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Thursday Think Tank

October 11, 2018, 2:07 PM ET [21 Comments]
Trevor Shackles
Ottawa Senators Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
You can follow me on Twitter @ShackTS

The first ever Think Tank where I can actually talk about real games, hooray!

Brady’s impressive debut

Brady Tkachuk didn’t do too much in his NHL debut against the Bruins, but he had quite the memorable home debut. His first goal was incredibly lucky, but his second was a wickedly fast wrist shot, and he ended the night with two goals, one assist, six shots, eight shot attempts, a 60% CF, and was on the ice for four goals for and zero against. I’m sure when he is telling his grandkids how he scored his first goal, he’ll describe this one:

It’s nice to see him make such an immediate impact because the Senators need some feel-good stories right now. I’ve like what I’ve seen so far from Tkachuk in these two games, and I’d be shocked if he ended up getting sent to the London Knights.

Anderson looks done

Craig Anderson had another poor performance last night after allowing six goals, bringing his SV% after three games to .895%. He has been just as bad (if not worse) so far, and it’s hard to have hope that he is going to bounce back. Sure, the defense is bad too and is going to make him look even worse, but there are plenty of goals that should be stopped.

He simply looks like a goalie that is too old to be a starter anymore, and it’s just sad. It might be too soon to make that proclamation, but this has been going on for a calendar year now.

Lajoie here to stay?

Max Lajoie did it again. In his second home game, Lajoie scored two more goals and added an assist, giving him five points in four games. It’s incredible that he has three goals already considering that he scored just one goal in his rookie season in the AHL. It was a shock to see him begin the season in the starting lineup, but he has been quite impressive and looks very poised. Conventional thinking would say that he will come out of the lineup soon for Ben Harpur, but how can you take him out now?

Harpur shouldn’t be in the NHL to begin with, and Lajoie is proving himself to be a capable NHLer. He has also been playing with Cody Ceci, which is a tough task in itself. At some point this year, Christian Wolanin will be up in Ottawa again. However, I’m not sure it will be at the expense of Lajoie because he could be here to stay.

Formenton needs to show more

Alex Formenton is legitimately one of the fastest players in the league, and that’s indisputable. He should be able to wreak havoc on the forecheck, and I think he can be an effective NHL player. He even took the role of a pest yesterday, which was effective:

And while the package he brings is exciting, his on-ice results haven’t been there. He’s pointless in four games, but he has also been getting caved in almost every single shift. His CF% sits at an abysmal 30.26%, and aside from a few fast rushes down the wing, he hasn’t done enough in the offensive zone. Don’t get me wrong, he’s an exciting and electric player. But there’s nothing wrong with sending him back to London to see if he can dominate there and then bringing up Filip Chlapik or Rudolfs Balcers to replace him.

He’s still just 19 years old and has lots of time to develop, but he just needs to refine his offensive game. My bet is that he plays five more games and then gets sent back to the OHL.

Tierney’s quietly good start

If I asked you who led the Senators in points after four games, the most common answers would probably be Thomas Chabot, Mark Stone, or Matt Duchene. The latter two actually only have two points each so far, although Chabot is technically tied for first. The person he’s tied with though? None other than one of the newest members of the team, Chris Tierney. Tierney has one goal and five assists to begin the year, and he’s quietly been very involved in Ottawa’s offense.

His career high in points came last year when he hit the 40-point mark, so I don’t expect him to be too much of a point producer. Having said that, at least the two NHL pieces that came back for Erik Karlsson (Tierney and DeMelo) have been playing well so far.

Entertaining games at least

Ottawa is allowing five goals against per game. That is, let’s say...not good. Even if they allow more than four goals per game, they are going to be a horrendously bad team. At the same time, they’re averaging 3.75 goals per game, and they’ve at least made the games entertaining. Coming into the season, everybody knew that the defense would be terrible, and there wasn’t much confidence in the goaltending either. The only question was about the offense, and the good news is that there have been lots of different players producing.

As with everything, it’s only been four games, but five players have at least four points and twelve have at least two. It’s been a balanced attack and throughout the season it is going to be fun cheering for a plethora of different young players to score. This might be one of the worst teams in the league, but I’ll take a 6-5 loss over a 2-1 loss every day during a rebuild.
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