Senators News: February 29th

-Robin Lehner talked about his first career NHL shutout, “Obviously, it’s not as big as last year for me (when he won the AHL MVP during the Binghamton Senators run to the Calder Cup title), there were some records for my country and the organization for being so young, but it’s up there. I think the first two periods were hard for me, too. I had to stand around for a bit. They still had pretty good chances when they got them. I think the D helped me a lot, to see the puck and take away rebounds. I think we had a real good team game today.”

-Paul MacLean didn’t like the Sens third period, but was happy with the win, “They’re still a real good team and still have a little ways to go. But we’re real pleased we were able to come in here, a tough building, and find a way to win the game. Getting a shutout just makes it better. I thought we didn’t play real great in the third period, but we found a way to stay on the inside and not give up too many second or third opportunities. Penalty killing did a good job of keeping that at bay. For the  most part, it was a pretty solid effor from our team, from start to finish.”

-Scott Burnside looks at Ottawa’s success thus far this season, but only goes skin deep in talking about the culture change under Paul MacLean and the contributions of Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza.

-TSN and Sports Illustrated‘s power rankings are out with Ottawa 12th and 15th

-Peter Raaymakers worries about Robin Lehner, fearing his mediocre pro numbers are a result of complacency.  He points to Barry Brust taking over the starters mantel last year and Mike McKenna‘s superior numbers this year.  It’s interesting food for thought, but Raaymakers is drawing the wrong conclusion from the numbers.  The reason Lehner hasn’t dominated consistently is because he’s young.  Jacob Markstrom, who is supposed to be a better prospect than Lehner, has had similar problems–and so do most young goaltenders.  I have absolutely no concerns about Lehner being a starting goaltender in the NHL if he can stay healthy.

Player Profiles: Ben Bishop and Matt Gilroy

With the changes in the Sens rosters it’s time to take a look at their two acquisitions:

Ben Bishop, G, Contract: 0.650/13 (RFA)
3-85 2005 (Larry Pleau), 6’7, Shoots L, YOB 1986, St. Louis, MO
2009-10 AHL 48-23-18-4 2.77 .901
2010-11 AHL 35-17-14-2 2.55 .914, NHL 7-3-4-0 2.76 .899
2011-12 AHL 38-24-14-0 2.26 .928

Bishop was drafted from the Texas Tornado’s of the NAHL.  He spent three years developing with Maine in the NCAA before turning pro in 2008-09.  Hockey Futures‘ very dated analysis of him is, “Thanks to his incredible height, Bishop gives shooters very little net to aim for. But despite his size, he is deceptively quick, and often relies on his athleticism to make saves. He is a good technical goaltender who covers his angles well.”  Despite playing the most games for Peoria in his rookie year he was outplayed by Manny Legace and Chris Holt.  In his second season he was the definitive starter (ahead of Hannu Toivonen), but split time with Jake Allen last season.  This year he was the clear number one and seriously competed with Brian Elliott for the back-up role with St. Louis.  He’s played nearly 160 games in the AHL and there’s no question he’s among the best goaltenders at that level.  Bishop is an excellent example of how long the development curve for goaltenders can be.

Matt Gilroy, DR, Contract: 1.0/13 (UFA)
FA 2009 (Glen Sather), 6’2, Shoots R, YOB 1984, North Bellemore, NY
2009-10 NHL 67-4-11-15 Even 23pim
2010-11 NHL 58-3-8-11 +5 14pim
2011-12 NHL 53-2-15-17 +2 16pim

The Hobey Baker winning blueliner was a hotly pursued free agent out of Boston University (where he was Eric Gryba‘s teammate), with the Sens among those who pursued him.  Hockey Futures‘ describes him as, “A defensively responsible blueliner, Gilroy has excellent hockey sense, a strong determination, and good vision. A very good puck mover, Gilroy is a character player, with captain potential.”  Signing with the Rangers, he wound up fifth on the depth chart (behind Del Zotto, Staal, Girardi, and Rozsival).  The following season he remained 5th on the depth chart until the Rangers acquired Bryan McCabe at the deadline and he dropped further.  The Rangers let him walk and he signed with Tampa in the off-season.  Gilroy leaves the Lightning as the second highest scoring blueliner (behind Marc-Andre Bergeron), second highest plus minus (also behind Bergeron), and averaged 17:36 TOI.  I think at his age and stage of development not much is going to change in terms of his production (although any player can improve defensively).

