Had you told me at the beginning of the year that by the quarter mark of the NHL season that Ottawa would receive such little production from the players that it were being so heavily being relied upon to provide secondary scoring, I would have assumed that the team would be suffering for it in the standings.
- Daniel Alfredsson: 5 goals and 10 points in 18 GP
- Bobby Butler: 2 goals and 6 points in 15 GP
- Peter Regin: 1 goal and 3 points in 5 GP
- Nikita Filatov: 1 point in 8 GP
- Stephane Da Costa: 3 goals and 5 points in 22 GP
Yet, with a record of 12-10-2, Ottawa’s been better than many could have predicted. (Mind you, this record is somewhat inflated by the team’s 3-1 record in shootouts.)
So what accounts for the Senators’ success?
Well, we can rule out the fucking goaltending…
In all seriousness though, I keep waiting for Milan Michalek to cool off from his torrid start and what I thought was an unsustainable 20.0% shooting percentage (almost double his career norm of 12.5%) but that hasn’t happened yet. Between his and Spezza’s 23 goals, these two players have combined for 31.94% of the team’s goal scoring.
Fortunately, this kind of production has been supplemented by the play of guys like Zack Smith (6 goals, 13 points), Colin Greening (6 goals, 11 points), Nick Foligno (7 goals, 14 points), Chris Neil (3 goals, 7 points) and this season’s revelation, Kaspars Daugavins (3 goals, 6 points).
A Glimpse into the Future?
Barring management’s making the same mistake twice, there’s absolutely no question that Filip Kuba will be parlayed before this year’s NHL trade deadline. Considering how well he’s bounced back from the back surgery and broken leg that hampered his play last season (note: yes, I’m choosing to ignore the theory that his resurgence has something to do with this being a contract year), I’m intrigued to see what Bryan Murray can fetch for Kuba.
More importantly, with news that Kuba is unavailable to play tonight because of an upper body injury, Chris Phillips gets the nod to play with Erik Karlsson. While watching tonight’s game, be sure to keep an eye on how this pairing looks. With the inevitability that Kuba gets moved (*me knocking on wood*), it looks like the Big Rig will get first dibs on being Karlsson’s partner.
Mendes Note on Zack Smith
Sportsnet’s Ian Mendes tweeted that “No forward taken in the 3rd round or later in the 2008 NHL Draft has played more games than Zack Smith (95 GP).”
It’s a great fact but it’s important to keep in mind that at the time of the 2008 draft, Smith was almost two years older than the majority of his peers.
Hedman Inks Extension
In light of Erik Karlsson’s impending RFA status, a fellow Swedish defenceman, Victor Hedman, has inked a 5-year contract extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning that carries a $4 million per annum cap hit.
Aside from their native country, these two players couldn't be more dissimilar: Karlsson’s the quintessential offensive defenceman while Hedman’s renowned for being a big-bodied two-way player.
Here are both players’ respective numbers:
|Career Totals (Full)||159||19||74||93||-37||90||95||136||5||36||0||1||4||370||.051|
|Career Totals (Full)||174||9||39||48||-7||169||145||225||0||4||0||0||0||222||.041|
However, both players log big minutes on their team’s first defensive pairings -- Karlsson averages 25:16 and Hedman 22:53 -- so it's safe to assume that Hedman's contract will be somewhat of a benchmark for Karlsson to aim north of. My guess is that his next deal falls somewhere in between Hedman's extension and the one that Tyler Myers signed with Buffalo.