The Carolina Hurricanes' four game run against Northeast Division opponents ends tonight as the Ottawa Senators come to town. For the first time this season, Three Questions has a flair for the Canadian, as we welcome in Peter Raaymakers of SBN's Silver Seven blog to give us a scouting report on a red-hot Senators team.
- After the demolition of the Canadiens on Wednesday night, four Sens - Turris, Karlsson, Spezza and Zibanejad - are scoring at a point-per-game pace. Obviously with his injury Spezza won't be adding to that total anytime soon, but of the other three who's most likely to keep that pace going and who's most likely to hit a cold snap and fall back a bit?
I'd say its highly unlikely Zibanejad can maintain a point-per-game pace in his rookie season. He's a rookie who's expected to play mostly third-line minutes, so even though he's playing we'll so far, points will be harder to come by. Turris will also be in tough, as now he'll be facing the opposition's top defenders instead of feasting on their second-ranked ones.
- At the other end, the Sens are one of only three teams allowing fewer than two goals per game. How much of that is simply a function of Craig Anderson playing out of his mind so far (0.99 GAA, .967 s%), and how much credit do the Sens' defensemen deserve?
Well, I'd say the vast majority of that credit goes to Craig Anderson, but the defencemen do deserve a bit of credit. And not just the defenders--who are playing far better as a group than anyone expected--but the forwards, as well, as all the players are executing Paul MacLean's defensively responsible up-tempo system very well.
- Even if this torrid start doesn't keep up at its current pace, are the Sens positioned well enough right now that they could possibly sneak in and steal a division title, or is the Northeast still "Boston and everyone else" until proven otherwise?
The Northeast is pretty tricky right now. Montreal and Toronto have had better-than-expected starts, while Buffalo's had a tough go early on. It looks, for the time being, like Ottawa and Boston will be battling it out for top spot in the Northeast, and Ottawa should have a good shot at it--although missing Jason Spezza for two months or more isn't going to help much.