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The Ottawa Senators are preparing for their home opener against the Philadelphia Flyers this Saturday. After playing a man short in the season opener against Carolina, the Sens are hoping to get a couple of bodies back. The most anticipated of these returns is, of course, Josh Norris, who continues to recover from his shoulder surgery. After being expected to play in the pre-season, setback after setback extended the Josh Norris injury rehab into the middle of October. But, some recent news indicates that Norris is ready to return to the team very soon, possibly even for Saturday’s game against the Flyers.
Josh Norris Injury Update
It has been over 250 days since Norris last suited up for an NHL game. This came last January against the Winnipeg Jets, where Josh Norris re-injured his shoulder. His first injury last season came back in October against the Arizona Coyotes, which left him out of action for 3 months. Norris would return for a total of 2 and a half games before he required surgery to repair his shoulder.
The feeling among the fanbase and the organization was that Norris would be completely healthy and ready to go for the start of training camp. But, as I mentioned before, tweaks to his shoulder have set him back to the point where he is still waiting to get back into the game.
But finally, it sounds like Josh Norris may finally be ready to go again. Bruce Garrioch recently reported the organization’s feelings and expectations regarding the return of Josh Norris:
When the Senators skate Friday, all eyes will be on centre Josh Norris as we wait to see if he’ll be ready to make his season debut this weekend. The belief is that it could happen as early as Saturday or Sunday at the latest if all goes well.Bruce Garrioch Postmedia
Now, what caught my eye the most in this clip was the wording of Garrioch, “or Sunday at the latest.” By saying “the latest,” I get the impression that the organization firmly believes he will be ready to go for one of, if not both, of this weekend’s games. Hopefully, this isn’t just another smoke screen being put out by the Ottawa Senators management, and they genuinely believe Norris will be ready. If he is cleared and in the lineup, it would be a massive boost to the Ottawa Senators lineup.
What This Means For The Rest Of The Lineup
The return of Josh Norris helps rebuild some of the excellent centre depth that the Senators have. Slotting Norris in the 2C position would allow the Senators to run the likes of Stutzle, Norris, Greig, and Kastelic down the middle. Compared to the group they used in the season opener against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Re-uniting the likes of Drake Batherson and Josh Norris has been a long-awaited feat for Sens fans. After the trio of Batherson, Norris, and Tkachuk were dominant in the 2021 season, fans hope to re-kindle the chemistry between Norris and Batherson. Also, allowing Ridly Greig to fill a 3rd line role seems more optimal, given where he is in his progression as a player. Look for the Shane Pinto effect, where even though the player was given a lesser opportunity on the third line, they excelled against weaker competition.
What Josh Norris Brings To The Team
After not being a mainstay on the roster for so long, it can be easy to forget just how dominant Josh Norris is. In his last full season in the NHL, Josh Norris led the team in goals with 35 and added 20 assists for 55 points in only 66 games. This earned him his $7.95M contract extension, contributing to the Senators’ tight cap situation. But remember, when healthy, Josh Norris should be worth every penny of this contract. I have no doubts that he can come in and be the team’s most dangerous goal scorer, even ahead of Stutzle/Tkachuk if he is 100% healthy.
Norris will also be a mainstay on the Senators’ power play, where he was the primary triggerman for the season. After a slow start from the special teams in Carolina, Josh Norris could be the perfect insertion to get them going.
For a more in-depth look at Josh Norris before his injury, here are some of his advanced statistics from the 2021/2022 season.
- CF% (Shot attempts for versus against) 54.55%
- xGF% (Expected goals for versus against) 53.70%
- GF% (Goals for versus against) 57.32%
- HDCF% (High danger chances for versus against) 58.33%
Josh Norris put up great underlying numbers across the board and should be able to add onto this great season. And, of course, what you won’t see on the stat sheet is the morale boost Norris’s return will bring to this team. Josh Norris is loved by his teammates, and they are all going through this recovery with him as they eagerly await their teammate’s and friend’s return.
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