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Sens Week Ahead : Mar 8 to 14

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It's a busy week with one of the most important games of the season

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Flames @ Senators

Sunday, March 8th, 7pm
City

Prev game : @Red Wings, Friday, March 6th
Next game : Ducks, Wednesday, March 11th

Hot : Karri Ramo - 0.952 SV% in last 5 GP
Cold : David Jones - 0P in last 7 GP

Somehow, somewhat inexplicably, the Calgary Flames are currently holding down a playoff spot despite having the third worst 5 on 5 possession numbers in the league.

They're riding a pretty high PDO - but not so high that it's unheard of for a single season.  It's not their goaltending this season, though Ramo has been a big part of a number of their recent wins.

Their shooting percentage is really what is driving up their PDO, but it hasn't ranked them nearly as high in goals for as you might expect.  They're 11th in the league for goals per game, and in the middle of the pack for 5 on 5 goals as well.

Mark Giordano has certainly played a part in getting Calgary where they are right now, but his season-ending injury has certainly put the fate of the team into further question.

Special teams are about middle of the pack as well. With the power play at 15th and the penalty kill at 19th, they aren't really helping the Flames much but they aren't really dragging them down either.

Ladislav Smid, Paul Byron are with Giordano are on IR, and David Jones is listed day-to-day.

Bruins @ Senators

Tuesday, March 10th, 7:30pm
TSN5

Prev game : Red Wings, Sunday, March 8th
Next game : Lightning, Thursday, March 12th

Hot : Brad Marchand - 5P (4G, 1A) in last 3 GP
Cold : Dennis Seidenberg - 0P in last 5 GP

This is almost certainly one of the most important games of the season for the Ottawa Senators.

Boston enters the week holding down the final wild card position in the East, five points up on Ottawa and Philadelphia, and only two points up on Florida.  While this game probably isn't quite as pivotal for Boston as it is for Ottawa, every point they can steal from one of the teams chasing them is another point of breathing room for the struggling Bruins.

Part of the struggles come from Tuukka Rask.  Don't get me wrong - he's actually got decent numbers with a .920 SV% on the season.  But after .929, .929 and .930 in the past three seasons, .920 is definitely a step down for the Bruins goaltender.

Another problem that's relative is their scoring.  At 2.64 goals per game, Boston is at the low end of the middle third of the league (19th), but it's also their lowest goals per game total in five seasons, and a big step down from their 3.15 goals per game last season.

With goals and save percentage noticeably down from last season, one might expect that to be reflected in a low PDO - but no, it's actually marginally above 1.  This just appears to be what the Bruins are this season.

Kevan Miller and David Krejci are on IR along with Marc Savard, and Brett Connolly is on day-to-day after breaking his finger before playing a single game with the team.

Senators @ Canadiens

Thursday, March 12th, 7:30pm
TSN5

Prev game : Lightning, Tuesday, March 10th
Next game : @Islanders, Saturday, March 14th

Hot : Carey Price - 0.954 SV% in last 12 GP
Cold : Brandon Prust - 0P in last 5 GP

Could Senators fans quietly be cheering on the Canadiens in their other match-ups down the stretch? After all, if the Sens do slip in to the playoffs, it's the team at the top of the Conference standings to end the season that they will face.  At the moment, that team is Montreal.

The Habs had pretty much the opposite experience as the Senators in their Western trip by earning only one point against the California teams, where they were badly outplayed in two of the three games.

Without a back-to-back situation for the Habs this time around, the Sens aren't likely to benefit from seeing someone other than Carey Price between the pipes.  Make no mistake, Price is the biggest single reason for the success of Montreal this season.  Crack Carey, and you stand a very good chance of cracking the Canadiens.

Price isn't the only threat though.  Max Pacioretty is top-10 in goals in the league and always seems to score against Ottawa (usually on a breakaway), while P.K. Subban will be easily the second best defenseman in the game by a wide margin.  Subban doesn't have the impact on the team's success as Price has had, but he's definitely the second biggest piece of their puzzle.

Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk are both having solid seasons as well, with Gallagher one point short of his total for last season with 15 fewer games played, and Galchenyuk is well past his with one fewer game played.

Something that doesn't really mean a whole lot just yet thanks to small sample sizes, but deadline additions Jeff Petry and Devante Smith-Pelly currently have the best relative 5 on 5 possession numbers for Montreal.  They've brought some much needed possession help for the sub-50% Habs in the short term at least.

Alexei Emelin is on IR, and P.A. Parenteau is day-to-day.

Senators @ Islanders

Friday, March 13th, 7pm
TSN5

Prev game : Rangers, Tuesday, March 10th
Next game : Canadiens, Saturday, March 14th

Hot : John Tavares - 5P (2G, 3A) in last 2 GP
Cold : Thomas Hickey - 0P in last 4 GP

It's the only legitimate cup contender of the week to finish things up.

John Tavares currently holds the league scoring title going in to the week thanks to five points in his last two games.  While it's certainly not just him that's propelled the Islanders to their position at the top of the Metro division right now, he's been a very large part of it.

The longstanding Achilles heel of the Islanders, goaltending, has been improved by the addition of Jaroslav Halak.  That's not a very high bar to clear though - Halak has posted an underwhelming .911 SV%, but is still better than it was last year with Evgeni Nabokov.  Still, when you compare it to the league and not just recent Islanders numbers, it's not very good.  It's still a big potential problem for them down the stretch as they try to hold on to that division lead, as well as going in to the playoffs.

Somehow, despite having the second highest goals per game in the league, the Islanders power play falls outside of the top 10.  The penalty kill is far worse though, ahead of only Buffalo.

The Islanders could have a boost by Friday with the return of Kyle Okposo expected to be around that time according to the NYI beat writers.  Despite being out since January 19th, he's still second to Tavares for points in Long Island.

Along with Okposo, Mikhail Grabovski is also on IR. Tyler Kennedy is listed as day-to-day and has yet to play for his new team.