Senators News & Notes

It’s always interesting to me to see what drives people to this site.  I haven’t posted in… almost three weeks?  But with the Dion Phaneuf trade there was a sudden flood of people looking for Tobias Lindberg information–it’s gratifying to know there’s a slice of the fandom that appreciates the work I do on prospects.

dion phaneuf

What do I think of the trade?  It’s typical of Bryan Murray–trade away the future for the now (the usual 2nd round pick along with a prospect, the aforementioned Lindberg) for an aging player in Phaneuf.  Nichols has already explored the limited savings the deal accomplishes in jettisoning the useless Jared CowenColin Greening, and Milan Michalek, as well as how shortsighted the move is, but it’s exactly what you’d expect from the organisation at this stage.  Is Phaneuf the best player in the deal?  Sure he is.  Does acquiring him help the Sens moving forward?  No.  Not unless maybe getting crushed in the first round is your goal.

As for the assorted confetti Toronto threw in with the blueliner, it’s a smorgasbord of minor league garbage.  28-year old NCAA free agent bust Matt Frattin leads the crowd (he can play minutes in Binghamton), followed by another NCAA free agent in Casey Bailey (probably a bust, but at 24 you can’t be absolutely sure), QMJHL free agent Cody Donaghey, and sixth-round pick (6-157/12) Ryan Rupert (who may or may not have AHL-chops).  Frattin and Bailey are off the books at the end of the season, while Rupert is signed through next year and Donaghey through 2017-18.  Maybe Donaghey is a diamond in the rough, but CHL FA success stories are extremely rare so the odds are he’ll spend a few years in the AHL or ECHL and then disappear into the night.  This is basically the Leafs clearing a bunch of dead weight.

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I’ve seen a lot of dumb things written about Lindberg by Binghamton fans this year–along with even dumber things from the coaching staff–but he was the only prospect of any note in the minors for Ottawa and now he’s gone.  The talented Swede may or may not be able to develop into an NHL regular (for my part I believe he’ll play, it’s just a question of where his ceiling is–third or fourth line), but the organisation’s inability to do anything with skilled players continues to hamper their ability to assess players or develop them.  Even “good in the corners” Jeff Ulmer noted the BSens were 1-14 without him in the lineup and while the team won’t have a .066 winning percentage with him gone those who think those numbers are a coincidence just haven’t been paying attention to what he brings to game (possession play, basically).  He’s a great pick-up for the Leafs and the trade is ultimate better for them in the long term (with both Lindberg and the pick).

wikstrand

It’s now old news, but speaking of talented Swedes, one of the dumber episodes in Sens history came to a close when the Sens loaned Mikael Wikstrand back to Farjestad.  Did they bow to public pressure?  Murray’s press release indicated he released Wikstrand  because he wasn’t interested in playing in North America, but that’s something we knew a long time ago.  It’s difficult to see any other reason for the curmudgeonly Murray to give up on his policy other than pressure (public and private), especially after all the ridiculous rhetoric about Wikstrand.  I’m happy the Swede is free to play for his team, but you have to wonder what the Senators thought they were accomplishing with their nonsensical approach.  By loaning Wikstrand they’ve denuded their previous refusal of any and all meaning–now it appears to be nothing more than a petty temper tantrum from management which has achieved absolutely nothing.  The door remains open for Wikstrand to play somewhere in the future, but it won’t be for Ottawa.  Tying this to moving Lindberg along and I can now sadly agree with Nichols long held opinion that there’s almost nothing in Ottawa’s cupboard anymore.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

 

Binghamton Senators Season Overview (updated)

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Since my last update Binghamton has gone 8-3-1 (their hot streak is 9-3-1), an amazing run which has them…last in their division and the conference.  It’s worth noting the win streak coincides exactly with the decision to demote Stortini to the fourth line.  Let’s look at the big numbers:
15-20-3 (last in the conference, 27th overall)
109 GF (9th in the conference and 16th overall)
123 GA (11th in the conference and 23rd overall)
18.5% PP (10th overall)
81.5% PK (tied for 20th overall)
8 games with a significant positive shot differential (5-2-1)
10 games with a significant negative shot differential (5-6-0)
Record when giving up a PP goal 5-15-1
Record when scoring a PP goal 10-6-1

