Senators News: November 30th

-The Ottawa Sun‘s Don Brennan writes about last night’s win (link), where Paul MacLean talks about the contributions of his third line, “They did a good job. They played real hard tonight. When players are playing hard, you have to reward them with an opportunity. They’ve been killing penalties for us and doing a real good job. Just felt we had to give them an opportunity on the power play and see what they could do.”

-Senators Extra‘s Allen Panzeri writes about David Rundblad (link), with Paul MacLean saying “I think that was displayed the other night [Sunday] with the confidence he had after missing (the previous five games). Just because you’re not playing doesn’t mean you don’t learn about the league and what’s going on, so I think he’s used his time wisely.”  Rundblad said “It was tough when I (was scratched for five games in a row), because you want to be playing. But my confidence is getting higher with every game I play. “I’m just trying to play my game and keep my head up.”  The think as long as Rundblad remains confident he’ll stay in the line-up.

-SenShot‘s Jared Crozier wonders if Bobby Butler is the new Brandon Bochenski (link).  I don’t think Crozier’s point is that Butler can’t be a useful player, but rather that Butler is not the top-six answer in the same way Bochenski wasn’t.  It’s an interesting thought, but when Bochenski was shipped out of Ottawa no one was under any illusion he could produce at a high level.  Butler still has that potential, although the clock is ticking.

-The Silver Seven‘s Peter Raaymakers looks at last night’s game (link), as does SenShot‘s Kevin Lee (link)

-Sports Illustrated‘s power rankings are out (link), with Ottawa at 23rd.  Adrian Dater adds, “Rookie coach Paul MacLean deserves credit for having these guys anywhere near a  playoff spot, even at this point in the season. But let’s face it, the Sens aren’t going anywhere for a while. Craig Anderson‘s 3.44 GAA ranks 61st overall, not quite what GM Bryan Murray had in mind when he signed the netminder to a  four-year deal late last season.”  I’ve been mixed on Anderson as well and didn’t like the length of the contract he signed, but the GAA isn’t just about him.

-Joy Lindsay Tweets Binghamton’s lines at practice (link): Cowick/Armstrong-Da Costa-Parrish, Dziurzynski-Cannone-Petersson, Hoffman-Grant-Bartlett, Gratchev-Hamilton-Lessard; Borowiecki-Gryba, Wiercioch-Schira, Raymond-Godfrey.

-The Team 1200‘s Jason York and Steve Lloyd have been tilting at the windmill of head shots for quite some time and I wanted to comment on their opinion.  When there’s a questionable hit, York will talk ad nauseum about how the player being hit has the responsibility to protect himself (by which he means it’s his fault) and that has always been the case in the NHL until recently (Lloyd agrees).  His historical statement is false, but for the sake of argument I want to accept it and take a look at what he’s actually saying: a player is responsible for his own safety on the ice at all times.  On the face of it the dictum seems obvious, but it’s inherently flawed.  If that’s the logic behind how the NHL works, then there should be no penalties for checking–boarding, charging, etc.  If a player is responsible for his own safety and is assumed to be capable of ensuring it, then an illegal hit is illogical.  All hits are legal because the person being hit is responsible.  I know neither York nor Lloyd believes that, but as soon as you start make exceptions for certain kinds of hits you have to admit players can’t always protect themselves (and therefore you can’t make blanket statements about who is responsible).  The other implication of their stance is that to avoid injury you have to play safe–don’t take a hit to make a play.  A final note, York likes to say that split-second decisions are impossible for the person delivering the hit, but if that’s right, then it’s impossible for the puck-carrier to make a split-second decision to avoid a collision (both of these latter points were brought up by Garry Galley on The Team 1200 yesterday, link).  I have no problem with York and Lloyd disagreeing with disciplinary decisions or debates (although listening to two people agree with one another makes for a dull discussion), but I’m tired of the faulty logic they use to justify their opinion.