Ottawa 1, Boston 0; Binghamton 5, St. John’s 1

The Sens dominated Boston for forty minutes and Robin Lehner preserved the win in the third period.  It was good to see Ottawa beat both Boston and ThomasMatt Gilroy was used sparingly, but was solid in his first game.  Here’s the box score.

First Period
The Sens played a strong opening period, largely dominating the Bruins and scoring the only goal of the period on the powerplay (Karlsson through an excellent Alfredsson screen).
Second Period
Ottawa continued to control the play, although Boston picked up its physical game.  Condra missed an empty net, continuing his lengthy scoring drought.
Third Period
Boston dominated the entire game, the Bruins enjoying three powerplays and the Sens unable to capitalise on their few chances (such as Smith‘s breakaway).  Lehner, who wasn’t very busy in the first two periods, was excellent in the third.

Here’s a look at the goal:
1. Karlsson (Michalek, Spezza) (pp)
Beats Thomas high through an Alfredsson screen

Top-performers:
Robin Lehner – was excellent when he needed to be and earned his first NHL shutout
Sergei Gonchar – despite taking a late penalty he was excellent defensively
Erik Condra – he missed an empty net, but was excellent in his own zone

Players Who Struggled:
Zenon Konopka – two brutal giveaways on the penalty kill in the third period

Ben Bishop had a stellar debut with Binghamton making 41 saves in Binghamton’s win over St. John’s.  Mike Hoffman scored twice and Corey Locke, Pat Cannone, and Derek Grant added singles.  Locke lead the with three points and both he and Eric Gryba were +2.  Here’s the box score and Joy Lindsay‘s game summary.

Senators News: February 28th

-Matt Carkner and Kaspars Daugavins are the scratches tonight.

-Joe Corvo may still be under the effects of a concussion as he’s fighting mad after Turris‘ hit, “Let’s just say I’ll be looking for him right off the bat. I’m not (happy). Two days I’ve been walking around with a headache. Just because I didn’t lay down on the ice and get carted off and miss a period … I don’t know … it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a cheapshot. In my opinion, he saw my numbers and took the opportunity to seek revenge for the game prior when we were at home. Hopefully he’s a man and he’ll step up (Tuesday) when I come after him. I’m not going to try and hurt him, but I want to fight him.”  Corvo has one NHL fight on his resume, fighting Joey Crabb in December (Turris has been in two NHL fights).

-Don Brennan jumps back onto his old hobby horse and wishes Bryan Murray traded Filip Kuba and Sergei Gonchar.  I’m never sure if it’s worth pointing out Brennan’s errors in logic, but briefly: Gonchar can’t be traded and giving up Kuba would seriously hurt the playoff push.  He didn’t like the Lee trade either, but I think if you can get an asset for a guy you waived around the league that’s something at least.

-The trade of Brian Lee provides an end to his tenure with the organisation and allows the question to be asked: what kind of asset was he?  I think the reason Lee struggled for so long is that he thought of himself as an offensive blueliner, only starting to change his game last season to what he can be (a shutdown defenseman).  The best case scenario for Lee is to be a solid 5-6 player in the league who blocks shots and plays a safe game, but the Sens are loaded with players like that who are more physical (Mark Borowiecki and Eric Gryba for example).

-Aedan Helmer writes about why Matt Gilroy wears #97, “After he passed away, I made a promise to my mom that I’d always wear that number and take it as far as [my little brother] Timmy would have.

-ESPN and The Hockey News‘ power rankings are out, with Ottawa 14th and 11th.

-Ben Bishop was sent to Binghamton where he’s expected to start tonight (meaning Brian Stewart was returned to Elmira).  The plan is for him to play some NHL games in the near future.  Joy Lindsay reports that Stephane Da Costa will miss the game due to injury while Bobby Raymond will be the healthy scratch.

