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Three Stars for Week 5: Anthony Duclair, Connor Brown, Jean-Gabriel Pageau

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We had a very quiet week in Ottawa.

Ottawa Sentors v Boston Bruins Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

We’ve got some extremely slim pickin’s to work with this week as the Ottawa Senators only played one game and it kinda bummed me out. But the show must go on! So let’s work with what we have.

Three Stars

  1. Anthony Duclair — The Duke had the fifth fewest minutes among forwards in the Bummer in Boston and yet he led the team in individual expected goals (according to Natural Stat Trick). He looked great on the ice with Brady Tkachuk, despite both playing as natural left-wingers. His speed and soft hands paired with Brady’s relentless forechecking and fearlessness in the crease made their line Ottawa’s most dangerous regardless of who centred them. For those who missed it, take a look at Duclair’s goal from Saturday night.
  2. Connor Brown — Connor buried Ottawa’s only other goal on Saturday night and stayed at 50% or higher in Corsi-for, Fenwick-for, and expected goals-for when on the ice at 5v5 against a very talented Boston team. For my money, Brown has exceeded all expectations since coming to Ottawa this season. Along with Tkachuk and Duclair, Brown represents the extent of Ottawa’s finishers. The Senators will struggle to score a lot of goals this season, and the goals they do score will likely come from one of those three. Brown also puts up respectable shot metrics on most nights while the team flounders around him.
  3. Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Although I didn’t find very much solace in the Senators shipping off all of their star players, I do enjoy watching Pageau in a leadership capacity. On so many other rosters in the NHL, and even on previous iterations of the Senators, Pageau would have the role of third-line centre on a good night. Saturday night’s game reminded me of the qualities that make Pageau so special. He lines up against the opposition’s best and he thrives at 5v5 and on the penalty kill. Pageau had the highest expected goals-for percentage at 5v5 among Ottawa forwards despite spending the majority of his even strength ice time matched up against Patrice Bergeron’s line.

Trending Up

Nick Paul — Nick has looked like an absolute tank (no pun intended) during this call-up. He uses his huge frame, he fights for every loose puck, and he never gives up on the play. Paul has also received more defensive deployment from D.J. Smith than other call-ups JC Beaudin and Filip Chlapik. Despite his deployment he had a 5v5 expected goals-for percentage similar to my aforementioned three stars.

Trending Down

Chris Tierney — To Tierney’s defence, a lot of teams in the league could use his services. In Ottawa, however, we already have Pageau and the two profile as more or less the same player. Tierney plays big minutes at 5v5 and on the penalty kill. He takes the tough match-ups and stays out of the penalty box. He shoots the puck less than Pageau though and turns it over more. Pageau also has the added talent as a short-handed threat that Tierney lacks. And Pageau also leads Tierney in just about every fancy stat at 5v5. Again, Tierney has a role. Pageau has already filled it in Ottawa though.

Vladislav Namestnikov — After looking like a steal when he came over from the Rangers, Namestnikov has really cooled off. Vlad has no points in his last three games, and over the course of those three games his expected goals-for have gone down while his expected goals-against have gone up. Even in the Senators’ romp over the Sharks, he arguably had the worst game among Ottawa’s forwards.

Who to Watch for

Erik Brännström — Although he hasn’t put up the points we had all hoped for, Brännström has made a decent impression with me so far (especially when you consider his partner plays on his off side and is the second-oldest defender in the league). He leads Ottawa’s defenders in 5v5 corsi-for percentage through twelve games, and I would rather see him develop as a sound defender who later finds his offensive flair than a high-scoring defender who struggles in his own end. At age 20, Brännström still has so much room for growth.

Infirmary