Senators News & Notes

I’ve had this post in the works for a couple of days now, but interesting things keep happening.

Ary M takes a look at the Sens PK struggles and sifting through the numbers points the finger at a general decline from both the defensecorps as a whole along with forwards Milan MichalekCurtis Lazar (no surprise) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (surprising).  I agree with him that switching Lazar‘s usage with Alex Chiasson is a good idea as things stand.

This brings up something I’ve been wondering about for quite some time–is Lazar really earning his NHL spot?  Would he benefit from time in the minors?  I feel like for both he and Cody Ceci were rushed and the organisation can see no evil, hear no evil about them.  The oft trotted out mantra about being patient with prospects seems out the window when it comes to these particular players.


Kevin Lee (via my old stomping grounds) picks up the question of whether the Sens blogosphere is being too negative.  Points of interesting:

At the end of the day we’re all Sens fans who want the team to win. From that perspective we should be supporting every player on the team, from the crease outwards. That’s what made the miracle run last season so fun. Winning makes it easy to do that, for both bloggers and fans alike.

I think the first point (support) doesn’t make much sense (only a cult mindlessly supports every aspect of something), but I agree with his latter point–everyone loves winning.

One of the more common responses I see to bloggers is that the team isn’t ready to win yet anyways, just enjoy what we have now, and when the time is right the team will make their moves. Well, when is the winning window?

The only time I get resistance from readers is if I criticise someone who is “good in the corners”, but that aside, Kevin’s point is on target (I think Nichols brought this up last week as well–something that seems likely given Kevin echoing the belief that the prospect cupboard is bare… somehow…sort of…er, moving on).

Personally, I think it’s within the next two to three years.

I don’t agree with this, as I don’t think the roster has a window with the current talent.  For me, what I want to see is the best possible performance given what’s available.  Constantly wanting a Cup win seems more than a little unrealistic to me–winning a championship really boils down to some luck at the draft followed by having an excellent org to build around it, and the Sens have neither the organisation nor the elite talent to do it.

I think this is a major reason why fans are seeing so much negativity in the Sens blogosphere

I disagree with Kevin here: I think the reason for all the criticism is that the blogosphere finally has the information (analytics) necessary to properly criticise what the organisation does.  We are in a rare period where some fans do know better than management and that gets very frustrating when that knowledge is widely disseminated.  It’s worth pointing out that the actual media doesn’t perform its critical role anymore either, leaving a vacuum for the blogosphere to fill.


Michael Kostka was recalled by the Sens after the injury to Patrick Wiercioch.  Is he the most deserving call-up?  No (Fredrik Claesson has been better), but he’s second on the list and I don’t mind giving preference to a puck-mover.

Speaking of roster moves, Matt Puempel was returned to Binghamton (he played in the loss to Toronto).  Has Dave Cameron finally realised (11 games in) that he may not be NHL ready?  And will this at last give Shane Prince an opportunity?  I also wonder if Luke Richardson’s whining about callups contributed to this decision.

In yet another move Chris Driedger was called up after Binghamton’s game against Toronto.   It seems like Andrew Hammond is coming down on a conditioning stint while Matt O’Connor is simply being returned (presumably Scott Greenham will be sent back to Evansville as a result).  Also returning to Ottawa is an undeserving Colin Greening (see below).

pierre dorion

The Nichols’ ditto-tape machine was back in action transcribing the words of Pierre Dorion and amongst some pretty rather drab patter were comments on Binghamton rookies Nick Paul and Tobias Lindberg:

Nick’s been good, but not great. I think there’s an adjustment when you go to the pros. Nick was such a dominant junior. I thought he was a big part of Canada winning the World Juniors, a big part of North Bay’s success over the last few years that I think there’s an adjustment there. Realizing that you’re going up against 25, 26 and even 30-year olds that are so much stronger. So there’s a bit of an adjustment there. We’ve seen in little sequences or in some good sequences, some flashes of what he can do well offensively and defensively. For a guy who shoots the puck so well, I don’t even think he’s got a goal yet. Luke (Richardson) had to sit out Nick one game just because he had to realize that you have to work at everything here. It’s just the pro game: you have to work at it. With Tobias, he’s been a pleasant surprise. He’s stepped in. He’s probably on our top line and I think, if I’m not mistaken, he sat out one game too. Which is alright. We have no problems with that as far as development and realizing that you have to earn it at whatever level you’re at — whether it’s the American League or the NHL — you have to earn it. His skill set and his skating is good NHL, not just NHL, even very good NHL(-calibre). We think both players will be here. No, we know that both players will be Ottawa Senators. It’s just a process that they have to go through to do their time in the American Hockey League

You don’t need to read between the lines very hard to tell Dorion has no idea why Lindberg sat for a game (as indeed he did again last night), but more importantly, for him to say both that Tobias has very good NHL-calibre skill is remarkable–even more so that the organisation didn’t anticipate it.  I agree with him, incidentally, but it speaks to the multiple blind-spots the org has with skilled players.  Dorion also stated the obvious that Chris Driedger has been much better than Matt O’Connor, but that the latter was recalled largely so he could get some coaching and get his game in order (which makes sense).

I didn’t think I’d see the day that Nichols would start pining for the “good old days”, but he wants ties back in the NHL–ties!  Unless the NHL is going to adopt 3-point wins in regulation (which I deem impossible under Gary Bettman), ties are an abomination.  Give me 3-on-3, give me 2-on-2, give me fans coming out of the stands to play five minutes of beer hockey to determine the winner–anything but the tedium of freaking ties.  Yes it would be better if games were determined 5-on-5, but for good reasons that’s not possible in the regular season and at least 3-on-3 gives us goals (something the NHL doesn’t know how to do otherwise).


This is old news now, but my puzzlement over Scott Greenham‘s injury status has been cleared up as he is healthy enough to play and could suit up for Binghamton whenever they need him.

