Silver Nuggets: Senators begin road trip still in the playoff hunt

Having finished a six-game road trip, the Ottawa Senators will head out onto the road again for three games in Winnipeg, Dallas and Washington. The fact that the Senators survived the six-game road trip and continue to be in the playoff hunt has to give the team confidence. They remain only a point out of a playoff spot (although with an extra game played). Currently sitting tied for 10th place with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Ottawa is eight points ahead of the 15th place New York Islanders but also only eight points behind the first place Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Senators two main problems in my opinion have been taking too many penalties and below average goaltending. In 5-on-5 play, the Senators are ranked 12th in the league in shot differential. In "close" games (with close defined as either tied in any period, or within a goal in the first or second period), the Senators are 10th in possession as measured by 5-on-5 Fenwick (Fenwick is simply Corsi without blocked shots). As an aside, the reasoning for using Fenwick instead of Corsi is that on aggregate team levels, there is a large enough sample to not consider blocked shots.

This team would be a lot better in the standings if it was able to get better goaltending and take less penalties. The fact that they are still in the hunt despite that is a testament to the club's overall play. Ottawa is second last in the league, having played 43:38 more of shorthanded time than power play time. The only club below them are tonight's opponents, the Winnipeg Jets.

Despite that, the Senators are a game over .500. Another good road trip can only help and boost the team's confidence before they start a stretch of playing nine out of 12 games at home.

General Sens News

  • Preview for tonight's game in Winnipeg. (Senators Extra, Ottawa Sun)
  • Six out of the eight panellists predict a Senators victory tonight. Peter went with Ottawa in a 3-2 shootout win. (Senators Extra)
  • UPDATE: Sergei Gonchar has been moved to the second power play unit. 1) Greening-Spezza-Filatov, Karlsson-Rundblad. 2) Michalek-Foligno-Alfredsson, Kuba-Gonchar. (Allen Panzeri)
  • UPDATE: The all-star votes after week two are here. Phil Kessel now leads all players, Erik Karlsson leads all defencemen. The five starting skaters are all from Toronto and Ottawa. (NHL)
  • Nikita Filatov is staying on the top line tonight. Paul MacLean felt Filatov did the things coaches want him to do against Carolina, at some point he has to get points if he is to stay on the top line. If he is moved off the top line at some point, hopefully it is still in a top six role. I would like to see him a dozen or so games. (Ottawa Citizen)
  • The war of words between the Senators and Sidney Crosby might be over for now after Murray refused to respond to Crosby's comments that Murray always seem to talk about him. Also, Nick Foligno seems happy to be playing at centre. (Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Sun)
  • Paul MacLean is glad to be back in Winnipeg, he's just sorry he couldn't do it while Her Majesty, The Queen was in town. (Ottawa Sun)
  • In less than a year, Mika Zibanejad went from playing on the fourth line in the Elitserien to seeing a game picture of himself and Pavel Datsyuk. He was obviously disappointed he couldn't stay in Ottawa, but was glad he was able to play a few NHL games. Zibanejad will likely return to Canada for the IIHF U20 World Championships in Alberta. (IIHF)
  • Tim Murray caught himself just in time from saying it would be "very !@#$ed up" had Mark Stone not been invited to the Team Canada camp. Ha! The Murrays are awesome. (Ottawa Senators)

How many points do you expect the Senators to pick up in Winnipeg, Dallas and Washington?


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