The Best NHL is the First Two Weeks of Chaos

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We’re two weeks into the season, which next to the playoff run– could be the best part of the season. The wacky bullshit that goes on in the first month or so of the season is the best. Crazy stats, firewagon scores, improbable heroes– it’s the best time of the year to get overly emotional– rightly or wrongly– about what your team really is. There’s no lack of craziness this year, either.

First, let’s start with Keith Kinkaid, who is the really champions of goaltending right now. He’s 4-0-0 with two shutouts and has the New Jersey Devils at a still undefeated record….through four games. He’s making the most of his chances with the Devils, as he is building off his 26-win season from last year and really showing that Cory Schneider may have heavy competition and could even be expendable when he gets healthy again. While he may not lead the goalie stats for much longer, the story he’s creating for himself is one that the Devils faithful need to build off of last year’s turnaround with Taylor Hall at the front and center.

Staying in the East, the Ottawa Senators are above .500 after their purge this off-season and it’s confusing the hell out of me. Granted, I’m sure that’ll take a plunge with Brady Tkachuk’s injury; but still…this is a team who wasn’t expected to win three games in this month (maybe, I didn’t read previews) much less be at seven points after six games. Craig Anderson has already seen the most shots in the league (tied with Devan Dubnyk) through six games at 199, which probably won’t let up any time soon as the time goes on and teams wear down the already inexperienced defense. However, the return from Erik Karlsson was great, as Chris Tierney leads the team in points and Dylan DeMelo is leading the all-important plus/minus stat. Young guns like Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot, and Maxime LaJoie have grabbed the brass ring for the greater roles on the team, while Craig Anderson is playing great in October, as Craig Anderson is wont to do, as he has 42 wins in October over his career (currently second-best, but that’ll change once he gets through the months). Maybe the Sens can fool us all…..but maybe not.

Out West, Connor McDavid is good. In fact, if he can keep up the pace he has in factoring in every goal the Oilers have this season; he’ll have anywhere from 198 to 247 points this year based on the Oilers’ goal output over the last five years. This could happen, McDavid is that good and is able to make the best plays out there for his team– but it shows that maybe the Oilers need some support for their superstar. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl are pulling their weight, but it could be a very uphill climb for the Oilers if they keep packing things on McDavid’s shoulders. Granted, they have McDavid for seven more years after this one…but do you want to wear him out in year four of his career like this??

The one constant is the Arizona Coyotes. As the sun will set in the West, the Coyotes will have one of the most promising outlooks, but stumble out of the gates. They’ve scored four goals in five games and have been shutout three times this season. That’s not great, boss. Sure, they’re only giving up 2.2 goals a game, but that doesn’t help when you’re putting up 0.6 a game. It doesn’t help that Alex Galchenyuk is sidelined, but they have their goalie for the first month of the season, as Antti Raanta was solid when he came back from injury last year, but he couldn’t dig the Coyotes out of the doldrums at that point. It is a young team, sure– Clayton Keller and Dylan Strome will need time to work things out…but man, it’s hard to watch for a team that’s already been beaten down for as long as they have. You’d hope for some good for once.

This is just the scratching of the surface– you got the hot takes of Auston Matthews’ torrid pace, I think Sebastian Aho (and the rest of the Carolina Hurricanes) are getting slept on in the league, and even as a Caps fan– I’m tired of watching them play on NBCSN all the time.

This is just two weeks in. Let’s hope for more chaos as the season round out the first month of action.

2018-19 Preview….Kind Of: Eastern Conference Edition

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Okay– time to shake the dust off this thing and get into some NHL previewing. We’ve got 31 teams in four divisions, so the only way to do this right is to do it as half-assed as ever. If you’ve been following me for the last 17 years of writing– you know it’s the only way to go.

First, the Metropolitan Division; the division with the worst name, but boasting the last three Stanley Cup Champions. The Washington Capitals kept the band together, save for Philipp Grubauer. Other than that– the big concern here is the short off-season (which has been seen with the lack of Devante Smith-Pelly), but the hunger to keep the winning going could fuel this team. Alex Ovechkin is back in the best shape of his life part 2, while the rest of the team– despite a subpar preseason– will be looking to keep the good vibes going into this season.