Something I haven’t mentioned before but I’ve had in mind since the beginning of the season is that Richardson is trying to follow Paul MacLean’s old third line formula when he used to trot out Zack Smith-Chris Neil-Colin Greening–a “tough” checking line, albeit one that failed miserably–Richardson uses Greening-Dziurzynski-Stortini.  The latter works a bit better in the AHL, but a better player than Stortini would help it quite a bit (McCormick would be ideal).

I watched Binghamton’s 3-0 win over the red-hot Wilkes-Barre Penguins on Friday.  As nice as the score looks, the BSens were outplayed and out shot (finishing 31-41) and benefited from a pair of bad goals given up by Pens goaltender Matt Murray (the third goal was into an empty net).  Here’s a fairly lengthy blow-by-blow:
-a nice Mark Fraser moment: the first line creates pressure and he shoots a one-timer over the net with no traffic in front (Murray grabbed it anyway)
1. Kostka (PP) shoots through Murray with a shot between the wickets from the point
-the following shift Stortini turns it over creating an icing call and on the subsequent play Dziurzynski is forced to take a holding call as the third line runs around in its own end
Hobbs was guilty of a brutal turnover on the PK leading to a 3-on-1, but the Pens missed a wide open net
Mullen turnover, but he blocks the shot on the play
-a stupid boarding penalty from Ewanyk
-beautiful pass by Lindberg springs McCormick who can’t cash in on a breakaway
Lepine throws away a PP-opportunity by pointlessly punching Uher after the whistle and giving the Pens a PP
Fraser watches his check in front bang away at the puck
-Inexplicably the Sens put no one in the box for Lepine, leading to shorthanded play after the PP was over
2. Schneider floats a puck in from the point (looked like it hit the Pens defenseman)
-pretty soft hooking call on Paul
Fraser did his second “watch-and-pray” trick, this time on the PK in front of the net
Schneider had a great chance in the slot
Harpur appears on the PP?  Don’t get that one–not something he did much in the OHL; Stortini returns too, although his teammates never gave him the puck (for obvious reasons)
-great save by Driedger after the powerplay
-with Lepine ejected for the aforementioned punching we got to see the nightmarish defensive pairing of Fraser-Harpur
Dzingel shot a rolling puck over the net with it wide open, getting hurt subsequently when O’Dell hit him with a slapshot; Mullen blocked a shot with his chest not long after and looked hurt, but both continued to play
3. Claesson loses his check and Stortini is caught watching the play as the lead is cut into via a nice pass from behind the net
-inexplicably Greening replaced Lindberg on the PP (the Swede had one shift in the period)
-a good shift by the first line draws a penalty and then draw another on the PP for a 5-on-3 which accomplishes nothing
Greening wastes a 2-on-1 with Robinson with an ill-advised shot
-some frantic action via the fourth line in front with a couple of scoring chances
-third line gives up a 2-on-1 forcing Mullen to take a hooking penalty; Robinson is called on the kill leading to a 5-on-3 against
Dziurzynski pots the empty-netter

It was a strong effort from Driedger, but if the BSens hadn’t gotten lucky this game would have gone down the road of most this season.  There was no reason to sit Lindberg, but with the talented Swede Richardson doesn’t see reason (see below).


Richardson’s cluelessness continued as he scratched Lindberg against Toronto (replacing him in the roster with Puempel).  Apparently giving ice time to players like Danny Hobbs trumps the best prospect on the team (it reminds me of when he’d trot out the now retired Brad Mills while scratching Ryan Dzingel last season).  With Kostka recalled Carlisle returned to the lineup.  The BSens paraded to the penalty box for the 6-4 loss; here’s a look at the goals:
1. Fraser gets a soft call for pushing too hard (a reputation call I think) and on the ensuing PP McCormick gets a little out of position leaving Kapanen open in the slot
2. Greening floats a wrist shot towards the net that deflects in off the D
3. Schneider steals the puck behind the net and throws it out to O’Dell who makes no mistake in the slot
4. Lepine doesn’t take the man, his stick, or the shot, so Driedger is beaten off a rebound
5. Puempel makes a terrible pass to Mullen who was speeding through the neutral zone–it results in a 2-on-1 against and Toronto makes no mistake
6. Greening loses the battle along the boards and then loses his check who is wide open for a cross ice pass
7. Claesson throws the puck into a crowd on the PP and it goes in
8. Paul gets a delay of game for the puck going over the glass and just after the PP ends (but before he can get into the play) Greening covers no one and the player right behind him scores
9. With Driedger pulled Schneider scores on a backhand in the slot
10. Empty-netter

The score was flattering to the BSens who spent a lot of the game chasing the puck.  It’s a little horrifying watching players like Lepine try to make passes–throwing wobbly grenades up the middle of the ice.  Greening was by far the worst player on the ice so gets rewarded with an NHL call-up (!).  Without Lindberg in the lineup what little possession the BSens can manage was hurt and that’s evident both in the slant in play and the all the penalties taken.

Bad news on the Christoffer Bengtsberg front as his injury is described as “week to week”, meaning the IceMen were initially at the mercy of Keegan Asmundsen.

Evansville lost 6-4 to Orlando, as the Asmundsen/Carlson goaltending combination failed for the second game in a row (the latter getting the start).  The goals:
1. A weak backhand somehow beats Carlson
2. MacDonald scores from behind the net as his pass bounces in off the goaltender
3. Carlson is beat off the ensuing faceoff with a bad angle shot top-shelf
4. Carlson is beat on a soft wrist shot high that he simply misses; he’s pulled after the goal
5. Fawcett creates a turnover behind the net and Leveille beats the goaltender high to the short side
6. Dunn converts a great pass from Penny shooting from the slot
7. Fawcett shoots through a screen to give the IceMen the lead
8. Trebish gets a pretty soft slashing call and on the PK after Dunn took an idiotic unsportsmenlike call, leading to a 5-on-3 and just as it ended Orlando bangs in a rebound
9. Trebish falls leading to a 2-on-1 and Asmundsen is beaten five-hole
10. On the ensuing faceoff Asmundsen is beaten off a tip in front

Fawcett has been really improving and that’s boosted Leveille‘s production; MacDonald has also been heating up.  For BSens interests Rutkowski has been fine, but his production has slipped, while Penny has been solid, but on the third line he’s not going to score much.

