Ottawa Senators are turning things around early on
OTTAWA The NHL schedule-makers werent too kind to the Ottawa Senators when it came to the month of November, handing the squad 16 games to play in only 28 days.Despite being faced with a daunting task, the team hasresponded positively thus far. After posting a Lane Johnson Jersey
3-7-1 mark in October, the Senators have opened November with a 3-2-0 record. The club rides into Raleigh Monday for a matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes after picking up consecutive wins for the first time since March 23-26. Ottawa hasactually been trending steadily upward since defeating the Detroit Red Wings 5-2 at home Oct.23,winning five of its last eight games.There are several key factors that have contributed to the teams recent succe s.SN MAILBAG: GoaltendingAs a team, the Senators rank 21stin goals-against per game (3.13), but this doesnt tell the whole story. Ottawa is on pace to shave 51 goals against from last season, in which they allowed an NHL-worst 301 goals. While some credit has to go to the improved defensive structure under head coach D.J. Smith, the goalie tandem of Craig Anderson and Anders Nil son is giving the club a better opportunity to win on a nightly basis.NHL's three for the week ending Nov. 10. Sporting News Canada (@sportingnewsca) The Sens .909 team save percentage is tied for 13thleague-wide with the St. Louis Blues and Vegas Golden Knights. Nil sons .930 save percentage places him tied for sixth with Darcy Kuemper among all NHL netminders. Winner of three straight appearances and named the leagues first star for the week ending Nov. 10, the 29-year-old netmindercurrently holds the hot hand.Forward Brady Tkachuk certainly knows the value of what solid goaltending bringsBoth goalies I think that everyone agrees in this locker room, have been rocks for us," Tkachuksaid after Saturdays 4-1 victory over the Hurricanes on home ice. "Theyve both been fantastic, making those key saves for us. Wed like to shave off more of those shots but theyve been fantasticand have been our best players this year."Speed demonsIf anyone held any doubt on how much say Smith would have on his game roster, that is definitely gone. The first-year Andrew Sendejo Jersey
head coach has made veterans Mikkel Boedker and Bobby Ryan healthy scratches on a seemingly regular basis. In order to facilitate the pair sitting out, the team has carried a full 23-man roster, something general manager Pierre Dorion was reluctant to do last season.Its plainly obvious that Boedker and Ryan are extremely disappointed in this turn of events, and how the GM handles their situations the remainder of the campaign is one to follow. However, its becoming evident that Ottawa's commitment to youth makes ita quicker, up-tempo club to play against.The ability to po se s speed on all four lines Nigel Bradham Jersey
is also something thats been sorely mi sing the past two seasons. Now equipped with afourth line that checks all the boxes, the Senators have a bonus that they haven't witne sed recently.Ottawa's fourth line trio of Filip Chlapik,J.C. Beaudin andJonathan David son opened the scoring Saturday, setting the tone for the remainder of the evening.They put the puck in every time. They work. They stay above you, then they track you and theyre fast," Smith said. " OnSaturday ,whenever things were going bad, those guys went out there seemed to right the ship. They created some energy for the guys on the bench. Guys were cheering for them."First NHL POINTS**** for Jonathan David son and JC Beaudin.Filip Chlapik gets the on the board first. Hailey Salvian (@hailey_salvian) Feisty performancesForwards Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Brady Tkachuk have beenthe heartbeats of the club.Time and again Smith has singled out Pageau as being the Senators top performer on most occasions. The pending unrestricted free agent leads the team with eight goals, many of them coming fromhis breakaway speed and quick shot. Pageauscored in four Ron Jaworski Jersey
straight games and ranksfirst in the NHL with a plus-16 rating something thats tough to accomplish, especially when the Sens hold a plus-five goal differential when playing at even strength.The 27-year-oldis also tied for the league-lead in shorthanded goals with two so far this season. And atthe other end of the ice, heis relied upon to challenge the oppositions top forwards on a nightly basis.After being held off the scoresheet for six consecutive games, Tkachuk has three goals and seven pointsin his last six outings. But its not only offense the 20-year-old brings to the table; Tkachuk lends his youthful exuberance and can get under the skin of opposing players.MORE: Anthony Duclair,who played his 300th career game one week ago versus the New York Rangers, not only has points (five goals, three a sists) in seven of eight gamesbut is also a fixture on the Senators penalty kill.Known his entire six-season career as a one-dimensional offensive forward, Duclair is making the most of his freshly-earned opportunity.The Montreal, Que. native credits a sistant coach Jack Capuano for adding him to Wilbert Montgomery Jersey
the PK unit. Duclair recently told Sporting News, He liked my speed and hockey sense. He wanted to try me out. I had a couple of coaches in the past that wanted to try me out, but it never happened. Im glad he gave me the opportunity. Ive really embraced the role. Its the first time Ive played on the PK since junior. Im kind of learning on the go.Learning on the go could very well be this seasons Senators tag line.Where the team goes from here remains to be seen. Ottawa plays11 games over the next 19 days, withonly three of those coming on home ice. That being said, the league isabout to learn what D.J. Smiths squad is made of.