-Analysis of the winners and losers at the trade deadline are pouring in, but I think they often err in being assessed by what the writer thinks the team should do as opposed to judging the deals from the perspective of what GM’s were trying to do.  It can be a subtle difference, but (for example) those criticising Nashville for overpaying with draft picks have to understand the goal for the Predators is playoff success, not the future.  I think it’s only on that basis that you can fairly assess what’s happened.  With that in mind, here’s my view of the day’s trades:
Andrei Kostitsyn (Mtl) – 2nd (2013) and conditional 5th (2013 (Nsh) – both teams got what they wanted here, with Montreal dumping a UFA and Nashville acquiring a scorer.  There’s more risk for Nashville, but Kostitsyn was the best rental scorer traded on the day.
Mike Commodore (Det) – conditional 7th (2013 (TB) – both teams got what they wanted, with Tampa getting a body for its thin blueline and Detroit dumping a UFA
Nick Schultz (Min) – Tom Gilbert (Edm) – again, both teams got what they wanted, with the defensive-minded Schultz in a down year and puck-moving Gilbert in an average year–both are 29, both have term on their contracts (Gilbert‘s is slightly more)
Keith Aulie (Tor) – Carter Ashton (TB) – I sound like a broken record, but here again both teams got what they wanted; Aulie is an older, more experienced prospect who can help Tampa’s blueline now, whereas Carter is a big, young winger for the future
Daniel Winnik, T. J. Galiardi, and 7th (2013) (Col) – Jamie McGinn, Mike Connolly, Michael Sgarbossa (SJ) – it’s harder for me to assess this trade because I’m not as familiar with the assets involved, but the Sharks get two NHL bodies to give them depth, while the Avalanche don’t really give up much
Brian Lee (Ott) – Matt Gilroy (TB) – another hockey trade with two right-handed shots with expiring contracts getting a fresh start with new teams; Gilroy is older and more offensively accomplished
Sami Pahlsson (Clb) – Taylor Ellington, two 4th’s (Van) – I frankly don’t think Pahlsson has much in the tank, but the Canucks did not give up much to get him while the Blue Jackets at least added some assets
Johnny Oduya (Win) – 2nd and 3rd (2013) (Chi) – this is a win for the Jets, despite the Hawks getting what they want–two picks for an expiring contract is a great reward
Brian Rolston and Mike Mottau (NYI) – Yannick Riendeau and Marc Cantin (Bos) – the Islanders dump two contracts and the Bruins give up virtually nothing for depth, so another good hockey trade
Paul Gaustad and 4th (2013) (Buf) – 1st (2012) (Nsh) – this is a steep price to pay for an expiring contract so it’s a win for Buffalo
Greg Zanon (Min) – Steve Kampfer (Bos) – UFA depth for Boston for a signed prospect for Minnesota is a good deal on both sides
John Scott (Chi) – 5th (2012) (NYR) – I have no idea why the Rangers wanted the one-dimensional Scott
Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani (Buf) – Cody Hodgson and Alexander Sulzer (Van) – the Canucks win the undercard (the blueliners swapped) while Kassian and Hodgson form different kinds of risks for each team, but on the whole I think Vancouver got more in the trade than the Sabres

Senators News: February 27th

-Today is trade deadline day and people have different reactions to it, including some who find the coverage ridiculous, but I think it’s a lot of fun for fans.  I’ll update this post if the Sens make any moves.  [Update: Brian Lee has been traded to Tampa Bay for Matt GilroyGilroy was a highly sought after NCAA free agent in 2009, but the Rangers moved him at the end of last season.  His stats this year: 53-2-15-17 +2 and is a UFA at the end of the season.]

-[My final thoughts on today’s trade deadline: it was a quiet day as teams were less likely to overpay for players.  There were far more so-called hockey-trades (transactions between teams that make sense on both sides) than are traditionally the case and I wonder how much the new CBA negotiations have to do with that conservatism.  In Bryan Murray’s press conference he referenced Ottawa’s pursuit of Gilroy three years ago and clearly the organisation still likes the potential they see in him.]

