Senators at the 20-Game Mark

Ottawa has reached the 20-game mark, so it’s time to take stock and see how the team has performed.  The Sens went 8-8-4, which puts them 9th in the conference and 6th in the division.  Their 58 goals for is 4th in the conference and their 62 goals against is 13th.  Ottawa has the 21st best powerplay (16.1%), and their penalty killing (81.8%) is 18th best.  As shocking as the Sens mediocre record may be for fans, it’s actually on par with their final 18 games of the lockout shortened season (they went 9-9-0).  Despite this being a slightly different lineup, I think there’s something to take from that continuity–how much of Ottawa’s success last season can be attributed to an amazing start during a lockout year?  How many steps forward were genuinely taken?  It will be interesting to find out as the remaining three-quarters of the season unfold, although I think long-term the prognosis remains good.

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

Bobby Ryan 20-10-10-20 +10
Erik Karlsson 20-7-13-20 +2
Jason Spezza 19-9-9-18 -3 INJ 1
Kyle Turris 20-4-14-18 +9
Milan Michalek 20-3-9-12 -5
Clarke MacArthur 19-3-9-12 +12 INJ 1
Chris Phillips 19-0-6-6 Even INJ 1
Patrick Wiercioch 14-0-6-6 +1
Mika Zibanejad 12-4-1-5 -2 [AHL 6-2-5-7 -1]
Joe Corvo 8-1-4-5 +1
Jared Cowen 20-3-1-4 +3
Zack Smith 20-3-1-4 Even
Marc Methot 20-2-2-4 -2
Cory Conacher 20-2-2-4 +5
Erik Condra 14-1-3-4 -5 INJ 6
Chris Neil 20-3-0-3 Even
Eric Gryba 12-1-2-3 +6
Colin Greening 20-0-3-3 Even
Mark Borowiecki 7-1-0-1 Even [AHL 9-0-0-0 -2]
Jean-Gabriel Pageau 8-1-0-1 -3 [AHL 6-3-8-11]
Derek Grant 13-0-1-1 -3 [AHL 3-2-0-2 +2]
Stephane Da Costa 4-0-0-0 +1 [AHL 11-4-9-13 +1]
Matt Kassian 11-0-0-0 Even

Robin Lehner 3-2-2 2.13 .945
Craig Anderson 5-6-2 3.26 .904

The Sens wanted an elite player in Bobby Ryan and he has delivered–leading the team in goals and he’s tied with Erik Karlsson for the lead in points.  As poorly as Jason Spezza is performing, his numbers are still fine so when we look for the weaknesses in the team it’s less about their upper echelon and more about Ottawa’s vaunted depth (and goaltending).  In terms of secondary production, no one other than Zibanejad is anywhere near where they should be, which makes the team much easier to defend as there’s no offensive threat outside the top two lines.  As poorly as the Sens blueline has played (along with, arguably, Craig Anderson) I have to wonder how different their season would be if they had a third line that produced.

Speaking of Anderson, he’s had a truly up-and-down start to his season, looking brilliant in his victories, but struggling in his losses.  As simple-minded as that statement can seem, Robin Lehner has strong stat lines even when he loses.  With Andy, it’s feast or famine (thus far)–this isn’t to say Andy is getting much support, but he hasn’t been able to overcome the team’s struggles the same way his goaltending partner has.  Speaking of disappointments, the Stephane Da Costa train did not remain long in the station, while Jean-Gabriel Pageau struggled out of the gate (granting that his return is much more likely than Da Costa‘s this season).  Derek Grant has been better than I expected, but really isn’t ready for prime time.

Further up the lineup Cory Conacher is making the case that he’s a classic tweener–a player too good for the AHL, but not quite good enough for the NHL.  The sample size is still too small, but if his trends continue I can’t imagine he’ll remain on the roster for long.  Colin Greening is clearly struggling with his confidence, something that afflicts a lot of players who sign big new contracts.  As for the much lamented defensecorps, I don’t think much needs to be written about their struggles here, although a few things stick out to me: clearly Paul MacLean thinks Jared Cowen has to play his way through his troubles, whereas Patrick Wiercioch can be motivated by benching.  Both Eric Gryba and Mark Borowiecki are placeholders in the lineup (especially the former) and their performance (along with that of Joe Corvo) has been largely as expected.

There is good news (beyond what’s mentioned above), such as Lehner‘s ridiculous numbers.  Kyle Turris has been phenomenal, as has his linemate Clarke MacArthur.

Looking ahead the Sens have to hope for things to improve internally (I don’t think a minor trade, ala Anton Stralman, is enough to change things).  There is good news on the farm (Pageau‘s performance along with Mike Hoffman‘s come to mind), but whether that can be translated at the next level remains to be seen.  I do think Lehner should play more–he gives the team a chance to win every night despite their lacklustre play which, for whatever reason, Anderson has not.  Rearranging the bottom six seems akin to doing the same with deck chairs on the Titanic (and intervention may be needed to keep MacLean from constantly throwing Smith-Neil-Greening at opposing teams).  I do think the team will improve their play, but by how much and whether that impacts the standings or not remains to be seen.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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2 Comments

  1. […] Senators at the 20-Game Mark […]

  2. […] so it’s time to take stock and see how the team has performed (for the previous segment go here).  The Sens went 7-10-3, which puts them tied for 12th in the conference and they remain 6th in […]


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