Gus Katsaros

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Don't Sleep on the Sens

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Some recent lineup decisions have been puzzling for the Ottawa Senators, with head coach Guy Boucher sending messages and shaking up his lineup as his team struggles after an encouraging, high scoring start.

 

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The struggles are real – which also present an opportunity for value-minded fantasy GM’s. When the world is falling apart, there’s value on the table. Smart, forward thinking GM’s can exploit the lack of production and proliferate their own rosters by taking on some of the frustrated GM’s discards. There’s likely less of a chance of Erik Karlsson being available, but there are other very good candidates.

 

The Senators have scored eight goals in a six games winless streak – earning only one point and dropping the Sens to 22 points in 22 games, and to third last in the Eastern Conference. They’re riding the league’s sixth worst shot attempt differential (47.92 CF%) and their power play has been anemic for the better part of 16 games.

 

The Eastern Conference finalists from last spring’s playoffs haven’t experienced an offensive burst out of their newest acquisition either. It’s clearly an understatement that Matt Duchene has struggled so far in Senators threads, woefully recollecting some of the same narrative arising from declining offensive production from 2016-17.

 

Duchene scored his first as a Senator on the power play, eight games in, on his 27th shot. He hasn’t earned a 5v5 point in the last nine and only one over the last 13. The hopeful glimmer stemming from a hot start (9-3-4-7) in 2017-18 fizzled, quick.

 

It’s not fair to lay this all on Duchene, either. Even with enough leeway to integrate himself into the Senators structure, he’s had little support from the struggling teammates around him.

 

Even strength production is key to success (Ottawa’s power play has been dreadful and will be expanded below), however, Bobby Ryan and Erik Karlsson are pointless at 5v5 over the last six games. Mark Stone has three assists, coming off a binge of five goals in six games and Mike Hoffman has two 5v5 goals. Even strength scoring has been absent.

 

In Colorado, a hot start featured Duchene sharing the ice with linemates Nail Yakupov and Alex Kerfoot. He’s skated most in Ottawa with Bobby Ryan and Ryan Dzingel – line stats provided by Corsica. Lately, however, the coaching staff has shaken up lines and he’s has been skating with Mike Hoffman – and a small bit with Mark Stone.

 

Among other distinct symptoms during the current Sens downspin quandary, have been myriad of interesting line combos. Tom Pyatt and Alex Burrows aren’t exactly the type of top end players Duchene should likely line up with, yet they are getting a lot of recent top-6 prime minutes. The effect of pushing up role players takes some time away from skilled units, and instead of trying to find ways to become more productive, Boucher seems to be favoring his role players and their energy. A common short term coaching play, this might ignite some fire, but so far has yielded very little.

 

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He’s posted decent shot differentials – albeit in a small sample consisting of a little over a handful of games – with some of the Senators linemates below. It’s not like a lack of ‘compete’ or work ethic, if the Senators continue to dominate the shot differentials at even strength, the goals will eventually come. Data for the below table is from Natural Stat Trick.

 

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The table shows the ice time with individual production per 60 rates at 5v5 among his most common linemates. The 22% shooting percentage with Mark Stone could be discounted somewhat, but the 5.99% in 66 minutes with Hoffman and without a goal scored while on the ice with Bobby Ryan, despite having the highest high danger scoring chances per 60 together rates together could be early signs – always look for ‘the tell’ or warning trigger on potential acquisitions.

 

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The Senators power play has been snake bit even before Duchene joined them eight games ago. They’ve scored three goals on 28 opportunities for a 10.7% efficiency, a spillover of the eight games leading up to the trade (2 for 30, 6.67% efficiency). All that is a far cry from the nine goals scored in the first six games (9 for 28, 32% efficiency). Even with Kyle Turris being moved to Nashville, he is tied with Mike Hoffman with three goals and eight points for the Senators scoring lead at 5v4 (3-5-8). Both skaters include performance better than expected goals, both on the ice for 11 goals with significant less expected goals. Duchene on the other hand, hasn’t seen the same success, on the ice for four goals, scoring two on them on his own – while firing 14.29% individually.

 

View post on imgur.com

 

Duchene’s individual shot attempts per 60 rates aren’t flattering either, with the exception of having the highest rates of individual expected goals for per 60, on his own, he’s in the middle of shot attempt generation among his teammates (which includes his time in Colorado.)

 

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There’s too much individual talent on this club to continue to be mired in the recent scoring woes plaguing the team. They may not hit expectations overall, but there’s a distinct opportunity to exploit some less valued players to augment an already winning roster.

Don’t sleep on the Sens.



Gus Katsaros is the Pro Scouting Coordinator with McKeen’s Hockey, publishers of industry leading scouting and fantasy guide, the McKeen’s Annual Hockey Pool Yearbook. He also contributes to popular blog MapleLeafsHotStove.com ... he can be followed on Twitter @KatsHockey
Email :Gus Katsaros



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