Ottawa’s Final Games (41-48)

Ottawa has finished the season and it’s time to take stock and see how the team has performed over their final eight game.  The Sens went 5-3-0 (here’s the previous ten games) which means they finish 6th in the conference and 4th in their division.  The team’s 116 goals is thirteenth in the conference while their 104 goals against is first (and second in the league, behind only Chicago).  Ottawa’s powerplay fell to 20th overall (15.9%); and their penalty killing finished first overall (88.0%).  The Sens dropped to the 10th most penalized team in the league; they also dropped to the 15th best team in terms of 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio (1.03).

Player’s stats (INJ=games missed due to injury, SCR= scratched, SUS=suspended, AHL=games in the AHL):

Kyle Turris 8-4-1-5 +4
Sergei Gonchar 8-1-4-5 +3
Erik Karlsson 3-0-4-4 +2 INJ 5
Milan Michalek 8-2-2-4 +3
Cory Conacher 8-1-3-4 +4
Daniel Alfredsson 8-0-4-4 +3
Jean-Gabriel Pageau 8-2-1-3 +2
Colin Greening 8-0-3-3 -1
Chris Phillips 8-0-3-3 -2
Patrick Wiercioch 6-1-1-2 +4 SCR 2
Jakob Silfverberg 8-2-0-2 +2
Erik Condra 8-1-1-2 +1
Guillaume Latendresse 6-0-1-1 -2 SCR 2
Jared Cowen 7-1-0-1 +1 INJ 1
Mika Zibanejad 8-1-0-1 Even
Marc Methot 8-0-1-1 Even
Chris Neil 8-1-0-1 -4
Zack Smith 8-0-0-0 -3
Eric Gryba 7-0-0-0 -3 SCR 1
Matt Kassian 2-0-0-0 Even SCR 6
Andre Benoit 1-0-0-0 +1 SCR 7
Jim O’Brien (scratched)
Peter Regin (scratched)
Mike Lundin (scratched)
Jason Spezza (injured)

Craig Anderson 4-3-0 1.69 .941
Robin Lehner 1-0-0 2.20 .936

Various thoughts: while Turris lead the team in points over this stretch the real offensive catalyst was Karlsson.  It was a rough stretch of games for Smith (-3), Gryba (-3), and Neil (a team worst -4), while Turris and Wiercioch lead things on the plus side of things (+4).  Zibanejad‘s offence production slipped, while Conacher‘s remained steady despite reduced ice time.  I thought Anderson started too much and his play hasn’t fully rounded into form, while Lehner ended his season on a strong note.  Life can’t be any worse for after thoughts O’Brien, Regin, and Lundin, two of whom are certainly on their way out of the organisation while something is clearly up with O’Brien.  I feel badly for Benoit who has been a solid citizen all year, but is scratched in favour of virtually anybody else.  We have seen the last (presumably) of Kassian in a Sens jersey.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)-

Senators News: April 29th; Ottawa 4, Boston 2

-Ottawa defeated Boston 4-2 last night to clinch seventh place and face Montreal; Robin Lehner made 34 saves for the win, while Erik Condra, Jared Cowen, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Kyle Turris (empty-net) scored the goals.  The Sens are a different team when they have the lead and although they gave up a 2-0 advantage they were able to pull out the victory.  Ottawa has secured the best possible match-up given the scenarios last night so they have to be happy.  Here’s the boxscore.

The Hockey News offers its Eastern Conference preview and gives Ottawa the edge over the Habs (seeing the team has having better goaltending, defense, special teams, and coaching).

Pierre LeBrun goes through the Ottawa-Montreal match-up and see’s the Habs winning in a long series.

NHL.com previews the series without making predictions, but says for the Sens to win they need Craig Anderson at pre-injury form and Erik Karlsson to be all he can be.  One other note: amusingly they include future AHLer Mike Lundin as part of Ottawa’s blueline.

Sylvain St-Laurent thinks the Sens will win in six, believing the pressure of being the favourite will get to the Habs.

-Here’s my preview of the series.

-Habs blogger Andrew Berkshire see’s Fenwick monster Montreal dominating the Habs (even suggesting Montreal is a worse match-up for Ottawa than Boston or Pittsburgh).

-Binghamton lost 3-2 to Wilkes-Barre again last night (minus the overtime of the first game); Nathan Lawson made 21 saves in the loss, while Matt Puempel and Chris Wideman scored the goals.  The B-Sens once again played from behind and have yet to lead in the series.  I wonder if Luke Richardson will make some tweaks to his lineup before game three.  Here’s the boxscore.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ottawa Playoff Preview

Ottawa finished the season with a 25-17-6 record, good for seventh in the conference.  They face the Montreal Canadiens (29-14-5) as their first round opponent, who they met four times in the regular season finishing with a 2-1-1 record.  Here’s a look at each game:

January 30th 5-1 Ottawa (boxscore)
The Sens gave up the first goal of the game, but then rolled over Montreal in the only lopsided match between the teams this season.  Jason Spezza and Jared Cowen were the only key members of the roster absent from the game; Anderson got the win, while Budaj took the loss.

February 3rd 2-1 Montreal (boxscore)
Ottawa took the early lead (Jakob Silfverberg), but could not come back after the Habs went up 2-1 in the first (the now departed Erik Cole with the winner).   Spezza and Cowen were the only key members of the roster absent from the game; Anderson took the loss, while Price earned the win.

February 25th 2-1 (SO) Ottawa (boxscore)
The Sens scored first (David Dziurzynski), but the game had to be settled by the shootout.  Spezza, Cowen, Milan Michalek, and Erik Karlsson were all absent from the game; Ben Bishop got the win, while Price took the loss.

March 13th 4-3 (SO) Montreal (boxscore)
The Habs gave up 1-0 and 3-1 leads to the Sens, but won the game in the shootout.  Spezza, Cowen, Michalek, Karlsson and Craig Anderson were all absent from the game; Robin Lehner suffered the loss, while Price got the win.

A few things stick out from the summary: no lead is safe (the team scoring first is 2-2 and one of those win’s required a shootout); Anderson has only played the Habs twice; Price has a winning record against the Sens; Ottawa has yet to play Montreal with a fully healthy roster (their playoff lineup is the healthiest they’ve been against Montreal missing only Spezza).  There’s no reason not to expect the series to be close and while the normal cliche would be that it all boils down to goaltending, I think goal scoring is the key factor here.  It won’t matter how well Anderson plays if Ottawa can’t score.  On the Montreal side of things there’s a lot of emphasis put on the absence of hardnosed defender Alexei Emelin and clearly he’s an important cog on the blueline for the Habs.

Who will win?  I see the match-up as a toss-up, but I’ll give the edge to Ottawa as I have to think the dam has to burst on their horrific shooting percentage at some point.  Sens in seven.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)