Surprising Sens come to town


So often this season, the Canadiens catch opponents who are playing their best hockey. The Senators, who come to town Saturday, are another — and the Rangers are right on their heels Sunday.

The Sens beat the Rangers on Wednesday, 3-0, something of a statement game for Ottawa, which has unexpectedly climbed the Eastern Conference standings. Riding a three-game win streak and with just one regulation loss in their last 13 games (10-1-2) — that one loss was to the Habs on Dec. 27 — Ottawa is only three points behind the Bruins for the division lead and four behind New York for the conference lead. They are 15 points ahead of Montreal.

Who woulda thunk it?

Goalie Craig Anderson got his first shutout of the season against the Rangers, making 34 saves — 13 in the first period. He’s been very solid in the last month, going 10-2-2 since Dec. 13, playing all but one of the Sens games in that span. He’s raised his save percentage by 19 points to .906 and lowered his goals against average from 3.36 to 2.99 in that time. He hasn’t lost in regulation in his last eight games (7-0-1) and he’s only given up 13 goals in those eight. Four of those goals came in the 22 minutes he played against the Canadiens last month, his only bad outing.

Anderson is right behind Carey Price for more minutes played by a goalie in the league. He’s seen more shots than any other goalie, 1163, and made the most saves, 1073.

His defence corps has done an excellent job allowing him to see shots and cleaning up his sometimes dangerous rebounds.

The Sens offence, meanwhile, has averaged 3.6 goals a game in this hot 13-game stretch, and their top two forwards, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek have helped lead the way. Spezza has 23 points (9g, 14a) in 20 games since Dec. 3. He scored twice against the Rangers, his 17th and 18th of the season.

Michalek returned from a five-game concussion absence against the Habs in December and took a while to get going, not scoring in five games, his longest dry spell of the season. Now he has a four game point streak (4g, 1a) going. He got his team-best 23rd of the season against New York.

That goal was set up by defenceman Erik Karlsson, who set up Spezza’s second goal shortly afterward. Karlsson’s 37 assists rank second in the league, and his 43 points lead all NHL blueliners. His partner, veteran Filip Kuba, has been a reliable defender for the Sens this year. helping cover up for the 21-year-old Karlsson.

Speedy and physical rookie Kyle Greening, who’s skating on the top line with Spezza and Michalek, has six points in his last five games.

Second line centre Kyle Turris, who is playing with Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Condra, has probably only had one poor game in the month he’s been with Ottawa — the game against the Habs (it’s the only game in which he’s been a minus). He has eight points in 13 games since arriving in a trade from the Coyotes.

The Sens continue to be one of the league’s more physical teams and Chris Neil leads them with 137 hits (and he missed nine games), followed by Nick Foligno, defenceman Jared Cowan and Greening.

It’s probable that no team has played more exciting hockey late in games than Ottawa this season. The Sens remain the best third period team in the league, having scored 64 of their 139 goals in the final 20. They’ve won six games in which they trailed going into the third period, best mark in the league for comebacks. Their four overtime wins is tied for second best, one behind league leading Washington. They’ve also won eight games in the shootout, third best behind New Jersey (11) and Colorado (10).

The power play remains mid-pack 18.2 percent (15th) but the penalty kill still has some problems, 24th in the league at 80.3.

Here’s how the Sens should line up Saturday night:

Colin Greening, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek
Erik Condra, Kyle Turris, Daniel Alfredsson
Nick Foligno, Zack Smith, Chris Neil
Kaspars Daugavins, Zenon Konopka, Bobby Butler

Filip Kuba, Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen, Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips, Brian Lee


  1. Mavid says:

    habbsill then cheer for someone else..the Sens bandwagon still has room on it, it always does..even when they play well…I am a little surprised at their success of late..however we have had their number most of the season, we should win this one…easily..Anderson is hot and cold…no in between…most of the Sens wins with the exception of the Rangers is come from behind..a hot goaltender like ours should put an end to that..I hate the sens..and lately all the talk has been about how they are now condenders…lets shut em up…please..

  2. Exit716 says:

    Anderson won’t see the second period again. Montreal will blow these guys out. Ottawa is a mriage.

  3. Habsbill24 says:

    This edition of the Habs plays boring hockey and Cammy was right, they are a bunch of losers (although he contributed mightily to the losing). Now 9 points out of the playoffs and sinking fast. Other than Carey, there is not a single player I would care about keeping. Sell, sell, sell!

  4. JUST ME says:

    Surprising indeed! I did not give a chance for the Sens to be in contention. But then again, i thought that the Habs….

    Nice work done by McLean to make some sort of a team with so many new players and rookies.

    Let`s hope for a Habs win since this kind of hockey is within it`s range. Remains to see how bad they still want to win…

    Honestly hard to be optimistic . Way too much reading your comments guys. Have a nice day !

