The last on-ice image of Erik Karlsson, the night the Senators season changed. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Ottawa Senators At The Halfway Mark - Hanging In There Despite More Key Injuries


 

The Ottawa Senators reached the halfway mark of their season on Wednesday, and as is customary, I have compiled the breakdown of the progress and the future of the franchise.  While they finished the second half on a slide, there is still reason for optimism, in that they are still on pace for a playoff spot and they have buckled down as a team to fight through much adversity.

The team had to adapt and despite the overall impression, they have kept the exact same pace.  Its not better, its not worse, its just different.

Here is a quick review of each game played in the second quarter of the season.  For the detailed game recap of any game, click on the opponent’s name to see it.  Also, if you want to look back at the first quarter, check out my recap HERE.

Game # Opponent Result Quick Synopsis
13 BUF 2-0 WIN 42 Stops for Anderson in blanking the Sabres
14 @PIT 4-2 LOSS Matt Cooke‘s skate derails Sens season…or does it?  Michalek also injured, in warmup
15 @TOR 3-0 LOSS Rough outing in post EK era, Scrivens shuts door
16 @NJ 2-1 (SO) WIN Alfie ties it late, Silfverberg dazzles in SO
17 NYI 3-1 WIN Benoit & Dziurzynski both get 1st career goals
18 NYR 3-2 (SO) WIN Win game, Lose Anderson to ankle injury
19 TOR 3-2 WIN Last minute heroics from Greening steals win
20 MTL 2-1 (SO) WIN Regin SO winner, Bishop makes 45 stops
21 @BOS 2-1 (OT) LOSS Lehner solid in first NHL start this season
22 @PHI 2-1 LOSS Alfie gets kicked out, Lundin knocked out
23 @NYI 3-2 (SO) LOSS Wiercioch’s first NHL goal late snags a road point
24 @TOR 5-4 LOSS Michalek returns, off night for Bishop, defense

 

BY THE NUMBERS

GAMES W L OT/SO PTS GF GA PP PK
1-12 6 4 2 14 31 22 9/39 (23%) 42/47 (89%)
13-24 6 4 2 14 22 23 4/41 (10%) 38/43 (88%)

By my estimate it will take 56 points to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. Through 24 games Ottawa is still on pace for exactly 56 points.

The biggest difference in the quarters are the goals for and the power play.  Both are a reflection of how Erik Karlsson affects the game and team. They have accumulated the same number of points in each quarter so far

Biggest Surprise

Eric Gryba got thrust into the lineup when Erik Karlsson went down, and has bettered expectations.  While not the offensive presence of Karlsson (but then again, who is), Gryba has been a pleasant surprise with his solid defensive play and ability to play the body while playing over 20 minutes a game from his second game onward.

Biggest Disappointment

Kyle Turris has now gone 20 games without a goal, and with Spezza and Karlsson out, it is unbelievable that the Sens have been able to survive without any goals from Turris.  He does lead the team in scoring, but he needs to put some numbers up in the goals column. He was my third star from the first quarter, but has all but disappeared as of late.

 

SEGMENT STARS

3. Robin Lehner -  Made his first two starts of the season, an OT loss to the powerful Bruins and a SO loss to the Islanders.  Allowed only 3 goals on 77 shots to secure 2 valuable road points.

2. Craig Anderson  – Had 2 wins and a shutout and was working on a third win and possible shutout against the Rangers when Chris Krieder took out his ankle.

1. Ben Bishop – Stepped in for Anderson and went 4-2.  The Toronto game notwithstanding, Bishop had a stellar quarter and was the biggest reason the Senators are still on pace for the playoffs. Especially good in the shootout, allowing only 2 goals on 15 shots to earn the Senators 3 extra points.

 

SYNOPSIS OF THE LAST 12 GAMES

It was a tough road to begin with as the level of competition picked up after the first quarter, but the Senators were dealt a huge blow with the loss of Karlsson.  The defensive game for the team didn’t suffer much in his absence, but offensively the team has struggled to find the back of the net.  The power play went from top five to bottom five very quickly.

If it wasn’t for the goaltending trio, Ottawa would be staring up at the top 8  in the conference instead of still being 5 points clear of 9th place.

Home games are of utmost importance so that Paul MacLean can get his matchups.  The Sens went 5-0 at home, while just 1-4-2 on the road.

 

THE 12 GAMES AHEAD

The next quarter is split evenly between the road and home.  However, the schedule is road-heavy early on, so the Senators must find a way to get points on the road, preferably wins, to stay in the race before their 5 game home stand begins on March 21st.

There is some light at the end of the tunnel, as Jason Spezza could be back in 2-3 weeks.  Best case scenario, he would miss 7 more games, while if it was 3 weeks it would put him to March 27th, 9 games away.  That is if his rehab continues to progress as expected.

They have 3 matches against the tough Bruins over the next quarter, as well as a pair against the Rangers.  They will face each of the other Northeast teams once, while also facing the Islanders, Devils, Jets and Lightning.

Tags: Ben Bishop Craig Anderson Eric Gryba Erik Karlsson Halfway Point Ottawa Senators Robin Lehner