Ottawa 6, Winnipeg 4

Despite being out played most of the game (giving up 43 shots) the Senators were able to win their second game in a row to close out their November schedule.  The team lost both Nikita Filatov (broken nose) and Filip Kuba (upper-body) in the first period, and they were lucky that Colin Greening was not injured on a play in the third.  For the box score go here link.  A look at the goals:
1. Michalek (Alfredsson, Foligno)
Shoots short-side on the odd-man rush
2. WInnipeg, Wheeler
Alfredsson baubles the puck in the slot and Foligno is slow getting to the open man on the back door
3. Winnipeg, Burmistrov
Cowen turns the puck over and Anderson let’s in a bad goal short-side
4. Smith (Condra)
Pavelec can’t seal the puck and Smith whacks it in
5. Michalek (Phillips, Condra)
Deflects in the point shot
6. Winnipeg, Kane
Point shot deflects off the back boards and Kane scores on an open net back door
7. Winnipeg, Kane (pp)
Karlsson can’t prevent Kane from cashing in a rebound
8. Spezza (Karlsson, Phillips)
Great cross-ice pass gives Spezza the yawning cage
9. Smith (Gonchar, Daugavins) (pp)
Gets the pass in the slot and fires it home
10. Foligno (Winchester, Greening) (en)
Great board work from his linemates gets Foligno the empty-netter

Top-performers:
Milan Michalek – scored a couple of goals and played a strong game
Zack Smith – also with a pair of goals and strong defensive play
Chris Phillips – two assists and a team-leading +4

Players who struggled:
Jared Cowen – wasn’t terrible, but a team-worst -3 and had a giveaway that lead directly to a goal

Senators News: November 29th

-Ian Mendes Tweets that no lineup changes are expected for tonight’s game (link)

-As the Crosby flap dies down #87 now believes Bryan Murray has been after him his whole career.  Don Brennan (link) writes that he and his colleagues “remembered only two previous times that Murray said anything negative about Crosby — once after Crosby delivered what Murray thought was a cheapshot on then-Senator Patrick Eaves, and again when Murray thought Crosby was doing too much whining to referees.”  If Brennan is correct than Crosby has thin skin.  Regardless, now that Murray is no longer commenting and no one other than the Ottawa media is interested in the story I expect it to die shortly.

-The Ottawa Citizen‘s Wayne Scanlan (link) is drinking the Crosby Kool-Aid and doesn’t see the elbow that was thrown at Foligno.  I appreciate that Scanlan doesn’t think the incident is a big deal (and he makes a good point about how fans react to star players), but for the sake of argument let’s grant the Foligno got hit with the forearm–the intent was to elbow him in the head.  The issue isn’t whether this happens in scrums or not, the issue is head shots.  It’s clear from Crosby‘s comments after the incident he’s only concerned with body checks to the head–that’s fine, but that distinction was not being made previously.

-Pierre McGuire talks about the future of the center position in Ottawa (link) and says he thinks Nick Foligno is a better #2 center than Peter Regin (who he see’s as a #3), but going forward it depends on whether Mika Zibanejad is a better center or a winger.

-The Ottawa Citizen‘s Allen Panzeri and Don Brennan (above link) are anxious for Nikita Filatov to start scoring (link)

-Rob Brodie writes about Nick Foligno enjoying his time as a center (link)

-ESPN, TSN, and The Hockey News have their power rankings out, with Ottawa 19th, 22nd, 23rd, and 23rd (with ESPN’s Scott Burnside writing “The Senators remain last in the league in goals allowed per game but continue to hang around, putting together a nice 4-1-1 streak to get within a point of the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Go figure.“)

-Louie Caporusso and Jack Downing were sent down to Elmira

Senators News: November 28th

-Bryan Murray was as bemused as I was by both Dan Bylsma’s and Sidney Crosby‘s comments about  Nick Foligno (link), saying “The rules are very clear now. If you fall into a goaltender and touch a goaltender, an elbow to the head and a butt end to the head is fair game. Dan Bylsma said that’s OK for them. Sidney said Nick Foligno is that kind of player.  I wish (Foligno) was that kind of player. He got cross-checked, I thought he got a butt end, but it might have been a full elbow. (Chris) Kunitz comes in with a cross-check and the penalties were even.  So, (NHL disciplinarian Brendan) Shanahan said that’s a good play. That’s a hockey play. Dan Bylsma said it’s good for them and Pittsburgh were the biggest ones on the head injuries. I’m remiss. I made a mistake. We didn’t have (Chris) Neil and (Matt) Carkner play in the game. We didn’t have enough toughness, so when we play Pittsburgh that’s something you can bring up to me again.”

