Senators @ Stars
Prev game : Sabres, Saturday, November 21st
Hot : Jamie Benn - 8P (4G, 4A) in last 5 GP
Cold : Ales Hemsky - 0P in last 4 GP
Talk about starting the week off tough - Dallas is currently sitting in a three-way tie for first overall, with the first two tiebreakers on both of the other teams.
The Stars are an offensive juggernaut again so far this season. Their 3.55 goals per game leads the league, and it's come by without too crazy of a shooting percentage to inflate it - this is just a team that scores, a lot.
They've improved significantly in goals against, though there is still room for improvement. Last season they were near the bottom of the league, this season they're about the middle of the pack. That's in large part thanks to the improved play of Kari Lehtonen. He's not just bouncing back, he's also on pace for the best season of his career so far. That's still not a great for a career high, 0.923 SV%, but it's a big increase from his 0.903 last season. His platoon partner hasn't been spectacular, but Antti Niemi's 0.917 isn't doing too much damage to the team so far.
No surprise that Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin once again lead the pack for the Stars, both well above a point per game pace through 20 games. Definitely more of a surprise is the early play of John Klingberg. The sophomore d-man currently sits at the top of the defenseman scoring list, with one more point than our own Erik Karlsson.
Senators @ Avalanche
Prev game : @Jets, Monday, November 23rd
Cold : Reto Berra - 0.833 SV% in last 3 GP
The Colorado Avalanche are terrible. They're tied with Carolina and Edmonton for the league basement, and in my opinion are the least likely of the three to climb out of that pit. They're dead last in the league in 5 on 5 possession, only doing marginally better than their full season numbers last year. The only team with more Corsi against through 20 games is... Ottawa. Their PDO isn't very far off one, so it's not like they're riding a wave of good or bad luck that could shift their outlook.
The Avs wouldn't be sharing the basement without the play of Reto Berra. Before his recent rough stretch in his last three games, he was actually the league leader in SV%. Even with that rough stretch, he's still got a solid 0.923. It's got to be worth at least a couple of points compared to the 0.890 Semyon Varlamov.
Matt Duchene has been absolutely on fire since the rumours that he was a potential trade piece for the Avs started swirling. Two points per game since then - he's either playing to show them why they shouldn't, or to increase his trade value.
Senators @ Coyotes
Prev game : Flames, Friday, November 27th
Cold : Zbynek Michalek - 0P in last 17 GP
Things are returning to expectations for the Arizona Coyotes. Since their surprising 3-0 start, they've sunk back down to the middle of the pack. They're on the bubble for a divisional playoff spot, but that's largely on the weakness of their division - both in terms of the standings, and also with five of their wins coming from their six divisional rivals.
The youth are largely leading the way in Arizona. Their top six scorers are all under 30. Four of them are also under 25, and two of them with rookie status. Max Domi leads the league in rookie goals.
They would probably be doing a little better if the power play could find some success. They're 27th in the league for PP%, and they've got a pretty dismal power play shooting percentage. As they've had the second most power play opportunities in the league, a bit of an improvement here could really make a difference.