The Ottawa Senators don’t look like the team that finished near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings the past six seasons.
The Senators will try to continue their ascent on Saturday when they host the Arizona Coyotes.
Ottawa is coming off back-to-back home wins against the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals, two teams that traditionally finish near the top of the conference. The Senators skated to a 7-5 victory over the Bruins on Tuesday and a 5-2 triumph over the Capitals on Thursday.
“It’s a different team here and there’s more maturity,” Ottawa coach D.J. Smith said. “They’re able to be more composed and they’re able to turn it up another gear.”
Drake Batherson is off to another hot start for the Senators, accounting for three goals and three assists through the first four games.
Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat, both prized acquisitions by the Senators in the offseason, have contributed four points apiece.
Ottawa goalie Anton Forsberg has liked what he’s seen from his vantage point, particularly in the latest win. The Senators battled from a two-goal deficit after the first period against Washington and outscored the Capitals 3-0 in the third.
“I thought we played amazing,” Forsberg said. “(Washington) didn’t have anything really to come with (in the third period). I felt like we backchecked, we forechecked, we did all the right things, and if we keep playing like that it will be a fun season.”
The Coyotes will be looking for some positives after dropping three of their first four contests in a season-opening six-game road trip.
Arizona created waves with a 4-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday, but it couldn’t ride that momentum in a 6-2 loss against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.
“We had an ‘A’ day in Toronto, and (Thursday), it was not as sharp,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “That’s the beauty of the game. You never know who will win because everybody can have a great day or a bad day, but it’s our job to have more good days than bad days.”
The first period has been a noticeable problem for Arizona. The Coyotes have been outscored 8-1 in the opening 20 minutes of games thus far this season.
“We need to find a way to have more urgency to start a game,” Tourigny said. “That’s on me to find solutions.”
Arizona forward Clayton Keller said puck management was an issue in the first period on Thursday, when the Coyotes were outscored 3-0 by the Canadiens.
“That’s just, I guess, mentally not maybe being as prepared as a team as we need to be to start a game,” Keller said.
On the bright side, Coyotes defensemen Shayne Gostisbehere and J.J. Moser, as well as left wing Nick Ritchie, are off to impressive starts.
Gostisbehere has a team-leading five points (two goals, three assists) and Moser is right behind with four points (one goal, three assists). Ritchie has three goals and an assist through the first four games.
–Field Level Media