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The Sens power play was one of their primary keys to success this past season. The team finished 8th in terms of power-play efficiency with a percentage of 23.5%. Finding the perfect power play combinations can be difficult with the offensive firepower in the Sens top 6 and on the blue line. In this article, I will be taking a look into the advanced statistics that show what should be the most effective power-play units.
Probable Sens Power Play Personnel
There are a total of 4 defencemen and 9 forwards that I believe are capable of playing at a high level on the power play. Unfortunately, not every one of these players will have power play opportunities (with a fully healthy roster). The guys that I believe will be edged out slightly for power play time include Dominik Kubalik, Erik Brannstrom, and Ridly Greig. If we have learned anything about the Ottawa Senators however, players will get injured and these guys will have to step in.
Who Should Play On The Top PP Unit
The Senator’s most common power play unit last season included Brady Tkachuk, Alex DeBrincat, Drake Batherson, Tim Stutzle, and Thomas Chabot. This will have to change with the departure of Alex DeBrincat, but I think some other players will be moved down the depth chart as well.
Firstly, the two obvious members who will be playing on the top power-play unit are Brady Tkachuk and Tim Stutzle. These are the two most valuable Sens forwards, and I think it is all but a guarantee that they will be back on the first unit.
Over the last two seasons combined, Brady Tkachuk has scored a total of 20 goals and 26 assists for 46 power-play points. Tim Stutzle has scored 17 goals and 37 assists for 54 power-play points. This ranks first and second on the team over the last two seasons.
The other three players to put on the top unit can be debated. However, I think it should involve Drake Batherson, Thomas Chabot, and Josh Norris. Drake Batherson has been among the league’s best at producing on the power play over the last two seasons. He actually has a higher goals for % on the power play than both Tkachuk and Stutzle at 90.24%. He also has a higher expected goals-for percentage than those two players with an 88.90%. I think Batherson would fit perfectly once again as the guy in the bumper position.
The quarterback of the power play would be Thomas Chabot, who I am expecting to improve compared to last season. While he certainly didn’t appear to be at his best last season, he is still in my eyes, an elite offensive defenceman. With Jake Sanderson and Jakob Chychrun taking more defensive responsibilities for the Sens, I believe the power play will be Chabot’s to lose. Over the past two seasons, Chabot has an 88.28% in expected goals and an 88.93% in scoring chances for/against.
The final and most underrated piece of the first power play unit is Josh Norris. It seems as though some fans have forgotten how elite Josh Norris is on the man advantage. While it remains to be seen if he will be as effective as he was pre-injury, he is still the biggest shooting threat on the Senators.
Over the last two seasons, (really just 2021 plus 8 games) Josh Norris has been the most efficient power-play guy on the Sens. He has an incredible goals-for percentage of 97.56%, which leads the Sens by a mile. He also is the lone Senator to have an expected goals percentage above 90% (90.52%). He has to be on the top unit to start the season if the team wants to utilize their most dangerous power-play player.
Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle, Drake Batherson, Josh Norris, Thomas Chabot
Projecting The Second Unit
While this is the ‘second’ power-play unit, all of the players are more than capable of playing on the top unit. The Sens have more of a 1A/1B than a 1st and 2nd unit, similar to how their top 6 will be. On PP2, I am expecting to see a different look that has two defenceman and three forwards rather than the 1-4 look of the first unit.
The powerplay quarterback of the second unit should undoubtedly be Jake Sanderson. Sanderson’s ability to transition pucks into the offensive zone would be incredibly useful on the second unit. Not to mention he has the puck skills to move it around the umbrella in the offensive zone. In the relatively small sample size we’ve seen from Sanderson, he has put up impressive numbers. He has an expected goals percentage of 89.64% which ranks ahead of both Chabot and Chychrun. He also ranks first among the Sens in terms of high-danger chances for, versus against with a 103:9 ratio.
The other defenceman I expect to see on the power play is, of course, Jakob Chychrun. Chychrun brings a different aspect to the Sens powerplay, something they have been lacking for years. Chychrun’s cannon of a shot will finally provide the Sens with a legitimate threat from the blue line which will open the ice up for the skilled forwards. With the Coyotes, Chychrun put up an expected goals for percentage of 84.70%. While this may not sound as appealing as the previously mentioned Sens, it is key to note he was on a much worse Arizona power play and therefore has less favourable power play opportunities.
The most dangerous threat that I expect to see on the Sens’ second power-play unit is the newly acquired Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko is right up there with Josh Norris as the most dangerous shooter on the Sens and will likely be the first shooting option on the second power-play unit. Over the last two seasons, he had an incredibly high goals for percentage of 91.84%, although his expected goals were quite different being at only 83.18%. In theory, this tells us Tarasenko has been a lucky shooter, although when somebody with a shot as good as his gets chances, they don’t often miss.
The man in the middle of the second unit should once again be Shane Pinto. While we eagerly await news about his new contract, we can reminisce on how valuable he was to the second power-play unit. Pinto is a bumper position specialist who should fly relatively under the radar with the weapons the Sens have on the second unit. Last season, Pinto put up an expected goals for percentage of 87.13% while being the main triggerman on the second unit. With a full season of experience under his belt, I expect to see Shane Pinto become that much more effective on the power play.
The final piece of the second power-play unit should be Claude Giroux. Giroux on the second unit seems to be good to be true, but fear not Sens fans because that is our team’s reality. Over his career, Claude Giroux has been one of the very best power-play players in the entire NHL. Even though he isn’t in his prime anymore, Giroux is still an elite playmaker who knows how to find his teammates.
I expect him to be the guy who the power-play runs through, and whether he’s feeding Tarasenko cross-seam, or finding Pinto in the bumper, I know he will be able to put up the points. Last season, Giroux had a 33:4 ratio of goals for versus against on the ice, while also having an expected goals-for percentage of 86.59%.
Claude Giroux, Shane Pinto, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jake Sanderson, Jakob Chychrun
What Should We Expect From The Power Play
The Sens power play should be competing for a top 5 spot in the NHL. As discussed earlier, the Sens finished this season 8th in power play percentage in the NHL. While they lost one of their most dangerous power play pieces in Alex DeBrincat, they as a whole have improved from last season to this upcoming season. With the additions of Tarasenko, Jakob Chychrun, and Dominik Kubalik (in case of injury), the Sens have so many options to work with.
I am hoping to see the Sens have a power play that clicks around a 25% rate for the Season. This would have finished them tied for 5th place in the NHL this past season, which should be a good benchmark for the team. If they can stay relatively healthy, I think this is an achievable goal for the team to aim for. Anything below what the power play operated at last season would be disappointing in my eyes.
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