We have to win a game at some point right? Continuing the trip through California, which is back to being full of teams that won't roll over anymore after a few down years. Eventually we do get to play in Ottawa again, for a game that if we don't win we can start to sound the alarm bells and the seats for Dorion and Smith will begin to heat up. Oh and we get to end the week with one of the best teams in the league, and although some think they're a bunch of jerks I kind of like them.
*All start times are ET*
Friday November 26th 4:00 pm @ Anaheim
Season record: 10-7-3, 4th in Pacific
Last 10: 7-3
Previous meetings this season: None
Series record since 2019-20: 0-1-1
- Adam Henrique Day to Day, Upper Body
- Max Comtois IR, Hand
- Max Jone IR, Pectoral
An odd little Friday afternoon game thanks to American Thanksgiving sets us up for a game we have a legitimate chance to win based on how streaky Anaheim has been. The Ducks lost 7 of their first 9 before winning 8 straight and have now lost their last 3 so who knows what version fo the team will show up. Looking at the traditional stats the Ducks are relatively strong ranking in the top 9 for goals per game, and for both powerplay and penalty kill percentage.
With John Gibson having another great season, honestly on any other team Gibson would be so much more respected never having a truly bad season, and 5 of their D-men having played in every game expect a team that may be lacking names on the back end to look structured and be tough to crack. Although a little older than you'd expect a "rebuilding" team to look with 4 of their 5 regulars over the age of 28 they are lead by a guy some fans wanted Ottawa to pick last year in Jamie Drysdale. Drysdale is playing in their top 4 with Hamphus Lindholm as the Ducks do a good job of spreading minutes amongst those two along with the pairing of Cam Fowler and John Manson who I had to double check to see both were already 30 years old.
When I ask who leads the Ducks in points I'm sure 9 out of 10 people would guess Ryan Getzlaf, second on the team with 20 points including 19 assists to help him crack 1000 career points, or give a giant shoulder shrug. Well if you haven't focused on the league at large the name Troy terry ranking in the top 10 league wide for goals with 12 and in points with 22 you might be shocked. Terry had 20 points in 48 games last year and after 2 partial seasons the former 2015 5th rounder has become an NHL regular. After getting points in 16 straight games he's gone consecutive games without points so the Ducks will be looking for secondary scoring from the likes of Trevor Zergas and Sonny Milano who have combined for 12 points in their last 5 games. Former Senator Jacob Silfverberg, remember how fun he was as a youngster, is now on the wrong side of 30 but still looks good as a 3rd liner who can put up 40 points, contribute on both special teams and generally be a useful piece like Nick Paul is here. A win won't be easy but with Chabot-? on the ice for enough minutes hopefully against the Ducks top line the Sens could pull off an upset.
Saturday November 27th 7:00 pm @ Los Angeles
Season record: 8-8-3, 6th in Pacific
Last 10: 5-3-2
Previous meetings this season: 2-1 Loss on November 11th in Ottawa
Series record since 2019-20: 1-2
- Drew Doughty IR, Knee
- Sean Walker IR, Knee
- Quinton Byfield IR, Ankle
- Akil Thomas IR, UNdisclosed
- Andreas Athanasiou COVID protocols
Well well well, if it isn't the team that stopped out shutout streak, although we were missing *deep breath* Connor Brown, Formenton, Watson, Holden, Mete, Gambrell along with Zub who left early in the game with an injury. Gustavsson did all he could saving 34 of 36 shots but after getting shutout for the first time since 2020 the Sens didn't have much of a chance. And in all honesty I can't remember much ahppening in a game that was only 2 weeks ago other than agreeing with a coworker that it was quite the dull affair, with a near full roster this game should be alittle more open ended.
For the Kings since we last met they actually have a worse record than us as they have lost 5 in a row, inlcuding to Arizona in overtime and allowing at least 5 goals in 2 of their last 3 games. Last time these two teams met I said Calvin Peterson was taking over as the starter slowly, since then Quick has taken back the number 1 role and had given up 2 goals or fewer in 6 straight starts until allowing 6 to Toronto Wednesday. In an inverse situation of Anaheium the Kings are lead on defence by 5 players under the age of 27 and only free agent addition Alex Edler filling the role of veteran precense. A name to watch on the back end is Matt Roy who wore an A on his jersey for team USA at the 2021 world's and has worked his way up to the top line after being a 7th round pick in 2015.
