One fairly new way to look at the NHL is the "Corsi Number" which is intended to show whether the team out-chances or is out-chanced when a particular player is on the ice (Chances defined as Shots, Blocked Shots and Missed Shots).
Here is a concrete example: when Ilya Kovalchuk is on the ice, how many shots do the Thrashers fire at the opposition goalie and how many are fired at the Thrashers goalie? Answer -5.5 which means the Thrashers are out shot by 5 and 1/2 when he is on the ice at ES. Keep in mind this is not a measure of "scoring" but "net team pressure" when a player is on the ice.
Atlanta Forward and Defense Corsi Number Rate (per ES 60 TOI)
Comments: The Thrashers have just a handful of skaters who have positive Corsi Numbers. That means most Thrashers are being out-chanced when they are out there at even strength--a key reason the team is headed back to the NHL Lottery. (One quirk of Corsi Rate is that the entire Little-White-Kozlov tends to only take high percentage shots so their Coris numbers underestimate the amount of pressure they apply.)
New addition Rich Peverley had a strong Corsi Number Rate with Nashville and he will probably be on a line with Kovalchuk (poor Corsi) and Armstrong (best forward Corsi rate on the team). Rookie Zach Bogosian is ready to return and he put up a solid positive Corsi before his injury. Exelby is out with an injury but Havelid has been badly outchanced so far this season. So the Thrashers add two guys who in the past helped their squd play in the opposition end of the ice and get chances.
Ottawa Forward and Defense Corsi Number Rate (per ES 60 TOI)
Disclaimer: I don't know what lines and pairing the Senators will use, so please forgive me if I have these wrong.
Comments: I wrote a post back around Christmas about lucky and unlucky teams and the Senators have simply been unlucky in terms of finishing off scoring chances this season. Something has been amiss with their mojo.
But another problem is that Spezza and Healtey are not outchancing the opposition at ES, while Alfredsson is putting up strong Corsi Rates again. But the biggest drop off is probably on the Senators second line which has struggled terribly to generate and convert chances compared to previous seasons.
Finally the Senators defense corps which was once among the more mobile in the NHL has slipped quite a bit. Volchenkov and Jason Smith both bring a physical presence but he Ottawa has been badly out chanced when they are out on the ice.
Conclusion: Both Ottawa and Atlanta have ranked in the bottom of the NHL. However this is deceptive as Ottawa has out-shot their opponents this year but just can't finish while the Thrashers are getting out-shot by 5 or more per game.