Ottawa 4, Philadelphia 3 (SO)

The Senators blew a 3-0 lead, but hung on to the shootout where they beat the Flyers to earn a vital two points.  The game was a fantastic one for Craig Anderson, as the Sens took the second period and overtime off.  Neither team played much defence until the third period, which made it entertaining to watch.  Here’s the box score.

First Period
Flyers opened with an early powerplay, but the Sens had the best chance short-handed with a 2-on-1 (Daugavins unable to get his stick on Michalek‘s pass).  Ottawa opened the scoring with a great play by Alfredsson leading to a Spezza goal (a play made possible by a turnover created by Greening).  The Sens gave up a short-handed breakaway stopped by Anderson which was followed by a delay of game call against KubaAnderson made a big save on Jagr during the following 4-on-4 action.  Ottawa scored when Karlsson kept the puck in and Alfredsson fired a shot that deflected off a Flyer and in.  Anderson made another great save on Hartnell.  The Sens fourth line scored the third goal as Klinkhammer made a steal at the blueline resulting in Neil putting the puck through BobrovskyAlfredsson was stopped on a breakaway late in the period.
Second Period
Whatever words were said between periods lead to awful play by the Senators.  The Flyers had an edge in play and opened the scoring when Schenn scored off Simmonds face.  Ottawa’s first good chance of the period came five minutes in when Smith couldn’t bury a rebound.  Anderson made a great save on Jagr before the midway point of the period and then another off a Michalek giveaway short-handed.  The Flyers scored again when Couturier faked Karlsson out and beat Anderson–there was a lengthy review, but it was a good goal.  Ottawa got a powerplay following the goal, but were unable to do anything with it.  The Flyers tied it up just after the kill when Alfredsson made a bad pinch and Coburn scored on a 2-on-1.  Late in the period Turris was stopped on a breakaway.
Third Period
Karlsson had the first chance of the period, but was unable to beat Bobrovsky short side.  The Sens carried the early play in what was a cautious period.  Turris hit the post at the mid-way point.  Ottawa wasted another powerplay without generating a single scoring chance, while Anderson stopped Philadelphia on their only opportunity.  Spezza had a great chance in the final minutes, but couldn’t slide it under or around Bobrovsky.
OT
A pair of turnovers by Spezza resulted in chances that the Sens were able to block before they got to the net, but the Flyers carried the play and Briere hit the post and then Anderson made a great save off Simmonds.  The Sens had no good scoring chances in the extra frame and the Flyers ended overtime on the powerplay, Anderson making a great save off a Jagr one-timer.
Shootout
Michalek (five-hole) and Spezza (low glove side) both scored while only Matt Read was able to beat Anderson, giving Ottawa the victory.

A look at the goals:
1. Spezza (Alfredsson, Carkner)
Alfredsson makes a great pass to Spezza from behind the net who has an empty cage to score in
2. Alfredsson (Karlsson)
Karlsson keeps the puck in and Alfredsson’s one-timer deflects in off a Flyer
3. Neil (Klinkhammer)
Klinkhammer keeps the puck in and Neil shoots through Bobrovsky
4. Philadelphia, Simmonds
Schenn burns Klinkhammer with a move and fires it in off Simmonds face
5. Philadelphia, Couturier
Gets around Karlsson by faking a shot and then beats Anderson on the back-hand
6. Philadelphia, Coburn
Alfredsson makes a bad pinch leading to a 2-on-1 with Coburn pushing the puck over Andreson

Top-performers:
Craig Anderson – kept the Sens in the game over the last 45 minutes and the shootout
Chris Phillips – fantastic defensively
Daniel Alfredsson – a goal and an assist to lead the offence

Players Who Struggled: all the players who might be singled out (Spezza and Karlsson for turnovers, or Klinkhammer for his gaffe on the first Flyer goal) also did positive things in the game that helped the team win (two goals and two key assists), so there was no specific dud this afternoon.

Senators News: March 31st

-No lineup changes are expected for the Sens this afternoon.

-Paul MacLean talked about the year that was and the last few games of the season, “From Day 1, we said we were building a foundation to win. We’ve laid a lot of good stones in that foundation through adversity and through success. These last five games are another opportunity. For me, this is when you really find out about players and how do you play when you’re under the gun with the pressure. These are valuable building blocks to our organization, not only for this year, but down the road. This is when it really counts. This is when you find out who you can depend on.”

-Sergei Gonchar talks about Filip Kuba‘s chemistry with Erik Karlsson, “Since Kuba‘s an offensive guy it’s easier for him to read because he understands what’s going on and he understands Erik very well. When he knows that Erik will go he’ll stay back and once in a while when he sees Erik‘s not going then he jumps in. It’s one of those things that can only happen when you have an understanding of your partner and an understanding of the game.”

