Gameday Preview: Senators at Capitals

Fresh off their disappointing loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon, the Senators will look to bounce back against the Washington Capitals, a team that they have had some recent success against.

Gameday Preview: Senators at Capitals
Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals talks with teammate Nicklas Backstrom #19 in the third period against the Montreal Canadiens at the Verizon Center on November 22, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Ottawa Senators (9-11-4)
@
Washington Capitals (12-10-2)
Verizon Center: 7:00 pm EST

Storylines…

Fresh off their disappointing loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon, the Senators will look to bounce back against the Washington Capitals, a team that they have had some recent success against.

Ottawa has won four consecutive games versus the Caps and have outscored them 13 to 6 during this stretch.

With the Caps mired in a three-game losing streak, the Sens should be playing a vulnerable team.

There are some potential lineup changes to make note of…

Mark Borowiecki is expected to return to the Senators’ lineup. Borowiecki left Sunday’s game after being hit from behind into the boards by Carolina’s Kevin Westgarth. The NHL announced yesterday that Westgarth would be suspended for two games without pay.

And Craig Anderson is expected to get the nod in nets after Robin Lehner played both of Ottawa’s back-to-back this past weekend. To his credit, Anderson has a great track record versus the Capitals. After losing his first three games against the Capitals, he has an 8-2-1 record, a 2.35 GAA and a .926 SV% in his last 11 starts.

Consistency is something that has been lacking with Ottawa’s game, just ask Jason Spezza.

“We play good games. We play bad games and we don’t play enough good games in a row. We tend to play too many bad games.”

Paul MacLean has tried to shake things up through the frequent shuffling of his lines, but to this point, consistency simply hasn’t materialized. So it comes as no surprise to hear that Bryan Murray has been trying to make a deal.

TSN’s Darren Dreger revealed news yesterday via Twitter (@DarrenDreger) that the Senators were dangling underachievers like Erik Condra, Colin Greening and Eric Gryba to the New York Rangers for struggling defenceman Michael Del Zotto.

Greening has seen time with every line but Turris’s this season and at yesterday’s practice, he was interchanging with Matt Kassian on the team’s fourth line. To this point, nothing has helped him break out of his prolonged slump, so it should be interesting to see how he responds to these rumours; especially since he inked his 3-year extension worth an annual average value of $2.65 million only two months ago.

The biggest news coming out of Washington these days is that Martin Erat, the player who GM George McPhee dealt Filip Forsberg (the 11th overall pick from the 2012 NHL Draft) for, has requested a trade.

Apparently it’s the second time this season that Erat has requested a trade this season, which means he is one of the rare players who has 200% more trade requests than he does goals (zero).

Quote of the Day:

“Since day one, I didn’t get the chance here. I got traded here to be a top-six player, but never got the chance. It’s time for me to move on.” ~ Martin Erat, via the Washington Post

New Hockey Analysis Tool:

If you haven’t heard of SportingCharts.com’s Ice Track feature, please check it out. It essentially tracks where each NHL player’s shots and goals are coming from on the ice. If you think (Player A) is no longer driving the net and going to high-traffic areas to generate shots or scoring opportunities, now you have the potential to help substantiate those claims. You can even compare players against one another and look at how (Player A) scored, the average distance of their shots, and what kind of shots the player scored on.

Interesting Stat #1:

Looking at the highest average shots per game rates over the course of a full NHL season, since entering the league at the start of the 2005/06 season, Alex Ovechkin has the six highest average shots per game rates in the NHL.

  1. 2008-09: 6.7
  2. 2013-14: 5.6
  3. 2007-08: 5.4
  4. 2005-06: 5.2
  5. 2009-10: 5.1
  6. 2006-07: 4.8

For what it’s worth, the only player in NHL history to average more shots per game in a season than Ovechkin’s 6.7 during the 2008-09 season was Phil Esposito during the 1970-71 season in which he averaged 7.1 shots per game.

Interesting Stat #2:

Keeping with the average number of shots per game, Erik Karlsson was averaging 4.6 shots per game last season before Matt Cooke severed his Achilles tendon. Had he played the course of the full season and maintained that rate, it would have been the highest recorded rate for a defenceman since the 1995-96 season, when Ray Bourque averaged 4.8 shots per game. It also would have tied him for the seventh highest average rate by a defenceman in NHL history. Only two NHL players would have recorded higher rates – Bobby Orr (who had four seasons with higher rates than Karlsson’s) and Ray Bourque (who had two seasons with higher rates than Karlsson).

Interesting Stat #3:

According to Kevin Chroust, the Washington Capitals are the only team in hockey this season that hasn’t won a game in regulation or overtime when scoring fewer than four goals.

Interesting Stat #4:

Earlier, I mentioned that Ottawa had won their past four games versus the Caps — this includes their victory on April 25, 2013 in Washington. It was the team’s first win in Washington since March 30, 2010 and amazingly enough both of these wins occurred in overtime. You would actually have to go back all the way to March 12, 2006 to find the last time the Senators won in regulation in Washington. From the time of their last regulation win, the Senators have a 2-8-2 record in Washington.

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