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Sens Week Ahead: Dec 20 to 26

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The Christmas break makes this a short week

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Senators @ Canadiens

Game 33, Saturday, December 20th, 7:00pm
CityTV
Previous game
Ducks, Thursday, December 18th
Next game
@Islanders, Tuesday, December 23rd
Hot
Alex Galchenyuk - 4P (3G, 1A) in last 2 GP
Cold
Manny Malhotra - 1P (1A) in 33 GP

The Canadiens are somehow, some way, in the hunt for the top of the division right now.

It's not because of Carey Price.  Oh, he's played well, but a .923 SV% isn't high enough for him to be taking the team on his back.

It's not P.K. Subban either.  Oh, he's played well too, but his 22 points in 33 games puts his pace outside of the top 10 for defensemen.   Or Max Pacioretty for that matter.  He, like Price and Subban, is having a good season, but not good enough to carry the team that far up the standings.

It's not their possession game. They're doing better at that than Ottawa, for sure, but they've still got a sub-50% Corsi at 5 on 5.

Special teams maybe?  Nope.  Power play is 23rd in the league at 15.2%, though the penalty kill is 6th at 85.7%.  The penalty kill doesn't win you games, though, just helps to not lose them.

Well, whatever it has been, it's broken down a bit recently.  In the east, only New Jersey and Carolina have fewer points in their last 10 games than the Habs do.  The only thing that's kept them close to the division lead is that both Tampa and Detroit have had a rough stretch as well.

Bryan Allen and Mike Weaver are on IR.  Max Pacioretty is listed as day to day.

Senators @ Capitals

Game 34, Monday, December 22nd, 7:00pm
TSN5
Previous game
@Devils, Saturday, December 20th
Next game
@Rangers, Tuesday, December 23rd
Hot
Nicklas Backstrom - 4P (3G, 1A) in last 3 GP
Cold
Marcus Johansson - 0P in last 4 GP

A strange thing is happening in Washington right now - Ovechkin isn't leading the team in points. He's not even trailing by a little bit, sitting 5 points behind the team leader Backstrom.  He does lead the team in goals by a fair margin though, so not everything is different.

The Capitals enter the week with a weak hold on the 3rd playoff spot for the Metropolitan division, and the final playoff spot in the East.  It's quite possible that by Monday they'll have jumped backwards over the wild card positions and find themselves on the outside half of the bubble.  Their scoring is up and their goals against are down this season compared to last, but they're still struggling a bit in the standings.

Braden Holtby is so far delivering the worst save percentage of his young career, with a not so good .914 SV%.  Justin Peters hasn't been much help either, posting a dismal .872.  It's a toss up which goalie Ottawa will face, since they play the Rangers the following night in an important divisional match up.

This would be a good game for Ottawa to stay out of the box.  The Capitals lead the league with a 26.1% power play success rate.  The penalty box door swings both ways, though, and their penalty kill is almost the total opposite.  At 76.3% it ranks fourth last.

Aaron Volpatti, Dmitry Orlov and John Erskine are on IR for the Caps.