Stats and standings start to improve for Senators

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Perhaps at some point during the late night/early morning flight from Washington to Detroit, Ottawa Senators assistant captain Claude Giroux allowed himself to take a look at the position. of his club in the NHL standings.

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It’s not ideal, of course, with the Senators 16-16-3 after Thursday’s impressive 4-3 overtime win over the Washington Capitals, still nine points and five teams on a wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. Heading into Friday’s games, a trio of teams — Pittsburgh, New York Rangers and New York Islanders — were tied for the two wildcard positions.

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It is, however, much better than the Senators’ 8-12-1 mark a month ago, when Giroux said he would avoid looking at it because « it’s not too pretty. « .

The Senators have since moved on, clearly not closing the book on the season and showing plenty of life and spirit since their long Christmas hiatus.

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Their win over Washington, in which Giroux played a major role in setting up Tim Stutzle for a late second-period goal and the scorching Alex DeBrincat for the game-winner, marked the first time this season they’ve rallied for a win as they trailed after two periods.

December 29, 2022; Washington DC. Ottawa Senators right wing Claude Giroux (28) skates with the puck past Washington Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin (8) and Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov (92) in overtime at Capital One Arena.
December 29, 2022; Washington DC. Ottawa Senators right wing Claude Giroux (28) skates with the puck past Washington Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin (8) and Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov (92) in overtime at Capital One Arena. Photo by Geoff Burke /USA TODAY Sports

Back on Tuesday, they survived a late third-period assault by the Boston Bruins ahead of DeBrincat — who else? – delivered the winner of the shootout in a 3-2 victory.

All told, they’re now 8-3-2 in December, with a chance to end the calendar year on a high against the Detroit Red Wings on New Year’s Eve.

« It was tough watching him there for a while, » coach DJ Smith said of the Senators’ standings. « But we said we just wanted to get back in the peloton. We knew with all the injuries we had we had to start playing better defensively and the nights we didn’t (did that) we had great goalkeepers. So some things have come together. We have one more in December to have what I think is a very good month.

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The team’s good month was accompanied by several impressive individual streaks.

DeBrincat is on a roll, showcasing the promise made when he was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks for first-, second-, and third-round draft picks last summer. He has collected at least one point in 12 of his last 13 games, with a total of seven goals and 11 assists in that span.

Linemate Drake Batherson, who endured a miserable November with the rest of the squad, came to life. His current 12-game point streak (seven goals, 10 assists) is the longest by a Senators player in a decade.

Defenseman Thomas Chabot has rediscovered his legs and hands since returning from a concussion in late November. In his last 16 games, often carrying a heavy load due to the assortment of other injuries on the blue line, he has registered four goals and nine assists.

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Goaltender Cam Talbot, who arrived from the Minnesota Wild in a summer trade for Filip Gustavsson, has found his game after an inconsistent start with the Senators. He’s 7-2-1 with a 2.77 goals-against average in December and established himself as the current goaltender with wins over Boston and Washington.

All of the above prepares the Senators to rise through the ranks with weekend games against the Red Wings and Buffalo Sabers at the Canadian Tire Center on New Year’s Day.

It’s easy to get lost trying to figure out the numbers needed for the Senators to seriously fight for a playoff berth, but head-to-head games against teams pretty much are key.

The Senators could potentially edge out the Red Wings and Sabers this weekend. Detroit is currently two points ahead of Ottawa. The Sabres, who will face the Bruins on Saturday, have only one lead over Ottawa.

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From another perspective, the Red Wings and Sabers will no doubt be looking for ways to slow down DeBrincat and Batherson, who have found a home together playing alongside rookie center Shane Pinto. Pinto played back and forth with DeBrincat leading on the goal that tied the game against the Capitals with just 5:34 left in regulation.

« At this point you’re comfortable with the systems and who you play with and know your teammates and everything, » DeBrincat said. “I feel good with my line. I think we’ve developed some chemistry and they can make a lot of great plays. We are doing much better than at the start of the season.

  1. Files: Ottawa Senators forward Alex DeBrincat.

    DeBrincat continues to deliver, but what is his long-term future with the Senators?

  2. Ottawa Senators left winger Tim Stutzle (18) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals in the second period at Capital One Arena.

    The Cat caps a late Senators rally with a decisive overtime goal against Washington

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