On Saturday Evansville finally put up another win, beating Kalamazoo 3-2 behind the goaltending of Cody Reichard (called up from I don’t know where–I can’t find him listed, so it’s possible he wasn’t playing anywhere this season).  Dunn did not dress for this game–I’m not sure if he was a healthy scratch or not (when I find out I’ll put it here).  The goals:
1. On the PP Kalamazoo was able to bang in a rebound on a scramble in front
2. Nice 3-on-1 passing play ends with Penny scoring
3. MacDonald is allowed to walk in from the blueline and scores five-hole
4. On the PP Leveille bangs in Fawcett‘s rebound
5. Trebish doesn’t see the player behind him who cashes in on a rebound

Given Reichard‘s performance I assume he’ll start the next game unless Bengtsberg is healthy–while Asmundsen was a little better in the previous game, he doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.  In terms of BSens related results, Alex Guptill finally hit the scoresheet–he has decent speed, but not much in the way of hands.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Binghamton Senators Season Overview


Binghamton is far enough into the season for me to take a snapshot of how the year is going.  Clearly the team is tumbling over a precipice–awful special teams, questionable player usage, and a lack of talent have all contributed to a 4-9-1 start (worst in their division).  Their 41 GF is 3rd in their division and tied for 7th in the conference, while their 50 GA is 5th and tied for 11th respectively.  Let’s break it down player-by-player (I’ve been tracking player mistakes that have lead to goals and they are mentioned below–I couldn’t think of a good term for it, so for now I’ll call them Bad Goals, or BG); I’m not a huge fan of using grades, but it’s a simple way to reflect how I think they’ve played (A=above and beyond expectations, B=exceeds expectations, C=meets expectations, D=below expectations, F=god awful):

Cole Schneider 14-7-2-9 SOG 42 Grade: B
The winger has strong numbers despite mostly playing with the Paul as his center (who isn’t quite ready to set the world on fire); as a player who historically picks up a lot of assists, his numbers are indicative of limited support (since Puempel‘s call-up his wingers have been Greening and McCormick).  Most of his points have been a result of individual efforts or sudden breakdowns by the other team–virtually none are from strong offensive pressure

Eric O’Dell 14-6-3-9 SOG 31 BG 3 Grade: C
His numbers are solid, but a lot of it was front loaded and courtesy of cerebral plays by Lindberg; lately he’s been guilty of poor decisions with the puck and some temperamental (selfish) play taking idiotic penalties

David Dziurzynski 14-4-5-9 SOG 21 Grade A
Is way ahead of his normal production and at 25 it’s still possible (albeit unlikely) for him to break out offensively at this level (he’s helped by the fact that Richardson plays the third line a ton); that said, the fact that he’s scoring is a bonus, as he’s been a positive contributor to the team in general, helping carry the dead weight that is Stortini most of the season

Tobias Lindberg 13-3-6-9 SOG 22 Grade A
The rookie is by far the best new addition to Binghamton’s lineup, directly generating almost all of O’Dell‘s production; he was inexplicably scratched for a game by Richardson and karma repaid the coach with the worst beat down of the season; he’s a big part of the possession advantage the first line has in comparison to the rest of the roster (see below)–able to move and carry the puck; if there’s a criticism of him it’s that he prefers to pass than shoot, but that’s a small issue

Ryan Dzingel 14-3-6-9 SOG 47 Grade B
Leads the team in shots; he’s played with Lindberg in all but one game this season, but unlike O’Dell I don’t feel like he’s dependent on him for production; almost half of Dzingel‘s points come from one game (where he notched 4), so he’s been less consistent than the Swede, but less streaky than O’Dell

Colin Greening 14-3-5-8 SOG 30 BG 1 Grade C
At about his usual AHL productivity; he had a rocky start to the season (in terms of his play), but has improved; inexplicably Richardson experimented with him on the first line and that was an absolute disaster–he seems locked into a third line role now

Max McCormick 10-4-2-6 SOG 29 Grade B
He benefited tremendously from his NHL call-up (which I didn’t think was deserved, but had the desired effect), with five points in the six games since his return; he’s moved around in the lineup, but seems to have found a home on the second line; much like his linemate Schneider a lot of his production is a result of individual efforts or sudden breakdowns–there isn’t the offensive zone pressure you see with the first line

Patrick Mullen 14-1-5-6 SOG 18 BG 2 Grade C
A solid start for the veteran given that he’s been anchored the entire season with the the disaster that is Fraser; there’s nothing remarkable or awful in his play thus far

Nick Paul 13-0-6-6 SOG 17 Grade C
He’s still waiting for his first goal and I don’t think randomly scratching him did much for his confidence (4-0-1-1 since vs 9-0-5-5 before); he’s centered the second line with Schneider most of the season, playing like the rookie he is, with flashes here and there; one significant plus is that he’s been defensively responsible

Matt Puempel 6-3-2-5 SOG 20 Grade C
He was good enough in limited duty; a bit selfish at this level, he has enough talent to produce; certainly not the best player on the BSens when recalled

