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Analyzing Three Positive Trends in 2023-24 for the Ottawa Senators

NHL predictions

As per usual, there is much chattering surrounding the Ottawa Senators club, but let’s focus on some positive trends. Granted it is hard when one alarming trend, is the one win in the last eight contests at the Canadian Tire Centre. So, yes, let’s push that aside, and remember this is a playoff bubble team with an 8-9-0 record. Despite being a game below .500, they do have many positives going for them. First and foremost, we must mention their young superstar Tim Stützle’s pace to kickstart 2023-24. Next, we dive deep to dig into the numbers of de facto number one goaltender, Joonas Korpisalo. And finally, we take an easy selection, the sophomore stud on the blue line, ‘The Sandman,’ Jake Sanderson.

Three Positive Trends for the Ottawa Senators to Start the Season

Let’s get it started with Stu. In terms of positive trends for the Ottawa Senators, Tim Stützle is front and centre. Literally, as their top-line centre. He’s showing leadership this year, such as being emotional on the bench and then showing up on the scoresheet. Furthermore, he’s been given the ‘A’ on his sweater in injured defenceman Thomas Chabot’s absence. He’s looking like a player that cares and is sick of losing.

The Young Prodigy Coming Through Early and Often

When we take a look at the numbers, Stützle shines. He currently leads the Senators in points by six. Additionally, he has averaged an assist a game so far. Some may criticize his shooting, but with a shooting % of 9.4, there’s not much left to be desired. For total points, he has 22 through 17 games, which is a pace of 106 points. At 21 years old, this total puts him in elite company. We won’t look at the all-time leaders, which is led by Wayne Gretzky, who had 212 points. However, amongst active players, he would end up near the top. Connor McDavid had 108 in 2017-18, Evgeni Malkin 106 in 2007-08, and finally Sidney Crosby with 103 in 2008-09. Whether it is his scoring or his deceptive ‘leave you in his wake’ stickhandling, Stu is a bright spot of the Sens.

The Ottawa Senators Positive Trends Between the Pipes

Next, we shall shift our focus to goaltending for positive trends for the Ottawa Senators in 2023-24, specifically, with Joonas Korpisalo. Well at the time, General Manager Pierre Dorion thought he had his man. Signing Korpisalo to a five-year, $20 million contract in the off-season will yet to be seen if it was a defining moment. It was an interesting price to pay for a starting goalie, and so far, our determination is not conclusive. Conversely, it is worth studying the numbers to find the upside.

The naysayers will simply point to the facts, and they have a point. Having a 5-5 record thus far is rather unimpressive. But consider the Senators have been horrible over the past few Novembers. Maybe by stemming the tide, the best is yet to come. Also, at 22nd in the NHL among goalies with at least 10 games played, his .902 SV% comes with questions. A note that only two teams, the Boston Bruins and the Vegas Golden Knights, have multiple goalies ahead of Korpisalo. So, being around 20th best isn’t going to cut it for playoffs technically. In contrast, if you watch the games, and dig deeper into the analytics, you do get a different story. Korpisalo often makes important, point-blank saves, especially early on in games. Not for the when, but for the quality, there is one stat that stands out. Korpisalo is second in the NHL with a High Danger Save % above expected at 0.158. Ottawa’s standing is more about poor defensive breakdowns and not a result of the goaltending.

A Star on Defence

Not to be outdone by these previously discussed outstanding efforts thus far, our last subject is defenceman Jake Sanderson. The second-year NHLer plays like a veteran, no other way to put it. He’s fast, makes strong plays on the puck, and has amazing recovery. Through 17 games, he has 12 points. Moreover, he is third on the time in ice time at 23:42. His point share (PS) is 1.6, good enough for a tie for third on the team among skaters. Only Stützle and fellow D-man Jakob Chychrun are higher than him. If we take that average, Sandy is on pace for 58 points, and PS of 7.7. As a comparison, Chabot’s career-high for PS is 7.5. Anyway you slice it, he is playing great, and it is hard to imagine all the years left Sen fans have to cheer him on.

Well, there it was, a few high points. This is from what culminated in the game against the Florida Panthers, at somewhat a low point. Now, hopefully, the Senators can flip the switch, and ride these highs to a team-winning streak. And really, why not? The foundation is in place, forget the coaching for a second, it just takes the players taking the onus and putting the team on their back.

Main photo: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

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