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Well, we had lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of fun during the Olympic break. Medals were won, Dufour-Lapointes were crushed on, Sochis were …not blown up. A complete…Winter Olympics were had you could say.
Congratulations to Erik Karlsson on his silver medal and his unbelievable performance leading the tournament in points and to Milan Michalek for his participation ribbon and for not getting injured. Not even once! Welcome back.
The Hoff Man Commeth (I know…but…whatever I haven’t done this in a while)
The phrase “Coming in Hot” doesn’t get thrown around all that often [except for when it’s thrown around at every opportunity] but you can’t ask for a call up to arrive in the capital more “middle goo of a Pizza Pop” hot than Mike Hoffman. His 67 points in 51 games in Binghamton is simply astounding. Good for 2nd in the entire American Hockey League and only 4 back of the overall lead.
Hoffman has had a couple of chances with the big club but more or less in a checking role (Life Hack: Give your players that weigh 176 pounds checking roles!). At first a lot of reaction I heard to Hoffman’s games with Ottawa was that he looked “really good despite not getting on the score sheet.” This has changed to mostly a “this guy’s gotta get on the score sheet” feel. Not a wrong position considering Hoff’s in a contract year and though not old at 24, his development time is likely starting to run out with the organization. He’s got to show and prove and that time is now.
In fairness, however, showing off your offensive skills can be pretty tough to do when you’re getting about 8 minutes a game, even tougher when you get healthy scratched!
Pointless in a mere 7 career NHL games, the pressure is on for Hoffy to make an impact right quick following impressive auditions from fellow forwards Mark Stone and Stephane DaCosta. I mean, shit, even shutdown defender Mark Borowiecki notched a goal in his 13 game stint.
Now, it seems a little much to expect given that the guy’s only had 3 games to prove himself so far this season but this is the reality of a farm with more beasts on it than…*thinks of a farm renowned for its dense population of beasts, gives up*.
Hoffman was a goal scorer in the QMJHL once winning league MVP, he is enjoying an all star campaign in his 4th year in Binghamton (winning fastest skater at the all star game!) and now he’s got to show he can do it on the highest stage. This time around it looks like coach MacLean might give him the boost he needs.
The Hoff will start the game on a line with Bobby Ryan, centred by Mika Zibanejad (or Za-bin-a-jad if you’re an out of market play by play person). I suppose Hoffman’s opportunity on this line will depend not only his performance but the whole team’s. If the Sens come out looking like a bunch of ugmos things could go back to “normal” pretty quickly. Considering we’re 60 games into the season and the coach has been more gun shy about playing Bobby Ryan with Jason Spezza than he has Erik Condra if the money ain’t right, it’ll be back to the top line for BR. There’s something enticing about this line on paper. Hoffman has great speed, Ryan’s got smarts and brawn and Ziba’s got speed, smarts and brawn! Not so enticing is that despite just getting two weeks off Ryan has missed a couple of practices due to an disclosed nagging injury he suffered before the Olympic break…so that’s…umm…Get well get well soon we wish you to get well. *wink, tear*
Sniper Erik Condra moves to the top line (?) while Spezza will anchor a trio with Greening and Michalek.
Return To The King
Oh what’s that? Mike Babcock intends to employ with Detroit the strategy he used with Team Canada to smother the opposition’s defense? Good LUCK trying that …against….our…guys.
Marc Methot moves back up to the top pairing with King of Sweden Erik Karlsson. I am pretty happy to see this pair reunited as I’ve found their chemistry to be better than EK and Jared Cowen’s (doi). Methot brings the same physical and responsible dimension as Cowen except that he’s more experienced OH and is much, much…MUCH faster (much). Cowzie (have to assume he’s called that in the dressing room, well, that or Giant Seinfeld) will line up with Eric Gryba. That Gryba-Methot duo was pretty good. I never thought I’d say this a couple years back but I hope Grybs can float Cowen through the game. What a world.
Lastly, Ceci will be paired with a now healthy Chris Phillips. Joe Corvo will be providing anti-depressants for himself and Patrick Wiercioch in the press box.
Remember that sic snipe Gryba had against Detroit back when he was beardless?!
Looks like someone didn’t take two weeks off of making Blood Sacrifices!
Robin Lehner’s fortnight of incantations has paid off as Mani the Norse Moon Goddess has made it her bidding to see that the birth of Craig Anderson’s second child has coincided with the first game back.
Note to Craig: Mazel tov, a second child will be a blessing upon your house!
With the call up of Binghamton goaltender Andrew Hammond to back up The Lehner we shift the “PLEASE DONT GET HURT” feelings/wishes/prayers we directed at Karlsson over in Sochi to Lehner. Go out there and have fun and do some extra stretches and be careful! Would love to see Lehnny get some help to improve his 7-10-3 record. He’s played much better than that and with time running out on the season it would be a shame to see him finish with a losing record…that and it would mean more Sens wins…which is also pretty important.
With Daniel Alfredsson’s Red Wings (…………………………….f…………………) having played last night in Montreal I would regularly say Ottawa has an opportunity to take advantage of playing a good but fatigued team that’s battling injury but this season it has been next to impossible to predict how they are going to play, well, accept in the afternoon! Truth be told, Detroit has had a chance to shake the rust off once and Ottawa’s going to have to come out clean and swinging. Let’s hope those new line combos are good ones.
Enjoy the game, thanks for reading, it’s great to be back, pray 4 Hoffman.
GO SENS (obviously)!