Zack Stortini 12-2-2-4 SOG 19 Grade F
He can’t skate, he can’t move the puck, he takes bad penalties, and yet he plays a ton including on the PP–clearly Richardson has a soft spot for his captain and can’t resist sending him out there to fumble around; among the team leaders in selfish/pointless penalties, he has cut it down a bit of late, but his example has had no impact on his teammates; I think he could be a useful fourth liner, but he’s only played there once as Richardson insists on using him on the third; final note, because of his terrible skating he’s guilty of taking shifts that are far too long

Fredrik Claesson 14-1-3-4 SOG 12 Grade B
A good start to the season for Freddy, despite his partners (three games with Tuzzolino, eight with Harpur, and three with Carlisle whom he meshes with best); forced to handle the puck more and cover for poor defense play, it’s been a strong start and all credit to him for doing this well given the circumstances

Michael Kostka 12-0-4-4 SOG 29 BG 2 Grade C
He’s been okay thus far–not as impressive as I hoped, showing a willful, selfish side that most of the team’s vets have displayed this season–dumb penalties etc; that said, he can make a pass and carry the puck and given how scarce that is for Binghamton’s blueliners he’s a key asset; he’s spent all but one game this season carrying the load for Lepine

Buddy Robinson 6-1-2-3 SOG 10 BG 1 Grade C
Missed the start of the season due to injury and then was scratched randomly for two games because…well no one really understands it; he should be playing on the third line (at least) given his talent, but he’s been stuck on the fourth the last couple of games because Richardson wants Stortini on the third–no one can shine with Ewanyk and Hobbs as linemates

Travis Ewanyk 14-1-1-2 SOG 14 BG 1 Grade C
He should probably be in the ECHL, but on the whole he hasn’t been the disaster I was expecting–he needs to not take stupid penalties, but while he adds nothing to the roster he can (at best) not hurt the team

Danny Hobbs 14-1-1-2 SOG 23 BG 2 Grade F
The ECHL-forward has scored one less goal than he’s caused against and doesn’t really belong in the AHL (that said, I don’t think we’ll see him sent down); he’s played the entire season with Ewanyk

Guillaume Lepine 11-0-2-2 SOG 18 Grade C
Exactly what you’d expect–no hands, no real talent, but he has played pretty safe and avoided the dumb penalty plague; he’s not an AHL caliber player, but with Kostka to carry the load for him it hasn’t been awful–better than Harpur and Tuzzolino this season, but that’s faint praise

Alex Guptill 3-0-1-1 SOG 6 Grade F
He didn’t take bad penalties or make critical defensive errors, but he doesn’t do anything positive either, so the ECHL is a good place for him (sadly, he’s been worse in Evansville)

Chris Carlisle 8-1-0-1 SOG 8 Grade C
After two games in Evansville he was called up–it was a decision to bring him up because Binghamton has plenty of defensemen, but he’s stayed in the lineup (playing as a fourth line forward for three games); he hasn’t showboated in the AHL like he did in the ECHL and for the most part stayed within himself; Rutkowski would have been a better option to bring up, but it’s clear Richardson doesn’t care for him so Carlisle was the only other option with hands

Ben Harpur 9-0-1-1 SOG 8 BF 3 Grade F
He’s been as awful as predicted, turning the puck over and generally putting a strain on his defensive partners (mostly Claesson); on the positive side, as a non-physical player he hasn’t contributed much to the penalty parade; he makes bad decisions and can’t pass or carry the puck; time in Evansville might help

Mark Fraser 14-0-1-1 SOG 8 BG 5 Grade F
Unquestionably the most disappointing player on the team; while he can skate and hit, he has no hockey sense whatsoever and zero hands; by my count he’s directly caused five goals against (five!), along with leading the team in idiotic penalties; a completely useless player, unfortunately the organisation loves him so he’ll be plaguing the team for the whole season; he’s played with Mullen all season

Nick Tuzzolino 5-0-0-0 SOG 9 BG 1 Grade F
The ECHL-defensemen was awful in limited duty and Richardson praising him was ridiculous, but thankfully he’s no longer being dressed; he should be sent down to Evansville; when in action he was paired with either with Claesson or Harpur

Alex Wideman 4-0-0-0 SOG 0 BG 1 Grade F
I have no idea why he wasn’t immediately sent to the ECHL; he has good speed, but he doesn’t bring anything else and he accomplished nothing in limited playing time (how does a forward have no shots in four games?)  Even at the ECHL-level it’s not clear he has the hands to produce and if he’s not offensively productive he’s not adding anything; inexplicably he spent two of his games on the third line

Chris Driedger 4-4-0 2.89 .905 BG 4 Grade B
By far the better of the two goaltenders in Binghamton; while he has allowed some bad goals this year, he’s also played very well and confirmed that his play at the end of last season was no fluke

Matt O’Connor 0-5-1 4.14 .859 BG 9 Grade F
He’s been absolutely awful; 9 of the goals he’s allowed have been soft which is a ridiculous number; for a big man he’s small in his net and his confidence is clearly shaken; I think starting a few games in the ECHL would be good for him, but I don’t think the organisation will let that happen; it’s normal to preach patience with goaltenders and I think his problems are a mix of confidence and technique, both fixable, so we can still hope to see him play well

Some Notes on the Team’s Performance:
-Binghamton has lost every single game the Dzingel-O’Dell-Lindberg line has been split up (0-4-0), scoring just one goal in two of those games (overall outscored 20-10, so yes kids, they help defensively too)
-Since Matt Puempel was recalled the BSens are 1-6-1, although that includes the period above when the first line was split up
O’Connor has allowed four or more goals in his last four starts
-Despite an over abundance of “defensive defensemen” FraserClaesson, HarpurTuzzolino, and Lepine) the BSens PK has been awful (30th in the league at just 73%); despite these struggles, none of the players who take stupid penalties have been scratched

