Photo credit:Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Around the Atlantic: Red Wings’ Perron appealing suspension, Senators’ trade chips & Sabres’ Levi returning to form
By Shane Seney2 months ago
The Atlantic Division continues to be one of the strongest in the national league, led by the Boston Bruins atop with 39 points. After running the New York Rangers out of MSG on Tuesday, the Toronto Maple Leafs have creeped up to just four points back of the Bruins for the division lead. While the Leafs are heating up, the Detroit Red Wings continue to score at will, meanwhile are dealing with some injuries to their top players and a suspended David Perron. In Ottawa, the Senators continue through their wild December schedule, however remain at the bottom of the division and could be shifting their focus to selling in a few weeks. And, in Buffalo, it appears the Sabres made the right decision sending Devon Levi down for a reset as he’s starting to turn things around with the big club.
NHLPA Appealing Six-Game Suspension
Perron recently got his wires crossed and cross-checked Senators defenseman Artem Zub in the head. The reaction came after seeing teammate and close friend Dylan Larkin laying on the ice after a mix up and essentially Perron decided he was going to return the favor to the closest opponent. Zub wasn’t even the reason Larkin was down as he’d been in a dust up with Senators forward and rival, Mathieu Joseph.
The play got him suspended for six games and the NHLPA has officially filed an appeal to reduce the suspension.
Perron has never been suspended before in his 1,081-game NHL career and has only been fined, which came back in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Perron’s agent Allan Walsh has been very vocal on social media trying to understand how Perron’s first offense could have landed him such a suspension and Walsh continues to post videos on his ‘X’ account, comparing other suspensions handed out by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. For instance, Auston Matthews got two games for this cross-check to Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin:
The NHLPA, Perron and the Red Wings continue to wait on word from the league and meanwhile on the ice, Detroit came back to beat the Dallas Stars on Tuesday and sit fourth in the division with a 15-9-4 record on the season.
Senators’ Road Trip Could Determine Direction
2023-24 was supposed to be a break-through season for the Senators, however that hasn’t been the case at all. Between shaky goaltending, underperforming offence and a pissed off owner, there’s been plenty to talk about in Canada’s capital.
The Sens have posted a 11-12-0 record and have games in hand on the rest of the Atlantic Division. Their December schedule is tough as they are about to embark on a five-game, eight-day road trip which includes stops in Colorado and Vegas. It’s a stretch that could make or break the Senators season, and if things get off the rails on the road trip, Ottawa will be so far behind in the eastern conference standings, GM Steve Staios will have some big decisions on his hand.
As far as changes go, Staios would likely sell off some of his pending free agents and it’s not likely any core pieces are moved at this time. Trade chips include winger Dominik Kubalik, who is making $2.5 million against the cap and has recorded five goals and six points in 23 games. He’s underperforming at this point and a player Staios will have to sell low on.
Another couple of names to watch include defenceman Erik Brannstrom and forward Vladimir Tarasenko. Brannstrom, 24, is a smooth-skating blueliner who has recorded four points in 18 games this season. He arrived in Ottawa back in 2018-19 after a trade via the Golden Knights for Mark Stone and has yet to live up to the hype on a consistent basis. He’s playing just under 16 minutes of ice-time and could be a piece Staios uses to try and find some more depth scoring up front.
Tarasenko on the other hand, is a veteran winger who’s been around the block and gave the Sens a chance last summer during free agency. Unfortunately the wins haven’t piled up and after signing just a one-year deal, Tarasenko finds himself a prime trade candidate. He’s owed $5 million against the cap, and his contract contains a full no-trade clause. The Russian winger will have all the say in the matter and has been one of the bright spots for the Sens, collecting 19 points in 23 games so far this season.
Sabres Levi Returning to Form in Buffalo
After a dismal start to the season, the Sabres made the tough call, sending goaltender Devon Levi down to the American Hockey League. After posting a 1-1-0 record in two AHL games, Buffalo called Levi back up and he’s been on a tear since.
In three games since being recalled, Levi has gone 2-1-0, stopping 31 of 32 shots against the Bruins, 29 of 31 shots against the Montreal Canadiens and 21 of 23 shots against the Arizona Coyotes. It appears the reset was exactly what the doctor ordered.
The Sabres are 12-14-3 on the season and unfortunately have already played three more games than the Bruins and Maple Leafs, who they are chasing. With Tage Thompson recently returning from injury and Levi returning to form, Buffalo is hopeful they can stay in the race as the new year approaches.
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