-Pierre McGuire was asked about the Crosby/Foligno incident while on The Team 1200 (link).  He didn’t add much new, saying he didn’t like what Crosby did, but didn’t think Crosby was being a hypocrite (his explanation is that it was the heat of the moment, which I don’t buy as a fact or an excuse).

-The Ottawa Sun‘s Bruce Garrioch looks at last night’s win (link), reminding us that Jason Spezza ended an eleven-game drought with his two goals.  The key quote in the article comes from Paul MacLean however, “A win is a win and that’s a good win. I didn’t like the way we skated and that was indicated by the penalties we took. We took a lot of penalties by not skating and not moving our feet but our penalty killers did yeomans work. Craig Anderson was a big reason why we won.”

-Garrioch floats a rumour that the Sens are interested in Blue Jacket Derrick Brassard (link), who has two years at 3.2 left on his contract.  It’s a puzzling theory, given that Peter Regin will be back soon and the organisation has Stephane Da Costa.  Picking up Brassard would imply a long-term solution I don’t think the organisation is looking for via trade.

-The Silver Seven‘s Mark Parisi posts his ups and downs for this past week (link).  He lists Brian Lee, Chris Phillips, Stephane Da Costa, Colin Greening, and Milan Michalek as having rough weeks.  I quibble with Michalek, who while invisible against Pittsburgh was fine last night, but otherwise agree.

-Mark Stone will (as expected) compete for a spot on the World Junior team, as Hockey Canada released its list of invites (link).  Matt Puempel was not invited despite being at the summer development camp.

-Prospect updates (their position in team scoring is noted in brackets, defence compared to defence; I’ve also indicated if the player’s scoring position has change (with a + for up, – for down, and = for unchanged):
CHL
Mark Stone (Brandon, WHL) 28-24-34-58 (1st=)
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (Gatineau, QMJHL) 17-18-13-31 (1st=) (injured)
Shane Prince (Ottawa 67s, OHL) 20-11-18-29 (3rd=)
Matt Puempel (Peterborough, OHL) 26-15-13-28 (t-1st=)
Stefan Noesen (Plymouth, OHL) 23-8-19-27 (3rd+)
Jakub Culek (Rimouski, QMJHL) 25-5-12-17 (5th=)
Darren Kramer (Spokane, WHL) 20-9-7-16 (4th-)
Jordan Fransoo (Brandon, WHL) 28-1-5-6 (4th+)
SEL
Jakob Silfverberg (Brynas) 22-9-7-16 (t-3rd+)
Fredrik Claesson (Djurgarden) 24-1-3-4 (4th=)
Mika Zibanejad (Djurgarden) 8-2-1-3 (17th+)
Allsvenskan
Marcus Sorensen (Boras) 11-2-4-6 (8th+)
NCAA
Ryan Dzingel (CCHA-Ohio State) 13-5-8-13 (2nd=)
Bryce Aneloski (WCHA-Nebraska-Omaha) 16-1-8-9 (2nd=)
Chris Wideman (CCHA-Miami) 16-1-7-8 (1st=)
Ben Blood (WCHA-North Dakota) 14-1-5-6 (2nd=)
Michael Sdao (ECAC-Princeton) 11-4-1-5 (2nd-)
Max McCormick (CCHA-Ohio State) 6-2-3-5 (10th=)
Jeff Costello (CCHA-Notre Dame) 11-0-4-4 (12th=)
Brad Peltz (ECAC-Yale) 1-0-0-0 (=)