-Joy Lindsay reports that Corey Cowick has been recalled from Elmira while Josh Godfrey was sent down.  Andre Petersson and David Dziurzynski will be game-time decisions and Robin Lehner is expected to get the start.  Here were the lines at practice: Cole Schneider-Pat Cannone-Francis Lessard, Mike Hoffman-Stéphane Da Costa-Jack Downing, Derek Grant-Wacey Hamilton-Mark Parrish, Matt Puempel-Mike Bartlett-Corey Cowick; Mark Borowiecki-Craig Schira, Patrick Wiercioch-Eric Gryba, Dan Henningson-Tim Conboy.

-Jordan Fransoo‘s Victoria Royals were eliminated in the WHL playoffs, making him eligible to play for Binghamton if he signs an ATO.

-Capgeek has unconfirmed numbers for Chris Wideman‘s contract (590k).

-Here’s my profile of Sens prospect Michael Sdao.

-For those who missed it, Sens prospect Darren Kramer has invented a new kind of container for peanut butter and mayonnaise.

-Adrian Dater offers up his own awards for this NHL season.

Prospect Profile: Michael Sdao

Michael Sdao (D-L, 6’4, DOB 1989, 7-191/09; contract: 620k/14)
2007-08 USHL Lincoln 53-3-6-9 +12 178pim (ppg 0.17) 5th d-pts
2008-09 USHL Lincoln 51-3-7-10 Even 162pim (ppg 0.19) 5th
2009-10 NCAA Princeton 30-5-4-9 -4 48pim (ppg 0.30) 4th
2010-11 NCAA Princeton 27-3-7-10 Even 65pim (ppg 0.37) 4th
2011-12 NCAA Princeton 30-10-10-20 -3 87pim (ppg 0.66) 1st
2012-13 NCAA Princeton 31-8-7-15 36pim (ppg 0.48) 1st
2012-13 AHL Binghamton 12-1-0-1 +4 23pim (ppg 0.08)

Picked out of the USHL as one of the best fighters in the draft (he was not ranked by Central Scouting), hes continued to improve the other parts of his game each year at Princeton.  If his offensive game translates at all at the pro level he’s going to be a very pleasant surprise for Ottawa.  Former coach Guy Gadowsky describes him:

He can really shoot the puck, and he’s in even better shape: he’s definitely stronger, he’s definitely quicker, and he’s as focused on becoming the best hockey player as he can possibly be. I won’t say he’s changing – he’s still going to be a tough, hard-nosed defenceman – but he can definitely shoot the puck.

Roman J. Uschak interviewed Sdao mid-season and he talked about his experience, saying he wants to continue working on his defensive game and is committed to graduate.  His coach, Bob Prier, said:

More than anyone else I’ve coached, he wants to play at the next level. He’s definitely got the will, and an absolute bomb from the point. He’s also a great person, and his intangibles are terrific. … He’s an  NHL prospect, and a good prospect.

This year Sdao did not beat his career highs from the previous season, but he remained the most important cog on his team’s blueline and still lead the back end in points.  Signing an ATO with Binghamton, Sdao was easily able to push Ben Blood out of Binghamton’s lineup and play regularly.  Here are some of his comments at this year’s development camp:

Now I’m a hockey player, I’m not a student anymore so it’s been good. It’s [the AHL] been great — every time you play against better players you become better too. It was definitely a good experience in Binghamton and it’ll be good heading into camp this year. I’m a physical defenceman, I move the puck and just try to keep it simple. I play a hard game, try to keep guys honest and just be a hard player to play against. It [today's testing] went well. All of my numbers improved from last year so it’s definitely moving in the right direction. I think [the numbers improved because of] working with Chris Schwarz and just working hard, being in the gym and getting the work done.

Here’s a clip of Sdao from his USHL days, a goal scored in the NCAA (or skip to 4:39), a fight playing for Bingo, along with an interview from that game.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: March 30th

-Bryan Murray believes the Sens need three more wins and 94 points to make the playoffs.  “A lot of veteran guys who we talked about had down years last year. It goes hand-in-hand overall with team performance and situations a year ago that we didn’t handle very well. With the changes that we made, if we can get in to (the playoffs), we can do anything if we get in. If you don’t play your best it’s difficult to win. For the most part, teams are very competitive and there are a lot of factors that go into winning. You have to have goaltending, you have to get everybody playing and, as we have the last couple of games, the veteran guys carrying the ball most of the time. I just think when you get off the fine line of being the best that you can be, it’s hard to win unless everybody is on board.”

-Ian Mendes Tweets that the Sens record this season after 3+ days of rest is 1-4-1.

