Gameday Preview: Red Wings at Senators

One week ago a groin injury put Daniel Alfredsson on the sidelines and cast doubt on whether he’d able to play and make his highly anticipated return to Ottawa.

Gameday Preview: Red Wings at Senators
Erik Karlsson #65, Patrick Wiercioch #46 and Jason Spezza #19 of the Ottawa Senators celebrate a third period goal by Clarke MacArthur #16 behind Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on November 23, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. Ottawa won the game 4-2. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Detroit Red Wings
@
Ottawa Senators
Canadian Tire Centre: 5:30 pm EST

Storylines…

One week ago a groin injury put Daniel Alfredsson on the sidelines and cast doubt on whether he’d able to play and make his highly anticipated return to Ottawa.

Although he sat out Detroit’s last game versus Ottawa on Nov. 23, Alfredsson returned the next night in Buffalo and potted a goal and an assist. With another two goals and an assist versus the Islanders on Friday night, the former Senators captain’s production is another thing to keep an eye on.

From a storytelling point of view, the timing of the return couldn’t be more intriguing and certainly should lend itself to the HBO’s 24/7 series.

Much of the buildup towards today’s game has been focused on what the fan response to the former captain would be. But thanks to Alfredsson’s continued production and Ottawa’s consistently inconsistent play, there is another added dynamic to this game that some fans probably didn’t anticipate.

Alfie’s 19 points tie him for the third most on his team, and his recent production has helped the Wings roll off three consecutive wins – helping them create a nine-point cushion between their fourth place position and Ottawa’s sixth place spot in the Atlantic Division.

Alfie can still play at a relatively high level and considering the hubbub before the season about the Sens possibly being a better team without out him, they definitely haven’t shown it thus far. In fact, it seems like the only team that the Senators have an easy time getting up for is Detroit. And as if Alfie’s teammates did not have enough motivation to rally for him in his return to Ottawa, the Wings will be looking to avenge their two losses to the Senators in which they were outscored by an aggregate score of ten to three.

After Alfredsson’s departure, it seems like most Sens fans these days are turning to another Swede in Robin Lehner to help right the team’s ship. Despite Craig Anderson being referred to as the team’s “number one goalie” earlier in the season, Lehner gives the Senators the best opportunity to win now.

Here are numbers that I pulled for a blog post earlier this week:

  • Andy has a 2-6-2 record in his last nine games that includes a GAA of of 4.36 and a save percentage of .859.
  • The number of games this season where Ottawa’s goaltenders have had a save percentage less than .900: Craig Anderson has 9 in the 17 games he’s appeared in. Robin Lehner has zero.
  • Of the goalies who have played in 10 or more games, Lehner has the seventh highest even strength save percentage (.939) and the fifth best save percentage when his team is killing a penalty (.920). Conversely, Anderson’s .915 at even strength isn’t that bad and puts him in line with guys like Martin Brodeur (.915), Marc-Andre Fleury (.915) and Roberto Luongo (.914).
  • Where the numbers show Anderson is getting hammered this season is when his team is shorthanded. The old adage is that your goaltender has to be your best penalty killer and Andy simply hasn’t. His .770 save percentage while his team is shorthanded is the second worst rate for a goaltender with 10 or more games played – only the New York Islanders’ Kevin Poulin is worse.
  • Just to hammer the point home, here are Anderson’s save percentages while his team was shorthanded:
    • 2012/13: allowed 10 goals on 133 shots (.925)
    • 2013/14: allowed 17 goals on 74 shots (.770)

And finally, as a reminder to fans attending today’s game, the Senators have a pregame video tribute for Alfie planned prior to the start of the game. So do yourself a favour and give yourself plenty of time to get to the rink.

Interesting Stat #1

Having lost to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night, the Senators will have had, the Senators will enter play today having had two days rest. According to Stats.com, when the Senators have had two or more days of rest, they are 5-2-3 on the season.

Interesting Stat #2

Looking at the split stats for Ottawa’s power play, the gap between the success rate of their home and away power plays is pronounced.

On the road it’s operating at a 28.9% success rate while it’s only produced at an 11.4% success rate when the team has played at home. This 17.5% difference between the road and home power plays is the largest in the NHL.

Interesting Stat #3:

Having played in 1,200th career NHL game on Friday, Alfredsson is tied with Owen Nolan for 96th on the NHL’s all-time leaderboard for most games played. Of note, he has the third-highest total amongst Swedish-born players – only Niklas Lidstrom (10th all-time with 1,564)and Mats Sundin (47th all-time with 1,346) have played in more games.

Interesting Stat #4:

Daniel Alfredsson has averaged 0.94 points per game during his career. Of those who played in 1,200 or more NHL games, it is the 24th highest rate in NHL history.

Interesting Stat #5: 

Earlier I pointed out Craig Anderson’s horrific save percentage when his team is on the penalty kill, and you can use this statistic to explain why in its last nine games, Ottawa has given up 13 power play goals in 35 opportunities – good enough for a 62.9% penalty kill success rate.

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