12 November 2013

Game n°18 preview: Flyers hobble into town to play Sens

Who’s not so hot right now? Yeah, the Philadelphia Flyers. They have less points than Columbus on a PDO 4% higher (Philly’s at 100.6%, Columbus is at 96.1%) and their shots for % is at 44%. In other words, the Flyers are the perfect team to reverse the shooting trend the Sens have picked up lately: instead of being outshot by teams like the Florida Panthers and the Columbus Blue Jackets, Ottawa can take the opportunity to start a deluge against Philly. (After all, we are only a little ahead of them in shot for % at 45.7%. Oh dear.)

The problem with playing weak teams is that you expect to win much more than if we were playing, say, the Boston Bruins (that’s Friday—relax, not yet, Lehner). The Sens have slung together three wins in a row, which sounds hopeful on paper and pixels but means much less if you’ve watched the games. Just as the Leafs continue to defy shot differentials & shooting percentage regression, the Sens continue to produce better possession numbers in losses than in wins. It’s not a recipe for success, but when your ingredients are as ripe for cooking as Florida and Columbus, sometimes a few whirls of the kitchen blender will produce edible results.

All this to say that Ottawa as a team really isn’t at a point where we’re consistently, provenly better than a bottom-feeder team like Philadelphia, and this means a loss could come more easily. Losing against weak teams is as demoralizing as it is invigorating for the other side to finally win one, while winning means that we can play and lose against tougher teams like Boston without too harsh of a repercussion. The winning streak’s come this far; at this point, every next game is the most important one. Extending the streak will be entirely necessary to combatting the pitfall valley that was October.

There are a few things on my wishlist heading into this game:
  1. At least one forward line displays some semblance of chemistry other than Ryan-Turris-MacArthur. It’s getting to the point where the 6-7-16 line is so good that it only highlights the stunning deficiencies of the others.
  2. Erik Condra comes back. Grant is wasting away with Kassian on his wing (seriously, does Kassian even play? Grant seems to be on for penalty kills most of the time) and a fourth line with speed and some modicum of ability to set up a cycle in the offensive zone would be greatly appreciated.
  3. Derek Grant gets Claude Giroux’s autograph for Pageau. A souvenir, you know, or a memento. Also, something nice to rub in Pageau’s face. In a friendly way, of course. No antagonism among the ranks intended.


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