What impact has Luke Richardson had on this team?  All I see are negatives: splitting his dynamic top line was not only disastrous, but he stuck with it long after that was apparent; He sat Lindberg for no reason whatsoever (it even raised the eyebrows of Pierre Dorion); his team takes a ridiculous number of penalties, but despite talking about cutting down on them he’s done nothing to punish players for continuing to do so; his special teams are terrible–the PP percentage is higher than it deserves and there’s no reason for Stortini to be trotted out there to fumble around on the ice; the PK is inexcusable; he doesn’t understand the talent he has: Alex Wideman isn’t an AHL player, but he inserted him into the lineup; Tuzzolino isn’t an AHL player, but not only played but was praised while in the lineup; even though he’s stuck with Fraser there’s no reason to play him top minutes; Robinson has both been scratched and played on the fourth line when he’s far better than other players who haven’t missed a game.  Need more be said?  He even offered up a turkey of an excuse for the team’s awful record by complaining about callups and suspensions rather than errors (particularly his own–the buck should stop with him).  You have a guy who doesn’t force his players to be responsible and doesn’t understand how to use his players–the jury is in and it’s time for Richardson to go (although I don’t believe that will happen).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


Senators News & Notes

jared cowen

The delight that is Jared Cowen continues–he’s like the gift that keeps on giving.  We know that Bryan Murray (and, one assumes, Dave Cameron) gives Cody Ceci and Mark Borowiecki a free pass on their play (which has been awful), but Murray has publicly criticised both the Man-Bun and Patrick Wiercioch.  When asked about it today, the two players had very different responses.  First, let’s go to the professionalism of Wiercioch:

I think that’s fair. I think my play last year probably raised the expectations of what everyone would expect from me on a daily basis. And that’s the level I’m trying to achieve and that’s what I’m working towards. … I think Dave [Cameron] and I have a terrific relationship. He’s understanding of my situation in Ottawa and what I’ve gone through and I think he’s been up front and honest. I think that communication is something that we’ve lacked here in years past. With him, there’s an open-door policy where you are watching video clips and even the negative ones, they are there to make you a better player and a better teammate

Now let us experience the wit and wisdom that is Jared Cowen:

I don’t hear it [Murray’s criticism]. I don’t pay attention to that stuff because it doesn’t really matter. I think you could say the same thing about a lot of guys, so I don’t take it too personal. It’s hard to play when you’re thinking about getting pulled out of the lineup and all that kind of extra junk. I haven’t missed a game yet so it’s not like it’s been bothering me, so I haven’t had to think about sitting out. So hopefully, this is a one-and-done thing.

It’s not surprising to hear how clueless Cowen is, but if somehow Murray hasn’t figured out what who this guy is yet he should by now.  It’s time to pull the trigger on a deal–a pick, an asset, virtually anything.  Hit the eject button and move on–there’s nothing worthwhile to be gained by trotting this guy out night in and night out.


One of the funny things that’s been going on the last couple of months is the criticism by the analytics community of’s numbers.  Pucky Daddy recaps this and what really stands out to me is Chris Foster (of’s repeated assertion that:

We’re not in competition. We’re not trying to take traffic away from other sites or shut down other sites. We want to be part of the conversation as well. And we have a big voice

Really?  The official site of the NHL, the league’s own site, isn’t trying to compete?  It just wants to be another blog?  Millions of dollars spent to share the limelight with War on Ice–that’s what Gary Bettman approved?  It doesn’t sound like their press release in:

The new NHL stats platform goes beyond data to offer insights that will help avid fans go deeper and help casual fans understand the game better. There are also unlimited storytelling opportunities as we provide our fans with a personalized and interactive experience.

The league wanted the broadest possible audience as well as to be the place to go for serious stats honks, so Foster’s assertion is more than a little ridiculous.  Clearly he’s trotting out some face-saving rhetoric after being caught with innumerable errors which, while fixable, required Travis Yost and others from the analytics community to notice (Yost puts the blame on SAP and not the NHL, incidentally).  I’m glad it’s being fixed, but I find the obfuscation amusing.


An embattled Luke Richardson (who I think should be fired–my post on that isn’t finished yet) trotted out a very lame excuse for his team’s poor performance:

We had a combination of some call ups, some injuries and a suspension and it just seemed to put us in a funk. That’s not an excuse

If it’s not an excuse, why bring it up?  It certainly sounds like justification and it gives his players a way out–we’re not struggling, we’re just missing some key pieces and feeling a little down.  It’s absurd.  While the roster Richardson has will never light the world on fire, a lot of the blame for how its performed lies on his shoulders–player decisions in terms of who plays where and who sits have made no sense whatsoever.  That said, I think there’s plenty of rope for Richardson to remain throughout the season even at this pace.


Evansville got blasted Wednesday night, losing 6-2 to Alaska as Deegan Asmundsen continues to struggle in net (the Aces were coming in on an eight game losing streak).  A look at the goals:
1. Humphries launches a grenade up the boards that gets turned over and Asmundsen is beaten on a mini-break (five-hole)
2. Goal off a deflection from the point via a faceoff win
3. Asmundsen is scored on from behind the goal line as the puck is deflected in off himself
4. A wrist shot from the top of the circle (faceoff win) simply goes over Asmundsen‘s shoulder and he’s pulled
5. Off a faceoff scramble Carlson is beat on a rebound in tight
6. Fawcett bangs in Leveille‘s deflected pass on a broken play in front
7. Fawcett tips in a point shot
8. Lazy coverage in front by Brisebois leaves Traversa with a wide open net after Carlson over commits to a shot and winds up out of his crease

Evansville is a bad team, but one whose model is quite similar to Binghamton and Ottawa’s–great goaltending (when healthy) permits a lineup with limited talent to compete.  The main difference is the IceMen don’t have any dominating offensive players–it looks like they got fleeced by trading Zarbo for Moon and their blueline remains something of a nightmare.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

trevor daley

It’s very Bryan Murray to be chasing an older defensemen (Trevor Daley) [reactions to which you can imagine], but Chicago’s asking price makes no sense for the organisation (a pick and either Shane Prince or Matt Puempel)–a defensemen has to go back the other way.  I don’t doubt the Sens would peddle a 2nd round pick as that’s what they do almost every year, but as for the asset?  Between the two I think the org is more likely to give up on Prince, but as I said, they have to move a defensemen if they are going to add one (I’d put the odds on Patrick Wiercioch going).


