This may come as a shock to people who paid attention to pre-season expectations or have any concept of forecasting, but the Ottawa Senators are doing really well right now. Like, really well.
Coming into the 2011-12 campaign, Ottawa was pretty much a unanimous choice to be fighting it out for the rights to draft Nail Yakupov with their national rivals from Alberta, the Edmonton Oilers. So far only half of that has come true and it has nothing to do with the team in Ontario.
The Senators are a curious case for a multitude of reasons. Not only are they on pace for a 100 point season – which, by the way, THEY ARE given that they’ve won 54% of their games which equals 45 wins over the course of a season and gotten OT/shootout points in 13% of their games which is 11 over 82 which means 101 points with a 45-26-11 record – they are doing it in no specific way at all.
Typically speaking when we talk about a team we highlight the things they do well or the things they are horrendous at. The Sens totally defy this logic. On one hand they are fantastic at scoring goals, averaging 3.06 a game (sixth highest total in the league). On the other, they are brutal at preventing them from being scored, averaging 3.13 against a game (fourth most in the league). They’re the only team in the NHL’s top 10 for points (they are seventh) with a negative for/against average. New Jersey is the next closest at the 11 spot.
Special teams are nothing to write home about either given how distinctly average they are. They are square in the middle of the league at 15 with a power play percentage of 17.9. They’re worse on the penalty kill with a kill percentage of 80.8% which puts them 23rd in the NHL. Not only that, but only Toronto has given up more power play goals against. Let’s not even get started with the discipline of the team seeing as how only Philadelphia has taken more penalties.
Does this have any tangible bearing on the team’s record? Nope.
The Sens are eighth in the NHL for points and they are streaking right now with an 8-1-1 record in their last ten. Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson are having insane years offensively, and the rest of the team is rallying around their production. Craig Anderson is third in the NHL in wins despite boasting a lacklustre GAA and save percentage – did I mention he’s given up the second most goals while stopping the most shots?
Quite frankly, I don’t entirely get it. The Sens, on paper, are not great and the stats verify this. That being said, they still find a way. They play with great chemistry which has been largely built by their development system in place at Binghamton where the AHL Senators took home a Calder Cup in 2011. Many players on this current Sens squad played on identical lines in the A and their on-ice chemistry shows. Paul MacLean seems to have asserted himself well as an NHL head coach, and as far as assistants go you can’t do much better than Dave Cameron, Mark Reeds and Luke Richardson. Many people forget that Cameron and Reeds coached against one another in the OHL championships and Memorial Cup last season. They are both NHL calibre head coaches. They are getting the most out of this roster right now and if the season ended tomorrow you could air mail MacLean his Jack Adams trophy.
At the end of the day, there is no tangible reason WHY the Sens just find a way to win, they just do. You know how some people are in those relationships where you think “that shouldn’t work, but it just does”? It looks like that’ll be Ottawa’s bond with wins for the next little while. Might as well enjoy them while they’re here.