We really got spoiled to start the week with a 7-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres and a Crhis Phillips jersey retirement before things came crashing back down to earth with a disappointing 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets and an absolutely forgettable 3-0 clunker against the Montreal Canadiens. We also had some off-ice activity in advance of the trade deadline as Pierre Dorion moved Dylan DeMelo to the Jets, Max Veronneau to the Maple Leafs, lost Cody Goloubef to the Red Wings via waivers, and claimed Jayce Hawryluk from the Panthers. With possibly more to come today, let’s focus on some on-ice results from last week.
First Star: Jean-Gabriel Pageau
I assure you I did not select J.G. out of sentimentality or superstition. He really did have an outstanding week! He led the team in goals (2), primary assists (2), and points (4) with ten shots to his credit while winning almost two thirds of his draws and keeping his head above water in corsi-for percentage. The local hero did it all and I have nothing to say about any implications that his performance may have beyond immediately helping the Senators. Move along.
Second Star: Brady Tkachuk
Brady didn’t have the explosive week on offence that Pageau had, racking up just a primary and secondary assist. Nonetheless, Tkachuk led the charge with 24 shot attempts while drawing five penalties and had the highest corsi-for percentage of any Senator to suit up for all three games this week. As Brandon explained in his recap of Saturday night’s game, Tkachuk also stays in every game long after the rest of his teammates throw in the proverbial towel. Regardless of the score, you can set your watch to Brady’s work ethic, his tenacity, and his commitment. While I don’t personally subscribe to the concept of drafting players based on intangibles, Pierre Dorion has me eating my words because Brady has performed exactly as advertised since day one.
Third Star: Colin White
Every reader I just won over with my praise of intangibles will now turn on me as I bestow third star honours on a play who performed well considering only nerd stats. White only had one point this week (a primary assist), recorded just one shot, drew no penalties, and basically broke even in the faceoff circle. White, however, also had a corsi-for percentage comparable to Brady Tkachuk, took no penalties over three games, and rocked an extremely impressive expected goals-for percentage over 60. On average, no Senator had a higher expected goals-for rate and only Chris Tierney had a lower expected goals-against rate (among Senators who played all three games). With Colin White on the ice, at five-on-five, Ottawa had the highest likelihood of scoring a goal and the lowest likelihood of conceding one. I know not everyone on this site subscribes to nerd stats. I implore you nonetheless not to turn your back on White. He has so much potential.
Trending up: Thomas Chabot
Scary injury on Saturday night aside, Chabot had a great week especially considering the revolving door of defenders around him right now. He didn’t get any points to his credit and he got outshot by Mike Reilly (who, for the record, has never passed the puck in his life) but he took no penalties while drawing two this week and was the only Ottawa defender with net positives in the nerd stats. We all saw on Saturday night what this team looks like without Thomas Chabot and none of us ever want to see it again. I say this in complete seriousness, Ottawa will lose every single game that Chabot misses with injury given their current defensive configuration. Chabot never really trended down in my books. I have him in this slot because I expected even worse in a post-DeMelo paradigm and Thomas really bailed his team out.
Trending down: Scott Sabourin
The feel-good movie ended a long time ago for Sabourin. I like that the team gave a hometown kid a chance during a season when the organization got to play with house money. And I felt inspired to see Sabourin come back after that ugly collision with David Backes. At this point though, given DJ Smith’s total lack of confidence in Sabourin, the Senators are just wasting a roster spot. Sabourin had a game misconduct against Winnipeg and ended up averaging less than seven and a half minutes per game this week.
Who to Watch: Nick Paul
Paul had a goal and a primary assist this week with nine shots on goal, and finished just under 50% at the dots. Paul has a big opportunity to increase his ice time post-deadline if any of Vladislav Namestnikov, Tyler Ennis, etc. move on, as DJ Smith has already started trusting Paul more on the penalty-kill and Paul has steadily seen his even strength usage increase since his call-up earlier in the season. He continues to struggle in terms of shot volume when on the ice, but given his age he still has time to turn that around.
- Thomas Chabot could return this week
- Anders Nilsson remains out indefinitely
- Mark Borowiecki will likely now stay put at the deadline although his return date remains a mystery
- JC Beadin, Logan Brown, and Jonathan Davidsson remain out of the Belleville lineup/