Many “experts” expected the Senators would be challenged after trading away captain Jason Spezza and losing Ales Hemsky to free agency in the offseason. They are also the fourth-youngest team in the NHL with an average age of just 26.57 years old, but many young players have stepped up for Ottawa. Aside from their win over Columbus, the Senators took down the Panthers, Lightning, and Avalanche as part of a four game winning streak.
The Senators are winless in two games since that streak, dropping an overtime decision in New Jersey and losing 2-1 in Chicago, where they threw 16 shots on net in the third period but couldn’t draw even. The Senators sit fifth in the Atlantic Division, but have at least one game in hand on every team but the Panthers.
Much attention was paid during the past week to the triple threat on Columbus’ week-long swing through California, but before the Jackets reached the left coast, it was an Oct. 18 stop in Ottawa that proved challenging, as the Jackets fell to the Senators 3-2 at Canadian Tire Centre.
The Blue Jackets fell behind 2-0 in that game on goals by David Legwand and Erik Karlsson, but stormed back in the second period with goals from Nick Foligno and David Savard only 41 seconds apart. Ottawa took the lead for good midway through the third period when Mike Hoffman burst through the defense pairing of Jack Johnson and Savard and lifted a backhander past Sergei Bobrovsky.
Bobrovsky was in the game to replace Curtis McElhinney, who left with an upper-body injury after a goal-mouth collision. McElhinney has since returned, but the Jackets have faced more injury issues as they prepare for their first home game in 11 days.
Alex Chiasson was one of the main components dealt to Ottawa in the Spezza deal, and the young power forward looks poised to take on an even larger role in the Canadian capital. He has racked up two goals and two assists in seven games thus far, while playing a top-six role on a team that has shown it can score by committee. The 6-foot-4, 205 lb. Montreal native has settled in well with his new team and is a threat whenever he gets the puck - and that's something he likes to do often. Chiasson scored 13 goals in 2013-14 with Dallas (his rookie NHL season) and many believe he could develop into a perennial 20-goal scorer.
Johansen has been an offensive force, picking up right where he left off in 2013-14 as the Blue Jackets' leading scorer. He currently leads the Blue Jackets in goals (5), points (11), power play points (5), and face-off percentage (54.0). He has recorded at least a point in every game this season and has three multi-point games. Overall, Johansen has been the consummate No. 1 center for Columbus anchoring a line with Scott Hartnell and Nick Foligno. Despite missing training camp and the preseason due to ongoing contract negotiations, Johansen has stepped in and played a key role on a Blue Jackets team that has been hit hard by injuries in the early going.
Erik Karlsson vs. the Blue Jackets defense.
Karlsson has no qualms joining, or occasionally leading, the rush up ice. The Blue Jackets' identity is a hard forechecking game that places emphasis on the forwards being responsible, or "tracking," so it will be important for the Jackets to know where Karlsson is on the ice at all times.
“It’s awareness, and knowing when he’s on the ice,” forward Jack Skille said of Karlsson. “A guy like him with his speed will take advantage of any space you give him. If you’re spot on with your angles and take away his time and space the right way, you can contain him.”