Scoring is close to where it was in my first recap (tied for 7th in the conference); goals against has risen from last in the league to 23rd; their hapless powerplay has recovered; their PK remains in the bottom third of the AHL.  Other notes of interest:
-In 9 of their 15 wins the BSens have given up 1 goal or less
-Team GAA when Harpur is out of the lineup is 3.00 (vs 3.76 when he plays)

Before we get to player-by-player breakdowns, here are individual stat leaders by a few different categories:

Even Strength Point Leaders (by points-per-game)
Dzingel 27 (0.71)
Lindberg 16 (0.57)
O’Dell 18 (0.52)
Puempel 14 (0.48)
Dziurzynski 12 (0.46)
Schneider 15 (0.39)
McCormick 8 (0.36)
Robinson 10 (0.33)
Kostka 10 (0.31)
Paul 11 (0.29)
Mullen 10 (0.27)
Lepine 8 (0.25)
Claesson 7 (0.24)
Stortini 8 (0.22)
Flanagan 4 (0.21)
Allen 7 (0.21)
Penny 3 (0.20)
Greening 7 (0.20)
Carlisle 4 (0.14)
Sdao 1 (0.12)
Ewanyk 4 (0.12)
Fraser 3 (0.08)
Harpur 1 (0.04)
Rutkowski 0 (3 GP)
Tuzzolino 0 (9 GP)

Powerplay Point Leaders (bracketed: on-ice for PP goals)
Schneider 13 (18)
Puempel 10 (14)
O’Dell 8 (14)
Mullen 6 (10)
Kostka 5 (10)
Dzingel 3 (14)
Lindberg 4 (5)
Stortini 4 (5)
Paul 3 (5)
Greening 3 (5)
Carlisle 1 (3)
Claesson 1 (2)
Allen 1 (1)
Ewanyk 1 (1)

On-Ice for powerplay goals against
Claesson 20
Kostka 15
Dziurzynski 11
Ewanyk 10
Schneider 9
Fraser 9
Mullen 8
Greening 8
McCormick 7
Lepine 6
Robinson 6
Hobbs 3
Penny 2
Allen 2
5 players tied at 1

I’m not a huge fan of using grades to assess players, but it’s a simple way to reflect how they’ve played.  I previously spent a lot of time breaking down performance by line combination, but for the most part the lines have been steady so I’ll only note it where relevant.  A=above and beyond expectations, B=exceeds expectations, C=meets expectations, D=below expectations, F=god awful; other acronyms: PPG = points-per-game, ESP=even-strength points PPP=powerplay points, SOG=shots on goal:

Cole Schneider 38-12-18-30 PPG 0.78 ESP 15 PPP 13 SOG 107 Grade C
His 5-on-5 production isn’t where you’d want it, but he’s been the main cog on the powerplay.  He’s spent the last 13 games playing with Paul and Lindberg and while he technically has good numbers, most of those have been generated with the man advantage (10 of his 13 points).  Randy Lee says his skating is keeping him from his NHL debut.

Ryan Dzingel 38-10-20-30 PPG 0.78 ESP 27 PPP 3 SOG 100 Grade A
It’s been a fantastic season for him , but his point totals have slipped during the win streak–his line hasn’t scored much 5-on-5 (7 of his 9 points that way) and as that’s where most of Dzingel’s points come from it has seen his points-per-game start to slip. Robinson is the problem on the line (while a solid top-9 forward, he doesn’t produce enough to play on the first line).

Eric O’Dell 34-14-12-26 PPG 0.76 ESP 18 PPP 8 SOG 67 Grade C
Has seen a similar even strength drop as Dzingel above (7 of 12 points are at even strength).  He’s played well, but not above expectations.

Matt Puempel 29-13-11-24 PPG 0.82 ESP 14 PPP 10 SOG 81 Grade B
Has spent the entire streak playing with offensive non-entities Greening and Flanagan, but due to prodigious powerplay production he’s continued to produce (8 of 12 point on the powerplay; apparently enough to earn a call-up).  He currently leads the BSens on a points-per-game basis, but that’s simply a quirk of a hot powerplay (while I credit him for it, it’s not sustainable)–at even strength he’s largely non-existent (something exasperated by his linemates).

