Gameday Preview: Senators at Devils

Coming off an emotional overtime win against a very good St. Louis Blues team, the Senators will look to carry that momentum into New Jersey, win and then get the heck out of Newark.

Gameday Preview: Senators at Devils
Cory Conacher #89 of the Ottawa Senators skates the puck by Bryce Salvador #24 of the New Jersey Devils at Canadian Tire Centre on October 17, 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Ottawa Senators (14-15-6)
@
New Jersey Devils (13-15-6)
Prudential Center: 7:30 pm ET
TV: TSN, RDS

Background…

Coming off an emotional overtime win against a very good St. Louis Blues team, the Senators will look to carry that momentum into New Jersey, win and then get the heck out of Newark.

This will mark the second time that these have met this season. In the first game, New Jersey had 42 shots on goal to Ottawa’s 23, but Craig Anderson only allowed two goals (.952) to preserve the win. Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson each had a goal and two assists to pace the Senators’ offence.

Martin Brodeur was in goal for New Jersey in that game and it marked his fourth consecutive loss to the Senators. Despite leading the NHL in career wins versus the Senators with 36, Brodeur has struggled of late against Ottawa.

Including his start on Jan. 26, 2010, Brodeur has a 2-6-3 record with a 2.43 goals against average and a save percentage of .893 in his last 12 starts against the Senators.

In a shocking revelation, the Devils have been an excellent shot suppressing team this season. Using advanced stat metrics, the Devils are one of the NHL’s top five puck possession teams using proxies like Corsi or Fenwick.

Two things have hurt the Devils this season:

1)      Their inability to score goals: In 13 of their 15 regulation losses this season, they have scored two or fewer goals. Only Tampa Bay (six) and Nashville (six) have been shut out more times than New Jersey (five).

2)      Goaltending: Similar to the Senators’ goaltending situation in Ottawa in which the statistically better goaltender (Robin Lehner) has not been afforded the opportunity to the run with the No. 1 starter’s job, Cory Schneider deserves to be playing more games than he has to this point. Of the goaltenders who qualify for the save percentage leaderboard on NHL.com, only Devan Dubnyk (.891)and Craig Anderson(.898) have started more games and have worse save percentages than Brodeur (.905). Given his legacy, I can understand and respect the Devils’ loyalty to Brodeur, but their unwillingness to let Schneider carry the load could cost them a playoff spot. (Note: Brodeur has started 19 games to Schneider’s 15.)

Storylines…

Ottawa’s improved play from a possession standpoint has been well documented. They have played ten consecutive games in which they have directed more shots towards the opposition’s net, but it has taken some time for the results to manifest.

The Senators have picked up points in five of their last six games (3-1-2) and are giving Robin Lehner an opportunity to play back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 23-24.

The hope is that Ottawa can continue to build off their improved play and Lehner’s goaltending to go on a desperately needed run. The Sens have not won more than three games in a row this season — which conveniently came on a stretch in which Lehner received three consecutive starts in early November, might I add — and if they can use Cody Ceci’s overtime winner versus St. Louis as a turning point, all the better.

Ceci’s game-winning goal is probably Ottawa’s story of the season to this point. It is not often that an Ottawa native, playing for his hometown team at home, scores his first NHL goal in overtime. In fact, per Elias, it was the first time in history that a Sens player scored his first career goal in overtime.

From a New Jersey perspective, this is a team that also needs to start translating great puck possession efforts into wins. The Devils can help themselves by simply making what should be a relatively easy decision to start Cory Schneider more often, but the Devils’ offence simply cannot continue to rely upon a 41-year-old Jaromir Jagr to shoulder the load. Whether the solution comes from within — the Devils need more from players like Travis Zajac (six goals, seven assists) and Damien Brunner (seven goals, four assist) — or externally via trade, the Devils need someone to step up insulate the production of Jagr and Patrik Elias.

Interesting Stat #1

As a rookie during the 2009/10 season, it took Erik Karlsson 11 games before he played more than 20 minutes in a game. Ceci’s done it in two of his first three NHL games.

The following table displays Cody Ceci’s situational ice-time for each of his games this season:

Total TOI

PP TOI

SH TOI

EV

December 12 vs Buffalo

20:40

2:44

3:32

14:24

December 14 vs LA

17:57

1:36

0:52

15:29

December 16 vs STL

21:08

2:05

1:55

17:08

Interesting Stat #2

Via Extraskater.com, here is a list of the players who have been on the ice for the most number of five-on-five goals against this season:

Player

Team

Time on Ice

Goals For

Goals Against

Goals For %

1.

D. Byfuglien

Jets

654.5

24

36

40.0

2.

E. Karlsson

Senators

688.7

28

35

44.4

3.

M. Michalek

Senators

450.6

16

34

32.0

4.

J. Spezza

Senators

446.9

20

31

39.2

5.

C. Butler

Flames

539.5

16

30

34.8

Interesting Stat #3:

All-Time wins versus the Ottawa Senators (note: the third number represents ties and the fourth represents overtime or shootout losses):

  1. Martin Brodeur (36-24-4-3)
  2. Dominik Hasek (24-9-5-0)
  3. Tim Thomas (23-11-0-2)
  4. Ryan Miller (16-19-0-4)
  5. Four players tied with 15 wins

Interesting Stat #4

41-year old Jaromir Jagr currently leads the New Jersey Devils in points with 28 in 34 games. Should he maintain his point per game average of 0.82 all season, it would be the fourth-highest point production rate for a player aged 41 or older in NHL history.

Via Hockey-Reference.com:

Season

Player

Team

Age

Points

Pts/G

1.

1969-70

Gordie Howe

Detroit

41

44 G, 103 PTS

0.93

2.

1976-77

John Bucyk

Boston

41

20 G, 43 PTS

0.88

3.

1970-71

Gordie Howe

Detroit

42

23 G, 52 PTS

0.83

4.

2013-14

Jaromir Jagr

New Jersey

41

11 G, 28 PTS

0.82

T5.

2011-12

Teemu Selanne

Anaheim

41

26 G, 66 PTS

0.80

T5

2013-14

Daniel Alfredsson

Detroit

41

7 G, 24 PTS

0.80

 

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