Senators News: December 31st

-Two changes to Ottawa’s lineup against Buffalo tonight: Matt Carkner subs in for Brian Lee and Craig Anderson gets the start.

-The Ottawa Sun‘s Bruce Garrioch writes about Daniel Alfredsson‘s 400th career goal (link), with the captain saying, “It’s a milestone but for me — it just adds to everything else.  Right now, it’s something that’s in my mind, but, at the same time, it’s going to be something I look back on 10 or 15 years from now and say, ‘That’s a pretty good accomplishment.’ Right now, I try not to think about it. I know I don’t have a lot of years left so I just try to enjoy every moment. When you play long enough, numbers are going to add up one way or another. I’ve been fortunate to be on a lot of good teams.” And “That’s something I’ve worked on the most: My goal-scoring ability since I’ve come over here. I always consider myself still a passer first. My shot is one of the things I’ve improved dramatically from when I came into the league.  It feels really good knowing you’re a threat when you get the puck and be able to put it in. I still try to figure out how I can score more goals in practice. I try to figure out ways I can be more effective. That’s why I enjoy it. Trying to keep with the new styles, the young guys and the goalies, you’ve got to adjust to change.

-The Ottawa Sun‘s Don Brennan’s potpourri article includes a bemusing quote (link) from Zenon Konopka who thinks Craig Anderson is getting too much criticism, “You’ve got to remember we’re a young team, we have young people on the back end and the front end.  When you’re a young team, odd-man rushes and breakaways happen. If Andy is on a veteran team, he might be up for the Vezina Trophy.”  The problem with Konopka‘s sentiments is that Anderson was in front of an equally young team in Colorado and put up great numbers, so the criticisms are valid.

-Joy Lindsay’s post-game report is up, including the news that Mark Parrish suffered a shoulder injury in last night’s game (she speculates that Max Gratchev may dress in his place).  Kurt Kleinendorst said about the game, “I really liked our first period. I did. Even though we were down by a goal, I thought we played really well. We just made two mistakes, and they both ended up in the net. And then we lost our mojo a little bit in the second period. It was just lifeless. The guys just weren’t winning any battles. The effort was lacking. And then in the third, maybe they woke us up. Maybe they woke us up. I give the guys a lot of credit because they battled hard. It was a big win for us.”

-I watched the US team lost 5-2 to the Czech Republic at the WJC.  Just like in the game against Finland they had no response to adversity and received sketchy goaltending (I never bought into the hype around Jack Campbell).  I’m not sure how good the game will be between Canada and the US, but for I hope it’s more competitive than the last three.

Ottawa 3, Calgary 3 (OT); Binghamton 4, Syracuse 3 (OT)

Ottawa overcame atrocious goaltending from Alex Auld, taking dumb penalties, and a three-goal deficit to defeat Calgary in overtime.  The Sens struggled in the first period, but were the better team there after.  The game also featured a head shot from Sarich on Erik Condra which I doubt the NHL will punish.  Click here for the box score.  A look at the goals:
1. Calgary, Bourque
Kyle Turris deflects the puck through Alex Auld’s legs, who would have easily stopped it if he had his stick in the proper position
2. Calgary, Glencross (pp)
Jared Cowen loses Glencross in the slot and he fires home a great pass from the corner
3. Calgary, Butler
Throws the puck at the net and Auld simply misses it–horrible goal
4. Foligno (Gonchar)
A great individual rush, sliding the puck beneath Irving
5. Smith (Lee, Phillips)
Powers a shot in on the far side
6. Karlsson (unassisted)
A great steal, picks up his own rebound and cashes it in an empty net as Irving can’t recover from the initial save
7. Alfredsson (Karlsson, Neil) (pp)
Fires it top-shelf for his 400th career goal

Top-performers:
Erik Karlsson – ties the game and assists on the winner; despite a few turnovers he was good defensively
Zack Smith – strong defensively and scored
Daniel Alfredsson – scores the winner and was good throughout

Players who struggled:
Alex Auld – allowed two terrible goals
Jared Cowen – too many turnovers and was uncertain when he moved the puck

Binghamton came back to beat Syracuse in overtime 4-3.  Mike McKenna picked up the win and the team had four different goal scorers (Da Costa, Hoffman, Dziurzynski, and Borowiecki).  Derek Grant added two assists. Click here for the box score and here for Joy Lindsay’s game summary.