It won’t be easy– the Penguins will want to get some revenge on the Caps since they won the Cup and rekindled a bit of the rivalry. With a longer time to rest, you can bet Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel will be ready– but will Matt Murray be durable or not?? The Columbus Blue Jackets will want revenge on the Caps, but their house is a mess with both Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky really not having a great off-season and signalling their tenure in C-bus may be soon over.

The New York/New Jersey area is full of “The hell??” vibes, especially with the Rangers retooling rather than rebuilding, the Islanders losing John Tavares, but gaining Lou Lamoriello, and the Devils being the best team out of the three since they made the playoffs last year. The Rangers will go as far as Henrik Lundqvist takes them, the Devils will have to rely heavily on Taylor Hall to keep his MVP form, while the Islanders will be…something. They at least have Barry Trotz and a whole slew of….oh, right they sent a lot of their prospects back to Bridgeport. Oh boy.

That leaves Philadelphia and Carolina. The biggest thing for the Flyers this offseason was the introduction of Gritty the Mascot. While James van Riemsdyk is back, that’s not really getting the juices flowing when you don’t know who will end up as your goalie by the Thanksgiving break. The Hurricanes have a revamped everything– new owner, GM, coaches…it’s a new team….minus the same Scott Darling, the same lack of depth scoring, the lack of stable defense. Maybe Dougie Hamilton can change that, but maybe not. A near-perfect preseason gives them some momentum…as much as you can with preseason results.


When you think of the Atlantic Division, you think of two tire-fires and a team who is planning the parade route thanks to a single signing of a local player. First, the Maple Leafs, who have already been given the Stanley Cup by their fans and some pundits due to the John Tavares signing….totally forgetting their defense is suspect at best and Freddy Andersen can only do so much with that suspect defense in front of him. But– it’s Toronto, so hype is always around.

The other Canadian teams in the division are just plain garbage. Ottawa is just bad news all around thanks to the Erik Karlsson deal– which sealed the summer of drama for the team– on top of Eugene Melnyk not getting out of his own way. Montreal, however, traded their captain and a young forward while also naming a guy who has been more injured than not during his Canadiens tenure the captain of the team. Wonder if Carey Price is regretting signing long-term or if he’s just getting his money and not caring about the outcome.

Looking around, the Buffalo Sabres are poised for either a break out year or another disappointing season looking towards the lottery. Rasmus Dahlin aside, the attitude of Jack Eichel seems to be about winning now, Carter Hutton could be a breakout start in a starters role, the the Sabres could just decided to say the hell with it and go balls to the wall in order to win. That or they’ll have to deal with a lot of injuries and then get frustrated and fold up into a shell again.

While Tampa Bay didn’t lose too many big names, the loss of Steve Yzerman could very well hurt in the long-run. Though, Julien BriseBois has been under Yzerman’s learning tree, the moves that Yzerman were able to get may just be the respect factor of the man who is revered in the hockey world. Yet, a team that was one win away from the Cup Final shouldn’t have to do much more than they did, especially in a weak division.

People sleep on Boston a little too much, especially when you think they have Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on their offensive side. Tuukka Rask is due for a bounce-back year, though the defense will rely heavily on Charlie McAvoy, especially with Torey Krug out for the start of the season. It will be scoring by committee after the first line in Boston, but Bruce Cassidy seems like he can holster all the firepower he can in order to get this team back to the playoffs.

Florida and Detroit are also in this division. The Panthers keep getting closer and closer then further away, while the Red Wings could be in the midst of a long playoff drought in their new building. Of the two, MAYBE the Panthers could come close to being in the Wild Card discussion, but it’s a very long-shot at that.

