James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Sensational Senators

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Quick note before we begin:


Don't forget that Rotoworld is the place to be for all your fantasy news on February 27 during the NHL's Trade Deadline Day. In addition, Michael Finewax will be doing a live chat from 12:30-4:00 pm ET and joining him will be some of your favorite writers from NBCSports.com Pro Hockey Talk and Rotoworld.




After an unusually busy Sunday and an atypical weekend in general, Monday was even sleepier than it can often be, with just two games on the holiday schedule – including a lone night game. (Naturally, there are 11 games on Tuesday. Schedulers are rascals sometimes, eh?)


That being said, both games provided some interesting developments and coincidentally nightmarish scenarios for the losing goalies. Since the option is there, let’s start with some positive news, shall we?



Don’t look now but the Ottawa Senators are a mere two standings points behind the defending champion Boston Bruins for first place in the Northeast Division. Granted, that gap is deceptively small because the Sens have played in four more games, but it’s not totally out of the realm of reason for them to come back.


After all, Ottawa is heating up (three wins in a row) and has 12 home games left vs. nine remaining road games while Boston is stumbling a bit (two losses in a row, some tough injuries) and has 11 home games plus 14 road contests. I’d still bet on Boston, but the B’s cannot fall asleep at the wheel, either. Raise your hand if you thought the Northeast Division would come down to this race. (No you didn’t lower your hand!)



Regardless of the standings talk, the top two Ottawa Senators producers have easily exceeded their draft status according to just about any reasonable league (even ones full of Senators fans probably didn’t pick them appropriately).



Let’s start with the player who had the most impressive performance as the Senator rampaged against the New York Islanders 6-0. Erik Karlsson’s status as a Norris Trophy candidate might be a coin flip but he’s running away with the points lead for D-men with 57 points (12 goals and 45 assists). Brian Campbell’s distantly in second with 40, to give you some perspective. Karlsson is tied in 13 th place for all skaters while Campbell isn’t even in the top 60.


Karlsson also has a strong +14 rating, a solid 28 PIM and an impressive 197 shots on goal this season. It wouldn’t be jaw-dropping to see him go in the first 1-3 rounds in next year’s drafts if healthy.



Jason Spezza isn’t blowing away his peers like his teammate is, but he still remains one of the best medium-steals (as in guys you knew were talented but discounted for any number of reasons) this season. The gifted scoring chance generator scored two tallies and a helper in that Islanders thrashing to push his season points total to 65. That ranks him fourth in the league.


Maybe you can slightly downplay his place because Ottawa has already played 61 games, but that’s still impressive. His plus/minus is pedestrian (+6), but he has an appealing 27 goals, 182 SOG and an appealing 21 power-play points (tied for ninth).



Monday presented an extreme case between the winning and losing goalies.


Both of the winners earned shutouts. Craig Anderson was the first of the two as he turned aside 28 shots on goal to help the Senators win. That marks his third consecutive win and third shutout of the season; Anderson has two goose eggs in his last three games (both, oddly enough, were 28-save outputs). I’ve given my thumbs up to Anderson multiple times this season – warts and all, if he’s your third goalie, you’re probably rampaging through your league right now – but he’s really starting to heat up with Ottawa. His record is 28-19-6 and his individual numbers are now just about where you’d expect a No. 1 goalie’s to be.


Justin Peters isn’t anywhere near as established as Anderson, but that’s why the Carolina Hurricanes’ third netminder will remember Monday far longer. That was his first shutout at the NHL level, and with Cam Ward struggling with a minor injury, he might be able to steal a couple starts with backup Brian Boucher still out of action with a lower body injury.


I wouldn’t necessarily expect him to be Joey MacDonald 2.0, though.



As great as Feb. 20 was for Anderson and Peters, they were that bad for the losers.


On a night that was great for one third goalie, Kevin Poulin was humiliated in one of his rare NHL appearances (this season at least). The promising(-ish?) netminder was pulled 1:35 into the game after allowing two goals on just five shots. That must be one of the quickest starts in ages. Al Montoya allowed four more tallies in the contest in relief, so it wasn’t like it’s all on Poulin.


Tomas Vokoun suffered from the shortest start of his lengthy career last night as Dale Hunter pulled him after allowing two goals on seven shots in just 5:09 of time. Maybe that looks better than Poulin’s experience, but that’s bad – and it’s especially bad for fantasy owners who obviously depend upon the Czech netminder far more than Poulin.



Eric Staal is heating up, with two goals – including a shorthanded beauty – and an assist in that blowout … Mike Green and Dennis Wideman had matching -3 ratings in that dreadful game for Washington … Mark Streit and Andy MacDonald were the -3 guys for the Isles … The Predators still need to extend their dynamic duo of defensemen, but their GM David Poile has been given a contract extension … David Krejci might spend a little time on the right wing for the struggling Bruins … Rumors are now swirling about Derek Roy being traded.



Nikolai Khabibulin looks to be sidelined for 7-10 days with a groin injury … Mattias Ohlund underwent knee surgery again in hopes of saving his career … Jimmy Howard and Danny Cleary could be back for the Detroit Red Wings tonight … Meanwhile, Jamie Benn and Sheldon Souray probably won’t play for the Dallas Stars, but might be back on Thursday … Matt Bradley will be out indefinitely with a concussion. (Click here for the full injury list.)

James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
Email :James O'Brien

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