Should be an interesting week for the Senators, and of course we're alluding to the Sharks game on Thursday when the Dany Heatley circus is going to be at its peak.
Already the hype machine has started but the real danger for the Sens is not losing to the Sharks, but looking ahead to far and losing to the Oilers Monday night.
Just like the Toronto game, this is a must-win for the Senators, facing a team that should be an easy two points at home. But that's never really the case is it?
While the fans may be looking ahead to the Sharks, it's likely the Sens coaching staff is drilling home the importance of beating the Oilers because that would mean they can finish no worse than .500 on this current 4 game home-stand with two tougher games ahead in the Sharks and the Sabres.
As for the ongoing saga with the defenseman, Cory Clouston's benchings of both Erik Karlsson and Matt Carkner last week backfired for the most part and it wasn't until the real core was put back together with David Hale sitting that things returned to "normal".
Hale has been excellent this year in his role as a substitute, but that's what he should remain when everyone is healthy - a substitute. The core of this defense is already set and Hale was brought in as insurance. He's provided that and more but he shouldn't be displacing guys like Karlsson or Carkner in the lineup. Hale will get plenty of chances to play this year as an injury fill-in. Both Karlsson and Carkner play very specific roles on this team and I'm still not sure what Clouston achieved by sitting them. If he wanted to sit a player for not playing well, there were other, more deserving candidates than Karlsson and Carkner on defense.
Perhaps it's a lesson learned, for the scratches and for the coaching staff.
This team was playing well before the week when tragedy struck. Clouston made too many changes after some understandable losses and didn't allow his team to play their way out of it, casting away working line combos and making questionable scratches.
With a big win against Toronto, maybe this team has found it's rhythm once again.
We'll see tonight against an Oilers team with speed to burn and nothing more to lose on a season that has already hit the ocean floor.
As for the Senators, they're just treading water right now and need a big finish to their home-stand.