Hurricanes @ Senators
Prev game : @Wild, Saturday, February 14th
Next game : Islanders, Wednesday, February 17th
Hot : Justin Faulk - 5P (5A) in last 3 GP
Cold : Anton Khudobin - .789 SV% in last 3 GP
Lady Luck has been profoundly unkind to the Hurricanse this season. Their 5 on 5 PDO is the lowest in the league.
They can barely buy a goal with the league worst shooting percentage. The only team with fewer goals is (predictably) Buffalo. Eric Staal leads the team with 17 goals, and it drops off to Jiri Tlusty and Jeff Skinner both with 12 after that.
Between the pipes, Cam Ward has been, well, Cam Ward really. His .912 SV% isn't very good, but it's actually better than his career average. The real disappointment this season has been Anton Khudobin. He is still well under 100 NHL games played, but his .909 SV% is a big drop from his .926 in 36 games played for the Canes last season. Overall Khudobin had been looking better since mid-December, but his last three games have been terrible again. He was pulled after two goals on three shots against St. Louis, let in five goals and had a .839 SV% against Anaheim and another five goals and a .783 SV% against Minnesota.
One thing that has been going well has been their possession game. It isn't spectacular but it is solidly in positive territory at 51.3% for 5 on 5, which is good enough for 13th overall.
The other thing that has gone fairly well is a relative lack of injuries. Currently, only Ryan Murphy is out on IR.
Canadiens @ Senators
Prev game : @Red Wings, Monday, February 16th
Hot : Carey Price - .954 SV% in last 10 GP
Cold : Manny Malhotra - 0P in last 16 GP
Let's face it - the Canadiens success this season comes down mostly to Carey Price.
It's certainly not their possession numbers driving their success. At 5 on 5, those numbers are 10th worst in the league right now. It's not the power play either - at 16.8%, it ranks in at 24th overall.
Their shooting percentage is pretty close to the middle of the pack, which puts them in the bottom third of the leauge for goals once you combine it with their 24th place shot generation. But yet, they've got the second highest PDO in the league thanks to Carey Price.
While Price is carrying (Careying?) the team on his shoulders, his supporting cast isn't completely absent. Max Pacioretty is in the top 10 in the league for goals, and P.K. Subban is only a point behind the logjam that occupies fourth through ninth in points for defensemen. Alex Galchenyuk has shown big improvement in his third season, and Andrei Markov hasn't been showing very much decline for a 36 year old. But have no doubt, it is the #1 save percentage in the league that this team is riding to first in the East.
P.A. Parenteau is on IR for the Habs.
Panthers @ Senators
Prev game : @Canadiens, Thursday, February 19th
Next game : @Penguins, Sunday, February 22nd
Hot : Jimmy Hayes - 4P (1G, 3A) in last 4 GP
Cold : Scottie Upshall - 0P in last 10 GP
The Panthers are bound to be hungry for every point they can get this week. Realistically, they're the only team in the East on the outside of the playoffs that stands a chance of getting in.
It is an uphill battle for them, however. Their possession numbers, like Carolina, are solid but not spectacular. Their PDO is barely below 1, which means they can't expect their luck to improve much.
It's a rough stretch of schedule for them too - they have five games in eight days, with three of them against teams in the top 10 in the league. Ottawa is their fourth game in that stretch - a bad run before then with some success by Boston could see Florida fall off the bottom side of the bubble by Saturday.
One area that is ripe for improvement is the special teams. Both their power play and penalty kill is the worst in the league, both by significant margins. It wouldn't take huge improvements to these to see Florida make it a real race with Boston for that last wild card spot. Fortunately for their penalty kill at least, they're pretty good at staying out of the box. They're 10th in the league for fewest times short handed.
Willie Mitchell and Brandon Pirri are both on IR.