-Nicklas Lidstrom thinks Erik Karlsson should be part of the Norris Trophy conversation, “He has to be in the mix. He’s playing so well. He’s a major reason Ottawa got off to such a good start and they’ve played so well.”

-Bruce Garrioch gives five reasons for the Sens success: 1. Jason Spezza, 2. Daniel Alfredsson, 3. Erik Karlsson, 4. Craig Anderson, and 5. Paul MacLean.  To a certain extent there’s no arguing Garrioch’s list, but digging into the details it’s not so simple.  While Karlsson is enjoying a career year, Anderson is not (excluding his terrible half-season with Colorado last year, this season’s numbers are his worst since 05-06 with Chicago), and Alfredsson‘s production only looks good compared to last season’s injury-plagued year (in 09-10 he was still a point-per-game player).  I realise there are intangibles other than production involved, but the reasons for the Sens success is broader than Garrioch’s list.  The regular season isn’t over so I won’t offer my own complete analysis, but Filip Kuba deserves mention, as does Milan Michalek and the Binghamton trio of Colin Greening, Zack Smith, and Erik Condra (or, more simply, the team’s depth).

-Kurt Kleinendorst was suspended one game for his comments about the officiating.  Newly signed Chris Wideman will not play this year for Binghamton due to an injury sustained in his last game for Miami, so he’s returning to the college to finish his scholastic year.

-Here’s my profile of Sens prospect Jeff Costello.

-Wayne Scanlan writes a lengthy article defending Pierre Gauthier, harkening back to his days in Ottawa.  It’s not much of a defence (despite the length) and he tries to make Gauthier’s bizarre moves look better by calling them “brash”, but I have no idea why Scanlan decided to write this paean of defence.  What isn’t pointed out is that Gauthier has been the author of his own demise everywhere he’s worked and it’s his steadfast refusal to change his approach that guarantees the clock is ticking every time he’s hired (Stu Hackel offers a more succinct and level-headed look at Gauthier).

Prospect Profile: Jeff Costello

Jeff Costello (LW, 6’0, DOB 1990, 5-146/09; contract: unsigned)
2007-08 USHS Catholic Memorial 22-31-17-48 60pim (ppg 2.18) 1st pts
2008-09 USHL Cedar Rapids 54-24-9-33 +8 73pim (ppg 0.61) 6th all-star
2009-10 USHL Cedar Rapids 54-29-19-48 +18 149pim (ppg 0.88) 3rd all-star
2010-11 NCAA Notre Dame 44-12-6-18 -4 56pim (ppg 0.41) 11th
2011-12 NCAA Notre Dame 28-5-7-12 -6 58pim (ppg 0.42) 9th
2012-13 NCAA Notre Dame 33-11-19-30 +18 52pim (ppg 0.91) 3rd

Drafted out of the USHL (he was ranked #50 by Central Scouting), where he was a teammate with future Sens draft pick Bryce Aneloski.  The hard working energy forward is coming off a breakout season with Notre Dame, both in terms of points and intangibles like plus/minus.  This is his final year in the NCAA and then the Sens will have to make a decision on him, but I expect him to be signed.  Costello describes himself as:

I think I’d fall as a very physical forward that likes to bang the body around. But at the same time, I have the ability to score. Not necessarily pretty goals, but I can get those dirty, greasy goals that you have to have. I like to lead by example, and really bring the physical part of the game and get a lot of that exposed out there.

WCHBlog wrote about him prior to the draft, saying:

Jeff Costello is one of the best prospects to come out of the Wisconsin high school ranks in a number of years … He was one of the top goal scorers in Wisconsin and earned a scholarship offer to play for the University of Notre Dame … Costello showed he can excel against even the best competition in the USHL with a very successful year. He finished the year tied for 17th in goal scoring in the league with 24 goals–that may not sound impressive, but the only players younger than Costello with more goals were potential first round pick Louis Leblanc, and Stanislav Galiev, who could be a first round pick next year. Costello also developed a reputation as a fan favorite with his very physical style of play.  Costello has Type 1 Diabetes, which forces him to keep constant watch over his health, but he does a great job at managing it, and it has never been an issue for his hockey career.  Strengths: Goal-scoring ability, physical play.  Needs to Improve: Picking up assists, skating, defensive play.

Here’s him working on his boxing in the USHL and a highlight from his sophomore season.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: March 29th; Binghamton 2, Hershey 5

-Jason Spezza said the obvious, “I don’t think we’ll be doing a lot of scoreboard watching. We’re in control of our own fate. We just have to make sure we’re getting ourselves ready for our game. We’ll take notice of what happens, but it doesn’t really matter. They may make points up on us, but we still have games to play. As long as we get wins, we’ll be fine.”

