RECORDS: Senators 18-11-3 Hawks 22-8-4
PUCK DROP: 7:30pm
BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT: Bonk’s Mullet
ADJUSTED TEAM CORSI %: Senators – 46.8 (27th) Hawks – 50.0 (15th)
ADJUSTED TEAM xGF%: Senators – 47.9 (22nd) Hawks – 47.8 (23rd)
POWER PLAY: Senators – 16.8 (18th) Hawks – 18.1 (15th)
PENALTY KILL: Senators – 82.4 (13th) Hawks – 73.9 (NOT IN LAST! NOT IN LAST! GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY, THEY’RE NOT IN LAST!)
TRENDS: Mike Hoffman returns from suspension for braining Logan Couture… Stone has six points in last three games
There are some who would tell you that the Hawks are something of a mirage. They may be good, but they’re not #1 in the NHL good, if you look at some of the metrics. Essentially, their goaltending has obscured most of the faults of the team. Whether that’s true or not, the Hawks will be staring at exactly that tonight at the UC in the form of the Ottawa Senators.
Bet you didn’t know that the Senators are currently second in the Atlantic Division, did you? Nope, because there’s really nothing memorable about the Sens in any way (and I’m told that applies to the entire city of Ottawa as well). They have one player everybody knows in Erik Karlsson, and then… can’t think of too many others, can you? Did you remember this is where Dion Phaneuf came to live out the rest of his life in peace? That Bobby Ryan was still here? Didn’t, did you?
They’ve changed coaches, from the also non-descript Dave Cameron to fizzled genius Guy Boucher. He doesn’t quite have them playing the ever so imaginative 1-3-1 trap that he did in Tampa that pretty much got them nowhere once Dwayne Roloson wasn’t around, but it’s not clear what exactly he’s doing here either. The Sens are a woeful possession team, give up a ton of chances as well. He’s even turned Erik Karlsson into a below-water player, which is beyond water into wine. That’s water into… motor oil. Or something out of Fantasia.
What the Senators do have is strength in net. When Craig Anderson has been able to play, and not off to be with his cancer-stricken wife, he’s been unreal. But he isn’t always around, for very understandable reasons, and Mike Condon has filled in admirably when he hasn’t been. The Hamburgler has started three games, and left two of them injured. That’s what he did on Sunday in Brooklyn, so it’ll be Condon tonight.
The goaltending has really been the feature here, because the Senators lack a true top line center, pretty much as they have since Jason Spezza got old and then left. Kyle Turris tries his best, but he’s a #2 center on a good team and then they tried to supplement that with the exact same thing in Derick Brassard and his poor spelling of “Derek.”
There isn’t even really top line wingers here. Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman remain some of the more underrated and unnoticed wingers in the league, which tends to happen when you play in the dark spot of the room that is Ottawa. But Bobby Ryan stopped scoring like a top line winger long ago, and Curtis Lazar and Ryan Dzingel remain in diapers. There’s not a lot of punch here.
Behind Karlsson there’s the now-not-overrated-because-we-all-stopped-caring Dion Phaneuf, though he’s obviously massively overpaid. Cody Ceci is a neat little player, and then another Wideman and unhinged lunatic Mark Borowiecki. Boro just came back from a suspension his own damn self after a pretty sinister hit on Tyler Toffoli. Again, what they do for you I couldn’t tell you, but that’s how suits up here.
Having ripped off five in a row, the Hawks might have a real chance to do something stupid and lock up the Central by the turn of the calendar. The Sens aren’t anything beyond their goalies. The sad-sack Avs follow them in Friday, and the Christmas break ends with the always tricky but still not good Jets. From there it’s the Preds and Canes who both have records below what they should be, but are still heavily flawed. All of that leads to New Years Day Plus One, which could be definitive in the standings.
Let’s do it, then.