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Senators Come Close in Colorado, but Close Only Counts in Horseshoes

February 12, 2020, 1:17 PM ET [16 Comments]
Michael Stuart
Ottawa Senators Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Ottawa Senators gave it their all last night against the Colorado Avalanche, but ultimately fell short of victory in the 3-0 shutout loss. Despite the clear lack of production, Tuesday night was a step in the right direction for D.J. Smith’s club. The Senators played the dangerous and talented Avalanche to a relative draw at even strength, which has to be considered a win for this young team.

Here are last night’s thumbs:

Thumbs Up and Down: Anthony Duclair’s Night
Anthony Duclair’s underlying numbers last night were dreadful. He ranked right near the bottom of the Ottawa lineup in terms of both five-on-five shot attempt share and expected goal share per Natural Stat Trick. Simply put, the Senators were outplayed most of the time that he was on the ice.

Even so, it *was* nice to see him get some quality chances to break his scoring slump, especially towards the end of the game. Within the final minutes, he had two or three Grade-A opportunities to put the puck in the net. Now scoreless in 18 games and pointless in his last five, Duclair needs one of these chances to go his way sooner rather than later.

Thumbs Up: The Mike Reilly-Nikita Zaitsev Pairing
For whatever reason, the Reilly/Zaitsev duo continues to defy expectations and function as a solid pairing. The two hovered right around 60% in terms of both five-on-five shot attempt share and expected goal share last night against a team that has a habit of making players like Zaitsev look silly more often than not. It’s still incredibly early, but if this pairing can continue on this trajectory, it will be a big boost for the Senators in terms of being able to rotate their defence without fear.

Thumbs Down: Vladislav Namestnikov’s Trade Value

It’s been a really rough go for Vladislav Namestnikov over the last few weeks, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Senators. Namestnikov was once again woefully ineffective on the ice last night, which led to him chasing the puck and spending a lot of time in the defensive zone. He doesn’t even look like the same player that came over from New York right now. It’s tough to imagine any team giving up more than a throwaway pick or prospect for him at the deadline, which is especially disappointing given Ottawa’s cost to acquire.

Thumbs Up: Connor Brown Created Chances
I thought Connor Brown had a very solid night. Whenever he was on the ice, something seemed to be happening. It’s true that the Avalanche had their moments when he was out there, but more often than not it seemed like the action was occurring at the correct end of the rink. It made for an entertaining brand of hockey.

Thumbs Up: Marcus Hogberg
Hogberg seems to have a reserved seat at the “Thumbs Up” table these days, and he was once again very good last night. He stopped 33 of 35 shots fired in his direction, raising his season save percentage to .912 behind a generally porous Ottawa blue line. His play this year has changed the “goalie of the future” conversation.

Thumbs Down: Nick Paul’s Disallowed Goal
To have this play result in both no goal and no penalty suggests that there should be tweaks made to the rules:

Hogberg was doing a wonderful job of keeping the team in the game to that point, and a call in the other direction here really could have done a lot to shift momentum in Ottawa’s direction. That didn’t happen.

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The Senators continue their journey to the trade deadline with a matchup against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night. The Coyotes are fighting for their lives in the Pacific Division playoff race, so they will be playing with a lot on the line.

As always, thanks for reading.
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