TEPID TAKE: Senators Put the Func in Dysfunction

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A week has gone by after this Erik Karlsson deal which pretty much killed the Senators’ season for this year and possibly the next couple of years. This after the awkward video with Eugene Melnyk and now #1 defenseman Mark Borowiecki, this after the summer of drama where former assistant GM Randy Lee harassed a shuttle bus driver, Mike Hoffman got dealt after alleged dealings between his girlfriend and Karlsson’s wife, Craig Anderson was tired of the drama, and Bobby Ryan hid out in Idaho in an attempt to avoid a trade. Okay…hid out isn’t the best word, as he does live there in the off-season, but it’s a good storyline to add to this dysfunction.

When you hear the fans wanting Melnyk to sell the team (though that’s not how ownership works, but you do you), it’s hard not to agree with them and hope that the NHL will some how have a change of heart and strip the team from Melnyk and own the team once again. Pierre Dorian takes the fall, but Melnyk meddles in the dealings too much for Dorian to take the full brunt. (Take note Hurricanes fans, this could be you.)

It’s not a wonder why the Ottawa Senators won’t be using the old school “O” as their new alternates– the memes are too easy at that point with the amount of disarray the team is in. While the fans want it, it’s a smart marketing situation….if their marketing team still exists.

Let’s face it, odds are that Matt Duchene will be dealt, Anderson will most likely be dealt, and the landslide will keep coming. It’s going to be years for this team to be one goal away from the Stanley Cup Final again. The prospects they have are…not there yet and may never be there, honestly.  They have a lot of solid defensive prospects, but in a high-tempo offensive system– their lack of offense and goaltending will be the downfall of the future Sens unless a diamond in the rough comes along.

But what can be done?? You can’t fire the GM or coach because the next one will have Melnyk breathing down their throats. Melnyk isn’t going to sell the team because he doesn’t see why he should and won’t get the money he wants for it anyway…unless those Quebec City people really put a big number out there.

So Ottawa fans are there, having seats being taken away from the arena…and it still looks empty. I can empathize with the Senators fans. When the great Capitals Purge of the mid-00s happened, those were lean years. Matt Yeats was the back-up, Chris Clark was the captain, Jason Doig was a top-pairing defenseman…it was weird. Then 15 years later, the Caps won the Stanley Cup and that was all a distant memory.

I remember when the Senators came into the league and they were god-horrible. Now it’s almost a time where it’s going to be the second-coming of that. Hell, maybe even Peter Sidorkiewicz could be the All-Star representation again. It’s going to get better, Ottawa fans. Who knows, they could be a random success story the next few years, they could get that arena downtown and make Melnyk care more about getting fans in, or they could move away.

Something will happen that’ll be either much better or much worse than what’s going on this past summer.

The Deal That May or May Not Happen Ever

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Wouldn’t it be like the Ottawa Senators to not trade Erik Karlsson?? With all the turmoil, all the stuff behind the scenes, the tire fire that continues to rise, the model organization for relocation because their owner is one who should have his franchise taken away from him….this is the thing that would be the most Senators things ever.

Last week, it seems like the wheels were in motion for Karlsson to go to the Lone Star State and become Sheriff Erik for the Stars. Then later in the week, the Tampa Bay Lightning looked to be a late entry into this ordeal, join by a New York Metro team in order to get the deal done and the money to equal itself.

Yet, according to Lightning GM’s Steve Yzerman– there’s no deal to be done. Nothing is imminent and with the long-term signing of Nikita Kucherov– it may not be. With the Kucherov signing, it ties up $65M for 12 contracts in 2019-20, which would be Karlsson’s free agent year and would need a major trade/salary dump to get the long-term deal of Karlsson’s under the Bolts’ cap.

So…are the Stars still in it, because it’s been pretty radio silence since the Tampa deal came out late last week, but you have to think they’re back to the front-runners, no??

It’s eerily quiet on Karlsson. Like that awkward quiet after you haphazardly confess your love to your 10th Grade History teacher after learning about Lewis and Clark….or something that may or may not have happened.

While it’s something that could just be the money people crunching numbers to make sure it works on the contract side of things, this almost seems like it won’t get cured by training camp. Don’t ask me why I think that, but you’d think that teams would be stumbling over themselves to get Karlsson sooner rather than later in order to start their pitch to keep him around on an eight-year extension.

