Week Ahead: Jan 19 to 25

Sens hit the road again

Update: The Friday game against Carolina has been moved to Saturday at noon. No word yet on broadcasting changes.

Still just a win out of the playoffs, it's an important road trip for Ottawa.

Senators at Capitals

Game 50, Tuesday, January 21st, 7pm
Previous game
@Rangers, Sunday, January 19th
Next game
@Devils, Friday, January 24th
Alex Ovechkin - 7P (4G, 3A) in last 8 GP
Braden Holtby - 0.823 SV% in last 5 GP

Washington has had a rough start to 2014. They came in to the year with a tenuous hold on second in the division, they've managed a 2-3-3 record in 8 games this year and they've fallen out of a playoff position.

Nicklas Backstrom, who was leading the Capitals in points the last time they met Ottawa, is pointless in 4 games. Alex Ovechkin has been running colder than usual since before Christmas, and has been well below his season points pace in that time frame. Mikhail Grabovski is still 3rd on the team for points this season, but has only put up 3 points in January.

Braden Holtby, once spoken of as the potential 3rd goalie for Team Canada in Sochi, has lost the starter's position to Philipp Grubauer for the time being. As for Grubauer, he's only been so-so in January with a .917 SV% in 5 games.

One bright spot has been their improving possession numbers. 6 of their games in January have come with positive CF% and FF%. The bad news is they're still not that close to 50% on the season.

Senators at Lightning

Game 51, Thursday, January 23rd, 7:30pm
Sportsnet East
Previous game
@Hurricanes, Sunday, January 19th
Next game
Avalanche, Saturday, January 25th
Martin St. Louis - 11P (8G, 3A) in last 7 GP
Anders Lindback - 0.872 SV% in last 5 GP

Martin St. Louis is putting on a clinic on how to respond to an Olympic snub. His current 7 game point streak started the day that Team Canada announced their roster, and included all 4 Tampa goals in Saturday's game against the Sharks. Fortunately, he did not take Joe Thornton's advice on how to celebrate. To make it that much more impressive, let's remember he's pretty long in the tooth for a hockey player at age 38. If he keeps up his point per game pace, he'll join a very short list of NHL players who managed that at his age or older - Gordie Howe, Jean Ratelle, Jean Beliveau, Johnny Bucyk, Adam Oates and Teemu Selänne.

Ben Bishop laid an egg against San Jose, but he's still showing up on all 4 goalie leaderboards in a top 5 position. Anders Lindback, however, has been having a dismal season in the backup role.

Tampa's biggest weakness, past Lindback at least, is in special teams. They're not quite in the basement, but the 18.0% PP and 79.9& PK are definitely in the bottom half of the league.

Steven Stamkos is still out with a broken leg, but he's skated (briefly) with the team. He's going to be back sooner than originally expected for sure, but anytime this week would be a complete shock.

Senators at Hurricanes

Game 52, Friday, January 24th, 7pm
Saturday, January 25th, 12pm
Sportsnet East
Previous game
@Sabres, Thursday, January 23rd
Next game
Blue Jackets, Monday, January 27th
Anton Khudobin - 0.939 SV% in last 7 GP
Andrej Sekera - 0P in last 5 GP

Add the Hurricanes to the list of teams that shouldn't be doing as well as they are. The special teams aren't very good, they don't score at some absurd pace, they haven't had out of this world goaltending, and the only standard stat they rank in the top half of the league is shots per game. At 5 on 5 close, they're 22nd for Corsi and 26th for Fenwick. They're a team that shouldn't be doing that well. Yet, they're 2 points back of Ottawa and 3 points back of the playoffs with games in hand.

Anton Khudobin, who went down to injury in his 3rd game of the season, has been providing some spectacular goaltending though. Beyond his 7 games since coming back from injury, he has a 0.937 on the season. Certainly makes you wonder how Carolina's chances would be looking right now if they'd had him for those 2 and a half months he was out.

Eric Staal is leading the Canes in points. Jeff Skinner is actually out-producing him, but in 8 fewer games.

Cam Ward has been injured since the end of December, but with how Khudobin is playing I'm not sure they're missing him very much right now.

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