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Sports Are the surprising Senators too good for their own good right now?

19:31  21 november  2019
19:31  21 november  2019 Source:   sportsnet.ca

Pageau leads Senators over visiting Kings 3-2 with overtime winner

  Pageau leads Senators over visiting Kings 3-2 with overtime winner Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored in overtime as the Ottawa Senators defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Thursday. Pageau got his own rebound before scoring his team-leading seventh goal of the season 3:12 into the extra period.

a group of people wearing costumes: Brady-Tkachuk-Ottawa-Senators-© Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS Brady-Tkachuk-Ottawa-Senators-

The beauty of sailing along with zero expectations of success is that even modest results come off as dazzling.

Think of the two NHL franchises from Ontario — the Ottawa Senators and, you know, that other team in southern Ontario. At this juncture, just past the one-quarter mark of the schedule, the Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs are a mere ONE point apart, Toronto with 22 points, Ottawa 21. And the Senators have a game in hand.

The difference? Leafs Nation has already pushed their highly-paid head coach Mike Babcock off a cliff, firing him Wednesday with the Leafs on a six-game losing skid and an overall record of 9-10-4.

Senators score three early goals, Nilsson makes 38 saves as Sens beat Hurricanes

  Senators score three early goals, Nilsson makes 38 saves as Sens beat Hurricanes The Ottawa Senators scored three first-period goals and Anders Nilsson made 38 saves in a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. Filip Chlapik, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jean-Gabriel Pageau all scored in the first as the Senators (6-9-1) won their second straight game and third in their past four. Filip Chlapik, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jean-Gabriel Pageau all scored in the first as the Senators (6-9-1) won their second straight game and third in their past four. Brady Tkachuk also scored in the third.

Meanwhile in Ottawa, generating close to a point per game is just about cause for staging a parade on Palladium Drive, although some segments of the fan base are fretting over the Senators’ move away from a premium draft lottery position.

The 2019-20 Leafs were expected to contend for a Stanley Cup instead of losing ground in the race for a wild-card position.

In contrast, the budget-conscious Senators dumped most of their expensive players last season, declared a deep rebuild and are supposed to be in full Tank Mode — except somebody forget to tell new head coach D.J. Smith and his feisty young roster.

After Wednesday’s thrilling overtime win in Montreal the Senators have won six of their past eight games despite a horrendous November schedule that has them playing 16 games in 29 days and 11 of them on the road.

Senators score twice in second period en route to win over Flyers

  Senators score twice in second period en route to win over Flyers Filip Chlapik's second-period goal stood as the winner, Anders Nilsson made 26 saves and the Ottawa Senators killed off a late four-minute power play to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 Friday night. Colin White took a double minor for high sticking Claude Giroux with just over four minutes remaining in the game to leave the Senators shorthanded.

This current hot streak raises the question: Are the Senators too good for their own good?

What ever happened to Losing For Lafreniere (LFL)? Or Blowing Leads for Byfield (BLB)?

Alexis Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield, two of the top-rated prospects in next summer’s NHL draft, are by all accounts exceptional players. The teams that land these two forwards will be thrilled at their good fortune. If there is one element missing from Ottawa’s growing talent pool it is the kind of elite, game-changing forward talent found in the top positions of the draft.

Yet there is no guarantee that finishing last or next to last would secure either of the top two seeds. This is not the NFL where the last-place team picks first.

In the NHL, the worst team has no better than 18.5-per cent odds of selecting first overall. Last year, the Senators were that team, and were thankful they didn’t win the lottery considering they had traded the pick to Colorado for Matt Duchene. The Avalanche ended up with the fourth-overall pick.

Duclair scores twice, leads Senators over Red Wings 4-3

  Duclair scores twice, leads Senators over Red Wings 4-3 DETROIT — Anthony Duclair had two goals and an assist, and the Ottawa Senators held on to beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 Tuesday night. John Gabriel Pageau and Brady Tkachuk also scored for Ottawa. Anders Nilsson made 35 saves, including 15 in the third period when the Senators were outshot 16-3. Valtteri Filppula had a goal and an assist, and Robby Fabbri and Anthony Mantha scored for Detroit, which ended a five-game point streak (3-0-2). Defenceman Filip Hronek had two assists and Jonathan Bernier stopped 29 shots.Mantha scored with 2:46 left and Bernier pulled for the extra attacker to make it 4-3. It was his 12th goal.

It was the third-worst finisher, the New Jersey Devils, who grabbed Jack Hughes with the first-overall pick. The sixth-worst New York Rangers moved up to second place and got Kaapo Kakko.

This is worth remembering when Senators fans are agonizing over November victories over the Detroit Red Wings, one of their prime contenders in the so-called tanking competition.

In 2020, the Senators not only own their own pick, they also have the San Jose Sharks’ first pick and the Sharks are scuffling along in second-last place in the Western Conference, raising the possibility of Ottawa having two lottery picks.

For this reason, and others, it really isn’t worth getting bent out of shape — at least not yet — by the Senators’ nice little run over the last couple of weeks, or the fact they are playing better than several of their lottery-pick rivals.

