I never know what to put at the beginning of these. But anyway, here are some thoughts for this week:
Chris DiDomenico Providing Value
DiDomenico was a forgotten man coming into training camp, as by the time he signed with Ottawa at the end of last season, the team suddenly had tons of depth up front. But thanks to injuries from Kyle Turris, Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur, Colin White, and Zack Smith, DiDomenico has gotten a chance to show what he can do.
I said this on Monday night, and it still applies:
Gonna try to watch DiDomenico closely tonight. If he's even just a valuable 3rd liner, that's so so valuable for this team— Trevor Shackles (@ShackTS) October 30, 2017
The Senators have had trouble with identifying actually good bottom-six players, so any sort of value that DiDomenico can provide is a huge boost.
And while he’s only played six games, I like what I see, and I think he’s good enough to stay on the third or fourth line. He’s recorded to goals and three assists in these six games, and his first career goal helped Ottawa snag a point from the New Jersey Devils one week ago.
Not only that, he’s recorded five points despite averaging 11:27 of ice-time per game. He is not the top-six winger that I think the Senators really need, but nobody should expect him to be that good. If he can hold his own as a 3rd liner, then that is a huge break.
Tons of people are noticing his solid play, and it was especially noticeable on Twitter last night.
Special Teams are a Difference Maker
I’ll hopefully have a more in-depth piece on this next week, but I felt like saying this now as well. The Senators penalty kill ranks 5th in the league at 86.1%, while their power play is remarkably all the way up to tied for 8th at 20.8%. Even being really good in one category can make a difference, but the fact that both have picked up the slack means that Ottawa is running on all cylinders.
Not only are their penalty kill and power play efficient, they’ve been able to stay out of the box too.
Coming into Thursday night, they were 27th in penalties (not PIMS) taken per 60 minutes at 3.78, and fourth in penalties drawn at 5.06. With those two combined, Ottawa had the best penalty differential, +16, although last nights results may have slightly changed that.
It’s great having effective special teams, but it’s even better when you’re on the power play much more often than you are on the penalty kill.
Trade Coming Soon?
At yesterday’s game, Bruce Garrioch noted that there was an unusual amount of scouts watching Ottawa play Detroit:
That last sentence of “something is brewing” may just be Garrioch having fun with people, but I do think Pierre Dorion is actively looking to make a deal. There are many different avenues he could go down, but the most obvious one involves a deal that moves Andrew Hammond.
The Vegas Golden Knights are a team that essentially has no NHL goalies right now, so I’m a bit surprised that a deal hasn’t happened yet. In fact, Pierre Dorion was even scouting one of their games:
In the house for tonight's VGK-#Isles tilt: OTT GM Pierre Dorion.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) October 30, 2017
It’s rare to see a GM scouting another game, especially when his team is playing that same night. It’s also a possibility that he was looking at some of the New York Islanders wingers such as Josh Bailey, Anders Lee, or Brock Nelson. I do expect Ottawa to acquire a winger at some point, but other teams may be reluctant to give up players so early on in the season.
Another deal that could happen is Ottawa moving a defenseman. Thomas Chabot shouldn’t be in the AHL much longer, and in order to do that, a defenseman probably has to be moved. The only two players I can see being moved are Johnny Oduya and Chris Wideman, and as much as I like Wideman, I feel like he will be the odd-man out.
Wideman is a UFA at the end of the season, and with his ice-time diminishing, it seems like the writing is on the wall. Will they end up moving him in a deal for a forward? It’s a possibility, although I don’t see a trade as imminent this early in the season.
Colin White Should be up Shortly
White has returned to action after suffering a broken wrist in the pre-season, and he’s played in one game for the Belleville Senators with zero points. I assume that the organization wants him to play a few games in the AHL as a tune-up, because realistically he should be in Ottawa.
I’m not sure if he’ll be heading to Sweden for the series against the Avalanche, but perhaps he could return to the team after that point. Regardless, with the lack of depth up front, there’s no reason why White can’t be in the bottom-six after he gets a few more games under his belt. Plus, there’s no way that he is worse than Max McCormick or Jack Rodewald.
Putting him in a 3rd or 4th line right-wing role with not a lot of responsibility is hardly throwing him into the fire, and he could be a nice boost for the team. The Senators have done a great job of scoring goals so far, but I think at some point they will need help, and White has potential.
I’m looking forward to seeing him play.
Not a fan of the Sweden Trip
The Senators will be in Stockholm, Sweden next weekend to play back-to-back games against the Colorado Avalanche in what should be a cool experience for the fans. While this is a good way to promote the game worldwide, I really don’t like that this is happening a month into the regular season.
The Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings played two exhibition games in China this year, and that makes much more sense. These games for the Senators mean something and will have playoff implications, despite the fact that it is literally an “exhibition” of the National Hockey League.
Because of this trip, Ottawa has to have five days off prior to going their games in Sweden, and four days off afterwards. Messing with their schedule cannot be a good thing, especially since they’ve just gotten into their routine for the season.
When the Senators played the Pittsburgh Penguins in Stockholm in 2008, it was the first two games of the season, which makes much more sense. This time around, the Sweden trip is awkwardly fit one month into the schedule.
It’s cool to bring the league outside of North America (especially with some prominent Swedes playing), but it’s best suited for exhibition games.