After 36 games I had this team them pegged as an "average to below average possession team with elite goaltending". Well things have certainly changed since then. From a team performance perspective at even-strength the final 12 games of the season were by far the Senators strongest, even if the puck stubbornly refused to enter the net, and a 6-6-0 finish had the playoffs in doubt momentarily. How much you want to chalk up their strong play of late to Conacher's arrival, Michalek's return or playing a few bad teams i.e. Florida, Tampa, Philly, etc is up to you. But at the least it's a very positive sign to be playing your best hockey heading into the postseason. A smidgen of puck luck would be greatly appreciated right about now.
And this is the scoring chance definition I adhere to when tracking games:
"A scoring chance is defined as a clear play directed toward the opposing net from a dangerous scoring area – loosely defined as the top of the circle in and inside the faceoff dots (nicknamed the Home Plate), though sometimes slightly more generous than that depending on the amount of immediately-preceding puck movement or screens in front of the net. Blocked shots are generally not included but missed shots are. A player is awarded a scoring chance anytime he is on the ice and someone from either team has a chance to score. He is awarded a "chance for" if someone on his team has a chance to score and a "chance against" if the opposing team has a chance to score."
The "home plate" scoring chance area can be seen below.
If you have any questions, or need clarification on anything just stop by in the comments.
Team totals by period:
|PERIOD||CF||CA||C%||EV CF||EV CA||EV C%||PP CF||PP CA||PK CF||PK CA|
– Games 37-48 Ottawa had a Fenwick Close of 60.1%. Just for comparison Los Angeles led the league by this metric with 57.4%, Chicago second with 55.8%. I doubt the Senators are suddenly elite all of a sudden, but there's definitely been a rebound in their possession game which was sliding and/or muddling along in Karlsson's absence.
– The shot rates and chance rates again nearly mirror each other; Sens had 57.6 of the shots over this stretch and 57.6 of the chances. At even-strength they had 59.0% of the shots and 58.8% of the chances. In a small sample of a game or two shots can tell a deceiving story of scoring chances, but as has been the case all year over a larger sample (even one has small as 12 games) they are a fine proxy at the team level.
– Ottawa out-chanced the opposition in every period this quarter; +53 overall, and +48 at even-strength. These are massive numbers.
– For the first time all year the Senators drew more penalties than they took, the Conacher effect at work? Ottawa was on the man advantage for 29:17 more than their opponents and finished +4 in special teams chances.
Forwards at even-strength:
– Basically everyone killed it except for Neil. And considering he's been used in a checking role all season and generally is around a 50% chance rate I'm not too concerned.
– Getting Michalek back was huge, he's a great stablilzing presence on the first line and one of the few guys on the team that is capable of scoring "easy goals"…even if those have been few and far between this season. Can't help but worry about his knee(s) when he's taking practices off, but at least on the ice he looks a threat.
– Conacher has been outstanding, whatever line he's on has generally been the Sens best line that night. He was great with Zibanejad and Silf and similarly with Pageau and Condra. I get that he's small, but all this criticism of his defensive game lately seems lazy to me. When he played with Mika and Silf they were on for one goal against at even-strength IN NINE GAMES!
– Last week Luke Richardson remarked that they nearly sent Pageau back to junior after training camp in Bingo. To me at least he's looked the most like a "veteran" right off the bat of any of the 14 rookies Ottawa's used this year.
Defence at even-strength:
I'll be posting season long totals for the team and individuals at some point as well, probably after the playoffs. But the graph below tells a decent story of the team's play at even-strength.