The Ottawa Senators are 24 games into their 20th season in the NHL and it's safe to say this has been a fairly surprising season to date.
Projected by many to be near the bottom of the standings (note that's not where I had them), the Sens have managed to stay in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference and for a rebuilding team, the first quarter of the season has to be considered a success.
Let's take a look at the numbers that have had a lot to do with the Sens 12-10-2 start.
3.00 Goals Per Game
Before the puck dropped on this campaign, the experts assumed this Sens team would struggle to score goals. In the early going that has not been the case. The team is ranked 8th in goals for through 24 games and have been getting production at key times in hockey games. What's surprising is that the Sens have allowed a league high 3.42 goals AGAINST per game. Obviously this is a number that is a little bit inflated by the 30 goals the Sens allowed in the first six games of the season. Since then the Sens have been allowed a far more respectable 2.94 goals a game.
20.2% on the Power Play
While they have cooled off a little bit as of late, the Sens power play has played a huge part in the team's early success. Ranked 5th in the NHL, only the Oilers, Leafs, Avs and Canucks have been better with the extra attacker. What's interesting to note here, is that the Sens have also scored a handful of goals with the goalie pulled, either late in games or on a delayed call. For all the success they have had on the PP, the Sens have posted a less than impressive 79.8% success rate on the PK. While the Sens have been much better in this part of the game since relying heavily on role players like Zack Smith, Erik Condra and Kaspars Daugavins, there 25th ranked penalty kill is still an area that the team can improve on.
3 Shootout Wins
Traditionally an area the Sens have struggled in, the 3-1 record they have posted in shootouts this year is obviously huge with the standings as tight as they are. Sens forwards have scored on 7 of 13 attempts while Craig Anderson has stopped 10 of 14 attempts. Picking up those extra points has been huge.
15 Different Players With At Least Two Goals
With an offence that seemed to lack firepower heading into this season, the Sens have benefited greatly from contributions from different players each night. When guys like Kuba, Konopka, Condra and the rest of the supporting cast are finding ways to pitch in on the offence, the team is tough to beat.
21 Assists From Erik Karlsson
The Ottawa Senators offence has run through the slick, puck-moving defenceman all season. Karlsson leads the entire NHL in assists and has assisted on 28.3% of goals the Sens have scored through the first 24 games.
36 3rd Period Goals
For me, this is the most impressive number on the list. The Sens have been incredibly resilient this season and have found a way to score goals at key times. Ottawa is ranked #1 in the league in third period offence and have scored an incredible 48% of their goals in the final frame.
Obviously the numbers listed above only begin to scratch the surface of what has transpired here in Ottawa this season. The team has played with a never say die attitude and relentless work ethic while at other times, like last night in Winnipeg, the Sens have been fortunate and found ways to win.
Numbers never tell the whole story, but the ones listed above have played a huge part in the Ottawa Senators success and failures in the early going this season.
What numbers have jumped out at you through the first 24 games?
- The Sens are in Dallas tomorrow and may have to make a change on the back end. MacLean spoke with the media today and indicated that Filip Kuba is doubtful for the game tomorrow. Brian Lee will take his spot if he can't go. Nikita Filatov, who left after a scary incident in Winnipeg, is expected to play.