Tobias Lindberg 28-4-16-20 PPG 0.71 ESP 16 PPP 4 SOG 59 Grade B
Has spent the streak with Nick Paul and Cole Schneider; it’s odd to say that Schneider is the weak link offensively on the line, but that could simply be matter of sample size.  As for the Swede, he’s continued to produce (9 points, with 3 coming from the punchless second unit powerplay).  In watching Lindberg I think he’s still suffering somewhat from his injury earlier in the season, but there’s a ton of offensive brilliance and he’s very much responsible for getting Paul’s season back on track.

Patrick Mullen 36-1-15-16 PPG 0.44 ESP 10 PPP 6 SOG 41 Grade C
The unpopular defensemen was peddled away to Milwaukee not long ago for Conor Allen; his performance had slipped a little since my last update, although he was still better than most of the other blueliners.

Michael Kostka 32-2-13-15 PPG 0.46 ESP 10 PPP 5 SOG 84 Grade C
His promotion to the first unit powerplay has helped his production considerably (5 points of late, to which he’s added 2 at even strength).  He’s spent all his time carrying Lepine.  A steady if unremarkable player, his defensive prowess is overblown by the local coverage, but he’s the best blueliner on the team now.

David Dziurzynski 26-6-8-14 PPG 0.53 ESP 12 SOG 32 Grade C
I predicted awhile ago that Dizzy’s production would slip and that began to happen until he was called up to Ottawa.  Upon his return, despite being on the fourth line (with Stortini and Penny), he’s actually back at a career clip (3 points in 6 games).  It will likely drop, but he clearly benefits from having someone with decent hands (Penny) playing with him.  On the flip side, he regularly takes dumb penalties and at this point in his career it’s clearly a problem that’s not going to be solved.

Nick Paul 37-5-9-14 PPG 0.37 ESP 11 PPP 3 SOG 67 Grade D
After flailing for a lengthy period of time after he was benched early in the season, Paul has finally found a home playing with Lindberg and Schneider.  He’s in the midst of his most consistent production (7 points, all at even strength) and this has helped his confidence.  The real test will be continuing at this pace for the remainder of the season.

Buddy Robinson 30-8-4-12 PPG 0.40 ESP 10 SOG 54 Grade C
His production has taken the expected leap since being put on the first line (7 points), but while that’s excellent for Buddy he’s a drag on his linemates (O’Dell and Dzingel).  I like Robinson and thought having him on the fourth line was ridiculous, but he’s much better suited to third line (or, perhaps, second line) duty.

Zach Stortini 36-6-6-12 PPG 0.33 ESP 8 PPP 4 SOG 42 Grade F
He just as terrible as he was at the start of the season–he can’t skate, can’t pass, can’t shoot, rarely fights, and takes a ton of bad penalties.  He lumbers around on the fourth line or the powerplay and occasionally a puck bounces in off him.  For those impressed by his numbers you need to realise he’s been afforded offensive opportunities far above and beyond his skill level.

Colin Greening 35-6-5-11 PPG 0.31 ESP 7 PPP 3 SOG 78 Grade D
Has spent his time on the third line and looked less and less impressive as the season has gone on (he’s had 1 point during the streak).  Not a great passer, he’s Mike Fisher-like in skating into the zone and just firing the puck.  The only time he’s looked semi-decent this season was a brief period when he was playing with Dziurzynski, but frankly, Greening needs a fresh start somewhere else.

Max McCormick 22-7-3-10 PPG 0.45 ESP 8 SOG 54 Grade C
In the NHL for no real reason, he’s been unremarkable despite being afforded fantastic opportunities.  Just before his recall (and early into the streak) Richardson came to his senses and took him off the first line, but Max is a third line player and when he returns to Binghamton that (or the fourth line) is where I want to see him.

Fredrik Claesson 29-2-6-8 PPG 0.27 ESP 7 PPP 1 SOG 26 Grade C
Summoned up to Ottawa where he wasn’t very good (he’s just been returned).  He was with the team at the start of their winning streak playing with Harpur, Rutkowski, and Carlisle on the third pairing.  He’s been solid but not remarkable for the team, with his bizarre and worrying on-ice stat for powerplay goals against raising potential red flags for me.  I’ll be interested to see who he bumps out of the lineup.

