As far as connotations go, Mike Hoffman sounds more like a baseball name. Maybe if it was "Mikka Höffmann" or "Mikhail Hokmanov" or even just a good ol' "Ace Hoffman," seeing his name at the top of the Ottawa Senators' leaderboard more than a quarter of the way into the season would sound right.
But there the 26-year-old is, following up on last year's breakout season (27-21-48 in 79 games, just one of those goals coming on the power play) by leading the Sens with 13 goals and 64 shots through just 21 games of 2015-16. Though he's riding a high shooting percentage of 20.3%, our friends at Silver Seven swear he's hit six or seven goalposts this season too.
So look out for #68 in red. He's real, and he's hot, with six multi-point games in his last 10.
The Isles are hot too, going 5-0-1 in their last six with two shootout wins and one shootout loss in that mix. Tonight they're going for a fourth consecutive win, though their last two "wins" came through the breakaway contest.
Still, they've been playing better lately, so this run is no mirage. Solid regulation performances in those shootout wins against the Rangers and Blues -- two strong teams that brought good games into Brooklyn -- have the Isles feeling like their ship is right.
They've also been getting consistently good goaltending all season; expect Jaroslav Halak in tonight after Thomas Greiss won last night.
Tough Road, But Streaking Chance
The Senators are coming off an overtime win against the Blackhawks (Hoffman with the winner, naturally) and are missing Milan Michalek (broken finger). However, Mika Zibanejad will be back after receiving a headshot by the Flyers' (which is a rite of passage for most players who make the NHL) Radko Gudas (which is also...but I repeat myself).
They've also recalled forward David Dziurzynski for this one. Now that's a hockey name.
This will be the Isles' ninth game against the (New) Atlantic Division this season and, largely thanks to futility against the Habs and Bruins, they've only one win (against Tampa Bay) to show for it. It's the first meeting with the Senators, so the chance to overturn division-based mythology is here.
Of course, Ottawa's win over the Hawks was Thursday at home, while the Isles flew in last night after a taxing extra-time win, so the Isles have the old road back-to-back excuse built in.
But the chance for a season-high five-game winning streak beckons -- all while division rival, leader and last year's playoff conquerors, the Washington Capitals, are riding a six-game win streak of their own.
Make It Seven
Not a team from Canada?! https://t.co/Agd3xBLkQD— Islander Mania (@islandermania) December 5, 2015
It's almost as if the economics and demographics of pro hockey are more complicated than the average Ken Campbell would have you believe.
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