The Ottawa Senators Finally Did It
It finally happened. On their way to a 4-2 victory over the lowly New Jersey Devils, the 2019-20 Ottawa Senators *finally* switched up their defense pairings. The immediate results were tremendously positive, with the Senators looking dominant following the switch. Might this be a start of something new, something more promising for Ottawa’s blue line? Time will tell.
Here are tonight’s thumbs:
Thumbs Up: The Switch on Defense
This space has been a constant source of “Thomas Chabot should be playing with Dylan DeMelo” takes. It shouldn’t come as a shock to frequent readers, or anyone that watched those two together last year, that the results of finally pairing them this year earn a big thumbs up:
Per Natural Stat Trick, both DeMelo and Chabot helped the Senators control more than 70% of the shot attempts and expected goals when they were on the ice at five-on-five. Nikita Zaitsev was sub-30% in both categories. This was a case of going back to what has worked in the past, and seeing it work again in the present. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come for Chabot specifically, as the Senators are going to need him to play like this to get full value out of that massive contract extension.
Thumbs Up: Erik Brannstrom
The tweet linked above references it, but Brannstrom looked like a man on a mission tonight. Perhaps all the talk of a potential demotion gave him a little bit of extra fire.
Thumbs Up: Pageau’s Trade Value
What more can be said about JG Pageau? He tallied a hat trick for the Senators tonight, playing an immensely valuable role in the victory. While there is certainly appetite within the Senators’ fan base to re-sign him, it’s hard to imagine that his value on the trade market will ever be higher than it is right now. He’s scored 11 goals in 18 games to start the season, which should put him in a position to smash through his previous career high of 19.
Combine this unsustainable hot streak with the fact that he’ll likely be on the wrong side of 30 when the Senators are ready to compete again, and dealing him for an inflated package of futures starts to look like a mighty attractive option for the trade deadline.
Thumbs Up: The Bounce Back
The Senators were embarrassed in their last game. To see them bounce back on Wednesday night was a really good thing, especially when you look at how they performed with the game on the line. Down by one goal heading into the third period, the Senators went out and won the game; New Jersey didn’t lose it.
Per Natural Stat Trick, the Senators as a team controlled more than 60% of the five-on-five shot attempts and expected goals in that third period. They saw a game there for the taking, and they went out and took it. For a young team learning what it’s like to compete and win in the National Hockey League, it was a wonderful display of character and resilience.
Thumbs Up: Nick Paul’s Continued Success
Give Nick Paul credit for doing what a lot of people hoped for and expected from him now that he’s getting a real opportunity in the NHL:
Thumbs Up: Craig Anderson Steps Up
It would have been easy for Craig Anderson to dial up a stinker after nearly a full week away from action following two sub-par performances. The opposite transpired. He wasn’t particularly busy, but he stopped more than 91% of the shots fired his way and led his team to a “W”. What more could you possibly ask for out of the 38-year-old?
The Senators are off tomorrow, but will be back in action on Friday night at the Canadian Tire Centre against the Philadelphia Flyers. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30.
As always, thanks for reading.