Guillaume Lepine 31-2-6-8 PPG 0.25 ESP 8 SOG 34 Grade C
A player with a lot of limitations (most of his points came in one game against Utica), he’s basically built his season off Kostka’s play.  He regularly makes poor decisions defensively, but he’s less prone to dumb penalties than other players on the team.

Conor Allen 33-1-7-8 PPG 0.24 ESP 7 PPP 1 SOG 31 Grade incomplete
Acquired via the Mullen trade, in coming to Binghamton he had no powerplay or shorthanded points with Milwaukee–limited production in general.  I haven’t been impressed by him yet, but it’s far too early to pass judgement.

Chris Carlisle 28-2-3-5 PPG 0.17 ESP 4 PPP 1 SOG 29 Grade C
Has spent the last 8 games paired with Fraser which is a strange combination (the team is 4-4 since they became a pairing).  Carlisle is a decent puck-mover, but he’s run very dry of late (1 point in his last 15 games), and playing with Fraser puts a great deal of pressure on him defensively to make up for his partners foibles.

Travis Ewanyk 32-2-3-5 PPG 0.15 ESP 4 PPP 1 SOG 40 Grade F
It took longer than it should, but he was finally taken out of the lineup (not sent to Evansville yet, alas).  The team is 4-2 since he was scratched and my hope is we’ll never see him in the lineup again.  He’s a bad player who takes bad penalties.

Ryan Penny 15-2-2-4 PPG 0.26 ESP 3 SOG 17 Grade B
Brought up from Evansville prior to the team heating up; after initial struggles (no points in his first 7 games), he’s found a home on the fourth line with Dziurzynski and Stortini; he also has been used killing penalties.  He’s a good soldier for the team and unlike former regulars like Hobbs and Ewanyk he has actual puck skills.

Kyle Flanagan 19-2-2-4 PPG 0.21 ESP 4 SOG 21 Grade C
An unremarkable player signed out of the ECHL awhile ago; he’s spent most of his time on the third line with Greening and Puempel and that combination hasn’t worked at all.  Flanagan is a better player than (say) Hobbs or Ewanyk, but clearly he needs a different linemate (or mates) to do anything–perhaps the call-up of Puempel creates that opportunity.

Mark Fraser 34-0-3-3 PPG 0.08 ESP 3 SOG 22 Grade F
He continues to be terrible.  He can’t pass, can’t shoot, can’t play defense, and takes a ton of bad penalties.  He had Mullen to clean up his mess most of the season, but now it’s Carlisle’s turn and I’m not sure the rookie is really up to it.

Danny Hobbs 22-1-1-2 PPG 0.09 ESP 2 SOG 31 Grade F
I have no idea why the ECHL forward was so beloved by the coaching staff, but at long last they came to their senses and sent him down to Evansville.

Michael Sdao 8-0-1-1 PPG 0.12 ESP 1 SOG 7 Grade C
Since returning from injury he’s played with Mullen (5 games), Allen (2 games), and once with Carlisle.  I haven’t been impressed, although I wasn’t expecting much.  He hasn’t had a goal-causing gaffe yet and he handles the puck better than (say) Ben Harpur or Tuzzolino, but that’s not saying much.  I’ll be interested to see how he does assuming he stays in the lineup now that Claesson is back.

Troy Rutkowski 3-0-0-0 PPG 0.00 ESP 0 SOG 5 Grade incomplete
Only played a few times when called up (twice with Claesson, once with Mullen); has decent hands and can move the puck, but his skating is iffy.  Richardson clearly isn’t a fan so there really wasn’t enough of a sample size to judge him.

Scott Greenham 3-1-0 2.19 .928 Grade B
Has played well in all four starts he’s had during the streak (3-1-0), seemingly fully recovered from his early season injury.

Chris Driedger 9-8-1 2.99 .904 Grade B
His overall play has been solid, but not as spectacular as Greenham above (4-2-1 on the streak).  There’s been a bit more inconsistency in his play of late.

