It’s a little late, but never fear: Five Thoughts for Friday are here!
Hard not to talk about this with this team right now, but Brady Tkachuk’s ankle injury brings this teams injury luck down to negative-four out of ten. Jean-Gabriel Pageau was going to be the team’s second-line centre, and then he hurt himself at training camp. Ryan Dzingel has been battling a nagging injury. Mark Stone’s missed a couple morning skates with an undisclosed issue. Alex Formenton and Cody Ceci are out, which is hard in particular for Formenton who is missing out on his shot to show what he can do before being sent back to juniors. Logan Brown will miss a couple weeks in the AHL, and now Tkachuk is out while he’s making a charge up the noteworthy rookie standings. Personally, I think the injury has nothing to do with how he plays and was more of a fluke (though I know people disagree), and I hope he recovers fast so he can return to being a top forward for this team.
2. Tkachuk’s standing
Speaking of Shady, Colin had a good question about him:
Tkachuk’s 1.50 points per game leads the team, and he doesn’t even have the team’s highest shooting percentage — he’s fifth, behind Chris Wideman, Chris Tierney, Colin White, and Maxime Lajoie. He’s only playing 14:17 a game, which is 9th among forwards on this team, but in terms of talent, where is he? I’d say Mark Stone and Matt Duchene are definitely ahead of him. After that, the waters muddy. Is Ryan Dzingel better? Bobby Ryan? He’s really, REALLY good and I’m happy about that.
3. Shots against
The Sens have now moved to last place in the league, allowing 38.3 shots against per game. There -11.5 shot differential is second-last, ahead of only the Ducks at -11.9. That’s really not good. Under Boucher, the Sens have developed a reputation for being terrible in terms of driving play. As much as people say the Sens have been exceeding expectations this season, really Craig Anderson has exceed expectations while the team has been exceedingly lucky at the other end:
Boucher’s system seems to depend on his team being lucky because they’re not going to win the shots for vs. against battle. I’m fine with him being the coach right now because this team has no money, and this season is supposed to be a development one for young guys anyway. But when this team wants to compete again, I may suggest getting a coach whose plan isn’t “block a lot of shots and hope the goalies are good”. At least the powerplay has puck movement this year, so something strategically has changed for the better.
4. Time off
Anyone else find this six-day break a little weird? We’re just a few weeks into this season, and already the Senators have a huge time off. It allows injured players to recover (hello Dzingel!) but also saps any momentum this team had gained with fans after stringing together a couple of high-scoring wins. We’ve seen the biggest player in the game, Connor McDavid, play one game in the season’s first week because the NHL decided to start him in Sweden for a single game. We saw a Friday night with 0 NHL games scheduled. The Stars came to Ottawa to play the Sens, the Devils the next night, and then head back to Dallas for their next weekend game. So far, this season setup has seemed very odd. Let’s remember this six-day break in March when the team is complaining about all the back-to-backs they have to do to fit in the remaining games on the schedule.
The Drake Batherson, Filip Chlapik, Rudolfs Balcers line has been great for the B-Sens. First of all, they’re getting the chance to actually be the team’s top line; a year ago, Kleinendorst insisted on putting long-term AHL vets in the prime positions. They were stellar in Saturday’s 6-2 win over the Moose, combining for four goals and ten points. Nick Paul replaced Chlapik in Wednesday’s 5-2 win over the B-Devils, but the BBB (Belleville-Batherson-Balcers) Connection still provided six points. As Shawn Simpson said, the Sens sent Batherson down so he could play his way out of the AHL, and so far he seems to be doing that.