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Senators celebrate 20th anniversary by bringing back one of NHL’s all-time worst teams for opening night

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It might be hard for some of you to believe, but this upcoming season marks the Ottawa Senators’ 20th in the NHL. Let that sink in so some of you can now dwell on how old that makes you feel.

The Sens have big plans to help commemorate the season including wearing a special heritage jersey (which will look like the one seen at Icethetics) on opening night against the Minnesota Wild. Getting a hockey team back in Ottawa was a big deal for everyone involved and while the Sens have just one Stanley Cup finals appearance back in 2007 to hang their hat on and an avoided bankruptcy thanks to the big money of Eugene Melnyk buying the team, the Sens are doing something else on opening night that’s rather curious.

When Ottawa holds their home opener on October 11 against Minnesota, they’ll introduce the players that suited up in the team’s inaugural game. As the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch points out, it’ll be a special night for the Sens.

All the players from the roster of the franchise’s inaugural game are being invited back to be introduced before the home opener, Oct. 11 against the Minnesota Wild. That should also cut down on the boos directed Dany Heatley’s way.

It seems like only yesterday that captain Laurie Boschman and his new teammates scored a 5-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 8, 1992 at the Civic Centre.

“It does bring back a lot of memories,” said Boschman. “The important thing is that going into their 20th year, this team has been — if you take away the last couple of years — their record has been equal to anybody in the NHL.

“It’s been wonderful to be a hockey fan here and to raise three boys that are Senators fans. That’s what’s really neat.”

In that first game, the newly born Senators beat Montreal 5-3 on the strength of two goals from Doug Smail along with goals each from Neil Brady, Ken Hammond, and Sylvain Turgeon. Getting the win for the Sens that night in goal was Peter Sidorkiewicz while coach Rick Bowness led the way on the bench.

The win would indeed be special because they wouldn’t win another game until late November. That Senators team finished the year with a 10-70-4 record. Defenseman Norm Maciver led the team in points with 63 while Turgeon led the team in goals with 25. Poor Peter Sidorkiewicz would end the season going 8-46-3 with a 4.43 goals against average and .856 save percentage. While that Sens team wasn’t the worst team of all-time, they rank in the top five as one of the worst in NHL history. Hey, at least Mike Peluso was in the top five in the league in penalty minutes with 318. Yeah, he was just fifth that year.

Things have gotten better for Ottawa in recent years as they’ve been able to make the playoffs more often than not, but after a brutal season last year the fans are feeling a bit down. Captain Daniel Alfredsson is at least on the quick road to recovery to start the year, but if Sens fans can take solace in anything, it’s that no matter what, the current Senators can never be as bad as the original team.

At least they’d better hope not.

Ducks give Bruins first loss under Cassidy, putting … Islanders in wild card

ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 22:  Korbinian Holzer #5 of the Anaheim Ducks pushes David Backes #42 of the Boston Bruins during the second period of a game at Honda Center on February 22, 2017 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Wednesday was a night of futility in the Eastern Conference wild card races, so it make sense that a team that didn’t even play ended up grabbing the second spot.

To recap:

  • The Florida Panthers began the night in the second wild card spot. However, they were knocked down the totem pole when they lost in regulation to the Edmonton Oilers.
  • The Boston Bruins inherited the second wild card spot from Florida, but the Anaheim Ducks just gave them their first loss under Bruce Cassidy. With that defeat coming in regulation, it meant that the Bruins’ stay in the East’s top eight lasted mere hours.
  • So, congrats to the New York Islanders, who enjoyed the rare tiebreaker treat of climbing into playoff position even though they didn’t even play on Wednesday.

(The Philadelphia Flyers were out of reach here, but they didn’t do themselves any favors in losing to the Washington Capitals.)

Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were kept off the board as Jonathan Bernier won one for the Ducks, who stay right behind the Edmonton Oilers in a battle for second in the Pacific.

Despite Pastrnak’s -3 rating in this one, Marchand probably had the toughest night thanks to Bernier and Josh Manson:

This one hurts, but it’s also a reminder that there will probably be plenty of twists and turns in the races for the lower spots in the East and Atlantic Division. With that in mind, the Bruins have to shake it off and get ready to face the Kings in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Kuznetsov, bad breaks baffle Flyers in loss to Capitals

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Here’s what went right for the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday: the Florida Panthers lost. Yep, that’s about it.

