Special Teams Play Has Been Key To Great Start By Ottawa Senators

By Jonathan Katje
Daniel Alfredsson
Marc DesRosiers – USA TODAY Sports

The Ottawa Senators have started the 2013 season with a 6-3-1 record, keeping them second only to the Boston Bruins in the Northeast Division. While the great play of goaltender Craig Anderson has been a key to their success, they have also benefitted from special teams play that ranks among the league’s best.

Anderson has been nothing short of phenomenal for the Senators so far, with a 6-2-1 record and 1.33 goals against average. The Senators have the lowest goals against in the league, and were it not for their occasional inability to score goals, they might be undefeated. The Senators boast the league’s third-best penalty kill, stopping more than 90 percent of their opponent’s chances.

Ottawa’s power play success this season has them fourth in the league, so far an improvement over their 11th place mark from last season. Daniel Aflredsson and Kyle Turris each have four points on the power play, while defenseman Erik Karlsson has two goals. All told, fourteen players on the team have at least a point with the man-advantage, and youngsters Jakob Silfverberg and Mika Zibanejad have even been able to contribute in the absence of Jason Spezza.

It may be a stretch to think the Senators can keep this pace up for the entire season, but if they continue with dominant special teams play they should be able to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. Anderson is playing like a top-tier goalie, and if he continues to get this kind of help from his teammates could be a dark horse candidate for the Vezina Trophy.

Jonathan Katje is an NHL blogger for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JKatje or add him to you network on Google.

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