I don’t think this is something even Pierre Dorian and the Senators can fuck up. Sure, it’s your franchise player, sure he’s the only think keeping people in the stands at Canadian Tire Centre, and it’s something you need to be gentle about in terms of not rushing to trading a guy for a subpar return that won’t help this rebuild or whatever the hell it is that the Senators are doing. Let’s be honest, Karlsson is the tip of the iceberg, as Craig Anderson has requested a trade, Bobby Ryan’s contract is an albatross, and there’s not much to be hyped about– even if Matt Duchene plays better and gets to scoring at any kind of responsible clip.

If they don’t trade him by the start of the season, it could be some kind of silver lining and maybe give some hope to a re-signing after a summer/start-of-season-long reconciliation. However, it’s not looking that way. You can assume that Karlsson is packed up, ready to move to wherever he’s getting dealt next and thinking Ottawa is an afterthought for the beginning of the season.

It’s a very lose-lose situation for the Senators overall, but for Karlsson– it’d be a new start in a new place. And a place that hopefully has some direction.

TEPID TAKE: The Most Talked About Puck Pick-Up Ever

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After the game on Monday night, Erik Karlsson skated around the ice to find the puck. Was this to give to a teammate who scored their first goal or got their first win or shutout?? Was it because it was a memorable game for the Senators franchise?? Was it for a bargaining chip in negotiation with Ottawa coming up??

Of course, the obvious answer from observers were that it’s because it’s Karlsson’s last game as a Senator and he wanted to remember it. With all the odd personnel moves in Ottawa– that’s a pretty safe bet to believe. Though he said he wanted to stay in Ottawa for the long-term, but at the same time– who wants to keep treading water with a team that doesn’t seem to have much direction to a Stanley Cup, despite being a season removed from the Conference Finals.

There’s not much else for Karlsson to accomplish in Ottawa outside of winning a Stanley Cup. Two-time Norris Trophy winner, took over the leadership role from Daniel Alfredsson (less the one year with Jason Spezza as captain), as well as leading the team in points for the last four seasons and being tied for the lead with Mark Stone this season. It’s now to focus on winning a Cup.

Can you fault Karlsson though?? They were a win away from a Cup Final, but then regressed to where they’re at now. Whether it’s management not willing to spend the money for the top players or coaches not knowing what to do with the players they have in their line-up– a lot is left to be desired in Ottawa these days in a “What have you done for me lately” sort of way.

Like I linked before, there’s a chance that Karlsson stays in Ottawa. He said he’s willing if he’s a part of the team’s future– which a team would be stupid if they didn’t slot in Karlsson to their future plans. In all honesty, it’s really if Karlsson’s money slots into the Senators plans above all else. That’s really what the debate is, if you pay one guy a load of money– you’ll have to skimp elsewhere. Karlsson has even said the team is a budget team. It’s almost worth the risk for someone like Karlsson to be in your plans. Of course, for Karlsson– it’s taking that brunt of failure if the Sens miss out on playoffs because they “can’t” get players due to a self-imposed cap. Now, that could be changing since Melnyk went over $70M this year for the first time ever– but you can’t expect that trend to continue if he’s trying to fight for a downtown arena and all that jazz.

Yet, let’s be honest– there’s going to be a bidding war of biblical proportions if Karlsson does indeed hit the open market. Teams would love to have a right-handed shot the pedigree of Karlsson in their line-up. Money be damned– you can only get someone of this skill and quality just starting their prime. It’ll be Karlsson’s pick of the litter at that point and where he could be most successful both in the individual sense, but in a team sense, as well.

There’s gonna be a lot of eyes in Ottawa in the spring and it’s not going to be because of a miracle playoff run. It’s to see whether this franchise values a franchise player that they have or let him walk away due to whatever odd reason that may come out. If the latter happens– expect the Canadian Tire Centre to be even more vacant than it has been. May want to look at moving back to the Ottawa Civic Centre to make it look more full.

UND HOCKEY: Risk, Reward on the Line for Underclassmen Fighting Hawks Going Pro

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Midco Sports Network’s Alex Heinert pointed out that there has been a helluva lot of underclassmen leaving school early and going pro. Who can blame them, honestly– when the next level is calling and money is being thrown your way– why not take it?? You can’t blame them to get the money and go for their dream job when they can before they have some kind of injury that really shelves their potential.

