You know the drill. Five thoughts!
Ottawa Can Ill Afford More Injuries
With Clarke MacArthur out, the Senators forward group is already not that deep. But with Mike Hoffman not playing last night, and Bobby Ryan exiting the game, Ottawa’s lines look incredibly uninspiring (which would be typical of most teams). Of course every team will suffer with injuries, but for this team it is magnified even more.
Hoffman is only listed as day-to-day so he should be fine, but at the time I am writing this, Ryan’s status is unknown. Mark Stone is probably not 100% either even though he is playing, so the forwards don’t look so good right now. It was evident coming into the season that this was not a deep team, but it bears repeating that they need to stay healthy if they want to compete, and they showed that against Nashville.
Waiver Pickup Could Have Been Useful
With the aforementioned injuries, it would have been nice to see Ottawa take a chance on a forward who has been on the waiver wire. Ottawa could not foresee the Hoffman and Ryan injuries, but even with them healthy, there is certainly a spot for a cheap young forward on the third line. We all know how much they need help offensively.
One player I would have loved to have is Seth Griffith, who unsurprisingly got claimed by Florida. He’s 23 years old, and scored 77 points in only 57 games in the AHL last year, while also averaging 79 points per year over the course of three minor league seasons. With Ottawa having a thin forward group, they could have taken a chance on him for free. (EDIT: Appears as if I’m mistaken on Griffith, as the standings for last year only count for the first 10 games. Florida in fact had priority over Ottawa).
Other names like Teemu Pulkkinen, Martin Frk, and a few older players were available for free, so it’s a bit disappointing to not give any of those players a chance. If it doesn’t work out, then there’s zero harm in putting him back on waivers. Hopefully Ottawa can stay relatively healthy and not have this bite them later on in the season.
When Will Goal Scoring Go Up?
Ottawa’s lack of goal scoring is reaching the point of hilarity. There’s nothing else you can do anymore. Surely at some point they will go through a few game stretch where they score four goals a game, but that is so hard to envision right now.
Here is the amount of goals they have scored during regulation besides empty-net goals in their last 13 games: 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2 1. 13 straight games without scoring three “real” goals. They have been so inept that I just expect every game to be 2-1.
Obviously we know that a 5.85 SH% (at 5v5) is not going to last long-term. They ranked 27th in that category heading into last night, although their expected goals sit at 15th. It’s fair to be frustrated with the lack of goals right now, but it will improve, I’m sure of it. In the meantime, we have to sit tight and pull our hair out when they only score one goal.
Penalty Kill Continues to Shine
Although Ottawa’s powerplay has struggled mightily aside from Brassard’s goal last night, the penalty kill has been absolute nails.
They have now killed off 32 straight penalties, which is incredibly different from years past. Coming into last night, the Senators penalty kill ranked 4th in the league at 87.5%. For comparison, last year they ranked 29th at 75.8%.
The power play has not seen the same kind of uptick, but one of the special teams improving is better than nothing. This is certainly one reason why they still have a good record at 10-6-1.
Sens Need to Pick the Right Backup
With Mike Condon playing fantastic in his first two starts (but not great last night), I’m not totally surprised that Andrew Hammond’s name has been on the rumour mill. However, it is a bit strange that they acquired Condon for insurance, and now might give that insurance away. I’m expecting Craig Anderson to miss more time moving forward, so hopefully they keep Hammond if that’s the case.
Hammond and Condon can both be good enough backups, although I still see Hammond as the overall better goalie. Hammond’s career SV% sits at .925%, and even excluding his “miracle run,” his 5v5 SV% is .9362% which ranks 5th in the league. Meanwhile, Condon’s career SV% is .907 and his 5v5 SV% is .9160, ranking 50th out of 56. Considering the entirety of their playing careers, it’s probably closer than the numbers show, but I still think Hammond is better.
Of course, money is always a factor, and Hammond’s $1.5 million is larger than Condon’s $575,000. In the end, if they do move Hammond, they need to get something of real value in return, or else they’re taking a big risk. What the return could be though, is anyone’s guess.