Sens after 70 Games – Rock-Solid

 

Mar 8, 2012; Ottawa, ON, CAN; Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza (19) celebrates with left wing Milan Michalek (9) after a goal in the third period against the New York Rangers at Scotiabank Place. The Senators defeated the Rangers 4-1. PHOTO: Marc DesRosiers-US PRESSWIRE

Continuing to overcome adversity, the young Senators have solidified their standing as a playoff team.  With only 12 games remaining in the season, it is not a matter of if they will qualify, but what seed they can track down.  The #2 seed and the division title is still in play, with Boston having their struggles lately. 

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
61 @NYI W 6-0  Anderson SO, Karlsson, Spezza pot pairs as Sens dominate Isles
62 WSH W 5-2  Karlsson sets franchise records for assists in a season
63 BOS L 5-3 Auld drops the ball after Anderson’s freak injury
64 NYI W 5-2 Lehner takes over the crease, makes 28 saves
65 @BOS W 1-0 Lehner’s first career shutout, defeats defending champs
66 CHI L 2-1 Former Sens Emery, Hossa haunt the Sens
67 @FLA L 4-2 Sens cough up 2-0 lead in Lehner’s final audition
68 @TB W 7-3 Michalek’s natural hat trick helps Bishop wins his first Senators start
69 NYR W 4-1 Senators top NHL’s best team, albeit without Lundqvist
70 BUF L 4-3 (SO) Questionable tying goal leads to Buffalo SO win

 

COMPARING THE SEGMENTS SO FAR

W L OT/SO L PTS GF GA PP PK
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%)
GAMES 51-60 3 5 2 8 25 32 6/31 (19.4%) 28/34 (82.4%)
GAMES 61-70 6 3 1 13 37 22 9/25 (36.0%) 27/32 (84.4%)

CURRENT PACE:  95 points

Biggest Surprise

The consistent play of this team is continuing to turn heads around the league.  The Senators may have taken some teams by surprise early in the season, but teams cannot use that as an excuse any more, making the success all the more surprising, and proving this team is for real and although playoff success might not be expected, it is entirely possible with the right matchup.

Biggest Disappointment

Just when he was in a groove, Craig Anderson‘s freak injury was a setback to say the least.  However, if you are from the school of thought that all things happen for a reason, the injury allowed the Senators to realize that Alex Auld isn’t the answer to any positive question, Robin Lehner is capable of being a solid NHL goalie and it also made the acquisition of Ben Bishop important, if not a necessity.

 

SEGMENT STARS

3. Jason Spezza – Perhaps even more impressive than his 4 goals and 6 assists, was the centreman’s +6 over the last 10 games, further demonstrating his all-around game is intact.

2. Milan Michalek  – After slumping for stretches since Christmas, Michalek has found a rhythm lately, with 7 goals and 5 assists in his last 10 games, including a natural hat trick against the Lightning (although the last 2 were into empty nets).

1. Erik Karlsson – Setting club records and increasing his lead in scoring for defensemen, Karlsson has made it almost impossible to be left off the ballot for the Norris Trophy.  Recorded 8 goals (including 3 game winners) and 8 assists in this segment.

 

SYNOPSIS OF THE LAST 10 GAMES

This was an important stretch for the Senators, following up their worst segment with a very good one.  After game 60, the Senators were poised to go either way, they could right the ship and stay in contention, or with another poor set of games would be on the outside looking in.  The Senators did the former, and it looks like they have solidified a playoff spot and are on pace for 95 points, which would be a 21 point improvement over last season and probably 30 points more than most prognosticators would have expected heading into the season.

 

LOOKING AHEAD TO THE NEXT 12 GAMES

The Senators have 12 games left, and there are a number of important games coming up.  They have 5 divisional games (3 vs Montreal and one each against Boston and Toronto), and 2 games against the New Jersey Devils.  The Devils are the club that Ottawa is chasing for the 6th seed and probably the easiest first round opponent, the winner of the Southeast Division.  They also play the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins and the strong Flyers club.  They also travel to Winnipeg and Long Island and host the Hurricanes to round out the schedule.

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Topics: Alex Auld, Ben Bishop, Craig Anderson, Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, Robin Lehner

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