Elmira won 3-2 tonight with Brian Stewart picking up the win while Louie Caporusso and Jack Downing held off the scoreboard

Senators News: December 30th

-The Ottawa Sun provides the Sens lineup going into tonight’s game: Michalek-Spezza-Greening, Alfredsson-Turris-Condra, Foligno-Smith-Butler, Daugavins-Konopka-Neil.  Chris Phillips is back in the lineup making Matt Carkner a healthy scratch; Alex Auld earns the start.

-The Ottawa Sun‘s Don Brennan writes about Erik Condra (link) who receives flattering praise from Paul MacLean, “He seems to make any line he plays on a pretty good line. He’s kind of a player you’d say is kind of the conscience of the line, he’s always in a good spot defensively, always puts the puck in a good spot, gets around the rink real good, does a good job on the boards and in his own zone … he’s the type of player that can play with anybody.”  I agree wholeheartedly wit MacLean, but given that you have to wonder why he only played 8:45 against Montreal.

-The Ottawa media has been very soft on Craig Anderson this year, but The Ottawa Citizen‘s Ken Warren writes about his horrific numbers (link).  Anderson, who rarely accepts blame for anything, says “Do what got you success in the past. There are going to be nights when you are not at your best. That’s just the nature of this game. You’re human. You’re going to make mistakes.” And “Overall, we’ve won more games than we’ve lost (in regulation). Obviously, when we’ve lost, we’ve lost big, so the statistics are skewed on that a little bit, but when we win, everything’s good.”  Nearly half way through this season and I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the Sens hadn’t traded for Anderson–they would have drafted one of the top-three players in the draft and then had statistically the best goalie in the NHL this next season.  It’s not really a fair comparison, but it’s one of those things you chew on.

-The Sens signed their other two first round draft picks yesterday in Stefan Noesen and Matt Puempel (each, according to Capgeek, with 1.137,500 cap hits).  I’m sure the Sens brass had hoped both would be participating in the WJC, but it’s no surprise that they’ve been signed.

-Binghamton released Brandon Svendsen from his PTO and blueliner Mike Ratchuk is out with a concussion.

-I watched Canada annihilate Denmark 10-2 last night, with Mark Stone picking up a goal and an assist.  The Canadians got lazy very early in the game and goaltender Mark Visentin continues to be shaky in goal.

-While it took Columbus GM Scott Howson longer than anyone else, he’s finally realised his team’s season is over (link).  I’ll quote beat writer Bob Hunter’s reaction, “This can be reassuring and maddening. When you listen to him talk, sometimes he seems almost too reasonable to be running a professional sports franchise when the paying customers want to win yesterday. At other times, you almost want to take him by the shoulders and shake some sense into him. Where was he a month ago when the season was leaving town?”  It’s amazing to think someone could do a worse job running the Blue Jackets than Doug MacLean.

Senators News: December 29th; Binghamton 5, Adirondack 2

-In the Sens skills competition Jason Spezza had the hardest shot and Colin Greening repeated as winner of the fastest skater competition.

