3 Reasons the Senators Can Still Make the Playoffs
The Ottawa Senators are flying high. They have won four straight contests and scored 18 goals in that time. It’s been an up-and-down season, but the past week showed reasons for hope.
Now six points out of a playoff spot, the Senators may be able to ride a hot streak into the playoffs for their first appearance since 2016-17.
Senators’ New Forward Lines
Ever since the Senators called up Ridly Greig from the Bellville Senators and placed him in the top six, they have gone undefeated. With this move came the promotion of Mathieu Joseph and the demotion of Drake Batherson. Both players are excelling in their new roles and have played a huge part in the team’s recent success.
Related: Senators May Have Found Their Ideal Forward Lines
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According to Money Puck, the second line of Greig, Alex DeBrincat, and Claude Giroux has a 66.7 percent expected goals percentage, and they are outscoring their opponents 4-1 at even-strength in the 41 minutes they have played together.
The third line of Batherson, Shane Pinto, and Derrick Brassard is also above 50 percent in expected goals. The decision to spread the talent out across multiple lines has given this forward group an injection of energy. The chemistry between them is notable, and they can carry them through the last few months of the regular season.
If there is a downside, it’s that the All-Star Break is upon us, and any momentum the team was starting to build could come to a screeching halt. However, the Sens will try to continue their upswing on Feb. 11 when they return to action, hosting the high-scoring Edmonton Oilers.
Thomas Chabot Is Back to an Elite Level
Thomas Chabot is a huge reason why the Senators have a top-five power play, and his even-strength offence is among the NHL’s best for defenders.
He has 29 points in 45 games and has been the Senators’ best defenceman this season. Jake Sanderson has also been outstanding, but Chabot is contributing the most offence of the group. His best partner has been Artem Zub, who is nearing a return from an injury, and when he does, Chabot’s defensive numbers should also stabilize.
A big part of the Senators’ winning streak has been getting offence from their defence, as they are beginning to activate more when the chances present themselves. With every line clicking, the team spends less time defending and seeing positive results.
Anton Forsberg May Have Emerged As the Starter Going Forward
After Cam Talbot’s unfortunate injury, Anton Forsberg was forced into the starter’s role. Goaltending has been an Achilles heel this season, but Forsberg might be ready to take the net full-time. He has a record of 11-10-2, but he could benefit from a long stretch of games to build a rhythm.
Forsberg has saved 11 goals above expected, compared to Talbot’s 0.8. Despite the discrepancy, Talbot had earned 28 starts to his 18.
It is safe to assume he will remain the starter when Talbot returns, as his play has been key to the club’s recent success. This young group will need a reliable goaltender to contend for a playoff spot, and he can provide just that.
The Senators will play four of their first five games after the break on home ice against the Oilers, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, and the St. Louis Blues. These games are huge for re-capturing their current momentum, and they happen to be winnable games.
Connor Hrabchak is 20 years old and is currently covering the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators for The Hockey Writers. He is working towards completing his communications and media degree. He was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He’s been watching hockey ever since the Jets moved back to Winnipeg in 2011, and that has inspired him to write about the sport and attempt to make it into a full-time career.
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