For at least one night, the Ottawa Senators look like geniuses for inserting Erik Karlsson back into their lineup. They also pose a much more worrisome threat as one of the East’s eight playoff teams.
The Senators punched their ticket to the postseason with a 2-1 OT win against the Capitals. While the scoreboard argues that it was a close game, Ottawa out-shot Washington 41-20 in a game the squad needed much more.
Karlsson said there were “a lot of things” that were wrong with his game in Thursday’s return, but it certainly doesn’t seem that way in the box score. The 22-year-old collected assists on both Senators goals (one by Jakob Silfverberg, the winner by Sergei Gonchar) and almost as impressively racked up eight shots on goal. He topped all skaters with more than 27 minutes on ice.
That last bit might make people like Travis Zajac nervous, but so far the gamble has paid off.
This win kills the Winnipeg Jets’ playoff hopes, whether they beat the Montreal Canadiens tonight or not.
Now all that’s left to fight for is seeding. As of this writing, here are the eight East playoff teams in order of current standing position:
6. NY Rangers
7. NY Islanders
The Edmonton Oilers have assigned center Leon Draisaitl to AHL Bakersfield.
The demotion of Draisaitl, 19, means 21-year-old rookie Anton Slepyshev has made the opening-day roster after scoring twice and adding two assists in exhibition action.
The Oilers experimented during the preseason with Draisaitl, a natural center, on the wing. He didn’t have a particularly poor camp, finishing with one goal and three assists in six games.
But Slepyshev apparently impressed more.
“He’s a young player but he’s played pro hockey before,” coach Todd McLellan told the Edmonton Journal. “You can see it.”
Slepyshev played 58 games in the KHL last season, scoring 15 goals for Salavat Yulaev Ufa.
A preseason push by a number of Vancouver Canucks youngsters has left forward Linden Vey and defenseman Frank Corrado on waivers today.
The more surprising name of the two is Corrado, the 22-year-old who entered the season with an excellent chance of making the opening-day roster. However, it seems that rookie d-man Ben Hutton, 22, has been given the nod after finishing an eye-opening preseason with one goal and four assists in seven games. (This despite Hutton being waiver exempt. So it’s a risk for the Canucks, to be sure.)
It was the play of 19-year-old rookie Jared McCann that led, in part, to the waiving of Vey. (For more on that, click here.) Veteran Adam Cracknell remains with the team as well, to some surprise.
Rookie winger Jake Virtanen is also expected to be on Vancouver’s opening-day roster, though that’s no big shock.
Defenseman Alex Biega is also on waivers, as expected.