The Ottawa Senators Top Line Rare Bright Spot During Tough Start

When Tim Stutzle, Brady Tkachuk, and Claude Giroux step on the ice, they will dominate. The organization has been on a roller coaster for a few months, but there are some positive signs. The development of Stutzle, the maturity of the captain, and the calming influence of the veteran leader are positive. Therefore, let us look at how effective the offensive combinations have been for the Ottawa Senators top line.

Strong Numbers For Ottawa Senators Top Line

From an analytic standpoint, there are many positive signs from the Senators as a group. Anton Forsberg ranks in the top half of the league for starters (minimum eight games played) in many statistics. For example, he sits 14th in goals saved above expected per 60 minutes. As for the offensive side, here is a look at some rankings of the top forward line combinations across the NHL for expected goals (minimum 75 minutes of ice time) – stats per Moneypuck.com

Team Rank LW C RW xGOALS%
NJD 1 Zetterlund Hischier Tatar 70
BOS 2 Debrusk Bergeron Marchand 69
OTT 3 Tkachuk Stutzle Giroux 67
OTT 19 Tkachuk Stutzle Batherson 60
OTT 48 Motte Pinto Joseph 49

If we look at the individuals that make up the Ottawa Senators top line combos, we can start with the captain, Brady Tkachuk. As we see, Tkachuk and his centre-mate Stutzle have their names stamped on top of the team offensively, analytically, and by points.

Oh Brady, My Captain

For Tkachuk, he is coming into his own. He has shown frustration lately, taken accountability, and stuck up for his head coach, D.J. Smith. He plays well, for the hard work, hammer and nail type style of coach Smith. In one of the few bright spots in the Senators loss on Monday night, Tkachuk did a fantastic job assisting on Stutzle’s loan team goal.

He stepped in to win the offensive zone draw for him and knocked a puck out of mid-air while powering behind the net, before firing the pass to Stutzle in the slot, for the quick release shot to beat netminder, Kaapo Kahkonen. All this has accumulated into Tkachuk having an increased offensive output, and showing more consistency than in previous years. He would eclipse his previous career high of 67 points if this pace continues.

Name GP G A Pts
Tkachuk 19 7 15 22
Stutzle 19 7 12 19
Giroux 19 8 10 18
DeBrincat 19 5 10 15
Batherson 18 5 9 14
Sanderson 19 1 9 10
Pinto 19 8 1 9

The Vet on the Line

For the veteran of the Ottawa Senators top line, Claude Giroux is still performing at a high level. Giroux may be in the twilight of his career, but we have seen players be very effective into their late 30’s. Especially when they have the talent Giroux has shown throughout his career.

Giroux himself tallied 65 points last season and is currently on a point-a-game pace. Furthermore, Giroux could still conceivably pile up 300 more career points. In terms of his playing style, he epitomizes the perfect complement for a player like Stutzle. Giroux is a veteran, so he understands the defensive responsibility of being a top-line player. Also, he is dominant on the draw. In his last seven games, he was over 75% win percentage in four of them. Including two games against the New Jersey Devils, where combined he had gone an incredible 28 FOW and 8 FOL.

The Golden Boy

The last piece of this line is none other than Tim Stutzle. For Stutzle, his ceiling remains sky-high. Recall, this is a man, who was playing Quarterback on the top power-play unit as a 17-year-old in Mannheim Eagles of the top German league. Moreover, he tends to play at such a high pace, it can be a challenge to find him some chemistry.

As a note, it has not helped until this point in his career, where he has not played a lot of regular even-strength shifts with high-end scorers. Right now, Stutzle is red hot, having scored six goals in the previous ten games. He is definitely making the most of the opportunity to play with high-end players. As we can see with Stutzle and his linemates, there are some bright spots shining for the Senators organization right now.

Ottawa Senators Season Highs and Lows

Things are going well for some individuals thus far this season, especially for the Ottawa Senators top line of Stutzle, Tkachuk, and Giroux. However, this is not reflected in their record. Playing well and getting results are two very different things at the NHL level. As this is a results-driven business, D.J. Smith must hold himself and his players accountable. This is a possible reason for sitting a player like Mathieu Joseph against the Sharks. Drake Batherson is also a key piece, but as good as his analytics might be, he needs to be providing supplemental scoring for the top line. If the top line can keep up the pace, the rest of the team will follow, it just may take some patience from the organization and the fan base as a whole.