Remember to Breathe: Senators Still Have Upper-Hand vs. the Bruins

Heading into game six this afternoon, many fans will be nervous. Just remember: Ottawa still has the advantage

0:30 into the second period: Goal by Jean-Gabriel Pageau to make it 2-0 Ottawa vs. Boston in game five.

At that moment, it looked like the Senators were on their way to winning their first round matchup in just five games.

However, the Bruins clawed back once again, and they won a double-overtime thriller to send the series back to Boston for game six. It was certainly a frustrating loss considering how close Ottawa came to moving on.

And while some fans may be panicking for the game this afternoon, just remember: the Senators still have the upper-hand in this series. Overtime losses can be soul-crushing, but I think a lot of fans forgot that the Senators still have two more tries to advance.

I’m not going to say that I am 100% confident that the Senators will beat the Bruins, but the odds are on their side. For one, by pure probability, they have a 75% chance of winning game six or seven. Most of the models out there have Ottawa’s chances as slightly below that, which are still quite high:

Secondly, the Bruins are extremely banged up. As of now, it looks like Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, Colin Miller, and Adam McQuaid won’t be playing again, and those are all defensemen who are capable of playing regular minutes. Even if it was only Krug who was hurt, they would still be at a significant disadvantage.

Thirdly, it’s not the biggest sample, but Ottawa has won all four games at the TD Garden this season (regular season and playoffs), so it’s not like they’re entering some extremely hostile arena. Most importantly though, Ottawa has actually been the better team throughout this series.

I’m not just talking about the goals, I’m talking about shots and scoring chances.

Boston finished 2nd in the entire league in corsi, yet Ottawa has held their own against them in the possession battle. Coming into game five, the Senators actually had exactly 50% of the even strength shot attempts, and after Friday’s game, that number sat at 49.42% (254-260, which is quite close).

While that may not be too impressive, they also have 52.40% of the shots, 51.92% of the unblocked shot attempts (fenwick) and 54.32% of the high-danger scoring chances. What does that mean then?

That shows me that the Bruins have slightly more overall shot attempts, but the Senators have been able to block more of them, and they have also had the better chances to score. Of course, anything can happen in a one or two game sample so these numbers might not matter, but it’s nice to see that Ottawa has been the better team in terms of chances to score.

During last game, the high-danger scoring chances were 12-7 for Ottawa, and this heat map confirms the volume of close chances they had:

The bottom line is: you have every right to be nervous because it’s the damn playoffs after all. But there’s no need to go into complete panic mode unless they lose today. Even if that happens, Ottawa playing at home in game seven isn’t a bad thing.

If someone had told you before the playoffs started that the Senators would be up 3-2 in the series and have a chance to move on to round two today, everyone would have taken that.

Plus, if Ottawa was coming off of a win instead of a loss with the series being 3-2, people’s mentalities would be completely different. They have a really good chance to eliminate the Bruins, and that would be quite the accomplishment.

It’s not quite early enough to be penciling in a New York Rangers matchup in the second round, but the odds are Ottawa will get the job done. I didn’t predict the Senators would win before the series began, but now that they are in the position they are, I see no reason why they can’t win tonight or on Wednesday.

Just remember to breathe this afternoon.

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