-Robin Lehner was happy about his game yesterday, “The win is huge for me and the team. I wanted to prove to the guys in here and prove to the organization that I can handle the pressure. It’s a lot of pressure for a 20-year-old coming into a Canadian team trying to get into the playoffs, that can’t really afford to lose a lot. (Then) the same day I’m going to play, they bring in a new goalie (Ben Bishop). Great. It’s all pressure. I think for myself, I went through another mental barrier. I had one last year. There was pressure all the time in the (AHL) playoffs.”

-Bruce Garrioch writes about the Ben Bishop trade, with an NHL exec offering this intriguing comment, “Good deal for the Senators. I thought they might have to give up more. I’m sure his status as a UFA meant the Blues weren’t getting offered a lot in return. If they sign him, it will be an excellent trade. Not sure where this places Robin Lehner in the organization.”  I’m also wondering what is going to happen next year, because as much as management talks about competition in camp I don’t see them burying a one-way deal  in the minors regardless of Lehner‘s camp.  It remains to be seen what kind of NHL player Bishop will be, but he’s definitely an upgrade on Alex Auld.

-The Brian Lee good luck charm stat is floating around (the Sens are 12-0-1 in his last 13 games).  If it means anything it’s bad news for Matt Carkner.

-Joy Lindsay Tweets Binghamton’s lines at practice: Grant-Locke-Bartlett, Klinkhammer-Hamilton-Petersson, Hoffman-Cannone-Dziurzynski, Downing-Parrish-Lessard; Borowiecki-Gryba, Henningson-Conboy, Wiercioch-Schira, Raymond-Godfrey.

-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 (RW, Brandon, WHL) 58-39-66-105 (1st=)
Shane Prince (C/LW, Ottawa 67s, OHL) 50-39-41-80 (2nd=)
Stefan Noesen (C/RW, Plymouth, OHL) 54-30-39-69 (1st=)
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (RW, Chicoutimi, QMJHL) 41-32-31-63 (2nd+)
Darren Kramer (C/LW, Spokane, WHL) 60-19-16-35 (6th=)
Jakub Culek (C/LW, Rimouski, QMJHL) 48-12-22-34 (5th+)
Matt Puempel (LW, Peterborough, OHL) 30-17-16-33 (injured)
Jordan Fransoo (D, Victoria, WHL) 61-2-15-17 (2nd=)
SEL
Jakob Silfverberg (C/RW, Brynas) 45-21-26-47 (1st=)
Mika Zibanejad (C/RW, Djurgarden) 22-5-5-10 (16th=)
Fredrik Claesson (D, Djurgarden) 45-1-6-7 (t-5th-)
Allsvenskan
Marcus Sorensen (RW, Boras) 26-8-8-16 (7th+)
NCAA
Ryan Dzingel (C, CCHA-Ohio State) 31-7-17-24 (t-1st+)
Max McCormick (LW, CCHA-Ohio State) 25-10-11-21 (t-3rd=)
Bryce Aneloski (D, WCHA-Nebraska-Omaha) 34-6-14-20 (1st=)
Michael Sdao (D, ECAC-Princeton) 27-8-10-18 (1st=)
Chris Wideman (D, CCHA-Miami) 36-1-16-17 (1st=)
Ben Blood (D, WCHA-North Dakota) 33-2-14-16 (t-1st+)
Jeff Costello (LW, CCHA-Notre Dame) 24-4-6-10 (9th=)
Brad Peltz (LW, ECAC-Yale) 9-1-0-1 (20th=)

Ottawa 5, New York Islanders 2

After a brutal start to the game, where Robin Lehner kept them in it, the Sens were able to turn the corner and dominate the Islanders.  Erik Karlsson was able to break Norm Maciver‘s franchise record for points by defenceman and the Sens fourth line contributed three goals including the winner.  It will be interesting to see if Paul MacLean thinks Lehner has earned the start against Boston.  Here’s the box score.