At this writing the Senators have a better goal differential (minus-nine) than San Jose, Minnesota, Los Angeles, Calgary, New Jersey, Detroit and Columbus.

When Ottawa’s hottest goaltender, Anders Nilsson, is in net the team is winning close to 60 per cent of its games. He is 6-4-1 with a goals-against mark of 2.70 and a .924 save percentage — numbers no self-respecting Tank Team could accept.

Thomas Chabot's two-point game helps Ottawa Senators past New York Rangers 4-1

  Thomas Chabot's two-point game helps Ottawa Senators past New York Rangers 4-1 OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators have finally found a winning game plan. Anders Nilsson made 30 saves as the Senators beat the New York Rangers 4-1 on Friday night for Ottawa's first three-game win streak of the season. The Senators have won seven of their last nine and are .500 for the first time this campaign. "I think we're playing some really good hockey," said Anders Nilsson, who stopped 30 shots. "You saw the way we played (Friday) and especially the way we played in the first period. We came out and had one of the best periods all year in the first and shut them down completely.

The Senators don’t mind a bit.

The thinking is that the losses will come naturally enough. This team simply doesn’t have the depth of talent to contend this far ahead of their rebuilding plan. By the time of the trade deadline, Ottawa should be losing further talent, cementing its place among the NHL also-rans.

As Sens blogger Colin Cudmore noted, based on standings as of Wednesday, the Senators were in line for five picks among the top 50 selections in the 2020 draft, depending of course on how the lottery shakes out. The Senators have since dropped a couple of places with that win over the Canadiens.

In the meantime, if the team continues to develop a culture of hard-working, aggressive hockey, so much the better for bringing young players along in an atmosphere that is neither negative nor confidence-sapping.

Tkachuk, Logan Brown, Anthony Duclair and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, among others, seem to be having the time of their lives, despite the modest record of 10-11-1. Did you see that group OT celly after Tkachuk’s goal in Montreal? It was playoff worthy.

It might take a couple of management moves to slow this train down and ensure the Senators draft high next June.

Bjorkstrand lifts Blue Jackets to 1-0 win over Senators

  Bjorkstrand lifts Blue Jackets to 1-0 win over Senators COLUMBUS, Ohio — Once the Columbus Blue Jackets finally broke through for a goal, they made sure not to waste it. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored 21 seconds into the third period and Joonas Korpisalo earned his second career shutout, lifting Columbus to a 1-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday night. The win was the fourth in five games for the Blue Jackets (10-9-4) and it marked their fourth straight at home over Ottawa. Korpisalo stopped 25Oliver Bjorkstrand scored 21 seconds into the third period and Joonas Korpisalo earned his second career shutout, lifting Columbus to a 1-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.

Plus, there is always that Sharks pick, which could sweeten the lottery pot.

No violin music for this D.J.

Bless any coach who offers a fresh take. Given their brutal schedule, including seven road games over a 16-day period between Nov. 19 and Dec. 4, it would have been easy for Smith to either complain or provide an ‘it is what is’ quote.

Instead, he refused to give his players an out with a sad song, telling reporters that fatigue is “more in your brain than anything.” He says that in junior, he liked the second game of a back to back as his players were more battle-tested.

“I like the schedule,” Smith said. “We get to play and find out who can really push in tough situations, so I’ve got no complaints.”

Bobby Ryan seeks NHLPA help

A couple of weeks ago in the Senators dressing room, Bobby Ryan was joking with a veteran writer about life after full-time work. When Ryan was told that semi-retirement comes with a lot of benefits, such as playing old-timers hockey two to three times a week, the always self-effacing Ryan quipped: “I’m about a year behind you.”

Today, we are all behind Bobby Ryan, who on Wednesday declared he would be away from the hockey club while taking part in the NHLPA Players Assistance program. The program is designed to assist players and their families in the treatment of health problems, including mental health issues and substance abuse.

It has been well-documented that Ryan, 32, survived a horrific childhood, living on the lam under an assumed name because his father was a fugitive from justice. Against all odds, Ryan realized his dream of making the NHL, but it came at a personal cost, lasting scars. Three years ago, Ryan lost his mother, the rock of his life, to cancer. This season, Ryan’s hockey career has taken a turn as he has been made a healthy scratch on multiple occasions.

The entire hockey community wishes Ryan well in his recovery and is pulling for one of the great straight-shooters in the game.

“Bobby is an important member of the Ottawa Senators family and he has our full support as he tends to this matter,” said Senators general manger Pierre Dorion in a statement.

Sens Re-Assign Brannstrom, Hogberg .
Bonestorm is back in BelleVegas.Brannstrom, who was the principle piece in February’s Mark Stone trade, has played 25 games with the Sens this year, posting two assists. Despite the lack of offence, he’s had a solid start to the campaign, with a Corsi rating of 50.40%, which is comparable to Thomas Chabot. That said, the Senators need him contributing on the scoresheet, and playing big minutes coupled with first powerplay time in Belleville will likely help to get that part of his game going again.

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