25 October 2013

Game n°10 preview: Ducks come a-caroling chez les Sens

It's funny how circumstances have nearly switched for the Ducks and the Sens. When they last met, Anaheim was cruising through a 5-game home series, winning each and every single one; the night before the last match, they'd just temporarily smashed the hopes and dreams of the New York Rangers, goal by goal by goal by goal by goal by (count 'em) goal. Ottawa, on the other hand, was scrabbling their way through a troublesome Western road trip; they went into the last match having been skinned alive by the San Jose Sharks everywhere but the scoresheet.

The Sens and Ducks met; they played a game; the only good thing about the 4-1 loss for Sens fans was that Jakob Silverberg didn't score, and Bobby Ryan did. Now, the West Coasters visit the East Coasters with both teams coming off diametrically opposite games: Anaheim has just lost to the Montreal Canadiens 4-1, and Ottawa sails back home giddy over a 6-1 road win against the Detroit Red Wings.

The big questions of the night: can the Sens keep hold of their game, identity and playing style as well as their personality-revealing Tamagotchi colour, now that they've found it? And will it stand up as equal to the Ducks'?

At the best of times it's difficult to definitively say, "Yes, this team is better than that one". The astonishing winning record that Western Conference teams have been putting together against Eastern Conference teams seems to indicate that there is a level of calibre that defies the idea of NHL parity among the teams; however, it's still early in the season, and it's well-known that only when over half the regular season has gone by will #fancystats fans stop yelling "Small sample size!" when one attempts to utilize a statistic. Add in the fact that hockey is a game simply bursting with probabilities and variables, and the idea of one team being better than another in some concrete, definable fashion becomes almost a pipe dream, a distant concept gazed longingly upon by mathematicians.

What was the point of that rambly paragraph? Well, we might have lost nearly every game of that Western road trip, but a win is always possible. It's even more possible when Ottawa's power play conversion is more than double Anaheim's: 18.5% to the Ducks' dead-last 8.3%. Anaheim has had 36 PP opportunities, tied for 9th; Ottawa has had 27, good for 28th in the league. Conclusion? Our power play units are doing just fine. On the other hand, and this will surprise no one, Ottawa is first in times short-handed: 47.

Can the Senators cut down on the penalties taken? Quote Paul Maclean: "Knock on wood, I hope so."

We hope so too, Mac. We're kind of emotionally invested as fans, so whatever you can do to get our team playing consistently and winning consistently against a "better"  Western Conference team, that'd be great. A thousand thanks.

(Postscript: Should Silfverberg score tonight? That'll help him be more consistent and avoid the label of "streaky"; however, my emotionz do not deserve to be played with. So next game, please, Silfv. Thanks bunches.)


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