. You’re taking penalties because you make a bad pass and you turnover a puck and now you’re reaching to try and recover from a play and you wind up taking a penalty. So if we can get that execution stuff cleaned up, it’s going to help us a lot.
On Craig Anderson:
One thing about Craig, he’s very athletic and he’s a lean athlete…and he’s very competitive. I think the work he did is a little bit different than some of the other (guys). He didn’t just go out there and stop tons of pucks, like you said, you’re playing three-on-three or four-on-four and get into bad habits. So he ended up with Francois Allaire and Roberto Luongo in Florida at his house and community rink down there. They actually did the goalie-specific stuff that Francois is very well known for being very good at it. Craig’s not the typical Francois Allaire goaltender, but still, at the same time, the drills and stuff that is goalie specific that (Francois) put them through – I think it’s really helped him well and served him well to this point.
On Kyle Turris:
The work that he put in with Chris Schwarz at the end of last season has given him confidence. He has grown into a man. The difference of, last year at times, he’d going in and put his arm out and he’d be looking up at the ref because he’s the guy going down. Now he goes in and he puts his arm or body on somebody and maybe that guy is going down. Or more importantly, he’s staying up. He’s not the guy that is down on the ice anymore; and that gives (him) a lot of confidence. If you can feel strong and stable on your skates, it gives you tons of confidence. I think his maturity and his growing into his body and being stronger has really helped him a lot and that’s given him confidence. We challenged him last night to play against Sidney Crosby and to try and do a job on him. Yeah, they had some scoring opportunities and (Kyle’s line) had some scoring opportunities. But for the most part, it was a one-one game and Crosby wasn’t… he was still a factor in the game… but at the same time, I thought Kyle’s group did a very nice job against him.
And that’s a challenge that he is going to have to take on. If he’s going to be the number two centerman, he’s either playing against Malkin or a Crosby. And he’s going to be playing against… you go down the list, it’s Plekanec or somebody else in Montreal. In Boston, it’s going to be Krejci or Bergeron – one of those guys. When you’re starting to play against the better guys in the league, you have to be aware of what’s going on. You have to be focused on what it is. And you can’t just do it one night. Like he did it last night and that’s great, but now we’re playing Washington tomorrow so, who is it? Is it Backstrom tomorrow night? You’ve got to do it every night and you have to do it against the good guys every night and that’s going to be the test – our team, like every team, — is the consistency and our ability to get to that level and stay there.
On Jakob Silfverberg:
Well I think, I agree (that he is close to breaking out) because when he was in Binghamton at the start of the year, when I was down there watching him, he’s very similar to that type of player right now. He’s a smart enough player to, he can play the game and he’s kind of feeling his way around and where he can be successful and getting some comfort with the league and with the players. I agree that at some point here, the puck is going to start going in the net for him and he’s going to start making plays and things are going to start to happen for him. Yeah, he just has not played in the NHL [excluding two playoff games last year]. I mean, he’s played in the (Swedish Elite League) and he’s been an elite player. I think he shows that in the way that he’s got his way around the AHL at the start, and ended up being a really consistent player for Luke (Richardson) down there. And I think as we’ve talked about, he’s starting to do the same thing up here for us and at some point, he’s going to start to produce some offence. He does all the good things without the puck. Defensively, very little schooling as to being in the right place (is necessary) and being inside, he knows how to get around the rink. He knows his way around the rink and I think he’s used to the smaller rink here in North America from playing in Binghamton. Now he’s just getting used to being in the National Hockey League where things are just a little bit quicker and he’s starting to catch up with it, and I think he’s going to be fine.
On the young blueliners:
Well, I think that we can assess it that they can all play in the league; it’s whether or not we can play them all at the same time is the one concern we have. I think Andre Benoit may not have played in the National Hockey League but he has a lot of experience in the (AHL) and he played in the KHL. So he gives us a little bit of a veteran presence and a comfort that … Patrick (Wiercioch) played with him in Binghamton and (Mark) Borowiecki played some with him in Binghamton as well, so there’s a partner that they know and have a comfort level on the ice with him. We’ve played each of them a little bit with Sergei (Gonchar) on the left side and some with Phillips as well. We felt in the first three games that Patrick Wiercioch played fine. Wiercioch and Borowiecki are two different players. Patrick can get the puck moving and he’s a puck-mover, and he can get it moving. The play that he made on the power play on the Turris goal in the home opener here was a great play; a NHL-type play. Well, Borowiecki made a couple of NHL-type plays last night. One-on-one (with) Malkin, (Borowiecki) was physical; that’s the element that Borowiecki brings. He doesn’t bring that puck-moving eliteness that Patrick does but Patrick doesn’t bring the physicality that Borowiecki (brings). You can compare the apple to the orange, but I think both of them I think are ready to play in the National Hockey League… it’s whether we have enough ice-time or patience to keep them out there at the same time, is a challenge that we have. But the more we play them and the more we see them, the (higher) comfort level we’re going to find with them. And then we have to factor in the Michael Lundin when he comes back. He’s a player that is totally forgotten. He’s an NHL defenceman. He can skate. He can move the puck. He can do some things that are a combination of maybe what (Borowiecki and Wiercioch) bring. Right now, we just have to wait and let that sort itself out. (Lundin’s) not close (to returning). I think he had the pins taken out of his fingers yesterday or the day before. But, he’s still not skating with the team yet until he gets the proper flexibility and that could be, I’m going to take a guess and say another ten days at least before he gets to skate with us. And then it could be another ten days before he even gets into the lineup. We’ll see how it is, but we’re looking forward to getting him into practice to see what he can do.
–Adrian Dater offers his power rankings with Ottawa 14th, saying:
This remains a surprisingly good team. Not great, but good. Goalie Craig Anderson continues to play superbly in net, posting a .975 saves percentage through his first four starts. The Avalanche didn’t want to pay him after he took them to the playoffs in 2009 and dealt him away for Brian Elliott, who later moved on to St. Louis as a free agent. Now Anderson and Elliott are two of the top goalies in the league. Erik Karlsson is showing that last year’s Norris Trophy wasn’t a fluke, with five points and a plus-5 in his first five games. And how about Kyle Turris, with four goals in his first five?
–Robin Lehner was named the AHL’s player of the week.
–Stefan G:Son explores why Sens prospect Mikael Wikstrand decided to re-sign with Mora in the Allsvenskan rather than sign with an SEL club. He quotes Wikstrand:
Ottawa said it was up to me, but at the same time they obviously wanted me in the SEL, I know what I can get here in Mora. Lots of time on the power play and the kill and the time to develop my game. There were lots of clubs calling, actually, but I felt that I wouldn’t get as much ice-time there for next year that I would here. With Mora I can play the 25-30 minutes per game that I need. I like to play that much and that’s why it felt right to stay here another year. Ottawa obviously wanted me in the SEL but also said that I got to make my own decision if that felt right.
Stefan points out that the move isn’t unprecedented (Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Mikael Backlund are just two examples), and then there’s Anaheim prospect Max Friberg who hurt his draft status to stay at home and play in the Swedish third division.
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)