The Ottawa Senators only played two games this past week, with five days off between their Monday tilt with the Buffalo Sabres and their Sunday affair against the New Jersey Devils. A small sample indeed, but there were standout performances nonetheless.
First Star: Jean-Gabriel Pageau
Pageau’s career year only got better this past week as the speedy Gatineau native potted two goals and an assist. He scored the only two goals that actually went in the net on Monday against Buffalo, and assisted the late, game-timing goal by Thomas Chabot against the Devils on Sunday. Add in the fact that he played over 20 minutes in both games and faced the opponent’s top line without ceding much of anything, and you have the makings of a stellar week.
Second Star: Brady Tkachuk
Tkachuk notched three points in the win against Buffalo on Monday, including an empty net goal on a stellar individual effort that cemented the win. He was a disruptive force in both games, and his partnership with Pageau and Connor Brown continues to pay dividends for DJ Smith’s squad. Tkachuk’s been regularly featured in these lists this season, but it’s hard to say he hasn’t earned the recognition.
Third Star: Craig Anderson
This one was a bit tougher since Anderson was absolutely spectacular in Monday’s game and then mediocre at best on Sunday, but he takes the honours nonetheless in light of the fact that he was the person most directly responsible for the team’s only win of the week. His combined 70 saves on 75 shots faced was good for a stellar .933 SV% too, and many of the stops against Buffalo were of the highlight reel variety. Andy’s had his struggles this season, but he gets a deserved nod in recognition of his turn-back-the-clock performance.
Trending Up: Erik Brannstrom
Brannstrom played a career-high 21:50 against the Devils on Sunday, and has averaged over 18 and a half minutes since his call-up from Belleville. Part of this is due to the numerous injuries to the Sens’ blueline, but the young Swede has made the most of the opportunity and DJ Smith’s confidence in him appears to be slowly growing.
Trending Down: Vladislav Namestnikov
After a hot start following his trade from the New York Rangers, Namestnikov’s scoring has cooled considerably and his ice-time crept all the way down to 11:18 on Sunday; third-fewest among the forwards with only little-used Beaudin and Sabourin playing less. With the trade deadline looming, Namestnikov’s status as a UFA and his dwindling role may soon spell the end of his time in the nation’s capital.
Who to Watch: Scott Sabourin
Sabourin made his return to the line-up Sunday against the Devils after missing nearly two months following his scary injury against the Boston Bruins. The bruising forward played just less than eight minutes, and mostly looked like his rough and tumble self. If nothing else, it was good to see him in good health.
- As mentioned above, Scott Sabourin returned from injury this week
- Dylan DeMelo, Ron Hainsey, Nikita Zaitsev all remained out for both games though Hainsey’s return appears to be imminent
- Christian Wolanin has been skating again, but is still a ways from returning
- Anders Nilsson remained on the IR with a concussion/