The 2018-19 Ottawa Senators are one of the most interesting teams in the NHL this season.
The expectation coming in was that they would be vying for a lottery pick (which unfortunately is owned by the Colorado Avalanche). A team that in the summer had to face new bad press each week, the old saying “all press is good press” is not accurate from this salty Sens fan’s perspective. Our assistant GM was in and out of court for sexually harassing a cab driver, the Karlsson’s were suing Hoffman’s girlfriend for cyber bullying regarding their miscarriage, Melnyk (do I need anything else here?) and a plethora of other things.
The first day of training camp saw our captain Erik Karlssontraded to what seemed to be a stacked blue-line of the San Jose sharks and for what? At the time: Assets. Chris Tierney, Dylan Demelo, Rudolf Balcers, Josh Norris, and some picks. Hoffman was traded earlier as well. And to add insult to literal injury, J-G Pageau tore his Achilles the same day that Karl gets traded. We drafted a guy who had 8 goals in his freshman season in the NCAA and Sens twitter was up in arms. The season outlook was looking rough.
We are now 27 games in, just passed the quarter mark of the season and we are 2 points out of a wild card spot. So how did we get here? The Senators have implemented a new system this year, switching things around and making much-needed adjustments to Guy Boucher’s system. They were given an influx of rookies that could make the jump to the NHL and challenging veterans to give more than they have been. Let’s start with the play of the rookies/young guys. Thomas Chabot is leading all defencemen in scoring in the NHL. Side bar: before you say Erik who? Imagine having BOTH OF THEM?? Chabot has been a mainstay on the back-end and really put his game together on both sides, he still has stuff to work on, but he looks like a real #1 D-man. Then you have Max Lajoie on D who jumped on the scene and is currently 6th in rookie scoring and 4th in rookie goals, he still makes mistakes, but is one of Ottawa’s top four D-men. Christian Jaros has also been very good with his steady play on the back-end and flashes of excellent offensive ability with crisp tape to tape passing.
Then we can look at the play of Colin White, Drake Batherson and that guy who put up eight goals in the NCAA Brady Tkachuk. All three are absolutely killing it. White and Tkachuk are both tied for 2nd in rookie scoring with 16 points a piece and playing with Mark Stone you can expect those totals to keep going up. I had absolutely no qualms with selecting Tkachuk as he was a freshman playing against men and now he is doing the same with 9 goals in the NHL and frankly he is just like his brother, teams hate playing them. He is the prototypical power forward who goes hard to the net, when his body fills out his 6’3 frame he is going to be even better than Matthew. Drake Batherson made the Senators call him up with his play down in Belleville and frankly with how well her is playing in the NHL he better find a place to stay here.
Our forward group is finally beginning to look how it should with contributors on all lines. Duchene is in the Top 20 of scoring and is dominating most games and Ryan Dzingel is currently on pace to score 30 goals. Mark Stone is his usual self as he steals pucks, scores goals, and celly’s like it his last minute of his life. Our bottom 6 with Chris Tierney centering Boedker and Ryan has been good, and those two absolutely torched their old team with 7 combined points. Our 4th line has left much to be desired, picking it up recently. Paajarvi and Pyatt have been two players that could be easily replaced, but with their improved play maybe they have turned a corner.
Our defence led by Thomas Chabot has been okay at best. He has been a bright spot along with our other young D-men but having players like Ceci and Borowiecki are becoming more and more detrimental to the defence than beneficial. They are slow, not much hockey sense, and are being overtaken by the play of rookies. Their abilities on defence should be looked at on the trade deadline to move them somewhere for a change of scenery. Dylan Demelowho came back in the Karlsson trade has also been quite good on defence for us, he looks calm with the puck and is playing with Chabot so it gives Chabot more opportunities to jump up with a player like him.
Craig Anderson in the summer allegedly put in a trade request but he is not going anywhere as he will be a mainstay for us this season and maybe next. He has seen the most shots against in the NHL and at his age, that might not be the best idea, but he has a .905 sv% and 3.62 GAA. The GAA is not great but giving up that many goals on average and maintaining an above .900 save percentage goes to show the work horse he has been. Our backup position is a carousel and currently Mike McKenna is there, nice guy, as old as Andy and got us a back up goalie win for the first time since late last season. Condon is currently injured and in the AHL as his only outing did not go well. We will have to see what happens with our backup goalie situation, but Andy may very well get over 60 games this year.
Ottawa currently has won 3 of their last 4 and are 3rd in the league for goals scored, but are also last in the league for goals against. Who knows, maybe these past few games are a turning point for the team and they start putting it together defensively. Or it all goes to hell after I write this article as these would be just around exactly what would happen to this year’s team. We have new things happening to the team each week (Ubergate, downtown arena, #melnykout) so it’s always exciting in Ottawa! Finally hug a Sens fan, we have Melnyk as an owner…
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