The University of North Dakota have two players leaving early to go onto their professional career. Last week, both Christian Wolanin and Shane Gersich signed their pro deals in two nation’s capitals– Wolanin with Ottawa and Gersich with Washington. It’s another year for UND to lose players early. Last season, they lost three players early– Tucker Poolman, Tyson Jost, and Brock Boeser and after their 2015-16 National Championship run, they lost Troy Stetcher, Keaton Thompson, Nick Schmaltz, Luke Johnson, and Paul LaDue to the pros. There’s a reason why University of North Dakota is on the cusp of having 100 players to play in the NHL.

When it comes to someone like Poolman, he really couldn’t do much more with UND. He was NHL-ready and that junior season was the icing on the cake for Poolman to try and repeat as a National Champion. The same could be said for Wolanin, who came into his own during the off-season and transferred it to his junior season, becoming the first defenseman since 1983 to lead UND in scoring for the season. Of course, on a rebuilding team and probably being a key cog in that, there’s going to be a lot of weight on Wolanin’s shoulders– especially given his pedigree being the son of a former NHLer.

Of course– there’s risks involved from leaving college early and not living up to the hype that has been out there right off the bat. That could leave people to wonder if it was worth leaving school early for. That’s something that I wonder when it come to Shane Gersich. Last season, alongside Jost and Boeser; Gersich made his name known with 21 goals and 37 points in 40 games. This season was solid for Gersich, if not frustrating at times. With only five goals and six assists in his first 20 games, you could see Gersich fighting the puck during his struggles. However, new year– new Shane as Gersich finished with eight goals and 10 assists in the second half to have some mojo going into his last games with the Fighting Hawks.

One recent example against the move for Gersich could be his former linemate in Jost, who left the University of North Dakota after his freshman season last year to sign with the Colorado Avalanche (after some alleged heavy/annoying persuading by the Avalanche brass). With only nine goals and 19 points in 59 games this season, you could argue that Jost wasn’t ready for that jump and could have used the time to stay at UND to grow more. Granted, you can’t take injuries into effect when they sign that deal, but it happens and you adapt from it.

Conversely– there’s players who may not look like they’re ready, but surprise plenty of naysayers– like Gersich’s other linemate in Boeser, who was a heavy Calder Trophy favorite with 29 goals (10 on the power play) and 55 points in 62 games until his season-ending back injury this year. Boeser could have probably went pro after his freshman year and winning a National Championship– but he decided to stick around. I’ll say upfront I didn’t think it was best for Boeser to do that, as he didn’t look that great to close out his sophomore season– but I’m glad he proved me wrong on that.

Both Gersich and Wolanin will face some hardships when they get into the big leagues– it happens with most every player, whether they leave early or stay all four years in college. There’s probably going to be questions of if they should have stayed one more year or if they should even be with the team that drafted them. In the end, they made the choice right for them and you have to respect them for it regardless of personal view now or down the road.

REPORT: ECHL Tabs St. John’s as Latest Market

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According to David Salter, the former Director of Communications for the St. John’s IceCaps of the AHL, there’s going to be an ECHL team coming to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador in the near future. Salter said that a source from outside the area was the one who told him that it will be happening. Salter also stated that the franchise will be affiliated with the Montreal Canadiens, while trying to use the IceCaps name.

Of course, this brings up a host of other questions. With the Canadiens going to this new St. John’s team, who would the Brampton Beast turn to in order to be an affiliate?? There are two options– one of which being the Toronto Maple Leafs– who have the Marlies feet away from their doorstep, why not have their ECHL team there rather than in Orlando?? Of course, Orlando runs a nice little ship there and the Leafs may like that a little better. The other option is the Ottawa Senators, who moved their AHL team to Belleville, which is two hours west of Brampton. Currently, the Senators are without an ECHL affiliate and it would make sense to keep the teams in Ontario if you’re going to go that route.

