The Ottawa Senators had a difficult week. At one point, the team had been gaining ground and had lifted its record to 11-11-1, which was entirely better than expected. Then, however, the team lost four straight games and now sits with an 11-15-1 record. That’s really not that unexpected, because everyone knew it was going to take some time for the Senators to become relevant again under this season’s new head coach D.J. Smith.
Then, this week, the goalie situation became a bit muddled with the lower-body injury goalie Craig Anderson suffered in last week’s 1-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Anderson was placed on the injury-reserve list on Thursday, and that means he won’t be able to play until the Senators face the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night, which would be Game 3 of the road trip.
Still, the news isn’t horrible and Anderson isn’t expected to be out of the lineup for any length of time with the injury. In fact, one reason Anderson was placed on IR was that the Senators needed to stay under the league’s 23-man roster limit. He’ll be able to practice on Monday in Vancouver as his team faces the Canucks.
Marcus Hogberg Played Against the Calgary Flames on Saturday
Anderson’s absence meant that Marcus Hogberg got another chance to show his skills with the Senators. And that Hogberg did: in fact, he played well and stopped 24 of 26 shots in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames. The Flames’ last goal was scored into an empty net. As an aside: no doubt the Flames were pumped for the game because it was their first game played after Bill Peters resigned as the head coach of the team. The turmoil surrounding the team had to have been difficult and, with Peters’ resignation, it ended.
Making his first start of the season for Ottawa, Hogberg was beaten twice on point-blank shots after the Senators threw up some shaky defense. However, his play kept the Senators in the game.
For those who don’t know much about Hogberg, the 24-year-old is a 6-foot-5, 209-pound native of Sweden. He spent most of last season with the Belleville Senators (Ottawa’s AHL affiliate). There he was named the team’s most valuable player after compiling a record of 21-17-4, a 2.32 GAA and .917 save percentage in 39 games played.
Hogberg also played four games with the big club last season and was 0-2-1 with a 4.09 GAA and .884 save percentage. During the offseason, he had signed a two-year contract extension. This season, his contract has an annual value of $700,000 (if he plays in the NHL) and $125,000 (if he plays in the AHL), and he’s guaranteed to earn $150,000. The second year of the contract has an annual value of $700,000.
As coach Smith noted about the Senators’ strategy this season, “I’ve said all along this is a process of how many guys we can get to play better and part of the future of this group. He’s (Hogberg) certainly part of it. He’s played well of late (in Belleville) and he’ll get his shot.”
Anders Nilsson Is Ready for More Work
Except for an awful game on November 29 against the Minnesota Wild, where Nilsson gave up seven goals on 35 shots in a 7-2 loss, he’s had a solid November. In that game, Nilsson only stopped 26 of 32 even-strength shots. And, all of the seven goals were scored during the second and third periods.
Nilsson noted that, with Anderson injured, he’s ready for more of a workload if he’s needed. “Last year when I got traded here I got to play a lot of games in a row so it’s something I’ve done in the past and it’s something I feel comfortable doing.”
He also admitted that “It comes with what the coaches decide to do, (Hogberg) is a great goalie who has been doing pretty good in the American League so I’m just trying to take it one game at a time.” However, he added, “If they want to play more games I’m definitely up for it and I’m prepared to play more games on this road trip.”
[As an aside, it’s nice to hear one goalie say that about his teammate. I have to say that one thing I consistently note is that goalies on the same team take care of each other. They congratulate their colleague’s good game and commiserate their poor games. It’s nice to see.]
What’s Next for the Senators?
The Senators continue their road trip on Tuesday (in Vancouver) and Wednesday (in Edmonton) this week. It’s a tough trip, and the back-to-back games don’t help the Senators’ chances of gaining victories. Still, until this past week, the team had done better than anyone expected.