Ottawa 4, Carolina 3

Ottawa beat the struggling Hurricanes tonight in a game that they did not play particularly well in.  Craig Anderson was good (not great) in rebounding from his disappointing start against Pittsburgh.  Bobby Butler continues to sit in the dog house playing under 7:00 (just above Zenon Konopka).  For the box score go here link.  Here’s a look at the goals:
1. Spezza (Gonchar, Karlsson)
Spezza walks around Tim Gleason and out waits Cam Ward
2. Carolina, Dwyer
Scores from an impossible angle; a bad goal given up by Anderson
3. Spezza (Gonchar, Karlsson) (pp)
Great cross-ice pass from Gonchar gives Spezza the open net
4. Rundblad (Butler, Konopka) (pp)
Konopka creates the turnover and Rundblad‘s point shot deflects in off Pitkanen
5. Carolina, Staal
Phillips loses his man in front (Staal) who scores off the rebound
6. Smith (Daugavins, Kuba)
Smith scores on a scrambled play off a nice pass from Daugavins
7. Carolina, Ponikarovsky (pp)
Daugavins turns the puck over and in the scramble in front Phillips goes for the body and not the puck and Ponikarovsky cashes in

Players who impressed:
Erik Karlsson – picked up a pair of assists and was strong defensively
Sergei Gonchar – almost as good as Karlsson in all respects
Zack Smith – another strong 200-foot game that included a goal

Players who struggled:
Chris Phillips – made key mistakes that resulted in two goals against

No one else struggled particularly, but Jason Spezza lead the team in turnovers.  On the positive side, David Rundblad scored his first NHL goal and kept the defensive mistakes to a minimum.

Senators News: November 27th; Binghamton 2, Wilkes-Barre 3

-Here’s the Penguin response to Nick Foligno‘s criticism of Sidney Crosby elbowing him in the head: Crosby said exactly what I expected, denying it was an elbow (link), while Dan Bylsma waxed rhapsodically about everything except the elbow (link)–tacitly accepting it by not denying it, “the score 5-1 and intentionally going into our goalie, he can expect more than Sidney Crosby coming at him and talking to him during the game.”  If I accept Bylsma at his word, then other teams can elbow his players in the head if they go after their goaltenders.  Crosby‘s denial is ridiculous–anyone watching the replay can see him throwing an elbow.  The only point Foligno raised was hypocrisy and Bylsma ignored it and Crosby simply lied.  I don’t expect the story to linger, but it was interesting to see how Crosby dealt with criticism.

-The Senators have kept their promise to Nikita Filatov, calling him up to Ottawa and sending Stephane Da Costa down to Binghamton.  Just like the last time he was recalled Filatov has played three games in three nights and was hit in the head in his last game (by Robert Bortuzzo).  The Ottawa Citizen‘s Ken Warren can’t resist adding his own storyline to things by saying Filatov has looked “uninspired for the most part” (link), a sentiment echoed by no one in the organisation.

-Along with Filatov, David Rundblad returns to the lineup while Brian Lee sits

-Craig Anderson talks about improving after Friday night’s struggles, “You want to get back on that horse. You want to go out there and give the guys that confidence boost. Make that  save for them and give them a good game” (link).

-In The Ottawa Citizen‘s Ken Warren article above he talks about Paul MacLean going down the failed road of trying Jesse Winchester as a scoring center.  I like Winchester, but he’s not an offensively talented player at the NHL-level.

Binghamton lost 3-2 to Wilkes-Barre, with David Dziruzynski and Josh Godfrey scoring their first goals of the season and Andre Petersson extending his point streak to four games.  I didn’t see the game so I’m reliant on reports on it (for the box score go here link, for Joy Lindsay’s game summary go here link).

Senators News: November 26th

-The Ottawa Sun‘s Bruce Garrioch looks at last night’s game (link), with Paul MacLean saying “Against any team, you have to be ready at the start of the game and by the first timeout it was 4-1. The game was lost in the first five minutes, by not being prepared to play. We didn’t show up tonight. No excuse.”  I also learned from the article that I apparently missed a second goal that bounced in off Chris Phillips.

-Garrioch above and Postmedia News (picked up by The Ottawa Citizen, link) quote Nick Foligno calling Sidney Crosby a hypocrite for his blatant elbow to the head last night, Foligno saying “I look up and see it’s him [Crosby], so you’re not going to do anything, then he elbows me in the head. I got a little frustrated he would do something like that. I told him, it is something he preached all summer, that we should limit that, and then he goes and does it. I was a little disappointed.”  This behaviour from Crosby is nothing new for anyone who has watched him over his career.  He yaps, he runs guys, he’s a dirty player and I don’t think the concussion has changed his style of play.

