Week Ahead: Nov 26 to Dec 2

Back to back road games, doubling up on the Rangers, and the return of Fredrik Claesson

Monday, November 26th 7:00 PM

Prev game : Capitals, Saturday, November 24th
Next game : @Senators, Thursday, November 29th

Hot : Kevin Hayes - 3P (1G, 2A) in last 3 GP
Cold : Marc Staal - 0P in last 3 GP
Injured : Adam McQuaid (IR), Pavel Buchnevich (IR), Cody McLeod (DTD), Mats Zuccarello (DTD)

It’s been a relatively successful start to what was supposed to be a difficult rebuilding season for the Rangers. While they’re not in a playoff spot, they’re only a point out of the wild card right now.

Henrik Lundqvist continues to be stable in the net. His .920 isn’t going to win any awards but is well within the “solid starter” range, and the 588 shots he’s faced (5th most in the league) in 18 games would seem like an obscene number if this weren’t a Senators blog.

Special teams haven’t been great. They’re not a disaster, but both rank in around the 23 mark so there is definite room for improvement.

To check in on a former Sen, Mika Zibanejad is on pace for his best season ever in points at just under 0.8 points per game. He’s doing it mostly on primary assists, and despite his lowest shooting percentage since his first full season in the league.

Tuesday, November 27th 7:00 PM

Prev game : @Maple Leafs, Saturday, November 24th
Next game : @Penguins, Saturday, December 1st

Hot : Sean Couturier - 6P (3G, 3A) in last 4 GP
Cold : Jakub Voracek - 0P in last 5 GP
Injured : Pascal Laberge (IR), Samuel Morin (IR), Michael Raffl (IR), Corban Knight (IR), Michal Neuvirth (IR), Brian Elliott (IR), Alex Lyon (DTD)

When Toronto chased third stringer Calvin Pickard from the net in Saturday’s blowout, it was the Flyers fifth string goalie Anthony Stolarz that went in to the net. Starter Brian Elliott’s second injury of the season has him out for 2+ weeks, backup Michal Neuvirth was placed on IR at the start of the month with an apparent groin injury and isn’t expected back until _at least_ sometime in December, and backup to the backup’s backup Alex Lyon is to be re-evaluated for a day-to-day lower body injury ahead of tomorrow’s game. Out of all of them, Stolarz actually has had the best result in his most-of-a-game with only two goals against on 35 shots. While they’ll probably go back to Pickard, when you’re this far down the goaltending depth chart you can’t rule out them trying to ride the hot hand.

They also just fired their GM, so you can guess how their season is going.

On special teams, they’re second only to Ottawa in how unsuccessful their penalty kill is, and their power play isn’t much better coming in at 25th with a 15.7% success rate. They’re third last in goals against per game, and a bit below the middle of the pack for goals for per game.

On the positive side, Claude Giroux is off to a great start and is above 1.2 points per game through their 23 games. His 8 goals and 28 points put him at 9th in the league (right behind Matt Duchene). After Giroux, it’s a 10 point drop to Sean Couturier who is still having a respectable season with 10 goals and eight assists.

Thursday, November 29th 7:30 PM

Prev game : Senators, Monday, November 26th
Next game : @Canadiens, Saturday, December 1st

Hot : Kevin Hayes - 3P (1G, 2A) in last 3 GP
Cold : Marc Staal - 0P in last 3 GP
Injured : Adam McQuaid (IR), Pavel Buchnevich (IR), Cody McLeod (DTD), Mats Zuccarello (DTD)

The team so nice the Sens play them twice this week.

As much as the Rangers have exceeded expectations so far this season, they’ve done that on the back of their home record. Their road record of 3-6-2 is the league’s sixth worst, and they have a -17 road goal differential to +10 at home.

This seems to be mostly a tale of bounces, though. The shooting percentage at home is a point higher, and the save percentage is a whopping 5 points higher. That narrows at 5 on 5 with the shooting percentages being almost in sync, but the save percentage still has a 3 point split.

While backup Alexandar Georgiev has had more time on the road - a little under a third vs a little under a quarter at home - it’s not entirely on him either. King Henrik goes from .937 at home to .900 on the road as well.

Saturday, December 1st 1:00 PM
TSN5, TVA Sports

Prev game : @Maple Leafs, Wednesday, November 28th
Next game : @Canadiens, Sunday, December 2nd

Hot : Erik Karlsson - 8P (2G, 6A) in last 6 GP
Cold : Justin Braun - 0P in last 5 GP
Injured : -

If only there were something interesting to talk about for this game. If only.

Of course, it’s the return of Erik Karlsson. While EK had a fairly quiet start to his season, he’s hit a hot stride in the past few games with his first two goals of the season and points in four of the last six games. He leads the Sharks defence in shot share at nearly 60%, and is second to his current defensive partner Brenden Dillon in having the lowest rate of shot attempts against on the team.

It is entirely fair to also point out his team-worst 3.5 goals against per 60 minutes at 5 on 5, but something seems to have clicked on that front in the past two weeks. In the past six games, there have only been two 5 on 5 goals against the Sharks while Karlsson and Dillon were on the ice, and only one more against while Karlsson was on the ice without Dillon. The rate went from 4.01 goals against per 60 minutes through November 11 to 1.8 goals against per 60 minutes since then.

The team itself is rocking the penalty kill. They’ve got the second most successful PK in the league, keeping the puck out of the net 89.2% of the time. Digging deeper, they have the lowest rate of shots against on the penalty kill at just under 69 attempts per 60 minutes of PK, though are also benefiting from the fifth highest short handed save percentage.

The Sharks are third in the league for shots per game, so Andy probably shouldn’t expect a quiet afternoon in the net.

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