My colleague Stuart McGinn recently wrote of the success of the “TAX” line. The tax line represent Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, and Kyle Turris whose initials work out to “Harmonized Sales Tax”. The Senators top line has been one of the bright spots thus far. The Ottawa Senators currently sit at 3-2-1. Five points behind the first place Montreal Canadiens. The team must change their ways if they hope to win the Atlantic Division. Their recent game against the Nashville Predators showed many of the good and bad habits exhibited by the Senators this season.
The Senators lost to the Predators 4-3, picking up a point by making it to the shootout. The game was exceptional for the Senators due to one simple reason… The Senators outshot the Predators which has not happened in any any other game this season. Excluding the match up against the Predators, the Senators have been outshot in every game this season. The Senators are not seeing goal production spread out during even strength play.
The Senators have some disturbing statistics relating to even strength goal scoring. Mika Zibanejad and Jean-Gabriel Pageau are the only non top-line fowards to have scored even strength goals. Mike Hoffman, Kyle Turris and Mark Stone have led the Senators top line successfully. The trio have been on the ice for almost all even strength goals scored this season. All three players have five more goals for than against. Hoffman with nine for and three against, Stone and Turris with eight for and three against. The game against the Predators saw all of the Senators goals scored by the aforementioned players.
The Senators defenceman bucked the even strength trends they had been displaying in the game against the Predators. Jared Cowen, Patrick Wiercoch, Mark Borowiecki and Chris Wideman were all on the ice during goals for the Senators. Wiercoch was the only player out of the four to have been on for a goal before the game against the Predators. Most of the Senators goals have come with Marc Methot and Erik Karlsson on the ice. Karlsson has been on for nine goals and Methot for six. Due to Methot’s injury, Borowiecki benefits from playing with Erik Karlsson.
The game against the Predators saw only one even strength goal from the Predators. The goal was scored against the line of Bobby Ryan, Milan Michalek and and Mika Zibanejad. Ryan and Zibanejad have the worst goals for/goals against on the team with -3 and -4. Michalek was filling in on the line as Clarke MacArthur is sidelined with an injury.
Some players on the Senators did not benefit statistically from the contest with the Predators. Cody Ceci, Zibanejad, Michalek and Ryan be on for more shots against than for. Michalek, Zibanejad, and Ryan are the only players on the Senators who have Corsi percentages of under 40% on the season. Ceci’s numbers from the game against the Predators do not line up with his season stats as he currently sit’s fourth on the team with a 47.93%. The game may have been out of the ordinary for Ceci, but falls right in line with how the other three’s seasons have went.
The Ottawa Senators need increased production from their lower lines. The Montreal Canadiens currently have every player who has played this season be on the ice for at least one goal for. The Canadiens sit atop the division while the Senators do not. The play of the top line has been superb, but how long can they carry the team? The Senators have been relying on Craig Anderson and the top line, production needs to start coming from other areas as well.