After 30 Games: Which Way is Up?
The Ottawa Senators played their 30th game of the season Friday night in Edmonton against the Oilers. If there is anything that has been made clear, it is the fact that when Ottawa plays against teams with speed and skill, AND that team can play with skill at full speed, the Sens are in trouble. In seven games against the Oilers so far in this unique 2021 season, the Senators are 0-7-0. Ottawa has scored 15 goals in those games while giving up 34. The Oilers have scored 8 goals in 23 power play attempts for a 34.78% pace.
In those seven games, Ottawa has allowed Connor McDavid to score 2 goals and assist on 13 more for 15 points. Leon Draisaitl has 7 goals and 10 assists for 17 points. Defenseman Tyson Barrie has 3 goals and 8 assists for 11 points. Looking at the season as a whole, the Senators power play is running at 15.0%. There are only four teams below them in that category -- Anaheim, New Jersey, Detroit and Minnesota. On the penalty kill, Ottawa is working at a 73.74% clip. Only St. Louis, Philadelphia, Columbus, Detroit, Nashville and New Jersey are worse. Let’s look at this last five-game segment for the Sens. It was not pretty. Their lone win in the segment came in a shootout against the Calgary Flames in a 4-3 victory. The first game in the set was a 7-3 loss to the Flames. Then came the three games in Edmonton. The Oilers won all three. 3-2, 7-1 and 6-2.
The Senators generated just 129 shots, their lowest five game total so far this season. This translates to just 25.8 shots per game. They surrendered 173 shots in that span for a per game clip of 34.6. They scored just 2 power play goals in 13 opportunities. The time in goal was pretty much split between Matt Murray and Joey Daccord in the five games and the pair had a collective save percentage of .850 – the lowest since the dreadful Western road swing back in January. The Senators are one of the worst teams in the National Hockey League when it comes to giveaways. This hasn’t helped the goalies out much at all. But given the misplays in front of him, Matt Murray has not consistently displayed the ability to hold the fort when his mates cough up the puck in front of him. Joey Daccord has fared only slightly better but his .913 save percentage in the games he has played is a little better than Matt Murray’s .880 season mark. We know that every athlete is streaky and therefore, collectively, each team goes on good runs and bad ones. The fear is that the Senators we saw win 6 of 10 were the best version of the team we will see this year. Surely, this team has struggled when playing road games outside of the Eastern Time Zone. The hope among Ottawa’s fans is that now that the team will be returning home, their fortunes might improve. They have played 17 games in the East and their record in those games is 7-9-1. Their next 15 games will be played in either the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, The Bell Centre in Montreal or the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. 12 of those games will be played at home in the nation’s capital.
Howie Mooney | Sens Nation Hockey