-TSN’s power rankings are out (link) with Ottawa 23rd

-Sports Illustrated‘s Adrian Dater makes predictions for 2012 (link):
1. There will be a work-stoppage
I disagree with Dater, at least in the sense that I don’t believe any games will be lost in the following season.  His argument is based on instinct–he believes it will be a prolonged fight for the NHLPA to agree to a reduction of its profit sharing (losing games, but not the season)–but I seriously doubt that will be the case.  With players in the NFL and NBA coming to agreements within the last few months I don’t see the NHL situation as being so different that we don’t get the same essential outcome.
2. Scoring will not improve despite rule-tweaks
Agreed.  Three-factors keep scoring down: 1) goalie equipment, 2) a growing allowance of obstruction, 3) the lack of black and white rules for officials and players to follow.
3. The concussion epidemic will not be stopped
Agreed.  The dinosaurs that run the NHL will fumble about until something forces them to change (like the death it took to put protective netting in all arenas)
4. Enforcers will become even rarer
Agreed, but this is nothing new.
5. The Phoenix franchise will be moved
Agreed, but Dater would be bolder if he predicted where.  My guess is Quebec City.
6. Patrick Roy will become an NHL coach
Maybe, but I don’t really care one way or another.
7. One or both of Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier will be fired
See above.
8. Roberto Luongo will be traded
While the Scott Gomez trade proved anything is possible, this is one I doubt.
9. Jerome Iginla will be traded
Possibly, but it will depend on where the Flames are by the trade deadline and if Iginla wants to leave
10. Wayne Gretzky will be back and involved in the NHL
He has only been away from the NHL due to a financial disagreement so if that’s settled I’m sure he will be.

-Binghamton won their second game in a row with a 5-2 victory over Adirondack.  Rob Klinkhammer had a hat-trick and a four-point night while Pat Cannone and Corey Locke added the other goals. Mike McKenna earned the win.  For the box score go here link and for Joy Lindsay’s game summary go here link.

-Joy Lindsay Tweets today’s practice lines (link, with Josh Godfrey back from injury): Klinkhammer-Locke-Parrish, Dziurzynski-Cannone-Bartlett, Hoffman-Da Costa-Grant, Cowick-Hamilton-Lessard; Borowiecki-Gryba, Raymond-Conboy, Godfrey-Schira.

-Elmira won 4-3 in a shootout, with Brian Stewart earning the win and both Louie Caporusso and Jack Downing scoring.

-I watched Canada’s 5-0 win over the Czech Republic last night (Mark Stone scoring another goal), which was about as one-sided as their previous win against the Finns.  Mika Zibanejad and Fredrik Claesson where held off the score sheet in Sweden’s 4-3 shootout win over Switzerland.

Senators News: December 28th

-The Ottawa Sun‘s Bruce Garrioch writes about last night’s game (link) with Craig Anderson blaming luck for his abysmal performance, “I got some unlucky bounces. I thought we came out of the gate pretty good, took the lead and I didn’t have the luck of the Irish. A couple of pucks off the post, off a skate, their guy. It’s one of those nights where you need to make some better luck for yourself.”  Paul MacLean, who has been careful to not blame his goaltenders for losses, said “Everybody (could have played better). I can’t wait until Friday because I think our team usually responds. It’s a resilient team and I’m excited about Friday (when the Senators will play host to the Flames).”

-Sports Illustrated‘s power rankings are out (link) with Ottawa 20th.

-Joy Lindsay has Binghamton’s lineup ahead of tonight’s game (link): Rob Klinkhammer-Corey Locke-Mark Parrish, Mike Hoffman-Stephane Da Costa-Corey Cowick, David Dziurzynski-Pat Cannone-Mike Bartlett, Brandon Svendsen-Wacey Hamilton-Francis Lessard; Mark Borowiecki-Eric Gryba, Bobby Raymond-Tim Conboy, Mike Ratchuk-Craig Schira.  Mike McKenna will get the start.  Derek Grant will replace one of the forwards above as he returns to the lineup.

-I watched the Czech Republic’s 7-0 drubbing of Denmark last night, where prospect Jakub Culek picked up 3 assists.  Other than a few big hits the game (the best was Dane Anders Thode on Tomas Hyka) wasn’t very exciting, something made much worse by the presence of Craig Button as the colour man–he’s lousy as an analyst and even worse in the broadcast booth.

