It’s the seventh edition of the Weekly Lost & Found, and today’s journey takes us mostly through the Central Division. Though we like to spread out our reports, sometimes hot and cold trends all fall in a similar spot. Inconsistency was a problem for those lost, while goaltending has been a highlight for those found. Here’s this week’s journey.
Lost: Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets Suffer From Inconsistency
Senators’ Goaltending Struggles, Lack of Scoring Depth Contribute To Horrid Run
Despite Senators general manager Pierre Dorion’s optimism, the rebuild isn’t as complete as he claimed. Instead of hitting the ground running, they’ve limped through their first 19 games to a 4-14-1 record and nine points. They’re dead last in the NHL.
They’re 1-9-0 in their past 10 games and winless in four last week. They were shut out once and had a minus-11 goal differential. This season, they’ve scored the fourth-fewest goals and allowed the fifth-most goals. Yes, they’ve been dealing with bouts of COVID -19 recently, but these issues have plagued them all season.
Goaltending has been a major reason for the team’s struggles that resulted in recent roster changes. The Senators assigned Matt Murray to the American Hockey League (AHL) in hopes that he’ll find his game. He is winless in six starts with a 3.26 goals-against average (GAA) and a .890 save percentage (SV%). He has dealt with injuries throughout his time in Ottawa and needs to get back into a rhythm to find the success he once had with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
One bright spot is the trio of youngsters who have played well. Drake Batherson, Josh Norris and Brady Tkachuk have been a bright spot for Sens fans and are the light at the end of the tunnel when the rebuild truly ends. However, their light doesn’t outshine the goaltending issues.
The Senators have three games this week, including against the Vancouver Canucks, who have also sunk to the bottom of the standings. The young trio can’t lift the team alone, but if they get better goaltending from Filip Gustavsson and Anton Forsberg, the “Pesky Sens” could steal a few games moving forward.
Jets’ Inconsistencies Result in a Rough Week
The Winnipeg Jets ended the week on a high note but spent most of the week on a really ugly run. They had a 1-3-0 record in fur games and a minus-9 goal differential. In three losses, they scored just two goals and allowed 13, including seven against the Minnesota Wild.
Some of their top players, like captain Blake Wheeler, are struggling to score. Kyle Connor leads the team with 14 goals and 24 points, which is expected considering his strong play through the years, and since the team is pretty top-heavy.
The Jets’ goaltending has also been fairly decent. Connor Hellebuyck leads the way, making his case to be on Team USA at the Olympics, with a 7-5-4 record, 2.70 GAA and .917 SV%. Eric Comrie has played well behind him, with a 3-2-0 record, 2.49 GAA and .913 SV%. Hellebuyck started every game last week but was chased in that loss to the Wild.
Winnipeg has solid offensive weapons, an improved defence and fair goaltending, but they lack consistency. The core has been together for a while now, so they will need to lead the way in finding that consistency and creating some breathing room in the Central Division.
They’re in a playoff spot but have three teams within two points of them. They play three games this week against Arizona Coyotes, New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs. They’ll want to use those first two games to find that consistency ahead of meeting the Maple Leafs.
Found: Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild Goaltending Driving the Bus
Stars’ Strong Goaltending Saves Their Struggling Scorers on Win Streak
The Stars have climbed their way back into playoff contention, riding a four-game winning streak to a 10-7-2 record. This past week, they surrendered four goals in three games, beating the Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Avalanche and Coyotes. The Stars have found success without scoring very much. They are near the bottom of the standings with 53 goals for. Forward Roope Hintz leads the team with seven.
Despite a general lack of support, their goaltending has been worth watching. They had four potential options ahead of the season and went with Braden Holtby and Anton Khudobin.
Holtby is looking to rejuvenate his career after his stint with the Vancouver Canucks ended soon after it began. His record isn’t pretty, 3-4-1, but his 2.44 goals-against average and .920 SV% indicate a team struggling to score. Khudobin struggled, and now that Holtby is injured, Jake Oettinger has come in and played extremely well.
The Stars have found some consistency and dependable goaltending. Now, they just need to find consistent scoring. While they need it sooner rather than later, their goaltenders’ success should ease the pressure to score more so than if they were struggling to stop pucks.
Wild Ride Strong Goaltending, Deep Scoring To Winning Streak
With all that’s been going on in the hockey world, the Wild somehow snuck into the lead in the Central. They have a 14-6-1 record, and their 78 goals are tied for the league lead. They went 3-0-1 this past week, finishing with a three-game winning streak that included a 7-1 shellacking of the Jets.
They’ve seen offensive contributions from all over the lineup, and nine players have double-digit points. Their top-two points leaders have a roughly 10-year age difference, 24-year-old Kirill Kaprizov and 34-year-old Mats Zuccarello are point-per-game players.
Cam Talbot has carried most of the Wild’s workload in net, and his 2.71 GAA and .914 SV% have held up, especially given the goal support he’s received. Ryan Hartman has 12 goals and is on pace to shatter his career-high of 19 goals. He has scored more than 10 goals for the first time since the 2018-19 season when he also had 12.
The team faces Arizona, the Devils and Maple Leafs this week, which should showcase where the Wild are at. The Coyotes are out of the playoff picture, the Devils are in the hunt in the Metropolitan Division, and the Maple Leafs are fighting for the top spot in the Atlantic. That’s a good variety of teams that will bring various tests. The Wild will want to come away with at least two wins, especially against Toronto.
Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken, and is a co-host of “What’s Kraken” for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.