Another question is what to do with travel. Even with the Northeast expansion, St. John’s would be 1,200 miles away from their nearest rival in Portland, which is something I wrote about a month ago when this idea first started to get legs. According to Salter, Dean MacDonald is in fact the man who will own the team, so you can bet that he or his group will have to find a way to off-set costs for teams to travel there. It would most likey follow the Alaska Aces method of having three-game weekend sets up there and then they tour around the Northeast and what-have-you.

While nothing has been set in stone, the fact that sources outside of the local area are reporting it should give it plenty of legs to make it happen. The domino effect could be something that could become very interesting down the line, especially for teams who are already involved with ECHL franchises and the possibility for flipping affiliations.

Selling Out For the Celebration

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Photo via @CanadiensMTL

With the NHL 100 game behind us and the uniforms really looking more like the next 100 years for the NHL (in the terms of aesthetics), it makes me wonder if there’s more that could have been done for the game and celebration.

It was an odd outdoor game situation– the alumni game was a split-squad for the Senators, the game itself was surrounded by things Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said in regards to moving the team, and there wasn’t too much hype for it until a couple days before the game (at least in my eyes).

Yet, through throwing out stuff on Twitter— mostly in jest– I do wonder if there’s something that really could have made this NHL 100 situation a much more memorable experience. There’s only so much you can do with the players themselves because of their game schedule, practicing in the elements, and the health of the players in general. However, I think there’s something that could have been done a little better.

First, rather than a musical act (all due respect to Bryan Adams), they should have done a little musical play of that first season. Have actors out there in the older gear going around the rink as they would during the intermission segments in the real arena. It would be a great nod to the actual first season of the NHL, remembering the heritage of the game, as well as showing off those sweet duds of the 1917 era.

Second, they should have had more events surrounding the “Top 100” players in NHL history. The NHL made a whole to-do about this list and yet doesn’t seem like many of those players were able to come out. Sure, the modern guys were actually in-season, but you have to think there were more guys from the earlier eras available to do things for this weekend’s celebrations.

Sidebar: It seems really odd they would present the “Best Moment in the NHL History” thing during the game-play on the ice. Sure, they wanted to trot out either Mario Lemieux or Bobby Orr; but the players are already freezing out there and you have them standing around as this thing is going on?? A little silly when you could have done it during an intermission.

Third– recreate the first games. Again, either actors or beer-league players doing the first games of Canadiens vs. Senators and Wanderers vs. Arenas in one of the outdoor rinks Ottawa has around the area. Give them as much older gear as safely possible and just have a little fun with it. I’m sure those participating would have soaked it all in for a chance to “re-write” history and just to be apart of the celebration. One of the biggest things is that the NHL wants to be inclusive– so why not pull out all the stops to actually bring people into these big events when they happen??

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Finally– the uniforms on ice. Like I said, it’s like they had a look of “Turning Ahead the Clock” like the MLB did in the mid-90s. For a game like this, you’d think that the NHL and Adidas would have really brought the Heritage idea back to this game like they tried to do with the Winter Classic. Whether that’s just a Winter Classic gimmick or not, I don’t know– but for a game of this magnitude, something should have been a little more throwback. They could have done like the 75th Anniversary season with the look (even down to the referees), but they went another route which– hey, their call.

I will give a tip of the hat to the NHL for doing what they’ve done to celebrate their 100 years, but in my head there’s a lot more that could have been done, especially with this game and the weekend around it. Whether it’s logistics of insurance or schedules or whatever– it didn’t happen. But at the end of the day, they did all they could in order to make this a thing that would leave a lasting memory for players and fans. Whether it did or not, only time will tell.

UND HOCKEY: Peski Ready For Bigger Role in Second Season

 

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Life is tough for a freshman in college. Not just getting adjusted to living away from home, but learning to do your own laundry, Greek life becoming a thing, learning that ice cream is a good breakfast option and so on. But for a freshman college athlete, it’s all about earning your spot and being able to keep it. Just ask UND defenseman Andrew Peski about his freshman season last year.