On offence the Kings are starting to struggle as the young players weren't ready to step up and the vets are starting to slow down as they've scored more than 3 goals only once in their last 7 games. Over their last 5 games since playing Ottawa their top 6 has combined for 8 points with only 4 goals. Dare I say it, this might be the first game in a while worth betting the under on even with our high scoring ways on both ends.
Wednesday December 1st 7:30 vs Vancouver
Season record: 6-12-2, 7th in Pacific
Last 10: 2-7-1
Previous meetings this season: None
Series record since 2019-20: 4-5-2
- Matthew Higmore LTIR, Upper Body
- Brandon Sutter COVID protocols
Considering the last news I heard out of Vancouver was media reporting about players not understanding what the coach wanted done in practise I think it's safe to say things could be much worse. For a team that hasn't been overly affected by injuries ranking in the bottom 9 for goals, goals against and on both special teams units after acquiring players like Connor Garland, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and even role players like Jason Dickinson had the makeup of a team pushing for the playoffs.
The biggest cause for concern might be a penalty kill that is killing an absolutely atrocious 63.08% which is unsuprisingly the worst mark in the league. Somewhat suprisingly the Canucks have used 5 of their d-men for a majority of the games only rotating through the 6th spot even with the struggles at preventing goals. It's hard to know without watching the games but Thatcher Demko continues to be an average goalie statistically. He has his moments and might live up to the 5X5 contract he signed which doesn't look bad but might not be the steal some thought it was.
Looking at the lines up front Vancouver doesn't look like they're in bad shape with 3 lines they can send out confidently and their top 6 should be able to produce at a respectable rate, not 14 goals in 8 games. JT Miller is leading the team with 19 points on the season with COnnor Garland being the other main contributor with 14 points on the 2nd line as he adjust to his new surroundings. The real issues in the recent losing streak become evident when you see Bo Horvat has 1 point in 8 games, Elias Pettersson has 1 in 7, and Brock Boeser has gone 7 straight without a point. Youngster Vasily Podkolzin has seen his ice time over 12 minutes per game over the last 9 but has only produced 2 points as the 2019 10th overall pick has struggled on the 2nd line. This is a good matchup for the Sens with 3 wins over the last 4 games between these teams last year and picking up a total of 8 points over the final 6 games between the teams.
Wednesday December 2nd 7:00 @ Carolina
Season record: 14-3-1, 1st in Metro
Last 10: 6-3-1
Previous meetings this season: None
Series record since 2019-20: 1-1
- Ethan Bear COVID protocols
A second consecutive season ranked in the top 3 league wide for points, 3 consecutive playoff appearances, no long-term bad contracts, good coaching and management, core in their prime, top 10 offence and defence, special teams and goaltending. The Carolina Hurricanes are turning into one of those teams that rebuilders will look at and try to emulate.
With so many strengths it's hard to pick out just one, but looking at the forwards group there might not be a deeper one in the NHL right now. They can roll 4 lines that can beat you with skill and speed while also providing the support for a defence for the few times they aren't controlling the puck. Between Andrei Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho, Vincent Trochek, Martin Necas, Teuvo Teravainen, Jesperi Kotkaniemi the Canes have lots of Olympic hopefuls and the results show it paying off. To pile on the rich get richer and 19 year old Seth jarvis has joined the team after being called up early from the WHL and has 6 points in 11 games this year.
Just because this team is full of skilled players don't forget how hard it is going to be if you are trying to catch up on a team that has allowed a paltry 2 goals per game this year and have only allowed more than 2 in 5 games. On defence the name to watch is Jacob Slavin who finsihed top 5 in Norris voting in the last full season and is a virtual lock for team USA along with possibly Brett Pesce. I'm not going to get into the details but Tony DeAngelo is getting top 4 minutes and if you want Brady ot Watson to punch somebody in the face he's the guy. Oh I almost forgot one of the best goalies in the league is somebody the Leafs gave up on last year in Frederik Andersen who is top 5 in goals against and save percentage, sure Jack Campbell has played great but I'm sure the Leafs rather have both instead of giving away one. On a scale of 1 to 10 this would be an 11 on the upset scale so hope for a close game and maybe try to enjoy watching one of the league's best teams expose where we need to improve the most going forward.