It was a busy, but exciting week for the Ottawa Senators, with four games played and 6 points gained. The highlight of the week was the return of Erik Karlsson with the San Jose Sharks, but the Sens managed to keep the attention on them with some superb performances. The week started with a frustrating loss to the New York Rangers, but the Sens recovered well with a 3-game winning streak that featured a first goal, a shutout, and a memorable video tribute. Without further ado, let’s get to our top performers and honourable mentions.
- Craig Anderson - Andy is the backbone of this team, the hero that never quits. Yes, he had shown signs of fatigue last week, but he jumped right back into fine form this week. In the 3 games he played, he faced 97 shots and only let in 5 goals. He got his first shutout of the season against the New York Rangers, and another stellar performance against the Sharks in an emotional afternoon game. Stand tall Andy; this team cannot breathe without you.
- Mark Stone - It seems redundant to keep mentioning Stone in the Top-3 but he is the best player on the ice almost every game. He continues to have great chemistry with Brady Tkachuk and is leading the league in the best goal celebrations category. There was some concern with the injury he sustained against the Dallas Stars, but with 4 points (2G, 2A) this week, I think he’s doing just fine.
- Brady Tkachuk - Another player who had an impressive 4-point performance is Brady Tkachuk. The rookie continues to amaze not only Sens fans but also fans around the league. He has now officially arrived, and is slowly beginning to assert his position in the Calder trophy race and rightfully so. Tkachuk is becoming extremely difficult to play against and is determined to be noticed on every shift he takes whether it be a hit, a goal or merely a play you’d expect from a seasoned vet. His 2-goal performance against the Flyers on Tuesday sparked a comeback that gave the team a boost for the entire week.
- The duo of Duchene and Batherson - These two are a match made in heaven. They seem to understand every aspect of each other’s games and make their connections look way too easy. They combined for 6 points this week including a dazzling game-winner by Duchene against the Flyers and an inspiring 2-goal performance against the Rangers.
- Ben Harpur - I am aware that Harpur has a long way to go before he convinces us that he belongs on the team, but he deserves some credit this week. He finally scored his first NHL goal against the Sharks, and it was a beauty. With the game tied at 1, Harpur managed to get the perfect shot to make it 2-1, and the Sens just took off from there on. Maybe this goal could be his turning point?
- Zack Smith - While I agree that Smith’s contract is terrible, he certainly is making himself serviceable. With 3 points this week, Smith continues to strengthen the bottom 6 and is valuable on the penalty kill and in the faceoff circle.
- Thomas Chabot - It feels wrong not to mention Chabot because he is a magnificent player who continues to dominate the league in defensive scoring and is the only definite NHL defender on the Ottawa Senators blue line.
- The powerplay - The Sens are doing a decent job with the man advantage this season; however, this week was a bit of a dry patch for their power play stats. The Sens only scored once on 11 power play opportunities in 4 games played. I expect improvement in the upcoming games as this team is extremely capable of doing damage offensively.
- Tom Pyatt - I will never understand what Guy Boucher sees in Tom Pyatt, and I am still not convinced he has any business taking a roster spot on this team. He is still without a goal since last March and doesn’t have any contributions worth mentioning.
Who to Watch:
- Mike McKenna - Andy desperately needs a backup who can give him some rest time, McKenna had a promising performance against the Flyers that allowed the Sens to come back and win. I am hoping that his first win with the Ottawa Senators gives him some confidence to win us a few more games when he gets the chance.
- Mikkel Boedker - With all the focus on Karlsson, Tierney, and DeMelo; the forgotten salary dump had other plans for the game against the Sharks. With a standout performance against his former team, one can only hope it starts an upward trend for Mikkel.