Five Thoughts for a Friday - Martin's Little Helpers

Who has benefited from the coaching change at an individual level?

Five Thoughts for a Friday - Martin's Little Helpers
Photo by Rachel Brenner / Unsplash

Here at Silver Seven, we've done our best to keep you, the readers, engaged over the course of this hiatus from Ottawa Senators hockey and I feel like given the context, our analysis often keeps coming back to the team's recent performance under Jacques Martin. And while I feel like we have done a pretty thorough job of assessing the results at a team level, I don't know that I've really gotten into the individual performances under the new-old coaching system so I figured I would take a crack at it today.


At five-on-five, Ottawa's big three of Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stützle, and Claude Giroux unsurprisingly have led the way both before and after the coaching swap. Over the past 20 games, they have all averaged over two points per 60 at five-on-five. More intriguingly, Jacob Bernard-Docker has led defender scoring by the same metrics over the same span. Vladimir Tarasenko, Ridly Greig, and Drake Batherson have also thrived at five-on-five over the past 20 games in terms of individual production. So suddenly Ottawa's forward depth seems pretty respectable if you have Mathieu Joseph, Josh Norris, and Shane Pinto as your jack-of-all-trade type forwards. In terms of on-ice metrics, Jake Sanderson, Erik Brannstrom, and Artem Zub have gotten the most xGF/60 at five-on-five without falling below 50%, measuring by xGF. I would also keep an eye on Shane Pinto who has done well at five-on-five by xG rates but who has endured an on-ice shooting percentage under seven which I expect won't last much longer.


On the other side of the puck, I should probably give some long overdue credit to Ottawa's depth forwards who I pretty much never say anything about because they don't score. In the last 20 games, at five-on-five, Mark Kastelic, Parker Kelly, and Zack MacEwen have conceded next to nothing (<2.1xGA/60) while all staying well over 50% in on-ice expected goals. Among defenders, Artem Zub and Jake Sanderson have also stayed well over 50% in on-ice expected goals at five-on-five while conceding less than 2.5 xGA/60. In fact, on average, the Sens have gotten three lines and two pairings above break-even in on-ice expected goals over he past 20 games. That recipe tends to lend itself to success over long periods of time. As always, goaltending (or a lack thereof) has loomed large and some players have suffered exceptionally bad on-ice goaltending results. Among defenders, Erik Brännström and Jacob Bernard-Docker have gotten less than 88% over the last 20 games while Mathieu Joseph has had by far the worst luck of any forward as Ottawa's goalies have stopped less than 85% at five-on-five during his ice time.


Ottawa's Powerplay has looked extremely not good in the new Jacques Martin era and one can only hope that the layover gave this team time to rethink its strategy. Ottawa's 6.19 xGF/60 on the powerplay ranks 28th in the league since late December, but some players have still earned more consideration than others. Brady Tkachuk, Drake Batherson, and Claude Giroux have led the way in terms of on-ice xGF/60 on the powerplay among those with over 20 minutes of ice time. But it bears mentioning that when on the ice, Thomas Chabot, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Jakob Chychrun have helped the Sens shoot over 11% so it depends whether you put stock in process or results really. You'll never convince me that the Sens don't have the personnel to make a good powerplay. They just haven't executed in a while. Tkachuk, Tarasenko, and Tim Stützle have combined for four powerplay points over the last 20 games. That has to change, right?

Penalty Kill

I would argue that in no department have the Senators improved more than the penalty kill under the new coaching staff. The overall numbers look rough due to the underperformance of Ottawa's goaltenders but in terms of actual team play, the results seem good so far. Ottawa's 6.67 xGA/60 shorthanded rank sixth in the league and a few players have played especially well over the past 20 games. Of players who have spent at least 20 minutes on the penalty kill over the last 20 games, Mathieu Joseph, Artem Zub, and Jake Sanderson have led the way in relative xGA/60. Joseph (along with Jacob Bernard-Docker and Erik Brannstrom) has also generated a lot of shorthanded offence. Ridly Greig also deserves credit for helping turn Ottawa's penalty kill around (especially as a rookie).


Goaltending hasn't improved substantially under Martin and it would lead some of us to suspect that maybe Ottawa's abysmal team save percentage has as much to do with personnel as it does with team play but then again, I like Ottawa's goalies so I guess the jury is still out on that one. By the numbers, Anton Forsberg has performed the best so far under the new coaching staff albeit with a save percentage of 91.1 in all situations and 91.2 at five-on-five, so nothing to get excited about. Forsberg's shorthanded save percentage of 88 stands out head and shoulders, but given how much Joonas Korpisalo and Mads Søgaard have struggled on some nights, I don't put much stock in it. Again, I like these goalies and I think they have higher ceilings than they've shown this season. If you watch them live then you can see that they deserve better than their collective numbers but that doesn't change the fact that Ottawa has had arguably the worst goaltending results in the league this year (both before and after the coaching change).

All stats as always courtesy of and also if I can add one stray thought here, I didn't spill too much ink about Shane Pinto because he has only played this season under Jacques Martin but is name appears near the top of a lot of statistical categories for this team. We could chalk it up to a small sample size but I really hope Pinto becomes a catalyst for this team's success and not a passenger. I can realistically envision a scenario when Pinto becomes one of this team's key contributors by season's end.

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