With their backs against the wall for Game 4 tonight, we take a look at 5 stat-based storylines from this series so far.
1. Special Teams
A lot has been made about the penalties (or lack thereof) to each side during the first 3 games of the series. The Sens are currently tied for 2nd in the playoffs with 18 minor penalties (compared to Montreal's 10). What's interesting to note is that Ottawa has only surrendered 1 powerplay goal through 3 games and their penalty kill is operating at 92.3%, which is the 2nd best percentage in the playoffs.
On the flip side, half of Ottawa's goals (3 of 6) have occurred on the man advantage so far shredding the Canadiens penalty kill which has a success percentage of just 70%. So while they've spent much less time on the powerplay, Ottawa has been incredibly efficient.
As positive as these numbers are for the Sens, they don't really show the momentum shifts that occur when one team spends more time on the powerplay controlling the puck and being on the offensive. So while they've had an exceptionally good penalty kill, relying on it too much has had some negative impacts as well.
This was an area I focused on prior to the series as all indications showed that Montreal was the superior team in the face-off circle. So far in this series, Ottawa actually holds a slight advantage 50.5% to 49.5% and that's partly a result of Kyle Turris's increased proficiency.
Turris leads with the Sens in draws taken with 67 (31.9% of face-offs taken) and is functioning at a 56.7% success rate which is tops for the series. Ottawa saw a very healthy bump at home for Game 3 and that could trend the same way for Game 4 given the advantages towards the host squad when lining up. Here are the face-off winning percentages for the Senators from Game 3...
- Kyle Turris - 65.2%
- Jean-Gabriel Pageau - 57.1%
- Mika Zibanejad - 33.3%
It's unknown who the starter will be for Game 4 but Craig Anderson put in a very solid performance after not having played in nearly a month. Andy faced a whopping 49 shots on Sunday and kept Montreal off the scoreboard for the until 5:47 of the third period. In the end, shot 49 made it's way past Anderson in overtime but his stat-line for the night was very impressive...
Craig Anderson: 49 shots, 47 saves, GAA 1.74 and sv% .959
4. Blocked shots
The Canadiens have a healthy lead in shots through 3 games but that's not just because of what they're doing right in the offensive zone. Montreal is currently 4th in the post-season in blocked shots with 39 while Ottawa sits at 11th with 25. Pageau is one of only two forwards in the top 15 and he's played one less game than pretty much everyone else on the list.
Here's a look at each team's top shot blockers...
- Jean-Gabriel Pageau - 11
- Marc Methot - 9
- Mark Borowiecki - 8
- Tom Gilbert - 11
- Andrei Markov - 9
- Nathan Beaulieu - 5
5. Average Shot Length
I thought we'd look at another enhanced stat today. Average Shot Length (or ASL) is the sum of all shot lengths by one player divided by the total number of shot that player has taken. I think it's a pretty good metric to use to help indicate a player's "net presence" as the shorter their ASL is, the closer they are to the net typically when they shot. Through 3 games, here are each team's top 5...
- Chris Neil - 16 feet
- Bobby Ryan - 25 feet
- Erik Condra - 27 feet
- Curtis Lazar - 31 feet
- Mark Stone - 31 feet
- Lars Eller - 22 feet
- David Desharnais - 22 feet
- Devante Smith-Pelly - 24 feet
- Max Pacioretty - 28 feet
- Alex Galchenyuk - 30 feet
What's interesting to note is that none of the top 5 for Ottawa have scored in this series while three of the top 5 for Montreal have.
Game 4 is set for tonight with the puck dropping at 7 p.m. in Ottawa and for more info on tonight's game, check out the Game Preview here.