“Coming to the NCAA is a big jump,” Peski told me during the UND Media Day. “You’re playing against full grown men and it took a little time to get used to the speed and strength that comes with it. But my teammates were there for me a lot. They told me to keep working and keep getting better, which helped a whole lot.

It showed in Peski’s performance. In and out of the line-up for the first half of the season, Peski became a regular in the line-up after the calendar turned to 2017. It also helped Peski as he was paired up with captain Gage Ausmus in that time to help him learn more about the college game.

Peski also played a big role in UND’s regional game last year, the two overtime thriller in Fargo that saw Boston University beat UND after many controversial calls on both sides of the puck, including an almost 15-minute offsides review that nullified the possible UND game-winning goal.

“That game is always in the back of our head,” said Peski. “I’ve watched the game a few times, but it’s a new year and a new us– we’re moving on. We want to get back to get back to that tournament and have a better outcome, especially since it’s in Sioux Falls (South Dakota) this year and we’ll have plenty of support.”

This year, UND will be without Ausmus, who graduated and is playing in the ECHL, while other top-defenseman statistically in Tucker Poolman left school early to sign his NHL contract. Peski is going to be given a bigger role on this team and knows that he’ll have to compete with the depth on this year’s team.

“I’m really excited to take on any roles I earn,” mentioned Peski. “And that’s it, right?? You get what you deserve. Our freshman class is very talented and we all want them to step in and get antiquated with the team.”

This summer also provided Peski the experience of an NHL developmental camp, as the Ottawa Senators brought Peski in as a free agent prospect to get a look at what he could do. The Orleans, Ontario (a suburb of Ottawa) native looked back at the experience with a new look on the pro game.

“Ottawa camp was an eye-opener for sure,” Peski said of his first camp. “It was an interesting kind of the atmosphere. There were a lot of similarities to what we get here at North Dakota, so I was very prepared for it. It was a great time and I learned a lot. It definitely helped with Christain Wolanin being there, as well as some Ottawa guys that I interacted with when I was younger.”

Peski also stated that the line for everyone across the board was to jump on things early and often.

“We don’t wait and get comfortable. We’re telling everyone, especially the new guys to do your best and make the right plays and it’ll come to you.”

Reducing Seating Smart for Sens

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Good for the Ottawa Senators.

Going the way of many NASCAR tracks, the Senators are going to reduce seating by 1,500 to make their capacity just over 17,000. To be honest, there’s not much else they could do. They are in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. They can either have people taking them to task for the empty seats or they can have people taking them to task for taking out the seats. They took the latter hoping that will make the arena look better.

While we’ve seen such a thing happen in Florida with the Panthers, the fact that it’s a Canadian team is why there’s so much guff. It’s not as if the Senators are THAT bad a hockey team, but much like Florida– their arena is way the hell and gone from the city center (or centre in this case), no one wants to make the trek out to the middle of nowhere to watch their team play. It’s amazing that the Washington Capitals had as many people come out to Landover when they played at the Capital Centre as they did because we see it doesn’t fly now.

Barring the move to downtown Ottawa that Eugene Melnyk wants, the Senators needed to do something because it does have a bad appearance to it when a playoff team, one goal away from being the Eastern Conference champions, can’t sell out their arena in Canada. And it’s a tactical move, too– by doing this, it’s showing the powers that be in Ottawa that they need to have this downtown arena they’ve been stumping for because if not– they’ll have to keep reducing the number of seats in the Canadian Tire Centre; which has a bad look on the city that they can’t support an NHL team despite the team being somewhat decent.

That said, if the Senators can’t get their stuff figured out attendance-wise, I have to wonder if they aren’t going to be put into the relocation discussion. It makes sense and they have the same problems that teams like the Coyotes, Hurricanes, and Islanders have faced, but it seems that because they’re in Canada– they get a bit of a pass. It would be something if the Sens were the first team to move only to move to Quebec City and have them really show up the Ottawa fans.

All in all, the move is odd– but I’m okay with them getting sick of the empty seats and saying the hell with it– here’s some tarps. This will either wake up the fans and have them rally around the team (or the team’s bid to get to downtown) or it’ll piss them off more and they become apathetic to the team’s plight.