After five games to begin the season, I don’t think you could reasonably ask for a better start without captain Erik Karlsson in the lineup. The Ottawa Senators swept the Western Canadian road-trip for the first time ever, and they have picked up at least a point in every game (3-0-2).
As with any team early in the year, there are going to be some funny statistics that may or may not be indicative of the future. I wanted to point out the most interesting ones I found, although there are many more that I could have included. For example, did you know that at 5v5, Mark Borowiecki is tied for second on the team in individual shot attempts?
It’s true. It probably doesn’t mean much right now, but it’s true.
The other stats I have listed here are probably more meaningful, although they may not be trends at all. That’s what is fun about the beginning of the season though, trying to decipher what is real and what is not. I’m not saying any of these necessarily mean anything moving forward, but they are very interesting nonetheless.
Penalty Kill: 100%
The Senators PK finished 22nd in the league last season, and without their best player, it was hard to imagine a good start for either one of the special teams. However, Ottawa is the only team in the league that has not allowed a goal on the penalty kill, as they are 15 for 15.
I’m not sure how long this can last, but some success on special teams was sorely needed this season. Furthermore, after being terrible in the first three games of the season, the team’s power play is well and alive, scoring five goals in Calgary and Edmonton. All of a sudden, their PP% is 17.8% and 17th in the league. That’s not amazing, but they looked electric in the past two games.
One way to stave off regression that people keep predicting is to have solid special teams.
Team xGF% (all situations): 51.43%
For those who don’t know, xGF% stands for expected goals for percentage, which takes into account shot attempts, but also shot quality. 51.43% may not seem that great, but it is really interesting considering that the team is last in corsi at 42.06% at 5v5, and 25th at 46.38% in all situations.
I’m not exactly sure of the specifics that goes into xGF% liking the Senators better than regular shot attempts, but it must mean something. I would assume that the chances they are getting are better opportunities to score, and that the shots they are allowing are more from the outside.
It’s also important to remember that the special teams have been good so far, so that must be one reason why the xGF% is higher than it should be. I’ll be tracking this throughout the season, just because even last year the team was below-average in xGF%, so I’m curious to see if there is a trend at all.
Whatever the case is, at least there is one advanced stat that likes how the Senators have played.
Bobby Ryan: on for 10 GF, 0 GA
This stat considers all game situations, so it is a tiny bit inflated, as 5v5 numbers would be seven goals for. Still though, that is incredibly impressive, plus his linemates (for the most part) Mark Stone and Derick Brassard are both at eight goals for and zero against.
Should their on-ice goal differential be this good? Probably not, no. But it is clear that this line has been phenomenal for the Senators, and it is encouraging to see all three of them play as well as they can.
While the line’s CF% is only 44.71%, their xGF% is 56.9%, meaning the chances they do get are quite good.
Fredrik Claesson avg. TOI: 21:01
With Erik Karlsson and Johnny Oduya missing some games, Guy Boucher knew he was going to have to give some defensemen more minutes than usual. Cody Ceci getting the most time was predictable, but it is nice to see that Claesson is averaging the third most ice time on the team. Last year, he was averaging only 13:08 of ice time per game.
He deserves to be in the lineup every night, and hopefully Boucher realizes that when Karlsson comes back. In an ideal world, I’d love to see what he could do with Karlsson on the first pairing, since he seems like a perfect Marc Methot replacement.
Penalty Differential: +14
Teams who are disciplined and draw a decent amount of penalties are generally going to be more successful. It helps that Ottawa’s PK has been perfect and their PP has finally woken up too.
The Senators are first in the entire league in penalty differential, as they are tied for fourth in the amount of minors taken, and fifth in penalties drawn. +14 is an amazing number considering that the second place team, the Chicago Blackhawks, have a difference of just seven.
Drawing penalties includes some luck, but it’s also been proven that certain players are better than others at getting the other team to sit in the box. I’m not sure if this will last, but it’s a change from previous years where Ottawa would be on the other end of the spectrum.
(thanks to the amazing Corsica.hockey 2.0 website by Manny Perry for the stats).