As Thomas Chabot Goes So Goes The Ottawa Senators

OTTAWA, ON - NOVEMBER 08: Ottawa Senators Defenceman Thomas Chabot (72) skates with the puck during second period National Hockey League action between the Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators on November 8, 2022, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

There are many headlines surrounding the Ottawa Senators, and one of them is the focus on star defenceman, Thomas Chabot. Chabot, as well as fellow rearguard, Travis Hamonic, did leave Saturday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers with injuries. Needless to say, let’s hope everything is all right. It seems to be the type of thing epitomizing the Senators organization. One day they are up for sale, and everyone is in shock, the next Canadian icon and nationwide heartthrob Ryan Reynolds is expressing interest. Back to Chabot, who this year, let’s face it, has been the brunt of much criticism from fans on social media, despite very respectable numbers as we shall see.

Pressure on the Sens Means Pressure on Thomas Chabot

Admittedly, the on-ice product has been difficult thus far, as expectations are so high. Every time Thomas Chabot makes a turnover, the fans want him benched. Jake Sanderson and Erik Brannstrom have looked great this season, but that is a result of Chabot allowing them to avoid vulnerable situations. A quick review of Chabot’s on-ice analytics suggests that you are better with him playing big minutes than not.

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An Analytic Review of Chabot’s Performance

The Sens’ big-name D-man, Chabot, has consistently been so offensively beneficial to the team, you can compare him to the likes of Cale Makar. For his career, Makar has a CF% rel of 11.9. Thus far in 2022-23, Chabot has a CF% rel of 12.0. Albeit not a huge sample set to draw from, his total TOI of 341.9 mins, is starting to rack up there, when you consider his career high is 1845.1, from the 2019-20 season.

According to numbers, the descriptive statistics show largely the same ideas as has been presented. If we filter on defensive pairings league-wide over 60 mins played together total on the season the top Senators pairing is Nick Holden and Erik Brannstrom. This is followed by Sanderson and Hamonic who ranked 63rd league-wide.

NHL Rank LHD RHD Total Min xGOALS%
56th Holden Brannstrom 62.5 50.0%
63rd Sanderson Hamonic 152.7 48.3%
67th Chabot Zub 115.1 47.9%
1st Toews Makar 136.2 68.8%

Chabot’s Individual and Team Numbers Must Be Taken into Account

As we can see from the evidence, Chabot is struggling to find his game, much like the team as a collective group. We have seen some positive signs from playing with a youngster, Jacob Bernard-Docker until Chabot’s aforementioned injury cost him finishing the game. Bernard-Docker is a player looking to break into the lineup as a regular. It seems that Chabot benefits from a slick puck-moving defender. Even though Chabot isn’t particularly physical, he is an extremely strong, dynamic, and powerful skater. Therefore, playing so much with Zub, despite making sense of putting the top left D with the top right D, does not reflect in the numbers. Chabot and Zub’s 47.9% xGOALS% is just not good enough for a competitive team.

Chabot Is Just One Piece of the Whole

Some critics may cite the lack of a worthy opponent, in the weak Flyers lineup, combined with the fact they are missing a few stars, such as Sean Couturier, James van Riemsdyk, and Cam Atkinson. However, the Senators did walk away with a convincing 4 – 1 victory. Along the way, losing two defencemen to injury. It does seem positive, that when the Senators’ defence gets healthy, their coaching decisions so began to become more clear.

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