Speaking of Murray, he continues to play the role of grumpy old man when it comes to Mikael Wikstrand as he recently rejected the Swede when he reached out to him (essentially it’s play in Binghamton or sit–so the same story).  This sort of lackadaisical approach, which seems based on his “tough love” approach with Samuel Pahlsson in Anaheim, is pretty lazy–the situations aren’t the same at all–and it’s hard not to think that at season’s end Wikstrand (no longer bound to a contract) will simply disappear into the SHL or KHL and the Sens will lose a useful asset for nothing.


One thing I’ve wondered about with the recall of Scott Greenham is whether he can actually play or not.  He’s still within the 21-day IR Evansville put him on (from November 2nd), although I don’t believe that period has to be respected at the AHL level.  Given Binghamton’s schedule it may not matter, as Driedger can easily play both the Friday and Sunday games.


Some Evansville roster moves: the disappointing Matt Hussey has been waived–I’m not sure why they signed a player who didn’t play last year, but he’s gone after eight games of selfish and unproductive play.  With Scott Greenham recalled the team has brought in former Sens draft pick Francois Brassard on emergency recall–he’s been playing in Peoria in the SPHL (1-0-0 2.00 .905).  Evansville also received Mathieu Brisebois (AHL 9-1-1-2) on loan from Norfolk, via a trade by the Rangers of the useless Samuel Noreau to Chicago.  Brisebois has a good ECHL track record and should help shoulder the offensive load that’s largely been Troy Rutkowski‘s to carry.  Brassard has been the backup in Peoria and assuredly will play behind Asmundsen until Bengtsberg gets healthy. [A subsequent correction–Brassard had visa problems of all things, so instead Peoria starting goaltender Dustin Carlson was called up.]

On the coaching side there’s been a development as well, as assistant coach Johan Lundskog has had to leave the team indefinitely for personal reasons, returning to Sweden.  This comes on the heels of owner Ron Geary battling for a new arena deal, but the two are unrelated.


I was asked this week what the Federal Hockey League was (Evansville’s affiliate).  While I’d discussed it briefly back in August, I didn’t go into it figuring there was no interest whatsoever.  For clarifications sake, the FHL (just like the SPHL) is the tier below the ECHL.  The FHL operates primarily in the northeastern/midwestern United States and this is its sixth season in operation.  The SPHL is the same tier, but operates in the south, is older, larger, and has a slightly better pool of players.  These leagues are how ECHL teams fill holes in their lineups–there are no “hidden gems” here, but they’re an important part of the hockey ecosystem.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes


Trevor Shackles asks the obvious question of whether or not Bryan Murray should remain GM of the Sens.  I think he’s far kinder to Murray than I would be at this stage, with it becoming clear Murray is unable to identify talent–either externally or internally.  I think Trevor and I are essentially on the same page, but just to make my point, here are some decisions by Murray over his tenure:
-signed Luke Richardson as a FA (yes kids, as a player)
-signed Randy Robitaille to provide scoring depth (he was back in Europe the following season)
-hired John Paddock (fired that year and has regressed to a WHL coach)
-traded a 6th (Ben Smith) for Martin Lapointe (he retired when the season ended)
-signed Jesse Winchester (advertised as an offensive talent–here are his numbers as a Senator: 233 games, 11 goals, 41 assists)
-re-signed Shean Donovan
-signed Jason Smith (he retired mid-contract)
re-signed Luke Richardson who retired after two games
-hired Craig Hartsburg (fired during the season with no subsequent head coaching jobs above the WHL)
-traded Dean McAmmond and a 1st round pick (Kyle Palmieri) for Mike Comrie and Chris Campoli–the former was awful and the latter was booed out of town two seasons later)
-traded for Pascal Leclaire
-signed Alexei Kovalev as a FA
-signed Matt Carkner to a two-year, one-way deal
-signed Bobby Butler as a scorer
-traded a 2nd round pick (Kent Simpson) for Andy Sutton
-give up the chance to draft Vladimir Tarasenko to acquire David Rundblad
-re-signed Jesse Winchester
-re-signed Bobby Butler
-traded a 3rd round pick (T. J. Tynan) for Nikita Filatov
-brought back Alex Auld
-signed Mike Lundin
-gave Jim O’Brien a one-way deal (two years!)
-traded a 6th round pick (Pontus Sjalin) for Matt Kassian (!)
-traded Ben Bishop for Cory Conacher and the pick that became Tobias Lindberg
-brought back Joe Corvo (!)
-signed David Legwand (for two years)
-etc, etc, etc

He also waived Mike Hoffman through the league, was going to trade Patrick Wiercioch for a 3rd round pick, and on and on (Francis Lessard played NHL games under his watch).  It’s clear that if it weren’t for the scouts and Tim Murray in particular the team would be starving for talent and loaded up with broken down, ineffective veterans.  Obviously there have been successes, but the above (going back to an era without an internal budget) illustrates an inability to properly assess talent.


The Sens prospect update is a little funny in that Tim Boyle is included despite the organisation cutting ties with him over the summer (amusingly, he couldn’t maintain a roster spot in the ECHL and is plugging away in the SPHL).  The main takeaways from the report: all the prospects in the QMJHL are doing well (Tomas ChabotFrancis PerronFilip Chlapik), the non-goaltending Swedes are not (Filip AhlChristian JarosAndreas Englund), and the collegiate players are a mixed bag (Colin White and Christian Wolanin are the standouts).  Marcus Hogberg has a poor save percentage (.896), but is winning a lot (7-2-1).  The org must be high on Englund–no points, but leading the team in hits….


