Just as the Montreal Canadiens have exceeded expectations in 2022-23 so far, there are teams that haven’t lived up to them. A relatively impressive 9-9-1 (after finishing 22-49-11 in 2021-22), the Habs are at a potential crossroads as they determine where their season is headed and whether or not to go for it, even as early as American Thanksgiving, which serves as an unofficial cut-off, separating non-playoff and playoff-bound teams.
On one hand, if you believe the Canadiens should stay in the running for a high draft pick for a second straight season, there’s good news. There are teams currently below them in the standings who will potentially leapfrog them due either to small sample sizes in the analytics department or good underlying numbers that will eventually lead to more wins.
On the other, if you’re of the belief the Canadiens shouldn’t try to contend for a high draft-pick, the below teams are helping the cause. As the Canadiens try to prove all the doubters wrong and make the playoffs, just one season after finishing last in the standings, these are the top three teams currently making it a reality:
3. Ottawa Senators (currently 31st at 6-11-1)
Power play: 21.5%
Penalty kill: 77.5%
Goals for per game: 3.17
Goals against per game: 3.56
Key Injuries so far: Josh Norris, Thomas Chabot, Cam Talbot
Surely, the Ottawa Senators are better than this. Hockey fans spent all summer hearing about how general manager Pierre Dorion had won the offseason, acquiring the likes of Claude Giroux, Alex DeBrincat and Cam Talbot, effectively ending the rebuild (impressively for the second straight season).
Obviously, few foresaw the Senators starting out 2022-23 like this, at the bottom of the standings. And, while, yes, injuries are playing a role, other teams have it worse, technically even the Canadiens themselves, looking at the cap hits of injured players, which doesn’t even take into account goalie Carey Price stepping away from the game.
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Nevertheless, there is hope on the horizon, in the form of analytics. According to the tweet below, the Senators…