Week Ahead: Jan 12 to 18

Ain't no thang - Justin K. Aller

Let's keep the point streak going!

It's the end of the short Central road trip, and a shorter home stand.

Senators at Wild

Game 47, Tuesday, January 14th, 8pm
Sportsnet East
Previous game
@Predators, Sunday, January 12th
Next game
Oilers, Thursday, January 16th
Hot
Nino Niederreiter - 5P (2G, 3A) in last 5 GP
Cold
Ryan Suter - 0P in last 3 GP

The Wild are getting pretty distributed production lately.  In their last 5 games they have 17 players who have made the score sheet over 17 goals, most of which have multiple points.    Oddly, it doesn't seem to be an even distribution though - it seems to be one set of players who are providing most of the offence in a game, with who is in that group changing from game to game.  It makes it very difficult to figure out which line you need to shut down on any given night.  Those 17 goals are also a significant increase over their season scoring rate of 2.3 G/G.

Despite this increase in scoring, their shots per game have dropped significantly - makes sense with the absence of Zach Parise.

Possession wise, they've fallen hard over the course of the season.  Once among the top of the league for 5v5 and 5v5 close numbers, they've fallen steadily from sky high numbers since the end of October and have finally dropped below 50% for 5v5 close and aren't far from doing so at 5v5.  Their rolling 10 game averages have been below 50% since the start of December.

Minnesota has been bit by the injury bug lately.  In addition to Parise, they're currently also without the services of Josh Harding, Mikku Koivu and Jared Spurgeon.

Canadiens at Senators

Game 48, Thursday, January 16th, 7:30pm
TSN
Previous game
Devils, Tuesday, January 14th
Next game
@Maple Leafs, Saturday, January 18th
Hot
Tomas Plekanec - 4P (1G, 3A) in last 4 GP
Cold
P.K. Subban - 0P in last 4 GP

It hasn't been that long since the Senators faced the Canadiens last.  While their long-term outlook hasn't improved any since then, they have won 2 of the 3 games - the first against a recently resurgent Florida team, and the second a more dominant win against the defending cup champions than the score would suggest.

Carey Price rebounded nicely from the beating at the hands of Ottawa with strong performances in both of those wins.  P.K. Subban leads the Habs in points with 33, but his 4 game pointless streak puts him at risk of falling out of the top 5 defensmen in the league for scoring with both Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk a single point behind him and more games left to play.

The Montreal power play that has been so successful for most of the season has been sinking lately.  They've scored only 1 power play goal in their last 5 games out of 18 times with the man advantage.

Rangers at Senators

Game 49, Saturday, January 18th, 2pm
CBC
Previous game
Red Wings, Thursday, January 16th
Next game
Capitals, Sunday, January 19th
Hot
Brad Richards - 6P (2G, 4A) in last 4 GP
Cold
Ryan McDonagh - 0P in last 3 GP

It's the first of three meetings between the Senators and Rangers this season, and it could be the most important game of the week.  The Rangers enter the week 1 point up on Ottawa, and in possession of the final wild card spot in the East.

Henrik Lundqvist isn't having such a hot season.  His .908 SV% is by far the worst of his NHL career.  He's shown some signs he might have turned it around recently, but in few enough games it can't be said for sure yet.

Potential trade-bait Michael Del Zotto is having his second worst season as a pro. If this is due to regression or a new coach is tough to say, but he's certainly not making a strong case for himself.

Special teams are a strength, with the power play ranking 6th and the penalty kill ranking 8th.  They're blocking a lot fewer shots under Vigneault too, which has lead to more shots actually reaching the net.

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