By the skin of their teeth and on the back of our first star, the Senators claimed three of a possible six points this week and broke even in goal differential. Despite those respectable results, however, the team painted a picture that looked far from pretty. With all of Ottawa’s veteran defenders healthy, you would have expected much tidier play in their own end. Up front, Ottawa desperately missed Jean-Gabriel Pageau who did not participate in the Senators’ games against Vegas and Calgary. All told, Ottawa’s opponents outshot them 115-78 (!) over three games. I digress, however, so without further ado, here are your three stars:
First Star: Marcus Hogberg
Ottawa had no business snagging that loser point against Chicago or the victory against Calgary, and yet, here we are. Hogberg made an absurd 67 saves through those two games for a save percentage at five-on-five of 93.1 and in all situations of 93.4 (including a perfect 100 on the penalty kill). The 25-year-old Orebro native has matured before our eyes into the netminder we all hoped he could become when the Senators drafted him six and a half years ago. Hogberg recorded his first regulation victory in the NHL on Sunday and the Senators named him performer of the game for this beauty among others:
Marcus Hogberg's reaching stick save on Sam Bennett last night was incredible. Very comfortable with a Nilsson-Hogberg tandem heading into 2020-21. pic.twitter.com/UitpsMQzPz— 1. Ottawa (via San Jose) (@Sens_Army_) January 19, 2020
Second Star: Connor Brown
Brown continued his renaissance season, on the other side of the battle of Ontario, with three goals and three assists last week. With 31 points through 48 games, Brown has surpassed his totals from the past two seasons and will all but certainly set a new career high (36 in 2017) by April. As bizarre as it felt welcoming the ex-Leaf with open arms, Brown has provided plenty of consistency (playing well defensively even through his November scoring-slump) for Ottawa’s often injured and largely inexperienced forward corps. Brown finds himself in that in-between group of RFA forwards (along with Duclair, Tierney, Paul, and Veronneau) who, in the their mid-twenties, have aged out of prospect status and could go either way for the rebuilding Senators. Among other highlights, Brown scored in his 300th NHL game (against Vegas) and netted this birthday goal:
Third Star: Dylan DeMelo
Although he didn’t record any wins like Hoggy or rack up points like Brownie, ‘Melo led the Senators in five-on-five corsi-for percentage relative and led Ottawa defenders in five-on-five expected goals-for percentage-rel. While the Senators ranked dead last in the league in every shot metric this week, DeMelo came the closest to keeping his head above water. I can name no Senator who better illustrates the old proverb that if you do your job well, then no one will notice you did your job at all. Since Mike Reilly came over to Ottawa, he and DeMelo playing together have put up a 53% corsi-for and 57% expected goals-for ratio to quietly become Ottawa’s most dominant pairing. Dylan also got the primary assist on Connor Brown’s goal highlighted above. I can’t express how vindicated I feel now that the team’s beat writers have also made the argument that the Senators must re-sign the shut-down defender (paywall).
Trending up: Vladislav Namestnikov
Names continues to hold the title of most mercurial Senator in my book. Every week we get a different iteration of him. This week, he found himself hot on the heels of Connor Brown with two goals and an assist to place him in a tie for second, along with Chris Tierney, for top-scorer. At his worst, Vlad ranks among the bottom-most skaters in shot metrics. At his best, he looks like one of Ottawa’s sharpest shooters. I can never pin him down as a player and that inconsistency, to me, makes Names the perfect trade deadline candidate if Ottawa can recoup a mid-round pick for him. Ottawa has so many left-handed shooters in the mix and you have to bet that enough of them can show up on a more regular basis than Vlad. While he plays for Ottawa in the meantime, enjoy the goals:
Replay of Namestnikov's goal from Tierney and Brown pic.twitter.com/S11B3CsKQi— OSNL (@OSNL11) January 17, 2020
Trending Down: Anthony Duclair
In fairness, the Duke is obviously playing injured. He missed Ottawa’s game against Tampa Bay on January 4th with injury and has recorded just one point since. For the entire month before that, Duclair had gotten his name on the score sheet at least every other game. Duclair’s shot volume numbers have also plummeted since his last presumably healthy game on January 2nd as he hasn’t broken even in attempts since that game against Florida. Of late, the Duke has started to rebound with nine shot attempts, including six shots, against Vegas and an assist in the Calgary game. The upcoming festivities in St. Louis present something of a Catch-22 as the Duke could probably use the time to recover from whatever ailment has befallen him were he not Ottawa’s representative at the all-star game.
- Anders Nilsson may return after the break
- Jean-Gabriel Pageau missed the last two games with a tweaked neck
- Nick Paul should return mid- to late-February if all goes well
- Christian Wolanin has resumed skating with the team
- JC Beaudin remains sidelined with an injured wrist
- Christian Jaros, Max Veronneau, and Jonathan Davidsson missed Belleville’s last game/
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