Evansville lost the re-match to Wheeling 4-2 on Sunday; former AHLer Matt Hussey was either scratched or injured (I couldn’t determine which, but the former wouldn’t surprise me as one assist in eight games and a minus eight is no return on the investment).  A look at the goals (Bengtsberg had to leave the game early in the second due to injury; Asmundsen came in and earned the loss):
1. Moon takes a dumb penalty and on the PP Torquato bangs in a rebound
2. Just a minute after Asmundsen got into the net he’s beaten on a nice three-way passing play as Rutkowski lost his check leaving Krause wide open
3. Dunn scores from the dot as he was left wide open
4. Just 21-seconds later Strandberg floats a puck from just inside the blueline through a crowd in front
5. Asmundsen is beaten on a wrister through a screen five-hole
6. Lazy backcheck by Moon leaves Burton wide open who makes a nice pass for Brace‘s second goal of the game

A pretty consistent theme for Evansville where their veterans are guilty of selfish play–most of those players are the fault of the Evansville braintrust, but Leveille is the Sens fault.  Other book keeping: veteran Lukin has been out due to injury, as has rookie Zay (the former in practice the latter in game play).  Scott Greenham‘s injury is described as day-to-day, but we’re at the two week mark at this point (the BSens have recalled him, but there’s been no indication if he can play yet or not).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Ross A offers a recap of Ottawa’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Rangers, a game without Jared Cowen but featuring Zack Smith going full Binghamton Senator by taking a bunch of pointless, selfish penalties.  I enjoyed what I saw of the game and it will be interesting to see what Cameron does with the lineup going forward (I like Lazar on the fourth line).


Binghamton blew yet another two-goal lead in the third as they lost 4-3 in regulation to Springfield.  Shift lengths for some of the vets are getting absurd–over a minute at times for the third line (Stortini-Dziurzynski-Greening), which wouldn’t fly with most coaches.  My summary:
1. McCormick is alone in front and cleans up the rebound
2. Stortini is too slow to be timely on the backcheck and then all the Sens lose track of the puck and Mullen gets walked around and Driedger beat with a soft backhand
-Stortini line gives up another 2-on-1 their next shift but Driedger makes a great save
-Carlisle loses the puck at the blueline but Driedger stops the breakaway (Carlisle did help deflect away the rebound)
-Kostka makes the exact same turnover but is able to keep up enough with Lessio enough to knock the puck off his stick
3. Kostka took a dumb tripping penalty, but McCormick and Dziurzynski broke out on a 2-on-0 and the former scored while the latter crashed into the boards and had to leave the game for awhile
-Fantastic point-blank stop on the PK by Driedger
-An example of why Fraser drives me nuts: with no pressure he bangs the puck off the boards to the wrong team
-McCormick with a great chance for the hat-trick off a nice pass from Greening
-McCormick had another A-grade chance on the PP but couldn’t quite hit the hot pass from O’Dell
-Dumb penalty by Dziurzynski as after a couple of big slashes he gets called for a hook; penalty killed, but Kostka proceeds to take a lazy hold right after it–fortunately Springfield took a penalty immediately afterwards
4. Schneider puts in Greening‘s rebound
5. Fraser took a somewhat acceptable tripping call (in this case via a scoring chance) and Springfield scores immediately as a spinorama confused Driedger who thought it was going to be a pass
6. McCormick took a penalty while the goal was being scored which kept Springfield on the PP and they scored off a great cross-ice pass for a one-timer
-O’Dell drew a hooking call, but four BSens could not take the puck off of one Springfield forward while on the PP eventually taking a penalty
7. On a broken play on the PK Driedger is beat by a shot between two Binghamton defenders
-Driedger made a great windmill stop with his stick off a rebound

Despite letting in one iffy goal, Driedger was excellent.  The first line wasn’t its usual dominant self (Dzingel was the best of the three of them), but while McCormick played a good game his line didn’t dominate either.  I thought Robinson was wasted on the fourth line and would have liked him swapped with Stortini.  Binghamton’s special teams continue to be absolutely atrocious and it’s well past time to put the PK struggles on the shoulders of the coach–it’s not getting any better and there’s no shortage of “defensive specialists” on the team’s blueline.  Jeff seems to want to put the blame for defensive miscues on Mullen (wanting him benched, which is incredible), but while he wears the goat horns for the first goal against, he’s hardly responsible for the loss.  Why Jeff continues to shill for Mark Fraser is beyond me (he’s avoided mentioning most of Fraser‘s mistakes this season), but it does echo the organisation’s opinion.


The IceMen beat Wheeling 2-1 in OT last night, with Bengtsberg getting his sixth straight start.  The goals:

1. Wideman finishes off a nice passing play on a 3-on-2
2. A point shot is deflected in
3. Shorthanded towards the end of OT, Leveille splits the defense and goes 5-hole to end it

I haven’t been impressed with Alex Guptill‘s first two games in the ECHL, although he’s talented enough to keep playing.  Leveille, despite the goal, continues to play selfishly.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

I’d like to congratulate myself on predicting Patrick Wiercioch would be scratched prior to either Jared Cowen or Mark Borowiecki, but he was back for the game against the Rangers today and Dave Cameron finally acknowledged the obvious by scratching the useless Cowen.  The Sens comical 7-5 loss versus Nashville is neatly described by Michaela Schreiter, while the 3-2 win over Vancouver is covered by Ross A.

