Gameday 8: Don’t Be Fooled





You can put a star next to that one: Thursday, October 28, 2023, the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-0. A serious opponent requires a serious effort, and this time Pittsburgh put in a full, 60 minute effort against an Avalanche team that had to that point been undefeated. Tristan Jarry notched his second shutout of the season, and in the offensive end the finishing was there too. Funny how everything came up roses for the Penguins when they actually tried. Now the challenge for Pittsburgh is to make these kinds of games the norm and not the exception.

hot dog hot dog hot diggity dog

Tonight the Penguins are back to playing competition that is more on par with them, this time it’s the Ottawa Senators. Like Pittsburgh, Ottawa started the season expecting to be in the playoff conversation as a 3-5 seed, but right now they sit three points behind Montreal for fifth place in the Atlantic Division. After losing their season opener against Carolina, the Senators returned home and rattled off three straight wins before giving those wins back in their last three games. Unlike Pittsburgh, Ottawa has been much better at preventing their opponents from producing shot attempts and shots, but thus far that hasn’t insulated the Senators from allowing the ninth-most goals against per game thus far.

Worse yet for Ottawa is that, with injuries to defensemen Artem Zub and Erik Brannstrom, they are now adding #1 defenseman Thomas Chabot to that pile. Chabot has struggled to stay healthy in his career (he’s missed 37 games over the last two seasons) and it’s probably hindered his ability to return to Norris consideration which last came in his second full season in 2018-19. Nevertheless he’s been Ottawa’s leader in ice time each of the last six seasons. Now it will become even more important for the Senators’ younger defensemen (like Jake Sanderson and Jacob Bernard-Docker) to make the next big step up for Ottawa.

I bet they wish they still had this guy

In fact, the same goes for the rest of the team as well. Ever since Chabot emerged as the Senators’ #1 defenseman, Ottawa has been anticipating its golden generation to make in impact and lift the Senators out of the Atlantic Division basement. Unfortunately for them, the golden generation hasn’t been as lustrous as some of their contemporaries’, like New Jersey, Buffalo and Detroit, and the fact that Ottawa doesn’t have a stud young goaltender on their roster (and instead they have Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg) is really going to put a damper on any serious hopes they have of making a deep run in the playoffs this year. Once again, it’s early in the season and things can improve, but heading into November (and possibly December) without Chabot is going to be problematic.