Matt O’Connor 3-9-2 3.44 .886 Grade D
Was finally putting up the performances expected when he was signed (2-0) when he fell to injury.  The jury is still out on him, but there’s at least been some sunshine.

Overall the improved results are a mix of fixing the first unit powerplay, demoting Stortini, sending Hobbs (and now Harpur) to Evansville, scratching Ewanyk, dressing Carlisle consistently (as a defenseman), an improved penalty killing unit (removal of Ewanyk the primary fix), and better goaltending.  The coaching staff is stubborn and conservative however, so they could very easily reverse the changes.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Ottawa beat San Jose 4-3 despite being outplayed and losing Mike Hoffman during the game (which presumably means we’ll get a steady diet of Curtis Lazar accomplishing nothing in a scoring role).  Ross A provides the blow-by-blow for those who missed it.

ken warren

Speaking of Ross A, he interviewed moribund Ottawa Citizen journalist Ken Warren who, not surprisingly, simply echoed management’s opinions when relevant.  Inexplicably Ross did not ask Ken about analytics, although I’d be shocked if Ken was anymore open to it than Bruce Garrioch.  There’s no need for fans to be alarmed by Warren’s unimpressive efforts because Ottawa is blessed with excellent coverage from fans (something that won’t really change so long as the newspapers here prefer and can afford their management-friendly coverage).

john scott

I don’t care about the NHL All-Star game and I certainly don’t watch it, but it is interesting to see the blustery, conservative NHL fold to public pressure to put John Scott back into the game after indicating repeatedly they would not.  There was an enormous amount of pushback by the league and its various shills in the media against his selection; the narrative spun was that those clammering for Scott were a small number of trolls of no consequence and there was a great deal of glad-handing when Scott was banished to the AHL.  Clearly that was all bluster from the league as the lumbering goon will captain the Pacific Division.  Seeing the NHL actually bow to something so trivial gives me hopes that on more serious issues when the league drags its heels we could also change with enough public pressure.

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[A lot roster update: Troy Rutkowski and Ben Harpur were sent down to Evansville.]

Binghamton lost it’s rematch with the Amerks 2-1 on Saturday where the identical lineup couldn’t score enough to overcome Rochester’s limited pop on the powerplay (despite badly outshooting them and limited the Amerks offensive opportunities).  Here’s the play-by-play:
Schneider with a steal and Lindberg has a great chance in front
Allen turns it over behind the net, but the Amerk pass in front misses the target
1. PP goal (looked like it went off an Amerk, which makes it Allen‘s goal, but Stortini was given credit)
Lindberg just misses the net with a backhand all alone in front
Dzingel with the dangle and Robinson has a great chance between the circles
Paul hits the post with a deflection
Second
Penny with a good defensive play in front (deflecting away a centering pass)
2. On the PK neither Fraser nor Allen can wrangle the puck and the Amerks bang home the rebound
Sdao throws it up the gut and is very fortunate it doesn’t wind up back in the net (O’Dell bails him out)
-Great back-to-back saves by Greenham off Amerks in front
Robinson with a chance below the dot
Dziurzynski takes a dumb crosschecking penalty
3. One-timer from the top of the circle beats Greenham on the PP
Lindberg with a great pass to Puempel who can’t put it past the Amerk ‘tender
Lepine takes a dumb holding call in the offensive zone
Third
Lepine passes to the wrong team, but nothing comes of it
Schneider tries to go five-hole on a one-on-one rush
Greening with a great chance off a rebound in front
Dzingel rushes up the gut but runs out of room
-Despite getting a late powerplay with just under 4o seconds to go, the Sens don’t get a shot on goal

This was one of Binghamton’s better games, but their habitual march to the penalty box finally caught up to them (along with an inspired performance for the Amerk’s goaltender).  Scott Greenham wasn’t particularly busy, which is pretty rare for goaltenders in Senators games.  The loss basically comes down to discipline, which has been a problem all season.

