Contrary to popular belief, or at least the doom and gloom coming from the Twitterverse after Sunday afternoon’s shootout loss to the Islanders, the roof is not yet caving in on the Ottawa Senators.
I wrote before the recent 4 game homestand that it was truly a season making or breaking set of games, and that if they took 7 or 8 points then they were in good shape. Well, they swept all 8 points that were available, and those points in the bank (literally and figuratively) would make up for some possible future struggles on the road where beneficial line matchups would be tougher to get.
Still, since the injury to Erik Karlsson (and Milan Michalek, who went out the same day), the Senators have captured 12 of a possible 18 points, for a .667 winning percentage. They were sitting at 7-5-2 the day after the game that Karlsson and Michalek went down, for a winning percentage of .571.
Has it been pretty? Absolutely not. Ottawa has managed to score only 14 goals in those 9 games and have relied on 3 shootout victories to keep pace. But last time I checked, there isn’t a column in the NHL standings for style. Otherwise, New Jersey wouldn’t have any Stanley Cup banners hanging in their arena. They are getting by on guts and goaltending. They only time having so many shootout victories is an issue would be as a tie-breaker come playoff time. Until then, a shootout point is the same as an overtime point. Admittedly, they are giving too many singles away in those games to conference rivals, but as long as they are to the right teams, it won’t matter too much. And the right teams n this case are the ones way ahead of the Sens (ie Boston – at least in terms of winning % if not actual points) or way behind the Sens (ie. the Islanders).
I am of the belief that it will take 56 points to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. That equates to a .583 winning percentage. The Senators are currently operating at a .609 winning percentage overall. Believe it or not, they are actually in a better place standings-wise today than they were on Feb 13th when Karlsson’s season was derailed by Matt Cooke and many thought (including myself) that the Senators’ season was derailed right along with it.
So to recap, using the Karlsson injury as the dividing point of the season to date:
|Pre Karlsson||Post Karlsson||OVERALL|
|OPP Winning % – COMB||0.580||0.617*||0.597*|
|Standing||6th East||5th East|
*-before the evening games of Sunday, March 3
The Senators have had more success, at least points wise, and against arguably stronger opponents after Karlsson’s injury than before it.
I didn’t believe it myself, until I did the math. It could be a case of the numbers lying, and they are getting it done a different way, but somehow they are getting the job done more efficiently now than they did a month ago.
Now I am not saying for a minute that the Sens are better off without Karlsson, Spezza and Michalek, Anderson and the others, just that there seems to be a great overreaction to the results of games are truly unwarranted. I understand the level of frustration at not being able to watch your team score goals, and the slumps some players are going through are indeed troubling, but this team is truly living up to the “Pesky Sens” moniker that is floating around out there.
No Guts, No Glory as the saying goes, and the Senators have guts in spades.