Senators @ Rangers
Prev game : Avalanche, Thursday, December 3rd
Hot : Derick Brassard - 3P (1G, 2A) in last 3 GP
Cold : J.T. Miller - 0P in last 4 GP
It's a visit to the well-rested Rangers to open the week.
You know how many of the fancystats crowd keep talking about how the Sens numbers paint a pretty bleak picture compared to their current record? The Rangers are in a very similar position.
Their 5 on 5 possession numbers are every bit as bad
So how are they sitting so high in the standings? They're riding an absurd league-high 5v5 team shooting percentage that just can't last, and indeed isn't - they've dropped a full percentage point in their past five games. Their 5v5 save percentage is also a league high. While Henrik Lundqvist is probably good for a sustainable above average save percentage, he's probably not good enough to sustain it quite as high above average as it is right now. Antti Raanta? Even less likely.
The cracks have started to show - they're 4-5-1 in their last 10, and losing five of their last six. They've had two days to re-group after their last loss, and they're going to come out hungry to turn things around.
Senators @ Panthers
Prev game : @Devils, Sunday, December 6th
Cold : Jaromir Jagr - 0P in last 4 GP
The fact that the Florida Panthers sit on the bubble probably shouldn't surprise many people. That's about where they were last season, and about where they were expected to be this season. Though some of the teams they're sitting above is probably a bit more surprising, and raises the question of if they can hold on to their spot as the season drags on. They likely are what they are, while some of their bubble brethren might be underplaying a bit.
Despite being listed here as "cold", Jaromir Jagr still leads the Panthers with 18 points this season, despite being the oldest active player in the NHL by over four years (pretty sure I'm legally required to mention that). Jonathan Huberdeau, last season's leading scorer for Florida, has been seeing a drop in his point production this season and is on pace to see a double-digit drop in his final tally. Part of that isn't likely to last though, as he's shooting at less than half of his career average.
Senators @ Lightning
Prev game : @Kings, Sunday, December 6th
Cold : Ryan Callahan - 0P in last 3 GP
Speaking of teams on the bubble behind the Panthers...
Would anybody have called the Tampa Bay Lightning being outside of the playoffs two months in to the season? I sure wouldn't have.
It's sure not the goaltending that's the problem. Ben Bishop sits just outside the top five for save percentage on the season, and Andrei Vasilevskiy has an entirely respectable backup SV% of .917. If anything, the goaltending is running a little too high and could probably be expected to decline somewhat through the rest of the season. It's worth noting that Bishop left last night's game after taking a stick to the face through his mask, but we don't know yet if he'll miss any more time.
Also likely unsustainable though? Their team shooting percentage. Last season they had the highest in the league, this season they're in the bottom 10 and the end result is a drop of just under a goal per game. Steven Stamkos is the only one putting the puck in the net at a steady clip, though Nikita Kucherov is starting to make a case for himself. This scoring drought won't last forever. At some point the Lightning offence is going to wake up in a big way - hopefully sometime after Thursday though.
Senators @ Canadiens
Prev game : @Red Wings, Thursday, December 10th
Cold : David Desharnais - 0P in last 4 GP
I hate to say it. I really, really hate to say it - the Canadiens may be a legitimate threat in the league this season.
They're one of the top teams in the league for possession metrics. They rank sixth in 5v5 possession, and move up to fourth when you adjust for score effects. They're trending up too, with their numbers being even higher in the last 10 games.
Their scoring is way, way up from last season to the tune of a little more than two goals every three games. The team shooting percentage is perhaps a bit high, but they're also generating more chances this year. They've reduced their reliance on goaltending this season significantly as well, though the goaltending so far hasn't been too far off last year's spectacular performance.
The one big knock against the Habs is the injury to Carey Price. When Price went down to injury the first time this season, it started to look like Mike Condon would hold the fort in spectacular fashion. In his first five games as the temporary starter he posted a combined .930 save percentage. The rest of that run, as well as his current stretch of starts with Price out again? A .888 SV% and a 3-4-1 record. The early shine off that one is gone.