EvansvilleIceMenCHL

The IceMen haven’t played since my last post, but they did make one roster move, releasing unimpressive SPHL defenseman Nicholas Kuqali.  This means the team is getting healthier and should help them going forward.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Since my last post the Sens got rolled by Anaheim (nice to see Jakob Silverberg again).  Curtis Lazar scored, which is a bit like a solar eclipse so I hope everyone enjoyed it, otherwise the game was very much the same-old, same-old (Prince played 5 minutes).  Always worth mentioning that Ottawa took Chris Driedger ahead of Frederik Andersen in the 2012 draft, but mid-round picks don’t matter, right?  RIGHT?!?

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After the win against Syracuse (see below) the BSens made a major trade, moving unpopular veteran Patrick Mullen to Nashville for Conor Allen; the move clears a veteran contract off the books, while Binghamton is only committed to Allen for the rest of this season (Milwaukee signed him a one-year deal).  What limited scouting that’s available on Allen emphasizes his physicality, something Binghamton already has in abundance.  The 25-year old was an NCAA free agent signing by the Rangers a few years ago (he posted decent numbers at UMass), but after two seemingly solid seasons in Hartford he was allowed to walk and got picked up by Milwaukee.  His AHL stat lines:
2013-14 72-6-25-31
2014-15 72-11-23-34
2015-16 31-1-5-6
In Allen‘s rookie year he had Aaron Johnson to help him out, while the next year Mat Bodie was there.  With the Admirals he’s fourth in scoring on the blueline, so it’s clear he was given less of an opportunity there than he was with Hartford (or failed to live up to that opportunity, there was certainly hype when he was signed and even the mid-season report card for him is kind).  Without having seen him play much I can only surmise that his offensive numbers were boosted in Hartford by the aforementioned players, so it’s difficult to say how well he moves the puck (time will tell).

Binghamton beat Syracuse (the second worst team in their division) 4-3 in overtime earlier this week; Greenham got the start, while Sdao was scratched in favour of Rutkowski.  The play-by-play:
-Richardson opened with the fourth line and they spent their shift chasing the puck
Fraser panics under pressure and takes a delay of game penalty
-Off a rebound O’Dell shoots it over a half-open net (he wasn’t at a great angle)
-Great chance for Lindberg in the slot off a steal
Fraser with a terrible pass up the gut lucks out as the return shot goes high and wide
1. Mullen steals the puck and then flubs his pass and on the turnover Greenham is beaten five-hole on a stuff play (Mullen watching the puck instead of taking the man)
-Great save by Greenham off a deflection in front
Puempel with a great chance in the slot
Dziurznyski takes yet another delay of game penalty
Greenham with a solid save from right in front while shorthanded
2. Dzingel wins a foot race and makes a nice backhand saucer pass to Puempel who makes no mistake
-After ignoring a couple of blatant hooks the Sens finally go to the powerplay
Second
3. Robinson gets caught puck watching and let’s an untouched Crunch player bang in a cross-crease pass
Dziurzynski takes a lazy holding penalty
4. On the PP Paul scores from the point through a screen (far side just off the post)
Stortini and a Crunch player engage in a tickle-fight and get five minute penalties
-Nice rush by Rutkowski, but with his teammates making a full line change nothing comes of it
O’Dell with a terrible turnover at the offensive blueline requires a great save from Greenham
-Dzingel makes a steel but tries to pass on the break and flubs it
Fraser takes an idiotic boarding penalty
-Great save by Greenham on a stuff play while shorthanded
Third
Greening with a great chance in front but shoots wide
Lindberg off for hooking (he negated a scoring chance so I’m fine with it)
Schneider stoned on a shorthanded breakaway
5. Great steal by O’Dell and Robinson cleans up the rebound
6. You put Stortini on the ice late in the game and you pay the price–the lumbering enforcer makes a late shot-blocking slide and Greenham is beat by a deflection in front
-The last few minutes of the game Dziurzynski was put on every line in an attempt to preserve the tie, which is just bad strategy–it sends the wrong message
OT
Greening with a good chance from the dot
Mullen hits Greening in the head with a 2-on-1 chance
-Crunch breakaway misses the net
7. O’Dell passes on a 2-on-1 and Dzingel finishes

Last night Binghamton beat slumping Rochester 4-0 (the Amerks hadn’t scored in seven periods coming into the game), with Greenham earning the shutout.  Allen dressed for his first game while Rutkowski was scratched in favour of Sdao.  The goals:
1. Paul bangs in Allen‘s pass after it deflects off an Amerk defenseman’s foot
2. Off the next faceoff Dziurzynski steals for a 2-on-1 and then bangs in Penny‘s rebound (the goals were eight seconds apart)
3. On the PP Dzingel puts home Puempel‘s rebound
4. On the PP Schneider is stick-checked in front and the puck goes to an open O’Dell who scores on an unprepared Ullmark

The BSens spent a ton of the game shorthanded and were outshot as well, but a hot goaltender and opportunistic scoring won them a game.

