Friday, February 1, 2013

The Ottawa Senators Deserve Your Respect

Through the course of two twitter conversations today, I have again noticed a sentiment that seems to underrate the Ottawa Senators:

This could merely be my own confirmation bias at play, but I get the feeling that the majority of NHL fans that watch the games, let alone those of us refusing to leave our mother's basement, would say that the Senators have no place near the top of the standings and are playing above their heads. Cue the reason that you've been linked to this post: the numbers.

Lest we forget, Ottawa made a trade last December, sending Derek Rundblad and a 2nd round draft pick to Phoenix in exchange for the services of Kyle Turris. Turris was dubbed 'selfish,' a 'flake,' or [insert non-Good Ol' Canadian Boy stereotype here] as a result of his contract holdout at the start of the season, seemingly the prime candidate for the old 'a change of scenery could be what he needs' narrative after a mediocre boxcar-stats start to his career.

At the time of the trade, Ottawa was just a .491 Fenwick team with the score tied, and a .498 team with the score close. Over the next 49 games with Turris in the lineup, the team improved to .502 and .512, respectively. They would finish 13th and 12th overall, but their latter score would have ranked them 9th (behind Vancouver) had they maintained such a level for the entire season. In a 49 game sample, I'm inclined to give greater weight to the category that provides us with about 60% more data to work with on average.

What is more, post trade deadline, the Senators were ranked 6th in the league in Score-Adjusted Fenwick, and promptly beat the Rangers both territorially and in scoring chances. Since then, the team traded Nick Foligno to the Blue Jackets for Mark Methot, signed Guillaume Latendresse, and began to utilize a slew of young talent in their system growing closer to NHL contribution every day. After seven games this season, Ottawa has picked up right where they left off and currently sit third in both FenTied and FenClose with a 5-1-1 record.

It remains to be seen whether natural progression leaps from heavily relied on players such as Turris and Karlsson will be enough to sustain company among the league's elite, but it shouldn't come as a surprise that Ottawa is performing this well; the writing has been on the wall for some time now.

Kudos to the New York Rangers for catching on before the rest of us; had I realized how good Ottawa was at the time, I too would have showered fans with confetti after squeaking by the conference's 8th seed.

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