Otherwise, it was a pretty lousy time, as the Washington Capitals beat them at home 4-1 tonight.

Washington’s big names came to play here, highlighted by Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring two goals. T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom enjoyed one-goal, one-assist nights while Justin Williams and Alex Ovechkin both grabbed two assists.

The Capitals won their first game after a bye week (following two losses), improving their Metropolitan Division lead to five points and Presidents’ Trophy edge over Minnesota to three.

The Flyers fail to make up some ground in the Eastern Conference wild card race, staying at 63 standings points in 60 games played. The Panthers are tied with the Islanders and Bruins at 66 points, though Boston can change the picture ever so slightly against Anaheim (still in action) tonight.

The bottom line, again, is that the Flyers failed in a chance to get a little closer to that logjam for the last East spot.

Of course, plenty of Flyers fans will grumble about missed opportunities and iffy calls. Mike Milbury broke down the early setbacks that made life that much tougher for Philly:

Philly couldn’t overcome the Capitals and that bad luck, making their playoff hopes a little dimmer as the trade deadline approaches.

Oilers win on rare Russell goal, Panthers fall out of second wild card spot

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The Edmonton Oilers’ 4-3 win against the Florida Panthers might end up being costly if Andrej Sekera misses significant time.

But, hey, at least it was a win.

The two rising squads engaged in a back-and-forth game, with the Oilers winning in regulation. Maybe fittingly with Edmonton leaking defensemen lately: Kris Russell was the guy to score the game-winner, set up by Connor McDavid‘s blazing speed and a nice pass by Leon Draisaitl.

It was Russell’s first goal in more than a year.

The Oilers will remain in the second spot in the Pacific at the end of the night whether the Anaheim Ducks beat the Boston Bruins or not. Interestingly, this puts them in a reasonable position to catch the Sharks for first place in the division, too.

1. Sharks – 77 points in 60 games
2. Oilers – 74 points in 61 games
3. Ducks – 72 points in 61 games (in progress vs. Boston)

The Oilers likely had some fans out East tonight, as this loss pushes Florida down the wild card rankings. They’re actually out of the second spot thanks to tiebreakers.

Second wild card spot: Bruins – 66 points in 59 games, 30 wins and 28 ROW (in progress)

Islanders – 66 points in 59 games, 28 wins and 27 ROW
Panthers – 66 points in 59 games, 28 wins and 25 ROW

The Isles would move into the second spot if Boston loses in regulation, underscoring just how congested this situation is. But either way, the Panthers won’t be in the East’s top eight at the end of the night.

With Gibson out, Ducks recall interesting goalie: Enroth

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 11: Jhonas Enroth #35 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Air Canada Centre on November 11, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Flyers 6-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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One player’s injury is another player’s opportunity.

Considering how much the Anaheim Ducks lean on John Gibson, it’s troubling that he’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Even so, it’s interesting to note that such a situation prompted the team to recall Jhonas Enroth, who will back up Jonathan Bernier during Wednesday’s game against the Boston Bruins.

With the way Bernier’s been playing at times, it’s not impossible that Enroth could play as soon as tonight. But if he doesn’t you have to wonder if the Ducks might feel compelled to throw a start his way in the next week.

The trade deadline is coming, and while the goalie market is really cold, some of that slow movement likely comes from how cap-unfriendly netminders like Ben Bishop might be.

But what about Enroth? His cap hit is $750K this season, and while he thoroughly unimpressed Mike Babcock with rapid speed in Toronto, he was fantastic as a backup in Los Angeles last season and has been outstanding lately for the AHL’s San Diego Gulls.

All things considered, it’s almost a little surprising the Ducks aren’t throwing him right into the deep end tonight. If you’re a team with poor backup goaltending like the Edmonton Oilers or any number of other teams,* why wouldn’t you give the Ducks a call?

Maybe they need to see him in action in the NHL before doing so, making this an intriguing scenario to follow.

And, hey, maybe the Ducks themselves might decide that he’s a better option behind Gibson than Bernier. Stranger things have happened.

* – The Leafs might qualify, honestly … but again, Babs doesn’t seem to be an Enroth fan.