I know, at first glance you might think I am crazy. I might be. And given the uneasiness coming from Senators fans on a nightly basis, even Sens Army might call me insane. As much as I am impressed by and respect the incredible numbers that the Chicago Blackhawks have put together in going 21-1-3, I would argue that the Senators have on the whole put up a better all-around performance.
RECORD vs. RECORD
There is no comparison to the fact that the Blackhawks 21-1-3 record for 45 of a possible 50 points and .900 winning percentage dwarfs Ottawa’s 13-8-4. The Hawks are running away with the Western Conference and the Senators are stuck in the middle of the pack in the East, tied for the 5th seed.
However, how would the Hawks have done if you remove their two highest paid forwards, their best defenseman and top goalie for a total of 48 games. Hypothetically, that would be like taking Jonathan Toews (Jason Spezza), Patrick Kane (Milan Michalek), Duncan Keith (Erik Karlsson) and Corey Crawford (Craig Anderson) out of the lineup at the same time for a large portion of the season. Then at the same time have Patrick Sharp (Kyle Turris) and Dave Bolland (Zack Smith) both go 20+ games without scoring a goal, not to mention injuries to Nick Leddy (Jared Cowen) for the season, Johnny Oduya (Mike Lundin), Michael Frolik (Guillaume Latendresse) Michael Frolik (Peter Regin) and Brandon Bollig (Dave Dziurzynski) also going down at any given time.
That is essentially what the Senators have gone through so far this season. I know they are not exactly comparables man for man, but they are the closest I could see on the respective rosters and the impact it would have on their clubs.
The Senators have played 9 rookies for a total of 108 man games this season and they have accounted for 9 goals and 30 points. Brandon Saad is the only rookie in the Chicago lineup. Chicago has had remarkable health and consistency, with 15 skaters playing at least 20 of the 25 games. They have used only 21 different skaters and 2 goalies have seen action. Ottawa, on the other hand, Ottawa has had to use 27 different skaters and 3 goalies already this season.
If Paul MacLean and Joel Quenneville are not 1-2 in Jack Adams voting then there is something wrong. Both have had different obstacles to overcome this season. MacLean has had to try to get blood from a stone and at times has had to rely on defense and goaltending to win games. Quenneville has had to get his team ready to play every night and was very effective in doing that a record 24 straight times.
What both teams have done is nothing short of remarkable. Chicago could conceivably go on another 20 game streak and it would not surprise me a bit. Even then, if the Senators make the playoffs under such incredible adversity, as ugly as it has been at times, their performance would be a year for the ages.
Despite the incredible negativity of Senators fans on a daily basis on Twitter, being critical of almost every man on the roster at any given time, the Senators continue to gut out wins. They aren’t pretty, but they count.
I am not saying that if Ottawa had been at full health all season that they would have been as successful as the Blackhawks, actually far from it. In fact, their winning percentage has been better since Erik Karlsson’s injury than it was before. But the duct-tape lineup and Pesky Sens team first attitude has them on the verge of being the most special story of the season.
Even if the Blackhawks go 44-1-3.