For about a full year the Ottawa Senators defied all doubters and statistical measures, coming within one game of the Stanley Cup final despite many analysts (including myself) believing they weren’t even a playoff team. Without Erik Karlsson to start this season, the Senators continued to grind out points in ugly games until he came back, and looked like they were going to defy the odds again. After acquiring Matt Duchene as an upgrade on Kyle Turris, everything was looking up in Ottawa, but since then they’ve been brutalized by seven straight losses after taking two wins from the Avalanche in Sweden. All teams go through rough stretches, but the most surprising thing for Ottawa has been Karlsson going pointless in seven games for the first time since he was a 19-year-old rookie in 2009-10. Karlsson remains on pace for 73 points this season despite missing the first five games of the season, so there isn’t much to worry about with him, but his pointless streak is a signifier of all that’s gone wrong at once for the Senators. Not much exemplifies that better than the start Duchene has had in Ottawa, with just one point in nine games. But not everything is bad news for the Senators. While they’re still no great possession team, they aren’t the league-worst team they were in October. Their 48.1% score-adjusted Corsi ranks 25th in the NHL, within spitting distance of the Washington Capitals, and isn’t poor enough to exclude them from playoff contention. The main difference between the Senators this year and last year seems to be goaltending. Last season Craig Anderson was the strongest goaltender in the NHL in the slot, posting excellent numbers through 40 starts, leading to a 25-11-4 record. This season he’s not giving up weak goals, but his save percentage on scoring chances has dropped big time.
Numbers suggest Duchene is a strong fit for Senators despite struggles
Sportsnet | Dec 1