Hope they got their rest last week, because it's back to the compressed season grind. 4 games on the schedule this week. It could be a rough week, with 4 teams who have different reasons to be very hungry for the points.
Game 26 - Bruins at Senators
Hey, it's a home game! Remember those? It's been two full weeks since we've seen one. Of course, it's against the team with the best last 10 record and the best road record in the East. But the Sens have the best home record in the East.
The schedule is catching up with the Bruins. They've got a 5 game week, and will be heading for Pittsburgh as soon as the game is over. We might be facing Anton Khudobin instead of Tuukka Rask. That might not be much help though - Khudobin has put up respectable numbers in 5 starts this season, and the Sens do have the habit of making backups look like Vezina candidates.
The Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin line is the one to watch out for the most. They're the top 3 Bruins in points, and have combined for 9 goals in the 5 games since the Sens were in Boston.
Boston is 3rd in the league for GA/G and S/G, to Ottawa's 1st. They fare much better in SA/G, with almost 6 fewer than the Sens. For special teams, their PK leads the lead with Ottawa in 2nd, while their PP is worse than Ottawa's by a small margin - 0.7%. Don't bet on very many power play goals.
Game 27 - Senators at Canadiens
The week doesn't get any easier, with a visit to the Canadiens - the 2nd best home record in the East. Depending on how the games go before Wednesday, Montreal could be fighting to take back 1st in the conference. They'll be well rested too, with 2 days off before. Then they've got 2 days after before their next game. This could be a tough game.
New addition Michael Ryder has put up 9 points in 7 games since joining the Habs. Past that, not much has changed. They still have a pair of defense in the top 10 for points, though it is P.K. Subban instead of Raphael Diaz with Andrei Markov. If Diaz had not suffered a concussion in the last game against Ottawa, they might have 3 defense in the top 10. Max Pacioretty has slowed down marginally, to just under a point per game. Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher are both still near the top of the rookie scoring.
The one change is Carey Price. He hasn't been so great since the last game against Ottawa, despite a 3-1-1 record. In those 5 games he has posted a 3.8 GAA and 0.872 SV%, well below his 2.37 and .910 on the season.
Game 28 - Senators at Sabres
From starting off the week against the best in the East, we move on to one of the worst records. It's the first game of a back-to-back for both teams, but the Sabres will be coming off a 3 day break.
Thomas Vanek has slumped a little since the last time we saw him. With only 6 points in the last 10 games, he's dropped to 8th in the league. He still leads the Sabres in points, though. Cody Hodgson and Jason Pominville have been similarly cool over the same stretch.
Game 29 - Jets at Senators
After Buffalo, it's a quick hop back to Ottawa to meet the Jets on Sunday. A slight advantage to Ottawa on this one - the game in Buffalo is at 3pm while Winnipeg plays at 7pm, so the Sens could be back home before the Jets are off the ice at the ACC. With the back to back and how he played last time, we might see Al Montoya instead of Ondrej Pavelec.
Andrew Ladd has been their most dangerous player this year, putting up almost a point per game. Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler are both putting up a respectable 0.76 points per game, though, so can't be discounted.
Special teams definitely go to Ottawa, with the Jets near the bottom for both PP and PK. Winnipeg is pretty good at staying out of the box though, they've got the 8th lowest PIM per game in the league.