First Period
The Sens came out flat, giving up an early goal on a two-on-one by Tavares and struggling all over the ice for half the period (being outshot 10-0).  Lehner kept them in it, including stopping Reasoner on a clear breakaway. They woke up in the latter stages of the period and were able to apply some pressure to NabokovSpezza had a brutal period, leading the team in giveaways.
Second Period
Ottawa came out stronger in the period, but still needed an incredible save from Lehner on Tavares to allow them to tie the game on the powerplay (Michalek).  Just prior to the goal Spezza was hit by an Alfredsson slapper and went straight to the dressing room, but was able to return and score on the next powerplay.
Third Period
The Sens did a great job cutting down on the chances for the Islanders and O’Brien scored on a turnover created by Neil.  The Isles were able to capitalise on an Alfredsson turnover to cut the lead to one, but as the momentum began to switch Neil made a fantastic tip to give the Sens back their two goal lead.  Turris salted the game away with an empty-net goal.

Here’s a look at the goals:
1. New York Islanders, Tavares
Karlsson pinches down the wall and Spezza is late in covering for him, leading to a 2-on-1.  Tavares shoots and the puck squeezes between Lehner’s arm and his body
2. Michalek (Karlsson, Turris) (pp)
Karlsson feeds Michalek in the slot who beats Nabokov with a back-hander
3. Spezza (Karlsson, Kuba) (pp)
Blasts a shot over Nabokov’s shoulder
4. O’Brien (Neil)
Neil creates a turnover and O’Brien powers a shot through Nabokov’s glove
5. New York Islanders, Parenteau
Alfredsson can’t clear the puck and Michalek loses his check (Parenteau) who is wide open in the slot
6. Neil (Foligno)
A fantastic close-in tip by Neil on Foligno’s flip pass
7. Turris (Foligno, Greening) (en)

Top-performers:
Erik Karlsson – keyed the Sens comeback and shifted the games momentum
Robin Lehner – made two incredible saves at key times in the game to help the team win
Chris Neil – a vital assist and goal in the third period

Players Who Struggled:
Jared Cowen – lead the blueline in turnovers and continues to struggle
Kyle Turris – maybe the empty-net goal he scored will help him out, but he’s a key reason why Ottawa’s second line has been ice cold

Senators News: February 26th

-The Sens have made a deal to acquire St. Louis minor league goalie Ben Bishop (link), giving up their 2013 2nd round pick to do so.  Bishop was the Blues third round pick in 2005 and the 6’7, 25-year old is having a career year in Peoria: 38-24-14-0 2.26 .928.  He had no place in St. Louis behind the Halak/Elliott tandem.  Bob McKenzie Tweets that the Blues had signed Bishop to a one-year, one-way deal prior to making the trade [Update: McKenzie says the plan was for St. Louis to sign him, but Ottawa is actually in the process of doing so and the details are expected later today].  This makes me wonder if the Sens are planning to have Lehner spend another year in Binghamton next season with Bishop backing up Anderson.  It’s an interesting move and a slap in the face to Lehner if I’m right, as he was assured he would be the starting goaltender if anything happened to Anderson.  I’m not arguing that Lehner deserves the right to start in the NHL given his play in the minors, but it does fly in the face of that promise [Update: Ian_Mendes says “Do not read into Bishop trade as the Sens being unhappy with Lehner. This move creates depth/competition in organization. The battle for Anderson‘s back-up job next season will be interesting. This is a good competition for Lehner; was nobody to push him before.”  If Mendes is right it implies the Sens would be willing to bury Bishop in the minors on a one-way (assuming Bob McKenzie was right that his contract for next year is one-way)].

-Paul MacLean refused to throw Auld under the bus after the loss last night, following a trend which goes back to the beginning of the season, “We only played 12 minutes of the game. You’re not going to win any game playing 12 minutes. So we can’t blame the goalie for a game that the team didn’t play well in.”  The trade, however, indicates management did think it was Auld‘s fault.

-Garrioch reports that Kyle Turris‘ hit on Joe Corvo is under review by the NHL, which makes absolutely no sense at all (Turris bumped Corvo as he was losing his footing and he banged the back of his head on the boards).  I expect Shanahan will suspend him anyway–league discipline is nothing if not irrational [Update: Turris has not been suspended].

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.