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Extremely Early Ottawa Senators Statistical Analysis

It’s only been six games so far, but let’s look at some interesting stats in the early going for Ottawa

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021-22 season for the Ottawa Senators is extremely young, and there has been a mixed bag of results. They could easily be better than their current 2-4-0 record, but there have also been some good glimpses of things to come. Six games are clearly way too soon to make any conclusions, but sometimes it’s fun to look at the statistics early on.

I want to highlight eight stats that are either about the team or individual players because they are either interesting or they might be a sign of the future. Without further ado:

Team xGF%: 52.31% (14th)

The Senators expected goals share last season was 47.86% (22nd), so seeing them well above the 50% mark is quite refreshing. What this means is that they have been out-chancing their opponents so far, so perhaps they’re due for some better luck if they’re able to keep this play up.

Thomas Chabot/Artem Zub: 6 goals for, 2 against

Chabot has actually been on the ice for one extra goal without Zub, but the two of them have still been incredibly steady to start the season. Yes, this is essentially saying the two of them are +4, which is a very simple stat, but I do think it’s interesting considering that Chabot’s +/- numbers throughout his career have been -12, -12, -18, and -15. Having a competent partner next to him makes a huge difference. Zuuuuuuub.

Tim Stützle xGF%: 60.04%

Although Stützle looked electric last season with his amazing skill set, his underlying numbers were not great as he was routinely out-chanced while on the ice with a 45.21 xGF%. That was never a sign to panic since he is so young, but it was certainly something that I was hoping to see improve this season. Not only does he look even more composed (despite just 2 assists), he has the shot metrics to back that up. His 60.04 xGF% ranks third on the team, and he is quickly becoming this team’s best forward.

Josh Brown/Zach Sanford/Logan Shaw 5v5 goals for: 0

The trio are the only Senators players who have played in all six games and have yet to be on the ice for a single goal for. Zach Sanford has been on the ice for three powerplay goals, although it’s much harder to score at even strength. Shaw has done all you can ask of a replacement fourth liner, but Brown and Sanford have been disappointing so far. If they’re all staying in the lineup, they’ll need to be creating more offense at some point.

Brady Tkachuk hits: 18

This one’s pretty crazy. Tkachuk has only played three games but already leads the team in hits. He’s averaging 6 hits per game, which would give him 492 in a full season (or 474 if he played the maximum 79 this season). For reference, last season he was 2nd in the NHL in hits while on pace for 363 per 82 games. Closing in on 500 might be pushing the human body to the limit, so we know that Brady is giving everything he can to live up to this contract in the early going.

Thomas Chabot individual shot attempts: 44

As mentioned earlier, Chabot has looked quite good so far. In fact, he leads the team with 44 individual shot attempts (all situations), which puts him on pace for 601 in a full season. His previous career-high was 418 (on pace for 483) in 2019-20, so 601 would blow past that. The league leader in 2020-21, Nathan MacKinnon, was on pace for 639 in a full season, so Chabot is amongst good company to begin the season. Shot attempts don’t always equate to success, but it’s a good sign that he’s getting plenty of chances.

Team PP GF/60: 12.48 (4th)

Ottawa’s raw powerplay percentage is a bit lower, but on a per 60 basis (which is a better stat), they have been the 4th most efficient in the league. The powerplay has not been good for years, and if they want to have any shot at the playoffs, it’ll need to be well above average. They’re off to a good start despite the 2nd unit having some questionable names.

Team PK xGA/60: 9.78 (30th)

On the flip side, their penalty kill still needs work. Their actual goals against per 60 ranks slightly better at 25th, but they’ve been expected to give up even more goals based on the quality of chances given up. They don’t necessarily need the penalty kill to be elite as well, but they surely can’t afford to have it 3rd last in the league.

Many of these stats will be much different in just a few weeks time, but perhaps some of them are the beginning of a trend. It’ll be fun to follow along, and for now, all we can do is ponder what to believe or not.