Numbers are a language. We use numbers to express and give meaning to things in everyday life. We want more money in the bank, more wins by our favourite teams, we want more of some things and less of others. The Ottawa Senators sit at 2-1-0 after their first three games. This record should sit well with Senators fans. I have decided to analyze some numbers and dissect how the Senators have played over the first three games.
Several key things have aided the Senators in their first three games. Although they have had positives, there are also negatives that can be seen through numbers.Numbers garner more meaning when the sample size is larger. It is not as meaningful to examine three games as it is to discuss a whole season. However, you can obviously still garner information even if the sample is small. The Senators must change some of the trends seen in the first few games if they wish to make the playoffs. There are several key things we can take away from the Senators first three games.
Ottawa Senators 1st Line is a Credible First Line
The line of Mike Hoffman, Kyle Turris, and Mark Stone has been an absolute force for the Ottawa Senators. The scary thing is the Senators top line is the only line to have scored an even-strength goal this season. Turris and Stone have the Senators only even-strength goals this season. The Senators top forwards all have good numbers in terms of Corsi Rel%. Corsi Rel is a stat that puts a players Corsi % (shot attempts for the team vs. shot attempts against the team) against the teams statistics when the player is off the ice. Stone has a 12.56%, Hoffman an 11.28, and Turris an 8.49%. The team is essentially more productive when these players are on the ice. This leads us to our next part of the Senators play.
The Senators are not controlling play
The Senators are 26th in the league for Corsi%. The Senators have a percentage of 42.2%. They are out possessed in every game. By traditional statistics, they are still out possessed. The Senators have been outshot in every game they have played this year. The last game saw Montreal out shoot the team heavily. The Canadiens put thirty-four shots on net while the Senators only had twenty-one. This is not good. It is hard to win hockey games when you are not the team putting more pucks on net. The Senators are quite fortunate to have two wins. This all comes down to one key factor.
Craig Anderson has played well
The Senators saving grace has been Craig Anderson. Don Brennan points this out in his article that provides five reasons why the Senators are off to a good start. I do not think enough praise can be placed on Anderson. The veteran net minder has shown why the Senators chose to keep him as opposed to Robin Lehner. Anderson has had an impressive showing thus far, picking up two wins in his two starts. The goaltender has a save percentage of .926 and a goals-against average of 2.40. The Senators have not made it easy on Anderson. He has played very well as the Senators are being out shot in each game. The team is clearly better off when he is in the net, rookie goalie Matt O’Connor looked shaky in his first NHL start. Anderson must be in net for the Senators to have a good chance of winning.
The Senators play the Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Nashville Predators this week. The team will need to see lines aside from the 68-7-61 line perform. You can not continue to win games by relying on your top line and the power play. It is important for scoring to come from secondary lines as well. The Senators will need to have continued strong play from Craig Anderson if they can not control the pace of games. This week has a unique set of opponents for the team, and it will be interesting to see how the Senators play.