Week Ahead: Oct 27 to Nov 2

This was the most flattering picture I could find of the last game against the Sharks - Ezra Shaw

It doesn't get any easier this week

The end is almost in sight for a very rough stretch of schedule.

Sharks at Senators

Game 11, Sunday, October 27th
Previous game
@Canadiens, Saturday, October 26th
Next game
@Kings, Wednesday, October 30th
Hot
Patrick Marleau - 13P (8G, 5A) in 11 GP
Cold
Tyler Kennedy - 0P in last 4 GP

The Sharks finally ran into a bigger boat when Boston broke their point streak to start the season, but has that put them off their game?

No, not really.

Sorry.

They're still badly out-shooting most of their opponents, and outscoring them. Marleau has a point in all but one game this season - the exception being the game that went to a scoreless shootout. No other Shark has quite that hot streak going, but Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton are all above a point per game.

Antti Niemi has actually looked a little human at points in the last five games, with three sub-par performances of .902, .842 and .882. On the flip side, the other two performances were shut outs. But with the back to back, and less than 24 hours between start times, could we see Alex Stalock play his 4th NHL game? Hint - this is his 3rd season in the NHL, and it would be his first start. So probably not.

And if you're wondering, Joe Thornton has not scored 4 times in a single game yet.

Senators at Blackhawks

Game 12, Tuesday, October 29th
Previous game
@Wild, Monday, October 28th
Next game
@Jets, Saturday, November 2nd
Hot
Patrick Kane - 4P (2G, 2A) in last 3 GP
Cold
Patrick Sharp - 1P (1A) in last 5 GP

Next up, the defending cup champions.

They aren't quite off to the same start as last season, despite having their winning roster mostly intact, but their 6-2-3 record is hardly bad. They have surprisingly average goals for and against so far, but are still possession beasts. In all of the possession stats, they rank 2nd in the league behind the Sharks.

16 players have goals so far this season, but don't think that means a lot of secondary scoring - the top 4 scorers (Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Bryan Bickell) have over 50% of the goals so far.

The one surprising weakness is the penalty kill, putting up a league worst 72.2%. The Sens PP has been generally improved of late, so this is something they could definitely take advantage of.

While likely not something to have an impact on this game, everyone needs to watch this video of Brandon Bollig. Do it now. We'll wait.

Islanders at Senators

Game 13, Friday, November 1st
Previous game
Rangers, Tuesday, October 29th
Next game
Bruins, Saturday, November 2nd
Hot
John Tavares - 13P (4G, 9A) in last 10 GP
Cold
Michael Grabner - 1P (1A) in last 5 GP

These aren't the Islanders of the past few years. They're not quite a top team in the league, but they're definitely dangerous and can't really be considered a bottom feeder team so far this season.

I called Tavares as the their hot player due to his point streak - he was only held off the board in their season opener - but Frans Nielsen is actually leading the team in points with 7G and 8A on the season and a solid 4G and 4A in his last 4 games. Kyle Okposo is also having a strong season so far, with 12 points on the season and a 5 game, 8 point streak going.

Evgeni Nabokov has been slightly underwhelming so far, with a .908 SV% - but that's not too far off his career .912.

This will not be a good game for Ottawa's usual discipline issues. A large part of the Islanders success so far this season is their powerplay, which has been clicking along at 27.8%. If the Sens can't stay out of the box, expect the Isles to make them pay.

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