The play of the Senators has gone from Surprising to Shocking. Although I predicted the Sens would sneak into the playoffs this year, I never would have fathomed that they would be in a position to garner a home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, which is where they have placed themselves. There is still the “games in hand” asterisk, but as long as the pace they have set continues, it doesn’t matter about games in hand.
Here is a quick snapshot of how the Senators have done in the last 10 games (click on opponent for a detailed recap in case you missed it):
|Game #||Opponent||Result||Quick Synopsis|
|41||TB||W 4-1||Alfie scores 1, adds 2 assists on the day he is named All-Star starter|
|42||@PHI||L 3-2 (OT)||Sens let a lead slip away, but still come away with valuable point|
|43||PHI||W 6-4||Four goal third period as Sens complete another startling comeback|
|44||@PIT||W 5-1||Spezza’s goal highlights a dominant performance|
|45||@NYR||W 3-0||Anderson makes 34 saves for his first shutout of the season against the league’s top team|
|46||@MTL||W 3-2 (SO)||Senators cough up last minute lead, but secure SO win|
|47||WPG||L 2-0||Sole home game in a 25 day stretch was a stinker as Mason shuts door on Sens|
|48||@TOR||W 3-2||After falling behing 2-0 early, Alfredsson cues comeback and Turris finishes it off|
|49||@SJ||W 4-1||West trip starts off on good note, Sens win despite being vastly outplayed early in the game|
|50||@ANH||L 2-1||Comeback effort falls short as Hiller stones Sens|
COMPARING THE SEGMENTS SO FAR
|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%)|
|GAMES 21-30||3||4||3||9||30||33||4/39 (10.2%)||38/46 (82.6%)|
|GAMES 31-40||7||2||1||15||31||30||6/35 (17.1%)||25/33 (75.8%)|
|GAMES 41-50||7||2||1||15||30||18||5/30 (16.7%)||31/33 (93.9%)|
CURRENT PACE: 96 points
A pleasant one, that the team played so well in games involving some of the league’s best teams. Taking 7 of 8 points against the Rangers, Flyers and Penguins certainly wasn’t expected, and it made the Senators place in the standings more legitimate.
The effort in the home game against the Jets. It is almost understandable since it was the only home game in a long stretch and there were family distractions etc. But it was disappointing given the way the club was playing on the road for them to have such a stinker at home. And that might be nit-picking, given the success of the club in this stretch.
3. Kyle Turris – Answered a lot of nay-sayers (including myself) with his play in this segment. He notched 4 goals and 5 assists, including 2 game winners. He also showed a little grit in his battles with Daniel Briere.
2. Erik Karlsson – The Anaheim game notwithstanding, Karlsson continues to be the pillar of the blue line. He missed the Pittsburgh game, but still contributed 9 points (2G, 7A) in 9 games, with a game winner against the Sharks. He was +6 in this segment and is +7 overall. A far cry from his -30 last season.
1. Craig Anderson – A top contender for player of the month in January, Anderson has been an NHL first- and third- star of the week this month. His stellar play has allowed the Senators to stay in games they shouldn’t have and also to keep leads once they have them. He allowed more than 2 goals only to the Flyers (twice) and recorded his first shutout of the year.
SYNOPSIS OF THE LAST 10 GAMES
In what was expected to be a difficult test against some of the best teams in the NHL, (not to mention the abundance of road games), the Senators matched their best 10 game stretch of the season. Gutsy wins over top teams like the Flyers, Rangers and Sharks made the Senators a team to contend with instead of a team taking advantage of a favorable schedule. And the fact that 7 of the games were on the road made it that much more impressive. The biggest changes, and they go hand in hand is the penalty kill and the goals against. They are actually taking fewer penalties on average over the last 10 and 2o games, which puts less pressure on Anderson and the PK units. Non-believers are still waiting for the bubble to burst, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen any time soon.
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE NEXT 10 GAMES
The Senators continue to be away from home for the next 3 games, finishing their Western swing with games in LA and Phoenix before a well deserved week off for the All-Star break. Then they take a quick trip and a measuring stick game with the Boston Bruins before finally coming home for a 5 game home stand to start February. It will be a good opportunity to put some points on the board, because the Oilers, Leafs and Islanders are among the teams visiting. Back to back games against Western Conference contenders St. Louis (and Brian Elliott) and Nashville (and Mike Fisher) will be tough, but after the homestand a trip to Florida is another opportunity to post some wins. It is not out of the realm of possibility that if they take all the games seriously and don’t look past any team, they could win 7 or 8 of those games.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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