An Attempt to Review the Season So Far with Stats

All charts use stats taken from If something seems wrong it's probably because I screwed it up.

So how can we evaluate the Senators season statistically and can we use them to project their path forward? This is what I shall attempt to do.

First some fun charts.

#1 - Goals For per game. The Sens were not the worst in the league at scoring, though they were well into the bottom half of the league, they were much better than their 30th place would indicate.

#2 - Goals against per game.

Ahhh ... So now we see the problem. We got scored on A LOT. Not in the same ball park as the Red Wings, but it was still pretty bad. So we all know, as complicated as the game can be, it still comes down to scoring more goals than the other guy. So, in order to improve in the rankings next year, Ottawa needs to allow fewer goals. Scoring more will help, but reducing the goals against is probably a bigger need.

You can also look at a bunch of other teams and see interesting things. Please be my guest and have fun. I'm not going to try and analyze everything on here.

So can we figure out why Ottawa scored so few goals and got scored on so much? Were our goalies terrible? Well lets start with goals for. Did Ottawa have terrible shooting luck? Do we need to look at shooting percentage or high danger chances?

No, let's start with a look at shots on goal.

Ottawa did not generate a lot of shots on goal but it was very much in line with our goals scored. We were 25th in goals for and 24th in shots on goal. Shoot more, score more. Pretty straight forward. What about shots against?

So we gave up a lot of shots against. Even more than the Red Wings. The only teams who gave up more were carried by their goalies. How were Ottawa's goalies then?

Our SV% wasn't horrible. It wasn't great but it wasn't horrible. But really, this suggests to me that more often than not, Ottawa's goalies were hung out to dry and while they didn't steal the show, they held their own. 29th in shots against but 23rd SV%. Really this season could've been much worse. Our goalies were the only reason we weren't fighting with Detroit for last place.

Next question. Did we get any better over the course of the year?

I split the season up into 2 month averages to see if there was a trend. What I hoped to see was a general improvement over the course of the year but what we can actually see is that December and January were really bad. We had a pretty good start to the year, had a terrible middle and started to improve a bit towards the end of the year. 2nd period jinx anyone? What happened in December and January? Oh right, we had injuries to Demelo, Hainsey, Boroweicki and Chabot at various points in time through that stretch. On top of that our goalies did not carry us through that stretch. So when you combine limited quality D with mediocre goaltending you get a really bad stretch of games.

The only stat that showed a general trend of improving over the course of the whole year was our shots for. That's a good sign that our forward group is starting to improve and I think we could project that trend to continue into next year as our forward lines improve and our youngsters start to figure out their game. Funny enough though, Feb-Mar had our best numbers for shots on goal and our worst numbers for goals for. There is definitely some luck in there but I think it's a good sign if we are getting more pucks on goal and hopefully the goal luck will start to come.

If you've stuck around this long, thank you.

Now what do we need to do about it if we want to improve next year?

1. We need to reduce the volume of shots against;..... therefore, we need to improve our defense.

Can we reasonably see this happening next year? Our main D core is now, Chabot, Zaitsev, and Reilly. We know Chabot, he had a bit of a tough year but I think his defensive game is improving and hopefully he can take a big step forward next season. Zaitsev has been pretty poor. I see his biggest flaw as being his first pass. He's physical enough and he has good enough positioning in his own end, but his decision making with the puck was awful. I'm not convinced that it is going to improve next year. Reilly was decent and seemed competent so I don't have any major reservations about him, though he's not a superstar defender, he moved the puck fairly well. We also have Boro. He'll likely be back since PD has pretty much outright said so. He brings a physical element and his skating has significantly improved so if he slots in on the 3rd pair again, that's not too bad.

Next there are a lot more unknowns. Our new addition, Zub, may turn out to be competent. Lots of write-ups mention how his first pass is good, so I'm hoping (at least a little) that he is going to leap frog over Zaitsev in that regard and will end up being a reliable defender. It's not likely to happen immediately though and I don't expect him to replace Demelo.

The rest of the spots have to be filled by some of our youngsters. Wolanin and Brannstrom are the two most likely to slot into the lineup next year. Either they will play on their off side or they will push Boro or Reilly over to the right. I would say that both of them are easily better than Englund or Goulobef, though whether they will be an improvement over Hainsey is tough to say. I hope so, but defensively they may not be there yet.

So is our D going to be improved next year? Maybe? This is a big unknown and the biggest hurdle.

2. We need a step forward in goal. Nilsson started the year fairly well last year and had firmly taken the reigns as the #1 goalie. Can Nilsson continue from where he left off? If he can play like he did at the start of the year then Ottawa should see a big improvement.

Anderson, will hopefully retire. I really wish he had a chance to play his final game in Ottawa and he may get that chance if the season returns, but I hope he retires as a Senator after this year. Hogberg showed that he can cut it at the NHL level. He needs to improve his game still but there is a good chance he can continue to develop and improve next year. So if Nilsson and Hogberg can take a step forward, we should see a reasonable improvement in SV% next year.

3. We need to score more goals. I see this as the most predictable area for improvement. We are unlikely to be losing any of our major contributors and should expect some improvement from our young stars. Tkachuk is due for an uptick. I could easily see him getting over 30 next year. Duclair has hopefully found his game and there is no reason he can't repeat his last year or improve. White is due for a rebound year and Ryan will hopefully show what he can really do when healthy. A lot of our youngsters should have a chance to contribute more. Batherson, Balcers, and Chlapik are likely primed for full time NHL roles next year. Norris, Brown, Abramov and Formenton should all be pushing for a spot and Ottawa is likely to get 2 stars at the upcoming draft, though they may not both be ready for the NHL.

This ended up pretty wordy. How can I sum this up? Ottawa's biggest hole last year was on defense. PD hasn't yet made any major moves to improve the D and aside from Zub, it seems he is hoping that some of our youngsters can take the reigns. Maybe there is more to come but next year is still going to be pretty hard on our D and without an improvement, Ottawa is unlikely to move very far up the standings. But if Wolanin (likely) and/or Brannstrom (maybe) can take the step we all hope they are ready for and if Zub turns out to be a decent defender, then maybe, just maybe, we have a shot to push close to a wildcard.

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