Question: After Erik Karlsson led or co-led the team in scoring for five seasons, the Sens had a new scoring leader in 2018-19. Basically everyone on the staff had this right, with Mark Stone and Matt Duchene finishing off their Sens-centric portion of the season with 62 and 58 points respectively. The team’s active leader in points was a defenceman yet again, with Thomas Chabot putting up 55 points in 70 games. Do you think he does it again in 2019-20 and keeps the streak alive? Are there any other realistic candidates?
Nada: I definitely see Chabot repeating especially since I don’t see anyone else on the roster being able to put up those kinds of numbers. If it’s someone else, someone I have high hopes for is Colin White.
Colin: Even though Tkachuk was hot and Chabot was cold down the stretch, I have more confidence in Chabot to keep up his top offensive play throughout the whole season. He’ll lead the team with another career high in points.
Spencer: I don’t think we can look at this team and pick anyone other than Chabot, provided he’s healthy, to lead in scoring. If I were to pick a dark horse, if we can call him that, I think it would be Tkachuk. He has such a knack in close and he’s always active in the play.
Ross: I’m not quite as confident as my counterparts. Chabot started off hot, but like any non-Karlsson defenceman, he gets points by having elite talent to set up. His play took a huge hit when guys like Mark Stone and Matt Duchene were replaced with Bobby Ryan and Mikkel Boedker. 38 of his 55 points (for a nice 69%) came in 2018, or in 38 of his 70 games (54%). Of course, in March/April he did have 8 points in 14 games (0.57 points per game), which is still very good for a defenceman, just not quite up with his point-per-game pace to for the first three months of the season. So I think Chabot will be good for about 50 points again, but I’m not convinced that will lead the team. I think a guy like Brady Tkachuk will also flirt with 50 points. My bet right now is that Tkachuk beats Chabot by 4 points for the team scoring lead.
Ary: I think, barring a surprise, we’ve essentially boiled down the 2019-20 points leader to Chabot, White, and Tkachuk. I’m torn, because like Ross, I think it’s generally safer to assume that a forward will outscore a defenceman, and I can see Tkachuk taking that next step to lead the team. However, the Sens have generally always bucked that trend because their best player is a defenceman and I still think Thomas Chabot is the team’s best player. Regardless, I think both will settle somewhere between 50 and 60 points, and that if there’s no injuries, it’ll be close.
Brandon: I’m with Ross in the sense that I think Chabot’s point totals may suffer for lack of a decent supporting staff. I won’t go quite as far as to say that he won’t still lead the team, but I don’t know if he’ll hit quite as many has he did this past season. I’ll do a sort of reverse on Ross, saying Chabot will edge Tkachuk for the points lead by four.
NKB: Chabot’s a special talent and he’s going to be given all the opportunity to run up gaudy counting stats through playing a ton at both 5-on-5 and on the power play. Now that Duchene and Stone are out of the picture, the Sens are lacking an elite scorer up front, though, there’s of course reason to hope that some of the kids will up their scoring totals from last year. I think Chabot will go for 60 but Drake Batherson is my dark horse candidate to compete for the team’s scoring lead next season.
Question: Surprisingly, most of the staff were optimistic (!!) last season, with a majority having the team finish out of the playoffs, but with 70+ points. The two exceptions were Beata (69 points, nice) and Colin (66 points) -- marginally ahead of the 64 the team actually ended with. Looking back on the season now, where do you think you went wrong (or right!)?
Nada: For starters I think the goaltending situation was a lot worse than any of us anticipated add to that, I was hoping other players would step up in place of Karlsson and while some; the team collectively had a lot of dead weight and the drama (Uber, contract negotiations etc) obviously got to the team. I was also younger and more naive last season, won’t happen again.
Colin: We knew this would be a bad team, although it’s hard to confidently say that they’ll be the worst team, especially at the start of the season when we know there’s so much variance over 82 games. Heck, even the Blues were 31st at one point this season. As Nada mentioned, Craig Anderson not bouncing back played a huge part in the downfall. Had the Sens not shot over 20% for the first month of the season, their point total could’ve would up even worse.
Brandon: Like Nada said, the goaltending falling off a cliff really hurt Ottawa’s chances this season. Anderson was decent until he got overwhelmed by the sheer volume of shots that he faced, and Mike Condon just vanished into thin air before getting hurt. Even Anders Nilsson, who was objectively the Sens’ best goaltender, had a brutal stretch that contributed to a couple of losses for Ottawa. Factor in probably the worst overall blue line in the league on top of that, and it’s no mystery why they fell to the bottom of the league. To say nothing of Guy Boucher’s coaching...
Ary: I think I thought the team would win a bit more in November and December with Stone and Duchene, and although they certainly did better in the first half of the season than the second half, they couldn’t ride the shooting percentage boost for very long. I also thought that Florida, Detroit, and Buffalo would be competing with the team for last place, and although they were for a bit, early 2019 was rough for the Sens. With all three of those teams poised to improve in the offseason, especially bolstered by new management or highly thought of coaches, I see them finishing ahead of Ottawa again.
NKB: I had the Sens pegged for 75 points on the (naive) basis that they’d hold onto Stone and maybe even one of Duchene or Dzingel. I also believed Craig Anderson had one last good season in him, but instead he was just as bad as 2017-18. Add those two things together and you have the makings of not just a bad, but a truly horrific team.
Spencer: Where I went wrong was assuming things can’t possibly get worse... and then it just kept happening. Nonetheless! I expected a few hot streaks to keep Ottawa out of the basement and I don’t think anyone anticipated Anderson’s lukewarm play, losing Condon to injury for the entire season, trading away all of Stone, Duchene and Dzingel, etc. There were a lot of things that had to go wrong for the Sens to have the season they had — given what the roster looked like in October — and pretty much all of those things happened. C’est la vie.
Ross: We’ve been wrong so many times in the NHL about teams that were supposed to be bad who ended up being alright (like the 2017-18 Avalanche) or teams we didn’t expect to be bad being awful (like the 2016-17 Avalanche). So I bet on the Sens not being good, but also not being terrible. I predicted the Red Wings, Canadiens, and Coyotes would all finish worse than the Sens, and I was wrong. So I guess it just goes to show that every once in a while the expected happens (counterbalanced by the results in this year’s playoffs). The other obvious answer is that we’re all Sens homers, and even though we all expected the Sens to be bad, we still filter that through our rose-coloured glasses. We get too excited by all our prospects, we grow attached to role players who can no longer fill that role, and we expect all our players to do better than they do. It’s not surprising that a Sens blog overestimated how well the Sens would play. But hey, we still finished 16 points ahead of those 2016-17 Avs.
Thanks for reading this series from the Silver Seven Staff! As you can see, we’re pretty open with getting things wrong, and some actually managed to get a few predictions right. Think back to what you thought at the start of last season and let us know in the comments what your predictions were.