-We’ve all rung in the New Year and the Sens have to hope 2014 starts the same way 2013 did. Since my last post, Ottawa has gone 3-2-1, with wins over Pittsburgh (5-0), Boston (4-3), and Washington (3-1), with losses to Florida (4-2), Phoenix (4-3 OT), and Boston (5-0). While underlying trends might be improving (you can judge for yourself where things are at), the bottom line remains as erratic as the rest of the season. The injury bug has hit the team, unintentionally removing many of Paul MacLean’s irrational love affairs for veteran players: Jason Spezza (hip, 28th), Chris Neil (leg muscle, 30th), and Chris Phillips (foot, 28th)–Travis Yost delves into the changes it forced in how players were being used and why they were good for the team. The carnage has resulted in the recall of Mark Stone from Binghamton.
-Speaking of Spezza, Nichols does a great job looking at the expectations for him coming into this season and what’s happened to him since. For those beating the trade drums (and Nichols only says there were good reasons to do so before the season started), I wish them good luck with that this season. No one who might want him has the cap room, so he’ll be around through the rest of the season.
-Another veteran player who had a rough start to the season gets some love from Jeremy Milks, who points out much of Craig Anderson‘s struggles are due to him getting destroyed by Western Conference teams. This idea would carry more weight if he’d compared it to Robin Lehner‘s numbers with the same distinction, but comparative analysis isn’t Jeremy’s strong suit (even if correct he’s also damning with faint praise–while losing to the West is understandable, getting obliterated by them does not mesh with Andy being an elite goaltender).
–Amelia L provides her top-ten headlines for the Sens through 2013 (alas, Melnyk’s CSI investigation was not referenced).
-Despite the season seemingly lost in terms of playoff possibilities, rumours continue to swirl that the Sens are taking a run at Ranger defenseman Michael Del Zotto (passim, along with some fuel for the fire). The same problems that confronted that effort earlier in the season haven’t changed and now that we’re half way through the season I don’t see what the point is. The team should let their your young blueliners develop and leave it at that.
–Here is my look at player performances through games 21-40.
-Binghamton has won five straight games since my last post, defeating Syracuse (5-2), Albany (3-2), Hershey (4-1), Utica (4-3), and Norfolk (3-2). The primary difference for the B-Sens was the return of Nathan Lawson from injury, but is also a compliment to their no-name blueline given the absence of Cody Ceci (resulting in Danny New being in Bingo). The loss of Stone has meant Binghamton has recalled Ludwig Karlsson from Elmira (Cowick and Grant are also injured).
-My review of Binghamton’s performance through games 21-30.
-Former B-Sen Louie Caporusso has left Reading (ECHL) to join Augsburger in the DEL. It’s a good move for the college grad who just doesn’t have the chops to be a regular AHL player.
-It has been awhile since I posted a prospect update, so here’s a look at how the various players in the Sens system are doing (the ranking in brackets is their position in team scoring for the team or among defenseman, depending on the position of the player):
Curtis Lazar (WHL) 27-21-15-37 +22 (2nd)
Vincent Dunn (QMJHL) 29-16-11-27 +4 (3rd)
Ben Harpur (OHL) 36-3-11-14 +25 (4th)
Jarrod Maidens (OHL) injured
Chris Driedger (WHL) 15-7-5 2.32 .927
Francois Brassard (QMJHL) 15-7-6 2.47 .907
Tim Boyle (USPHL) 27-5-12-17 n/a (2nd)
Tobias Lindberg (SuperElit) 21-6-5-11 -4 (7th)
Ryan Dzingel (NCAA) 16-10-13-23 +7 (1st)
Max McCormick (NCAA) 16-7-11-18 -1 (2nd)
Robert Baillargeon (NCAA) 17-5-8-13 +7 (1st)
Quentin Shore (NCAA) 17-3-10-13 -4 (t-2nd)
Jeff Costello (NCAA) 18-5-4-9 +3 (9th)
Chris Leblanc (NCAA) 15-2-4-6 -1 (t-4th)
Mikael Wikstrand (SHL/Allsvenskan) 3-1-1-2 Even (n/a)/27-4-16-20 +5 (1st)
Marcus Hogberg (Allsvenskan) 4-5-0 3.14 .891
Both Lazar, Shore, and Hogberg are on their respective World Junior squads (the latter serving as Sweden’s backup). Not many surprises here, although Costello‘s numbers are low for a fourth-year college player, while Baillargeon‘s are excellent for a freshman. I wonder if Dzingel will feel tempted to turn pro at the end of this year (his third), as I’m not sure what he has left to prove at the college-level.
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)