After their 5-5 start surprised many, the Ottawa Senators next 10 game segment was equally streaky. After having their winning streak snapped at 6, they proceeded to drop their next 4 games. Now, as this 10 game segment ended and the club reached the 1/4 pole, they are back on the winning ways, with 3 straight wins, all against Canadian clubs. When all things are said and done, you certainly can’t complain about this team being boring.
Before we discuss the highs and lows of the last 10 games, lets refresh our memories about what happened (click on the opponent’s name to view SenShot’s detailed recap of the game):
|Game #||Opponent||Result||Quick Synopsis|
|11||@ NYR||W 5-4 (OT)||Another comeback win, but lose Alfie to a concussion|
|12||TOR||W 3-2||Daugavins’ first NHL goal is the winner|
|13||@BOS||L 5-3||Six game winning streak snapped by Cup Champs|
|14||MTL||L 2-1||Second period goals 3 minutes apart all Price needed|
|15||BUF||L 3-2 (SO)||Rockland native Roy stabs Sens in heart with SO winner|
|16||NYR||L 3-2||Gaborik, Stepan lead the way to victory for Rangers|
|17||@BUF||L 4-1||Anderson gives up goals on first 2 shots to ruin Alfie Day|
|18||@ TOR||W 4-3||31 saves in rebound win for 1st Star Anderson|
|19||@ CGY||W 3-1||Butler’s first two goals of season in 3rd was enough|
|20||@EDM||W 5-2||A rare 1st period outburst (3 G) set the tone for Sens|
COMPARING THE SEGMENTS
|GAMES 1-10||5||5||0||10||29||39||10/34 (29.4%)||34/47 (72.3%)|
|GAMES 11-20||5||4||1||11||29||26||4/35 (11.4%)||35/40 (87.5%)|
As you can see, the biggest difference between the last 10 games and the first 10 was the ability to keep the puck out of their own net. They cut their goals against by 13 while, coincidentally (or not), the penalty kill allowed 8 fewer goals. Their 5 on 5 play was better as well. The power play struggled, which can be explained by the absence of Daniel Alfredsson and the struggles of Jason Spezza for large chunks of time.
Kaspars Daugavins has cemented his role on the club, and may have created a problem with Nikita Filatov. After scoring the winner against the Leafs, he returned to Binghamton for some dental surgery. He returned after missing the home game against Buffalo and has been in the lineup ever since. the line of Daugavins, Zack Smith and Eric Condra has been the most consistent line for the team since they were put together. The Latvian’s biggest impact has been on the Sens’ PK, which has been nearly perfect since November 1.
Jason Spezza had 2 point efforts in the first and last games of the segment, but had only 2 assists total in the other 8 games. During the 5 game losing streak, they needed him to step up and lead, especially with the absence of Alfredsson. He really didn’t do that, and the results spoke for themselves. The Senators’ 1-4 record without the Captain shows that is really isn’t Spezza’s team…yet.
3. Craig Anderson – The players in front of him contributed as well, but Anderson was much better in this stretch than he was in the first one. The short start in Buffalo aside, Anderson appeared more comfortable and confident in the net. In 5 of the 9 games he started, he allowed 2 goals of fewer (not counting the game he was pulled in Buffalo, where he also only allowed 2, but they were on the first two shots).
2. Zack Smith – The third line centre ended up playing second line minutes thanks to his consistent play and his defensive awareness. He scored 2 goals (including the GWG against Toronto Nov 12th) and added 4 assists. His faceoff work was good, except for (ironically) the last Toronto game where he was below 15%. The penalty kill was where he made his biggest mark, and was one of the reasons for the drastic improvement of the unit. He had only 11 PIM, so maybe he is realizing that he is more important on the ice than sitting in the penalty box.
1. Erik Karlsson – Continued to be the playmaker of the team. His 8 assists led all scorers, but more telling stat about his game is the +4 rating he had in the 10 games. His defensive play continues to improve by leaps and bounds. He was only a minus player in 2 games, while playing over 25 minutes on average per game.
SYNOPSIS OF THE LAST 10 GAMES
The Senators were the first team to hit the 20 game mark, so their place in the standings is a little bit misleading, as the teams around them have games in hand. However, they do sit in 8th place, only 4 points out of first place in the very tight Eastern Conference, and 3 behind Buffalo for first in the Northeast Division. Ottawa is on pace for 86 points, which would be an improvement of 12 points over last year. It still won’t likely be enough to put them in the playoffs, but if they can get 11 or 12 points out of every 10 game segment they will put themselves in a good position to qualify for the post season.
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE NEXT 10 GAMES
Taking the club to mid-December, the next 10 games are much less division-centred than the last 10. They have a road game in Vancouver, before taking 4 days off and going to Pittsburgh. Then they return for one game (vs Carolina) before heading back on the road for 3 (Winnipeg, Dallas and Washington). Tampa and Washington then pay a visit to SBP before the head to the swamp to face the Devils. Then they wrap up the segment when they play the Canucks for the second time in a month, this time at home.
The only teams in this segment that are above the Senators in the standings are Pittsburgh and Dallas. Washington is sitting in 3rd in the conference, but that is only because they lead their division. They have the same number of points as of Friday Nov 18th as the Senators, but do have 3 games in hand.
If they can get through this segment with a record above .500 and maybe earn 13 or 14 points, they will have to be considered contenders to make the playoffs. If they do not get at least 10 points, they will be what many people thought they were, and that is pretenders.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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