-The Toronto Sun‘s Mike Zeisberger gives his NHL power rankings (link), placing Ottawa 22nd.

-Joy Lindsay’s post-game article is here link, where among other things she reports “Captain Mark Parrish tweaked his groin during Friday’s loss, and is unlikely to play Saturday. Alternate captains Tim Conboy (knee) and Jim O’Brien (foot) suffered injuries Thursday and are likely to miss the next few weeks. The B-Sens are now without defensemen Conboy, Josh Godfrey (groin) and forwards Parrish, O’Brien, Corey Locke (hand), Riley Armstrong (back) and Francis Lessard (undisclosed) due to injury. That leaves them without a single veteran in their lineup.”

-Joy also reports that Louie Caporusso and Jack Downing have been recalled

Binghamton at the Twenty Game Mark

Binghamton has now played 20 games and it’s time to take a look at how they’ve done over the last 10 (for the previous review go here link).  The B-Sens are 2-8-0, well below their previous pace as the team has suffered greatly from the absence of veterans (Locke, Daugavins, etc).  Their record places them 5th in the division (down from 4th), 15th in the conference (down from 8th), and 28th in the overall standings (down from 13th).  They are tied for 23rd in goals for (down from 14th) and tied for 24th in goals against (down from 20th).  Player’s stats (INJ=games missed due to injury, SCR= scratched, SUS=suspended, NHL=games in the NHL, ECHL=games in the ECHL):
Nikita Filatov 7-3-4-7 Even NHL (4-0-0-0 Even)  
Mark Parrish
9-3-4-7 -2 1 INJ
Andre Petersson 9-2-4-6 -2 1 INJ
Mike Hoffman 10-1-4-5 -3
Patrick Wiercioch 10-1-4-5 -6
Derek Grant 5-1-3-4 -1 5 INJ
Pat Cannone
10-2-2-4 -2
Jim O’Brien 9-1-1-2 -4 1 INJ
Riley Armstrong 1-1-1-2 +2 2 INJ ECHL (7-2-4-6)
Mark Borowiecki 10-1-1-2 Even
Corey Cowick 10-0-2-2 -7
Francis Lessard 6-1-0-1 +1 4 INJ
Bobby Raymond 5-0-1-1 Even 1 SCR ECHL (5-0-2-2)
Craig Schira 10-1-0-1 -2
David Dziurzynski 10-0-0-0 -2
Eric Gryba 10-0-0-0 -4
Wacey Hamilton 10-0-0-0 -5
Jack Downing 7-0-0-0 -2 2 ECHL (3-2-0-2)
Shaun Heshka 6-0-0-0 -6 1 SCR (traded)
Louie Caporusso 6-0-0-0 -2 ECHL (3-0-3-3)
Tim Conboy 5-0-0-0 +1 3 INJ 2 SUS
Josh Godfrey 5-0-0-0 -1 3 SCR 2 INJ
Mike Bartlett 4-0-0-0 -2 ECHL 6-2-4-6
Maxime Gratchev 3-0-0-0 -1 ECHL (8-3-4-7)
Mike Radja 1-0-0-0 Even
Corey Locke Injured
Kaspars Daugavins NHL
Robin Lehner 0-6-0 3.05 .915 (pulled once) 1 INJ GAA and SV declined
Mike McKenna 2-2-0 3.01 .912 GAA and SV improved
Brian Stewart 0-0-0 ECHL (3-3-0 3.09 .912, GAA and SV declined)

A few thoughts: the team struggles to score due to injuries to key players, with only Mark Parrish, Nikita Filatov and Andre Petersson producing with any regularity.  Secondary scoring has dried up and the team either needs some internal growth or additions up front and on the blueline (the former may simply be the return of Corey Locke).  Corey Cowick has the worst plus/minus on the team through the last ten games, while (among players who’ve played the bulk of the games) Mark Borowiecki and Nikita Filatov are tops with an even rating.  Robin Lehner hasn’t won a game in November.  Kurt Kleinendorst is looking for the right player injection from the ECHL, preferring Louie Caporusso and Jack Downing develop in Elmira (while jettisoning disappointing veteran Shaun Heshka).