Ottawa 2, Montreal 6

Ottawa lost a lifeless game to Montreal through a combination of bad goaltending, poor defensive coverage, and a lack of energy.  The game was over early in the second period and Paul MacLean made a serious mistake not pulling Craig Anderson earlier.  For the box score go here link.  A look at the goals:
1. Smith (Gonchar, Greening)
Greening drives the net and Smith cashes in the rebound
2. Montreal, Eller (sh)
Anderson is too deep in his net and Eller (with no option but to shoot) beats him far side
3. Montreal, Plekanec
A nice tip-in as Cowen can’t control Plekanec’s stick
4. Montreal, Cammallieri
Cashes in a rebound as Kuba can’t control his stick
5. Montreal, Leblanc
Shoots through Cowen, but if Anderson isn’t deep in his net it can’t go in
6. Montreal, Subban
Cashes in on a 2-on-1 down low (no back pressure from the forwards)
7. Spezza (Michalek, Alfredsson)
Cowen drives the net and Spezza cashes in off a loose puck
8. Montreal, Cole (pp)
Another tip-in where again Cowen can’t control the stick

Top-performers: there were none tonight, although Filip Kuba was the best blueliner, Jason Spezza was solid in all three zones, and I liked Bobby Butler‘s hustle offensively.

Players who struggled:
Craig Anderson – two bad goals and he simply couldn’t make a save when the team needed him
Erik Karlsson – lead the time in turnovers and was a brutal -3
Kyle Turris – was among the turnover leaders and was largely invisible in the offensive zone

Senators News: December 27th; Binghamton 8, Albany 3

-Here are the lines provided by The Ottawa Sun for tonight’s game: Milan Michalek-Jason Spezza-Daniel Alfredsson, Nick Foligno-Kyle Turris-Bobby Butler, Colin Greening-Zack Smith-Chris Neil, Erik Condra-Zenon Konopka-Kaspars Daugavins; Jared Cowen-Erik Karlsson, Filip Kuba-Sergei Gonchar, Brian Lee-Matt Carkner; Anderson with the start.  Chris Philips is out with an injury.

-The Ottawa Citizen‘s Allen Panzeri writes about tonight’s upcoming game (link) with Paul MacLean trying to find something to get Bobby Butler going, “Bobby has really worked hard at being a good pro and a good player, and maybe this is an opportunity for him and Kyle to get together and have some chemistry. I think it’s worth it for us, at this point in the  season, to put those combinations together and give them a try.”  It will be interesting to see how he does playing with a shooting center.

-The Ottawa Sun‘s Bruce Garrioch writes about the return of Milan Michalek (link) which has one item worth mentioning: his concussion was the third of his career, making me wonder how easily he could suffer his fourth.  Given how each concussion makes it easier to have another I wonder how small a threshold Michalek is at now.

-Garrioch writes that Peter Regin is still deciding if he’ll have shoulder surgery (link), but it’s hard to imagine he won’t.  In the same column he reports that Jesse Winchesterhasn’t made any progress since suffering a concussion after getting slammed into the boards by Buffalo’s Paul Gaustad a week ago.”

-ESPN’s power rankings are out (link) with Ottawa 17th.

-The Binghamton Senators came back from their break on fire, pounding Albany 8-3.  Stephane Da Costa lead the way with a hat-trick and Corey Cowick had a three point night.  Mike Hoffman, Mark Borowiecki, Mark Parrish, Corey Locke, and Rob Klinkhammer all had two-point nights.  For the box score go here link and for Joy Lindsay’s game summary go here link.

-Elmira won 2-1 in a shootout; both Louie Caporusso and Jack Downing were held off the score sheet

-Canada romped over Finland 8-1 in the WJC with Mark Stone picking up a hat-trick.  Sweden overwhelmed Latvia 9-4 with Mika Zibanejad adding a pair of goals.

-Sportsnet‘s Mark Spector writes about the NHL’s inconsistency in applying the charging rule (link), but rather than making the obvious point that the league needs to clarify the rule and its application he goes down into crazy land and blames the players being hit.  It’s such a simple problem to solve: call it when the player leaves his feet (that’s in the rulebook right now) and define the circumstances where distance travelled is applicable.  Unfortunately, those in charge of the situation share Spector’s views (blame the victim), so there won’t be a sensible resolution coming any time soon.

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