Columbus Blue Jackets v Ottawa Senators

If you saw this coming, you’re a liar: Ottawa wins sixth straight


Six games ago, the Ottawa Senators were a 1-5 hockey team. Loss No. 5 was a 7-2 blowout to the Philadelphia Flyers, a defeat so bad the players called an emergency meeting afterward. The Senators were allowing an average of five goals per game and considered to be one of the worst teams in hockey.

But that was six games ago.

Tonight, the Senators won their sixth consecutive game — a 3-2 decision over Toronto — in the Battle of Ontario. What’s more, they did it without the services of their captain (Daniel Alfredsson, out with an upper-body injury) and their third-string goalie (Robin Lehner) in net. The winning goal was scored by Kaspars Daugavins, a 23-year-old Latvian with four games of big league experience. If was his first NHL goal.

To quote legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi: What the hell’s going on out here?

At the time of writing, the Senators are the hottest team in hockey (we’ll see what happens tomorrow when the San Jose Sharks take their five-game winning streak to MSG.) They’ve got the NHL’s best power play. They’re one point out of the Northeast divison lead and an improbable eight points up on Boston, the defending Stanley Cup champion. Jason Spezza is one of the league’s top scorers and Erik Karlsson leads all NHL defensemen in points.

Guess that’s what a six-game winning streak will do for you.

Of course, this winning streak has to be kept in perspective. Ottawa’s competition hasn’t exactly been lethal — the streak includes victories over Columbus, Winnipeg, Carolina, Florida and New York — which is probably why head coach Paul MacLean is trying to keep things in perspective. “Let’s see where we are after 20 games, after 25 games,” he told the Globe and Mail today. “It’s a long season.”

But hey, doesn’t mean people can’t get a little excited at the possibility of the Sens being, you know, good at the hockey. Even Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen got caught up in the thrill of it all. “The Boys of October roll into a new month carting a six-gamer against the Stanley Cup champions in Boston on Tuesday,” he wrote. “Who knew a rebuild could be this much fun?”

There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

Connor McDavid
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Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.

Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”

The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.

Eichel front page

Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.

But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.

“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.

“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”

Sutter: Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks

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Lost in the various controversies (see here and here) of last night’s game in Los Angeles was a pretty dismal performance by the Kings, a team that should’ve been especially motivated to start the season after missing the playoffs last year.

The Kings were hammered, 5-1, by the visiting Sharks. They were outshot, 32-20.

“If you don’t check, you don’t have the puck enough,” said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. “If you don’t have the puck enough, you can’t score.”

“We were pretty sloppy. Sloppy on our rushes, sloppy in our D-zone,” said forward Dustin Brown. “That’s probably most of it, but the other part is compete – in the corners and making hard plays coming out of our zone, going in. We didn’t play very well.”

Obviously, much credit has to go to the Sharks. Like the Kings, they missed the playoffs last year and came into 2015-16 looking for redemption. But the Sharks haven’t won two Stanley Cups in the last four years, and they weren’t the home team.

“Gotta check,” said Sutter. “You don’t check, you can’t score. We had a lot of guys, especially top guys that weren’t interested in that part of the game.”

The Kings get a visit from the Arizona Coyotes on Friday. If they don’t dominate that team…