It was an up and down week for the Ottawa Senators. Following an extremely satisfying win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, the Sens lost back-to-back games in somewhat convincing fashion against the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers.
With all that said, let’s dive into Five Thoughts for Friday, October 12th, 2018.
Is There a Doctor in the House?
This Friday morning was probably a rough one for Sens fans. Staying true to form, the Senators couldn’t just let us be happy that the work week is coming to an end, as we awoke to something far more jarring than President Trump’s emergency text alert system.
#Sens roster updates:— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) October 12, 2018
Cody Ceci (upper body injury), Ryan Dzingel (lower body injury) and Alex Formenton (concussion) have been placed on the IR.
Defenceman Christian Jaros and forward Nick Paul have been recalled from Belleville (AHL).
Yikes on bikes.
It’s not as if Ottawa was off to a rip-roaring start already at 1-2-1, but now Cody Ceci, Ryan Dzingel and Alex Formenton are all out for an indeterminate period of time.
Losing Dzingel hurts, the speedy winger has two goals and two assists in four games this season, and is a key cog in Ottawa’s forward machine, playing roughly 17:10mins a game. It appears Mikael Boedker will slide into his spot on the top line.
Formenton hasn’t been outstanding, but also hasn’t looked out of place in his first few NHL games. Cody Ceci is Cody Ceci, so their losses likely won’t be felt as much as Ryan Dzingel’s, but still leave holes to fill in the lineup.
It will be interesting to see what Nick Paul and Christian Jaros can do in their first opportunities with the big club.
Hit Me Brady One More Time
What? No, I did NOT almost throw my phone across the room when the Sens took Brady Tkachuk fourth overall, what are you talking about?
Evidently, all his detractors are eating a big helping of their own foot after Ottawa’s contest against the Flyers, as Tkachuk potted his first two NHL goals along with an assist, tallying three points in a game where Ottawa scored four goals.
His forecheck has been relentless, and like Alex Formenton, he hasn’t endeared himself to opposing players, which obviously endears him to Senators’ fans.
Granted, it’s only been two games, but Brady Tkachuk is looking like he’s going to be a significant part of the Ottawa lineup this season. Look for him to see an increase in ice time if this level of performance keeps up.
Thomas the Tank Engine
Thomas Chabot has arrived, ladies and gentleman.
The 21 year-old is emerging as a top defenceman in his sophomore season. His defensive play has been stellar, showing great chemistry with Dylan Demelo (more on that later). He’s playing big minutes, and is dazzling with the puck on his stick.
Oh, and he’s tied for the team lead in points with Chris Tierney (right?), putting up six in these first four games, including this mouth-watering little number against the Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Ozhiganov’s ankles remain missing to this day.
Though the loss of Erik Karlsson is still being felt in full force, Chabot’s outstanding play may be enough to give fans hope that he could eventually end up somewhere around the world-class level of the former captain.
Docile Dylan DeMelo
Despite the rage surrounding the return for Erik Karlsson, Chris Tierney and Dylan DeMelo are doing everything in their power to silence their doubters.
The most impressive performance has come from the latter, as Dylan DeMelo is quietly establishing himself as a top-pairing option for the Ottawa Senators. He has a goal and two assists in Ottawa’s first four games, and is carrying a solid +5 rating.
It should be noted that going into the Flyers game, wherein Ottawa gave up seven goals, DeMelo was +7, a stunningly good number that no one seems to be talking about.
If you’re of the opinion that +/- is a broken stat, you should watch DeMelo’s play. More specifically, when he’s paired up with Thomas Chabot. The two young guns have shown great chemistry together, and in my opinion, should be Ottawa’s top pairing. This defence corps is not what you would call stellar, so it makes sense to throw these two into the big minutes and give them valuable development time.
Allowing Chris Wideman and Max Lajoie to play minutes in the bottom four will help to balance out the play of Mark Borowiecki and Cody Ceci.
Hey, they’re 1-2-1. It can’t be all positive, folks.
While the Senators’ offensive output gives reason for optimism with 15 goals in four games, the performance in their end of the rink needs to be far better. Ottawa has allowed an astonishing 155 shots in four games. They’re averaging 38.8 shots against per game, dead last in the NHL.
The Sens have only outshot their opponent in one game this season, 31-30 in their 6-3 loss to the Boston Bruins.
It goes without saying, but this simply cannot continue. It seems that Ottawa will only win games in which their goaltending is lights out, and the pairing of Craig Anderson and Mike Condon is simply not good enough to sustain this kind of defensive zone pressure.
With no relief on defence or in the net in sight, it could end up being a very exciting, but very frustrating season for the Senators and their fans.