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Ottawa Senators’ Player News: Nilsson, Hainsey, Ennis, Zaitsev, Brown, Chabot, Pageau

The Ottawa Senators have had a tough season so far, and lost another game in Arizona tonight. How are their players doing? What’s news for the team?

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The Ottawa Senators played in Phoenix tonight against the Coyotes and lost 5-2. The story was simply not enough offense. That said, the Coyotes haven’t allowed more than two goals in regulation during any game this season. So, it was par for the course for both teams. The Senators don’t score many goals, and the Coyotes don’t give up many.

The Senators were coming off a game they lost – but, still felt good about because they took the Vegas Golden Knights to overtime and lost in a shootout. Not so much tonight. Although the Senators made a game of it in the third period, after Vladislav Namestnikov and Chris Tierney scored, they had given up too much too early in the first period to catch up against a solid defensive team like the Coyotes.

Ottawa coach D.J. Smith, who is really playing up the “try hard” aspect of the team, put it this way: ”They outplayed in the first period, didn’t give us anything, we made some major mistakes that end up in the net, and then you’re playing catch-up hockey the rest of the way, which is tough.” He added, ”The second and third period, I really liked our effort.”

The Senators earned a point in Thursday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Vegas, but were shaky defensively and allowed the Golden Knights to pepper their goalie. Tonight Ottawa didn’t give up as many shots, but more shots went in the net.

Against the Golden Knights, a lot of good things happened, not the least of which was a really solid goaltending performance by Anders Nilsson. Plus, they picked up a hard-earned point on the road.

The Arizona Coyotes are playing well, and are now 4-0-1 in their last five games. They are led by ex-Bruins, ex-Maple Leafs, and ex-Penguins scoring star Phil Kessel. Kessel has scored wherever he’s played and currently sits with 359 goals for his career.

The Senators were looking to put together another strong road showing, but they couldn’t beat the Coyotes. Now they head to Dallas on Monday, where the team could use more than a moral victory.

In this weekly segment, here at NHLTradeTalk.com, we’ll look at Senators player news for the past week.

Player Review One: Anders Nilsson Is Brilliant, But Still Loses

Sometimes goalies can simply steal victories, but their team also needs to score goals. In the overtime shootout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, Anders Nilsson was brilliant – he stopped 52 of 54 shots he saw, but his team was only able to get two goals themselves. Too bad: as I say, a moral victory – but not one in the win column.

It was Nilsson’s second start of the season and he set his own single-game career-high for saves. Indeed, he was hot: when the Senators were short-handed, the Golden Knights fired 13 shots at him. Although Craig Anderson is still the team’s starting goalie, Nilsson looks strong as well.

The Senators are (mostly) a young, rebuilding team with some veteran help. But the team’s problem isn’t in goal. On most nights the goalies come through. They need scoring help and lots of it.

Player Review Two: Ron Hainsey Might Know Where to Stand, But He Hasn’t Scored

Ron Hainsey has been around seemingly forever, so he’s been on good teams and bad. Last season, he was on the high-flying Toronto Maple Leafs, where head coach Mike Babcock liked him because he “knew where to stand.” [He was good on defense.]

This season? Well, it’s different. The veteran defenseman has only a single point in seven games. That doesn’t mean he isn’t playing well, it just means that he won’t score as much with the Senators as he did with the high-scoring Maple Leafs. Then, again, few teams score like the Maple Leafs score.

He’s good for the team, but the team isn’t good for his scorecard.

Player Review Three: Tyler Ennis Scores His First Point of the Season

Last season, Tyler Ennis came to the Maple Leafs after having been bought out of his contract with the Minnesota Wild. He had a solid season with the Maple Leafs, filling in wherever he was needed. This season with the Senators, he’s playing more and scored an assist in the Golden Knights game. However, his scoring is also down. Again, that’s the cost of playing with an up-and-coming team rather than one that’s arrived.

Ennis, an Edmonton native, is one of my favorite players anywhere in the NHL. I would personally love nothing more than to see him score like he did when he was with the Buffalo Sabres. I’d love to see him get a hat trick against the Stars on Monday.

Player Review Four: Nikita Zaitsev Is Having a Slow Start in Ottawa

I was hoping when Zaitsev moved out of the Toronto spotlight, he would relax and play the game he brought to the NHL when he was a rookie with the Maple Leafs. That hasn’t happened yet, and he has only two assists in seven games with the Senators. He’s not playing badly and the potential is there, but the team is starting slowly.

A high-scoring win would lift the entire team. It didn’t come against the Coyotes, but Zaitsev played over 27 minutes tonight, so Smith obviously trusts him on defense.

Player Review Five: Connor Brown: Notches Two Helpers

One thing we know for sure is that Connor Brown was looking forward to playing with head coach D.J. Smith in Ottawa. And he’s delivered with five assists in seven games. He looks at home. I’m hoping he has a great season and will get some of his mojo back that he had with the Erie Otters, where he had 45 goals, 83 assists, and 128 points in 2013-14.

Player Review Six: Thomas Chabot Scores First Goal of the Season

Thomas Chabot is simply a great young defenseman. Last season, the 22-year-old from Quebec scored 14 goals, 41 assists, and 55 points for the season. This season, although his scoring is down (everyone’s is really), he’s leading the team’s blue line. It’s a lot of pressure for a young player, but he seems up to it.

Against the Golden Knights, albeit the game went into overtime, he played 28:12 minutes of ice time. He scored his first goal of the season. He had an assist against the Coyotes and added 27:50 minutes of ice time in a game that didn’t go into overtime.

Player Review Seven: Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Jean-Gabriel Pageau is starting to have the season that he simply wasn’t able to during 2018-19. He’s scored two goals this season and has five points in seven games. If he’s able to stay healthy, he should be able to hit 20 goals for the first time. His previous high was 19 goals during the 2015-16 season.

What’s Next with the Ottawa Senators?

The Senators skate into Dallas to play the Stars Monday night. I think they will come out of their losing streak. I predict a 5-2 win for the team.

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