-Jesse Winchester expects to return to the lineup Friday or Saturday.

-Stu Hackel writes about the remarkable run the Buffalo Sabres are on, pointing out they could be the first team since the 93-94 New York Islanders to overcome a double-digit point deficit in February to make the playoffs.  Hackel makes the obvious point that the primary change that’s helped the Sabres is Ryan Miller‘s stellar play.

-Chris Wideman has signed his ELC.

-I watched Binghamton’s loss last night and have a few observations to share: McKenna was awful (no lateral movement at all) as he later Tweeted and he should have been pulled after the third goal; Hamilton is great on faceoffs, but his offensive instincts aren’t great (a knee high pass to the back skate of Downing on a 2-on-1 springs to mind); Petersson is the most dynamic offensive player on the team; the team’s structure in the offensive zone is awful and there’s far too much individual play; Puempel missed on a penalty shot (he tried to go five-hole on Sanford); the officiating in the game was terrible (Kurt Kleinendorst got tossed); the second half of the game was languid.  McKenna took the loss while Da Costa and Petersson scored the game’s only goals.  Here’s the box score and Joy Lindsay‘s game summary.

-Kurt Kleinendorst was not a happy camper post-game, “I was frustrated. The second goal never should have been. I hate to really get critical of officials, because it sounds like I’m whining. Am I frustrated? Of course I am. I don’t like where we are, I don’t like how the season’s gone — of course I’m frustrated. But the puck never hit the ice. The linesman went to drop it, and he didn’t drop it. He kind of tossed it, and it hit shift of their stick and bounced over in their favor. They grab it, they throw it over, and they put it in the back of the net. It never should have happened. It should have been a whistle. You have to actually drop the puck. The puck actually has to hit the ice, that little circle out there. Drop it, hit it, then it’s in play. But when it doesn’t, you blow it down and you do it again. The referee was standing right next to me, he had to have seen it. I was yelling. And then, obviously they score the goal. And after that, I had a couple of not-nice words to say to the official, and I got two minutes, which I think is a really gutless call on his part, under the circumstances. But it’s the same guy … who did it to us against St. John’s. They need to send him back to the Coast [ECHL].

-Joy Tweets that Chris Wideman has an upper body injury.  David Dziurzynski, Andre Petersson, and Eric Gryba are also sitting out (no word on whether it’s precautionary or not).

-Speaking of Wideman, here’s my profile of him.

-Elmira won last night, with Corey Cowick held off the scoreboard and Brian Stewart dressing as the back-up.  Bobby Raymond‘s Florida Everblades were shutout.

-For those who are unfamiliar or simply interested in the Sens scouting framework, here a chat with Pierre Dorion discussing it in 2009.

-The Montreal Canadians finally fired Pierre Gauthier, the timing as mysterious as everything else that’s happened in Montreal this year.

Prospect Profile: Chris Wideman

Chris Wideman (D-R, 5’10, DOB 1990, 4-100/09)
2007-08 USHL Cedar Rapids 53-2-12-14 -1 51pim (ppg 0.26) 5th d-pts
2008-09 NCAA Miami 39-0-26-26 +11 56pim (ppg 0.66) 1st all-rookie
2009-10 NCAA Miami 44-5-17-22 +17 63pim (ppg 0.50) 1st
2010-11 NCAA Miami 39-3-20-23 +8 30pim (ppg 0.58) 1st second team
2011-12 NCAA Miami 41-4-20-24 +22 40pim (ppg 0.58) 1st

A teammate of fellow Sens draft pick Bryce Aneloski in Cedar Rapids and later Sens free agent signee Pat Cannone in Miami, Wideman was not ranked in either year of his draft eligibility by Central Scouting.  An undersized, puck-moving blueliner, Wideman finished his senior year at Miami and signed a two-year ELC with Ottawa.  While he never topped his rookie production at Miami, he remained the teams most productive blueliner throughout his collegiate career.  As with any undersized defenseman, his quickness (decision making and speed) will determine how well he adapts to the pro game.  Here’s an old scouting report on him (link): “Wideman is an intelligent, excellent puck-moving defenseman on the small side. He is very poised and patience with the. He also distributes and makes smart decisions with the puck too. One of Wideman’s best attributes is his smart and effective use of his stick, particularly in taking away passing/shooting lanes. He possesses a very shot and can get pucks to the net. Wideman is a very good skater with good foot speed that transitions remarkably well. Though he isn’t overly physical, Wideman will play the body when necessary.  Wideman is positionally sound, but his small stature and especially lack of strength make it difficult for him to contain bigger opposing forwards. As Wideman gets stronger that part of his game should improve.”  Here the CCHA asks him 20 questions, while Sens TV interviewed him at the 2009 Development Camp.

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