North Division: How the Canucks stack up against the Senators

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Jay Beagle of the Vancouver Canucks takes a faceoff against Matt Duchene of the Ottawa Senators. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

In the final installment of the North Division series at The Canuck Way, let’s take a look at how the Vancouver Canucks matchup against the Ottawa Senators.

There isn’t much documented in terms of a heated history between the Vancouver Canucks and the Ottawa Senators, but a nine-game series spread across a 56-game schedule could potentially spark a rivalry. The Canucks made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2015, while the Senators were among some of the NHL’s worst overall teams. In fact, of all seven Canadian teams, Ottawa was the only one that didn’t make the cut for last season’s play-in tournament. Vancouver, on the other hand, was the last Canadian team left standing in the 2020 NHL Playoffs. This series will feature a lot of youthful talent, which should make for an entertaining affair.

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How the offence stacks up

The Canucks were one of the better offensive teams in 2019-20, but it had a lot to do with a successful power play and little to do with their success at even strength. Even still, the Canucks were much more effective with the puck than the Senators managed to be last season and not much should change in 2021. For the most part, aside from a couple of spots that are possibly up for grabs in training camp, the Canucks will be returning with the same forward group as last season and should be expected to put up similar numbers. In fact, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to think that the Canucks could return with even bigger offensive numbers. Last season, Vancouver scored a total of 224 times, while the Senators’ offensive numbers plummeted to the bottom of the standings. Ottawa managed to score 190 times (34 fewer goals), but they were scored against 238 times. The differential in goals for Ottawa was -48, while the Canucks goal differential was +10.

J.T. Miller led Vancouver with 72 points last season and was tied with Elias Pettersson for the team lead in goals with 27.

Brady Tkachuk led the Senators with 43 points while Jean-Gabriel Pageau was the Sens leading goal scorer before being traded to the New York Islanders with 24.

However, the Senators do have some good young forwards in Tkachuk, Colin White and Tim Stutzle as well as the recent addition of experienced swinger Evgenii Dadonov to the top six. Adding Alex Galchenyuk and Derek Stepan could provide a little bit of depth scoring and they could score more goals than last season, but they will likely be closer to the bottom of the league in terms of offence. On the other hand, the Canucks could be in the top 15 in scoring with the likes of Miller, Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat leading the way.

How the defence stacks up

The Senators gave up 238 goals last season, which was second-worst in the entire league, only behind the Detroit Red Wings who gave up 265. The Canucks gave up 214 goals last season which put them in a four-way tie for 13th.

Both defences weren’t very good last year and were led by two young defensemen in Thomas Chabot and Quinn Hughes. They will lead the way for their respective defensive cores again this season.

The Canucks did lose depth with Chris Tanev and Troy Stecher departing in free agency but also upgraded their top four by acquiring Nate Schmidt, who is a solid puck-moving defenceman. They added Travis Hamonic on a PTO (likely going to be a one-year deal when the season starts and when Micheal Ferland goes on LTIR) as well, who provides depth and stability on the right side.

The Senators added former Canuck Erik Gudbranson by trade from Anaheim and Brayden Coburn by trade from Tampa Bay. and Josh Brown through free agency.  Their defensive core also consists of Chabot, Nikita Zaitsev and Erik Brannstrom.

Some could argue that the Canucks defence is better than last season with the acquisitions of Schmidt and Hamonic. While this could be true, it’s still not great but it’s a bit better.  Vancouver could also see prospects Olli Juolevi and Jack Rathbone step in.

The Sens’ defence isn’t very good. Other than Chabot, there isn’t really much to be excited about and he will have a sore back from carrying the Ottawa defence this season.

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