Gameday Preview – Blues at Senators

The Western Conference has posed a problem for Ottawa all season long. In dropping Saturday afternoon’s matinee to the Los Angeles Kings, the Senators have the NHL’s worst record (1-9-2 ) versus the West.

Gameday Preview – Blues at Senators
Brian Elliott #1 of the St. Louis Blues can't make the stop on a goal by Olli Jokinen (not pictured) of the Winnipeg Jets in first period action of an NHL game at the MTS Centre on October 18, 2013 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

St. Louis Blues (22-6-3)
@
Ottawa Senators (13-16-6-)
Canadian Tire Centre: 7:30 pm ET

Background…

The Western Conference has posed a problem for Ottawa all season long. In dropping Saturday afternoon’s matinee to the Los Angeles Kings, the Senators have the NHL’s worst record (1-9-2 ) versus the West.

The St. Louis Blues certainly will not make things any easier for the Sens.

Not only are the Blues one of the elite puck possession teams in the NHL, they are currently riding a three-game win streak and have demonstrably exhibited their dominance over Eastern Conference opponents this season.

In 13 games against Eastern Conference teams, the Blues are 11-2-0 and have outscored the opposition by an aggregate score of 48 to 26.

With the Rangers picking up two points in their shootout win over Calgary last night, the Senators currently sit in 13th place in the Eastern Conference with 32 points. The Eastern Conference playoff race is already getting congested. Five points separate Ottawa in the wild card playoff standings from the Maple Leafs’ second wild card position, but only one point separates Ottawa from the third-place Rangers.

Storylines…

It is anticipated that former Senator goaltender Brian Elliott will make his second start in Ottawa since being moved on February 18, 2011 in a deal that netted the Sens Craig Anderson. Elliott won his first start against Ottawa — a 3-1 victory on Feb. 7, 2012.

After Alex Ovechkin potted his 27th and 28th goals of the season last night against Philadelphia, Alex Steen now trails the Rocket Richard Trophy leader by six goals.

Vladimir Tarasenko will make his debut in Ottawa. Tarasenko was drafted with the 16th overall selection in the 2010 NHL Draft. At the time, GM Bryan Murray moved the pick to St. Louis in exchange for Swedish defensive prospect David Rundblad. Rundblad would eventually become the principle component of the package Ottawa moved to Phoenix for Kyle Turris.

Tonight’s game will feature another marquee matchup showcasing defenceman Erik Karlsson against a fellow defenceman who was selected in the first round of the 2008 NHL Draft. On Saturday, there was an opportunity for fans to see Drew Doughty (drafted second overall) and now fans will have a chance to watch another Norris hopeful in Alex Pietrangelo (drafted fourth overall).

Having served his two-game suspension for an illegal check to the head, Jared Cowen is eligible to return tonight. Marc Methot, who has been suffering from the flu, also returned and practiced yesterday. It remains to be seen how their anticipated returns will influence management’s decision to keep Cody Ceci around. Since arriving from Binghamton for last Thursday’s game against Buffalo, Ceci has certainly brought some speed and a puck moving element to a blue line that has struggled in those areas when Erik Karlsson has not been on the ice.

Interesting Stat #1

Much has been made about the recent success of former Senators goaltenders who had success against Ottawa after being moved or let go.

In Ottawa’s modern franchise history, 14 goaltenders – Alex Auld, Tom Barrasso, Don Beaupre, Craig Billington, Ben Bishop, Brian Elliott, Ray Emery, Martin Gerber, Dominik Hasek, Jani Hurme, Patrick Lalime, Curtis McElhinney, Damian Rhodes, and Ron Tugnutt – have suited up and played against Ottawa after they have put on a Sens jersey.

These goaltenders have amassed a 14-16-4-1 record (four ties, one shootout loss), a 3.29 goals against average and a save percentage of .885.

However, since the start of the 2009-10 season, former Senators goaltenders have gone 7-2-1 in 10 appearances and have collectively posted a 2.01 goals against average and a save percentage of .931.

Interesting Stat #2

In Ottawa’s last two games, only Cory Conacher (11:02) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (10:17) have averaged less ice-time per game than Bobby Ryan (13:16). For what it is worth, of the skaters who have played in more than 20 games this season, Bobby Ryan is averaging 2.89 points per 60 minutes of ice-time. It is the eighth best rate in the NHL this season.

Interesting Stat #3:

Via ExtraSkater.com, here is a look at the NHL’s leaders in goals per 60 minutes of even strength ice-time (Note: the web site qualifies that players must have played in 26 or more games):

 

Player

Team

G/60

1.

Alex Steen

STL

1.91

T2.

Tyler Seguin

DAL

1.76

T2.

Alex Ovechkin

ANA

1.76

4.

Corey Perry

SJ

1.73

5.

Tomas Hertl

WSH

1.42

Interesting Stat #4

Steen’s goal production should start to normalize soon. Having scored on 22 of 104 shots, his shooting percentage of 21.2-percent is more than double his career average (9.9-percent).

Interesting Stat #5:

Here is a look at how Erik Karlsson and his fellow defencemen from the 2008 NHL Draft have fared this season at five-on-five:

Goals Points Corsi For % Goals For %

Alex Pietrangelo

4 20 56.0

60.8

Drew Doughty

6 17 58.1

60.4

Erik Karlsson 9 30 53.0

44.3

  • Corsi For % (CF%) refers to a puck possession metric that tracks the rate at which a team directs shots at the opposition net (the total number of shots, missed shots, blocked shots) relative to how many shots are directed by the opposition on a player’s net. In other words, when Doughty is on the ice at five-on-five, the Los Angeles Kings take 58.1-percent of the shot attempts.
  • Goals For % (GF%) refers to the rate at which a team scores relative to how often the opposition scores while a player is on the ice. In other words, looking at the figures above, when Pietrangelo is on the ice at five-on-five, the Blues score 60.8-percent of the goals.

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