by PuckStopsHere on 12/22/11 at 04:15 PM ET
Last season the Ottawa Senators were the second lowest scoring team in the league. They averaged 2.32 goals per game and finished third last in the East Conference. This season they have seen an offensive improvement. They have improved to 3.03 goals per game, which puts them seventh place in the league. This moves the Sens to eighth in the East Conference. It does not solve all the Sens problems as they still allow a lot of goals, the second highest goals against per game in the league, but it is a significant step in the right direction.
Last season only two Sens players exceeded 35 points. They were Jason Spezza with 57 points and Erik Karlsson with 45 points. Those two remain the Sens top scorers at 37 and 31 points respectively. As long as they stay healthy both should easily exceed last year’s totals. Six more players are on pace to exceed the 35 point threshold. This gives Ottawa offensive depth that it did not have last year.
These six players are Milan Michalek, Daniel Alfredsson, Nick Foligno, Sergei Gonchar, Zach Smith and Colin Greening. Michalek, Alfredsson and Gonchar are all NHL veterans who fell short last year in their offensive totals in part because of injury. None of those three exceeded 67 games played. Nick Foligno is taking a step forward in his fifth NHL season. He should easily exceed his 34 point career best last season. Zach Smith is having his first full season in his NHL career. Last season he played 55 games and he should exceed that easily. Colin Greening is officially still a rookie. He played 24 games last season and the rookie threshold is 25.
Last year was a case of the Sens hitting rock bottom. Their veterans were unproductive and often hurt. Their younger players were yet to develop. As a result their offence fell apart. This happened on a team with a weak defence and the bottom fell out in the standings. The offence is better this season, as last year’s results are unrepeatable. The defence is still in bad shape. That will prevent the Senators from being a top team, but as long as the offence produces they won’t be in the race for the bottom either.
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