With all the injuries Binghamton has suffered I don’t think we have the complete picture of where the team is at yet, but if they can’t get on a hot streak soon they’ll be too far down in the standings to look competitive.

Ottawa 3, Pittsburgh 6; Binghamton 1, Syracuse 4

It was an ugly night tonight for the Senators and the officials (Stephen Walkom and Frederik L’Ecuyer).  The game was over before the 10:00 mark and made for trying viewing.  For the box score go here link.  There were positives among the negatives, but I’ll look at the goals first:
1. Daugavins (Smith, Karlsson)
Picks up the rebound and deposits it in the empty net
2. Pittsburgh, Kunitz
Poor defensive coverage and gap control as Kunitz is left wide open on the far side and Alfredsson can’t stop the pass across
3. Pittsburgh, Kennedy
Scores from behind the net, shooting into Anderson‘s feet
4. Pittsburgh, Sullivan (pp)
5-on-3 goal with Sullivan‘s cross-ice pass going in off Phillips skate
5. Pittsburgh, Malkin
Michalek
blocks a shot but can’t control the puck; Malkin skates around him and scores easily from the slot
6. Pittsburgh, Dupuis
Left wide open in front to cash in a rebound as Cowen as he loses his check
7. Cowen (Alfredsson, Foligno)
On a delayed penalty Cowen blasts one in from the point
8. Pittsburgh, Staal
Alfredsson
loses a puck battle and then his check as Staal walks right in and scores
9. Condra (Foligno, Lee)
Dekes through three Penguins on a great individual effort

Positive performances:
Zack Smith – a great game all around (including an assist and no turnovers), although he did not get the ice time I would have expected
Erik Condra - a strong game in both zones

Players who struggled:
Craig Anderson – was brutal; the second goal was inexcusable and he couldn’t make a key save to keep his team in the game
Jason Spezza - lead the team in turnovers and accomplished nothing offensively
Chris Phillips – second in turnovers and produced yet another own-goal

The Binghamton Senators lost 4-1 to Syracuse.  Craig Schira had the only goal.  I did not see the game, so I’m reliant on reports.  From what I read Robin Lehner played fairly well despite the goals against.  For the box score go here link and Joy Lindsay’s game story here linkTim Conboy did not play and is out with a knee injury.  Jim O’Brien (foot) and Mark Parrish (groin) are not expected to play tomorrow.

Elmira lost 5-3 tonight, Brian Stewart taking the loss and Louie Caporusso and Jack Downing had no points and both were -2.

Senators News: November 25th; Binghamton 5, Adirondack 2

-According to The Ottawa Sun no lineup changes are expected tonight other than Craig Anderson in goal (link)

-The Ottawa Sun‘s Don Brennan wonders how the Sens will handle Sidney Crosby (link), which doesn’t cover new ground, but contains a good quotes from Zack Smith, “I just don’t think anyone is going to try and elbow him [Crosby] in the head or hit him like he was before, but that should be the case with everyone.”

-The Ottawa Citizen‘s Wayne Scanlan looks at Colin Greening‘s season thus far (link), with the rookie downplaying Calder talk, “I’m more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy.”  He also talks about his work in the weight room, “I’ve always put a lot of time into it. It’s an interest of mine. I think if something is your passion, you tend to spend more time at it. I enjoy working out, I enjoy going to the gym; maybe it’s the endorphins that I get. I love talking to Chris Schwarz about different techniques he has learned or different equipment, different exercises.”  Finally he adds, “Being in the corners battling, in front of the net battling, they’re the things  that if I want to stay at this level I’ve got to do.”

-Senators Extra‘s Ken Warren mentions Nikita Filatov‘s strong performance in the two games he’s played since the KHL flap (link), with three goals and three assists

-Warren, writing for The Ottawa Citizen, wonders how Stephane Da Costa will do against Pittsburgh’s talented centers (link), with Paul MacLean saying he’ll line up against Jordan Staal to start

-Binghamton won its second game in a row with a victory over Adirondack.  Nikita Filatov, Derek Grant, and Mark Parrish each had three point nights while Andre Petersson added a goal.  I did not see the game so I’m reliant on reports (for the box score go here link, for Joy Lindsay’s game summary go here link).

-Robin Lehner is expected to get the start tonight against Syracuse

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