12 December 2013

Game n°33 preview: Sabres lumber in to Sens' snow playground

All right, so the Canadian Tire Centre hasn't exactly been our playground so far this season. But the snow's been here for three weeks, and so has the Sens' play; we've been above 50% in Fenwick For Close for the past eight games. Although it's hard to know exactly how much encouragement to take from this, given that we lost to Buffalo in a ridiculous game on Tuesday, Ottawa seems to be trending firmly upward. And this home game versus the (dead-last-by-seven-points) Sabres should be an easy on to take to help continue the trend.

But alas, alas, not a day seems to go by without one of our young players being embroiled in something new to talk about. (Of course, our team is basically 91% young players, so that's not terribly significant.) Hoffman's down after only a three-game try-out, JGP makes his return (...on a line with Greening and Neil) and the Dynamite Duo of Cowen and Wiercioch will have to save the day some other time, given that Cowen's on a 2-game suspension. Meanwhile, Mika Zibanejad continues to say "I told you so" to everyone on the team; he scored a sweet goal in the shootout and leads all currently active players in both Corsi For % (short-term predictor) and Fenwick For % (long-term predictor).

What to say about Buffalo: why is Miller still there? He's got a save% of 0.920 and still only has six wins on the season. The Buffalo Sabres are allowing on average 34.5 shots a game, which, granted, is just about the same number as the Sens, but we shoot 33.2 shots a game on average; they hover at 25.5 per game. Buffalo is a beatable team, and if the Sens want to separate from the lower-tier teams -- teams that have looked awfully on par with the Sens this season, like Philadelphia, Columbus and Edmonton -- they need to start beating them.

There are some games which you can allow your team to lose (see: LA Kings vs. Toronto Maples Leafs); it's a fact that the Western Conference is tougher than the Eastern, and fans were okay with being 0.500 on our season-opening Western road trip. But to be okay with losing tough games, you have to win easy games. It's either that mindset, or the mindset that every game is a must-win. You choose.


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