Updated: November 5, 2013, 10:51 PM ET

Just A Thought

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Craig Custance@CraigCustance: I picked the Senators to win the Eastern Conference this season, so I feel a little bit invested in their success. And that success has been quite minimal, with Ottawa sitting at No. 6 in the Atlantic. Part of that is because of a West-heavy schedule that didn't go particularly well; the Senators are 1-6-2 against the West. But this is my public declaration that I stand by the Senators. Tuesday night's win exemplified exactly what is so appealing about Ottawa. Besides having one of the game's best coaches in Paul MacLean, they have the game's best backup goalie in Robin Lehner, who earned his first win of the season and will need more with Craig Anderson recovering from an injury. They have the most electric defenseman in the league in Erik Karlsson, who scored twice. I loved the smart addition of Clarke MacArthur, whose wrister gave the Senators a 2-0 lead. And best of all? The schedule is about to get East-heavy. Nine of the next 10 games are against the weaker conference. Time to start piling up points, Ottawa.


Pierre LeBrun@Real_ESPNLeBrun: Watching Manny Malhotra score the overtime winner for Carolina on Tuesday night was a reminder of why this game can be so special at times. His career derailed by a scary eye injury in Vancouver, Malhotra played only nine games with the Canucks last season and it appeared it was the end of the road for him, especially when no NHL team came calling this summer. He signed a pro-tryout contract with the AHL's Charlotte Checkers and played eight games before injuries in Carolina made the Hurricanes decide to give him another shot, signing him to an NHL deal last week, joining the club as the fourth-line center. His overtime goal Tuesday night made the improbable comeback complete for Malhotra, whose perseverance is uplifting. Good on you, Manny.


Katie Strang@KatieStrangESPN: I'll admit that I picked the Columbus Blue Jackets to be a sleeper team in the Eastern Conference, what with their Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and a plucky club that seemed to be on the cusp of a turnaround. How is that pick looking now? Well, not so good considering the Jackets have dropped four straight games, including Tuesday night's 4-1 loss to Ottawa. Columbus is struggling for offense with only three goals in the last three games, two of which have been against backup goaltenders. Bobrovsky, who backed up Curtis McElhinney on Tuesday night, hasn't been the same with a disappointing 4-7-0 record, 2.79 GAA and .910 save percentage. The Blue Jackets had better get things together, and soon, if they want to avoid plummeting in the standings. Starting next week, they play seven of eight games on the road.

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Mike SmithNorm Hall/NHLI/Getty ImagesMike Smith waters his Movember mustache to help it grow.

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