Sens Week Ahead: Jan 3 to 9

The light weeks are over for now, with four games this week

Senators @ Bruins

Game 37, Saturday, January 3rd, 1:00pm
Previous game
Maple Leafs, Wednesday, December 31st
Next game
@Hurricanes, Sunday, January 4th
Loui Eriksson - 7P (3G, 4A) in last 5 GP
Tuukka Rask - 0.882 SV% in last 5 GP

Oh look, it's another afternoon game in Boston! We all love those, right?

I think everyone looked at the slow start for the Bruins and expected it to change sooner or later, but almost half way through the season and they're still basically where they have been all season.

One of the issues they have been having is the shooting percentages from their veterans. With only a few exceptions, the Bruins with a track record before this season are shooting below their career percentages - many significantly so. Brad Marchand is down 3%, Milan Lucic is down over 4%, Chris Kelly is down around 4% and Zdeno Chara's shooting percentage this year is almost half his career rate. The list goes on. The end result of so many players being down is that the team is sitting at 20th in the league for goals per game. If they were all shooting at their career averages, they'd be in the top 10.

The shooters aren't the only ones having a down year - Tuukka Rask is having a rough, rough year. His .910 SV% is by far the worst year of his career, other than his first (4 game) season. The difference between that and his career average would move the Bruins goals against per game from 17th in the league to 5th.

Adam McQuaid and Simon Gagne are both out.

Lightning @ Senators

Game 38, Sunday, January 4th, 7:00pm
Previous game
@Penguins, Friday, January 2nd
Next game
@Canadiens, Tuesday, January 6th
Ondrej Palat - 6P (1G, 5A) in last 2 GP
Jonathan Drouin - 0P in last 5 GP

The Lightning continue to have a strong season this year, sitting just two points out of the league lead.

A big part of what has gotten them there is the team offence. Tampa leads the league in goals for with 130, a whopping 33 more than Ottawa. You can't really talk about the Lightning offence without talking about Steven Stamkos, and he does lead the team with 20 goals. However, it is Tyler Johnson that leads the team in points right now. Stamkos is actually below a point per game right now, but that is bound to change. The only time he ended the season below that level was his rookie season.

Somewhat scary is the fact that their power play isn't really scary. At 18.6% it has slid into the bottom half at 16th overall. What is scary about that is it shows they are scoring a larger number of goals at 5 on 5. The penalty kill is also middle of the pack at 15th. Possession wise they shine at 5 on 5 as well, sitting at third overall for both Corsi and Fenwick.

The biggest thing that has held them back is probably the down year for Ben Bishop. His .912 sv% is well below starter quality and well below what they were getting from him last season.

Mattias Ohlund is on IR, while Radko Gudas is listed as day to day.

Senators @ Flyers

Game 39, Tuesday, January 5th, 7:00pm
Previous game
@Devils, Saturday, January 3rd
Next game
Capitals, Thursday, January 8th
Mark Streit - 3P (3A) in last 3 GP
Michael Del Zotto - 0P in last 11 GP

It's another rough year for the Flyers. While not nearly as bad as some other teams, they've struggled from the start of the season and have never quite managed to be in the playoff picture.

It's been a good individual year for Jakub Voracek, though. He's leading the team and the league in points and assists right now, and is tied with Wayne Simmonds for Flyers goals. He isn't just posting the first point per game pace of his career, he's blowing by it. Claude Giroux isn't having a breakout year, but it's more of the expected high level of production from him. He's sitting in third overall for assists and points.

Where Philly has been getting in to a bit of trouble is on the penalty kill. At 74.4%, they're dead last in the league and they're sitting in 20th for the number of times short handed. They're doing their best to make up for this with their power play though - they've had almost as many times with the man advantage as they've had short handed, and they rank 7th overall with a 21.4% success rate.

In the crease, Steve Mason has been performing well above his career average. Unfortunately for the Flyers, that's still an underwhelming .917 SV%. The other options haven't been any better - Ray Emery and Rob Zepp (in his one game) are both below .900 on the season.

Claude Giroux and Zac Rinaldo are day to day going in to the week, while Ryan White and Kimmo Timonen are both on IR.

Senators @ Avalanche

Game 40, Thursday, January 8th, 9:00pm
Previous game
@Blackhawks, Tuesday, January 6th
Next game
Stars, Saturday, January 10th
Tyson Barrie - 2P (2A) in last 2 GP
Jamie McGinn - 0P in last 5 GP

The Avalanche are playing at a similar level to what they were last season, but lady luck has ditched them this time around.

Their possession numbers at 5 on 5 are dismal, barely coming in over 45%, and they're currently projected to wind up with just over 80 points on the season. It's a far cry from last year's unlikely 112 point finish.

One big drop off has been the power play. Last year it ran at just under 20% and finished 5th in the league, this year it's at 14.6% and 5th last in the league. The penalty kill has been more successful though, up about 3% and 15 spots in the rankings.

Last season it was the youth leading the charge, this year it's the veterans in the lead. 35 year old Alex Tanguay leads Colorado with 12 goals and 25 points, with 37 year old Jarome Iginla one point behind him. It's not all the old timers though, with Gabriel Landeskog wrapping up the top three. Tyson Barrie, Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon and Ryan O'Reilly are all only a few points back of Tanguay as well. So while they aren't leading the way this season, the youthful core of the team isn't trailing too far behind the vets.

Ryan Wilson, Jamie McGinn, Ben Street, Patrick Bordeleau and former Sen Jesse Winchester are all on IR for the Avs.

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