Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda / Sens Take On Lightning
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Guest Writer: Matthew Moxley (aka Gord_Wilson_2.0)
Much was made about the “Summer of Dorion”. With the acquisitions of big names like Giroux, Talbot, and DeBrincat, it was hard to not be excited. While the Senators are still in the wild-card race for the playoffs, it’s hard to not feel like there were opportunities missed this season.
When you think of Alex DeBrincat, you think of goals. Scoring 41 goals in 2 of your first 5 NHL seasons will do that. The goals haven’t come as easily in Ottawa as he currently has 21 and is notching a shooting percentage of 9.1% which is well below his career average of 14.3%. If DeBrincat’s shooting percentage met his career average, it’s not inconceivable that he could have around 10 or so more goals than he has this season.
Drake Batherson has had an up-and-down year. He is a team worst -35 and has struggled with consistency. I’d argue he has looked better the last few weeks and still has good playmaking ability with a lethal shot. Like DeBrincat, his shooting percentage is well below his career average of 12.5% to 9.7%. It’s not inconceivable that Batherson could have around 5 or 6 more goals than he has this season if he was closer to his career average.
The injury to Josh Norris was certainly a blow to the Senators. After signing a mega deal in the summer, Norris has played just 8 games this year and notched 3 points. Quite a drop from his 35 goals, 55-point campaign from the 21/22 season. While his shooting percentage of 20.3% from the 21/22 season was unsustainable, his shooting percentage of 13.3% of his 8 games played may have been a realistic expectation and could have had another 30-goal campaign if he was healthy.
Highly touted prospect Alex Formenton was an unexpected loss this year due to a contract dispute. While he is not likely to be a star, his bottom six contributions have been missed. Especially when you consider his 18 goals and 32 points from last year would place him in 6th in forward scoring this year. Shane Pinto is the only Senator behind that mark with a significant chance to surpass that mark as he has 30 points on the season thus far. The next closest Senator is Derick Brassard at 21 points.
The Senators are currently 19th in the NHL in goals at 219. If you consider some coulda, woulda, shoulda’s, the Senators could have had around 64 more goals this year resulting in 283 goals which would put the Senators firmly in 1st in the NHL just in front of the Edmonton Oilers who have 279 goals.
Cam Talbot was brought in for veteran stability in goal. Long story short, it hasn’t happened. His .905 save percentage is well down from his .911 save percentage he posted with the Wild last year. Anton Forsberg was signed to a 3-year deal after an impressive 21/22 campaign where he posted a .917 save percentage. Like Talbot, Forsberg has seen his save percentage dip this year and when he had his season-ending injury, his save percentage was sitting at .902.
It’s well-documented the Senators have had other goalies serve time in the crease, but Talbot and Forsberg were the main guys. The Senators are 16th in the NHL in save percentage at .898. Had Talbot and Forsberg played as they did in the 21/22 season, the team's save percentage could have been closer to around .911 to .913. That would have resulted in a top 5 team save percentage in the league for this season with Boston leading the way at a save percentage of .929.
Now, obviously, this is all speculation if the Senators had the perfect season, with no injuries, and that current great years for the likes of Stutzle, Tkachuk, Sanderson, etc still happened. However, sometimes when things aren’t going well it’s easy to forget some of the trends the team may have been banking on for success just did not pan out. Whether it’s poor management decisions, coaching, or just plain bad luck, it shows that just slight improvement can result in significant gains. With a few more goals here and a few less goals there next season, this Senators team can indeed be a playoff team.
Sens vs Bolts
The Senators won one and lost one in their back-to-back games in Pittsburgh and Boston. The Senators were outplayed for most of the game in Pittsburgh but a legendary performance by Dylan Fergusson would give the team an opportunity to win, which they did by a score of 2-1. The strong goaltending performance seemed to ignite the rest of the team for their Boston matchup which the team played very well and gave the Bruins all they could handle. Mads Sogaard tried his best to match the heroics of Dylan Fergusson, but the first-place Bruins would ultimately win by a score of 2-1.
The Senators will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night in Ottawa. The Bolts have been relatively average recently as they are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games. What is interesting is that the Bolts are just 17-17-1 when playing on the road which is ranked 19th in the NHL. Their home record which is 2nd in the NHL at 25-7-5 has carried them all year. If there was a game to knock off a higher-ranked team, this would be it as the Senator’s home record is currently 19-13-3. It is projected that Mads Sogaard will get the start, but part of me hopes that Dylan Fergusson can get a well-deserved opportunity to replicate his performance the other night against the Penguins.
Thanks for reading!