  5. HabinBurlington says:

    Am not sure just how close Mr. White is to returning, but am quite excited to watch some of those first games upon his return. Exchanging Cammy for Bourque, perhaps exchanging Nokia or Darche for White (I fear it will be Blunden, but want to see him on a line with White first) and suddenly we will be a much different team to play against. Oh and did I mention Gomez for someone as well. Sarcasm aside, the writing is on the wall for Gomez, he has an opportunity with a new coach to show he belongs in the NHL be it in Montreal or elsewhere. This final 30+ games is his chance to avoid buying a beautiful condo on Barton Street in Downtown Hamilton.

    • 24moreCups says:

      +1 Can’t wait for White’s return, he was one of the players I was most looking forward to seeing this season.

      • DorvalTony says:

        Same here. He’s exploding with piss and vinegar and I just know he’s going to take his frustration out on the opposition, something no other Canadien would do. Cammy was right (but he should have looked in the mirror too).

        “Okay, everybody take a Valium.”

    • Habfan10912 says:

      Good morning Gerald. Like a lot of posters have been saying for awhile, the small and quick experiment is over. PG is going to retool the team into a bigger stronger team. Two of these three players could be gone next year. Pleks, DD or Gio. Gomez imo is a foregone conclusion. I think they’re waiting on the hopes there a freebie release with the next collective bargaining agreement
      BTW, whats this about rain in the forecast up there next weekend. ?

      • HabinBurlington says:

        The longterm forecast is showing warming up that weekend. The Friday looks good for outdoor hockey, so if they are wrong (which they most often are) and the warm weather is delayed by a day you should be good.

        I am looking at tix this week, trying to find some deals if possible. Hope to meet you and Chris, I had given Chris and You my email once before on this site, hope you guys got it, if not let me know and will provide again.

  6. naweed235 says:

    As much as I like Bourque, I have to say we got the short end of the stick once again.

    • harrow15 says:

      Relax mate, you havent even seen him play in a habs jersey yet. Give him 10 games and see what he does. Sergei Kostitsyn played much better in Nashville, Eric Cole had a slow start and is now our leading scorer. Cut the guy some slack until we’ve seen a bunch of games on him. If Camalleri was doing sweet F A then I see this as a win.

      • The Cat says:

        I think Bourque is going to be good for the habs, hes good in the paint and dirty areas, and lets face it he wont have much competition from other habs. Being the go to guy might transform him into a better player.

        [Disclaimer]: I’m a hockey fan. I care about the habs, but probably not as much as you.

    • Habsrule1 says:

      How do you figure? Bourque is a bit younger, a lot bigger and tougher, has scored more goals than Cammy each of the last 2 seasons, has more this season, and he makes about half the money.

      How did the Habs get the short end of that stick?

      Go Habs Go!!

      “Fans are great, but the quickest way to start losing is to listen to them.” – Sam Pollock

    • JUST ME says:

      Don`t think so just because Cammi was not delivering.As much as i liked the guy he remains in the could have been,should have been category …

    • DorvalTony says:

      Bourque has been criticized for up-and-down performances, but he has 67 goals over the last three seasons compared to 54 for Cammalleri. – TSN

      “Okay, everybody take a Valium.”

  7. The Dude says:

    How epic….the Sens game may be Gauthiers last!

  8. axxerd says:

    So it appears that Holland injured Gallagher tonight in the WHL. Typical of this season for the Habs (and now their prospects) eh? hah

    Newfoundland’s biggest Habs fan. Hands down.

  9. Rad says:

    Sens are going to be even better next year when Mika Zibanejad comes in and becomes a regular center man for them. Zibanejad is big, strong, can skate, score, and is ultra-competitive. He is going to be a mainstay on that team for years to come.

    • 24moreCups says:

      The worst is one of my best friends is a Sens fan (living in Montreal) and we always watch the Habs vs Sens games together, lately his texts have been how great Ottawa is doing and poking fun at our soap opera season.

      It’s weird but I still have faith for the future, I’m just about done with this season bu I’m looking forward to next season.

  10. savethepuck says:

    Sounds to me like the Sens are unbeatable according to Mr. Boone, but aren’t the Habs 2 wins and no losses against this powerhouse of a team?

    “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
    Carey Price

    • Habsrule1 says:

      The sens are playing WAY over their head. There is no way they should be doing this well, but they have lots of players playing for their job next year. If the Habs would play with that attitude (and they should), we’d be doing much better than them. On paper, we are the better team. Unfortunately, the game is played on the ice, not on paper.

      Go Habs Go!!

      “Fans are great, but the quickest way to start losing is to listen to them.” – Sam Pollock

      • harpman says:

        Wish the Habs were playing over their heads…….Ottawa has leadership on and off the ice, something the Habs are lacking. Habs had so much promise heading into this season after 2 decent playoff runs then for what ever reasons things fell apart and the team is now dysfunctional. After 50 years as a fan, my loyality is shaken. Hope they can do some positive things in the next 6 months to restore the faith.

    • Clay says:

      This (extremely informative and well written) piece on the Sens was penned by Mr. Stu Hackel, not Boone…

      ☞ “Talent is a gift from God, but you only succeed with hard work. Yvan was proof of that.” – Jean Beliveau. ☜

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