Nichols explores the idea of trading for Matt Duchene as rumours abound; I saw some pretty humorous Tweets about this potentiality, but here’s Nichols conclusion about the idea:

Adding a speedy playmaking center like Duchene could help transition the offence by improving their ability to carry the puck with speed through the neutral zone and boasting Turris/Zibanejad/Duchene down the middle certainly would certainly be impressive. On the other hand, whatever success Ottawa can have this year will be predicated on their ability to fix their shittacular blue line. Obviously a Duchene trade and improving the blue line does not have to be mutually exclusive, but without knowing what the opportunity cost would be to acquire him and without having some side deals in place to improve the blue line, adding Duchene alone is not going to be enough to turn this team’s fortunes around.

I agree fully with that final thought.

The aforementioned Michaela‘s five thoughts includes one on Dave Cameron:

if we looked at where this team is now (under Cameron) and where they were at this time last year (under Paul MacLean), there is not much of a difference. As of November 13, 2014 the Sens had a record of 8-4-4. Right now, the Sens’ record is 8-5-3. Both teams suffered from a lack of identity and allowed a very high number of shots against per game. This may be an indication that the problems on this team are not necessarily due to coaching. Maybe there needs to be a change in the roster before we have another coaching change. My fear is that firing Cameron will become a knee-jerk reaction if the team’s struggles worsen. Fortunately, I suspect we’ll see a trade before it comes to that. I think Dave Cameron is the right coach for this team, and I would like to see what he can do with the right roster in front of him. Management needs to look at the changes to be made on the team, before they look elsewhere.

I don’t quite follow her logic here–what is it about Cameron that makes her think he’s the right man for the job?  Besides that conclusion I agree with everything above.


The BSens did some more house keeping as the disappointing Alex Guptill was sent down to Evansville.  Was he the least useful forward on the roster?  I think it’s debatable, but he’s useless enough that it doesn’t really matter (although he may help the IceMen).

Binghamton faced Leigh Valley on Wednesday, breaking their goalie rotation by starting Chris Driedger consecutively and keeping the exact same lineup that won their previous game.  As I said in recapping that game Binghamton was badly outplayed and lucky to win and that assessment rang true in the result here (a 6-3 loss).  A look at the goals:
1. Schneider tips in Claesson‘s point shot
2. Greening gets the wrap around as Stolarz over commits to a shot
3. No one has Brent in front who scores from the slot (the O’Dell line was on–no one rotated to the middle when the aforementioned went to chase the puck)
4. Mark Fraser takes an idiotic boarding penalty (it was called a crosscheck) and off a broken play Driedger is beaten cleanly from the top of the circle
5. Kostka makes an ill-advised aggressive play at his own blueline leading to a 3-on-1
6. No one covers the front of the net (Dziurzynski-line was on with Harpur/Claesson) and a wide open Cousins makes no mistake
7. McCormick beats Stolarz from the top of the circle through a screen via his own defensemen
8. Mullen loses a puck battle and O’Dell doesn’t have his check in front who beats Driedger with 2-seconds left of the second
9. O’Dell turns it over in the offensive zone and Leigh Valley scores on the empty net

Jeff Ulmer‘s recap is oddly picky over who is and isn’t singled out and I completely disagree with him on Tobias Lindberg‘s defensive acumen (which is quite good).  I’ve read Jeff for a long time and while I love his work, he has a soft spot for tough guys and little patience with skilled players–I’m quite the opposite, but the facts don’t change regardless of personal preference and if you read through defensive mistakes on Binghamton’s goals this year you’re going to see goat horns on the former far more often than not.  It’s been nice to see all the games this year so I’m less dependent on others view of who is or isn’t playing well.

On Friday Richardson put together the best possible lineup given the players available, with Harpur and Tuzzolino scratched and Buddy Robinson back in (the only other tweak I’d make is calling up Troy Rutkowski and sitting Fraser–for reasons I go into below); Matt O’Connor got the start.  The goals:
1. Fantastic pass from Robinson gives Hobbs an empty net and he doesn’t miss
2. Robinson can’t keep up with Peca who skates his way into the slot where he beats O’Connor through a crowd
3. Great little flip pass by Dzingel to Lindberg who outraces the defense and dekes the goaltender
4. McCormick fights Mormina after a dangerous hit on Nick Paul (looked like a hit to the head) and on the ensuing PK Robinson cashes in on a 2-on-1 with Claesson
5. Paul breaks his opponent’s stick (looked accidental) and on the ensuing PP and Vermin simply beats O’Connor with a shot
6. Fraser inexplicably tackles Vermin (who didn’t have the puck) and on the PP McGinn cashes in on a rebound
7. In OT Tambellini is left wide open in front by Mullen (who was caught watching the puck) and ends the game

One of the major themes of this season is Mark Fraser taking awful penalties (passim), but Richardson has chosen to do absolutely nothing about it–the guy isn’t going to learn until he sits if he doesn’t keep himself in check.  As for the game itself, O’Connor had his best start of the season, although there’s an odour to the Vermin goal.


Bengtsberg continues to play as Scott Greenham recovers from injury; Guptill knocked Sims out of the lineup and the horrific blueline duo of HimelsonHumphries was finally broken up (both still in the lineup, but with different partners).  The goals:
1. A lazy Guptill loses the puck, ignores his check, and watches as his check scores from the slot
Guptill took an elbow to the head from Cederholm in the 2nd, but he continued playing
2. Coming out of the box after the powerplay Sorensen beats Bengtsberg with a wrap around after an initial breakaway save
3. Fawcett cashes in on the centering play created by Dunn (who inexplicably didn’t get an assist)
4. On the PP Rumble scores with a knuckleball in off a rebound
5. Himelson turns it over and on the ensuing possession Fox is left all alone in front and makes no mistake
6. Leveille turns it over leading to an empty net goal

The problem for Evansville remains the same: a weak blueline and a lack of offensive talent.  Guptill should help, but with Noreau awful (and currently in the AHL) and Dieude-Fauvel hurt, there’s no help coming for the defensecorps.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


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