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What’s Wrong With the Ottawa Senators Power Play?

Thomas Chabot Injured

The Ottawa Senators power play is not good right now. Nor has been clicking for the entire 2023-24 season. They sit 26th at 15.9%. Last year, they had the second most power play goals in the league. But why? Here we take a look at a couple of remedies. Then we shall go into detail on the defence on the power play and hammer down their importance.

A Couple Remedies for the Ottawa Senators Power Play Struggles

Quite frankly, there is a simple theory they should apply. When the power play is struggling, there are two specific tactics to apply. In practice, remove the defenders. Instead of practicing 5 on 4, keep removing defenders, and their sticks too if required, until the power play scores routinely. The second school of thought idea to apply has to do with the alignment. You need two defencemen on the ice, with opposite shots.

There is a key problem with the Senators power play philosophically, and that is their top-three offensive defencemen are all left shots. Those three are Thomas Chabot, Jakob Chychrun, and Jake Sanderson. We did see in last night’s game against the Florida Panthers, that Chabot and Chychrun were both out there on the top power play unit. This was actually an exciting prospect. Furthermore, you really see how deep this team’s power play is potentially. The likes of Joshua Norris, Brady Tkachuk, Claude Giroux, and Sanderson could not be found on the top unit. That’s a riches of offensive skills just patiently waiting for their turn.

So What Would the Alignment Be?

Anyway, back to the theory more properly, it starts defensively. You need pucks held in, and no threat of giving up short-handed opportunities. Despite not being an offensive guy, their best alignment would be Artem Zub on the left side. The right side would not be entirely crucial, given their depth, but probably Chabot gets the nod for seniority and also experience playing alongside Zub over the years. Also, Chychrun leads the defence with 12 power play points, so he would work as the hot hand. Moreover, having two defences on the ice for the power play can be beneficial for the forwards. This ensures that the three you have out there, hopefully, have chemistry, but are essentially your best three offensive threats. Last night it was Tim Stutzle, Vladimir Tarasenko and to mix in a right shot, Drake Batherson. Definitely fits for threats, as they can all be point-per-game players when they’re hot.

Looking at the Rest of the League

In general, defencemen are very reliant on their point production from the power play. More so than forwards, because their playmaking opportunity is much higher. Looking at the leaders for power play points from defencemen in 2023-24, we have:

Name Power Play Pts Pts
Cale Makar 27 60
Quinn Hughes 26 69
Evan Bouchard 24 53
Victor Hedman 24 54
Adam Fox 23 46


For all these elite defencemen, if we look at the total, 44% of their point production comes directly from the power play.

Now if we look at Ottawa, we do see some interesting points. Only three of their defencemen even have points this year on the power play Chabot, Chychrun, and Sanderson. In fact, Artem Zub leads the team in even strength defencemen scoring with 20 points. It shows that theoretically he deserves to be rewarded with power play opportunity. Between the three D with power play points, they total 24 on the season. Combined the three of them have 73 points total. If you’re checking, that is only 33% of their production on the power play. And that’s not including all the rest of the defence without power play points, led by Zub. Erik Brannstrom and Jacob Bernard-Docker are both in double digits points on the year, 12 and 11, respectively.

Will This Lead to Any Priotizing Trade Discussions

This does raise the point of how important a right-shot defenceman is for this team. Thus bringing us into the 2024 NHL trade deadline discussion. Now, our proposed theory is only for when the power play struggles. Conversely, having an Evan Bouchard, Cale Makar, or even a Colton Parayko back there in some capacity is a reason why power plays maintain their dangerousness. But of course, for now, at the trade deadline, assets come at an absolute premium. With the Senators not entangled in a playoff race, it is tough seeing them be overly bullish on the buyer’s market.

Main photo: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports


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