For fans looking for a brief explanation for the team’s turn around (9-2-1) there are a number of reasons: 1) a much-improved penalty kill, which is largely related to 2) much-improved goaltending, 3) an improved powerplay (only the first unit), 4) the team was never that bad in the first place (the 6-17-2 start was below their talent-level), 5) playing against weaker teams and/or backup goaltenders, 6) putting a puck-moving defenseman on each pairing, 7) Stortini on the fourth line, 8) absence of Harpur, 9) fixing the forward lines in general.  I’ll go into it in more detail in my next Binghamton season review.

EvansvilleIceMenCHL

Evansville beat Rapid City 4-2 on Wednesday (Reichard, back from injury, earning the win).  The goals:
1. Leveille decides to chase the puck leaving a Rapid player all alone in front
2. About a minute later Strandberg is stick-checked just inside the Rapid blueline and Humphries can’t defend the other way and Reichard is beaten on a fanned shot on the semi-breakaway
3. Moon deflects Wideman‘s shot through the Rapid goaltender
4. Moon fakes the pass from behind the net and instead stuffs it in
5. Guptill dekes through the defender and beats the Rapid ‘tender
6. Leveille tips in Wideman‘s centering pass

The IceMen got crushed by Toledo 5-1 (Bengtsberg took the loss in which he was pulled after the fourth goal).  Carlsson returned from injury and re-joined the blueline.  The goals:
1. Strandberg goes coast-to-coast and beats the Toledo ‘tender top shelf, short side
2. Bengtsberg loses control of the puck behind the net and can’t get set back in front as he’s beaten off the turnover
3. On the PP Bengtsberg is beaten off a cross-crease one-timer
4. Moon puck-watches and ignores his check (second-leading scorer in the ECHL) who, left all alone, beats Bengtsberg from right in front
5. Kuqali passes to the wrong team and Hobbs is lazy on the backcheck to the unopposed Toledo forward (the same second-leading scorer in the ECHL) bangs in the accidental one-timer unopposed; Bengtsberg is pulled
6. Just after Reichard stops a breakaway, Himelson gives the puck away behind his own net and on the subsequent possession Reichard is beat on a wraparound

The IceMen were badly outshot and outplayed by Toledo and certainly deserved the loss.  Somehow Evansville still hasn’t scored a powerplay goal (ten straight games now, 0-36), which must be approaching ECHL record territory.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

cody ceci

I always love Nichols‘ trade speculation posts, because he always comes across deals that would be great for the Sens, but that current management would never make happen.  To sum up:

If the Senators have the opportunity to trade Cody Ceci for Jonathan Drouin, they have to do it. Irrespective of what how weak Ottawa’s blue line is in the short-term, they should aggressively get it done

Amen.  Can’t trade a good local kid though Nichols–someone told me he was pretty good in the corners too.

shane_prince_ottawa

Hockey Graphs has a post up that concludes Shane Prince is a better option than Milan Michalek on the Sens powerplay.  I’m glad they back that up with stats, but it is one of those realities that seems almost too obvious to need them.

garrioch

One of the great things about the hockey media in Ottawa is that they don’t disguise how clueless they are.  While Don Brennan is the Rubicon upon which all stupidity crashes, he’s not an isolated figure.  For whatever reason The Silver Seven interviewed Bruce Garrioch who had no problem admitting his friendships with management (conflict of interest maybe?  In spirit at least), his avid ignorance of analytics, along with his completely uncritical approach to the management (Murray knows hockey much better than him, so who is he to question the guy?).  None of this is a surprise, but it goes to show why so many fans avoid the traditional media in Ottawa.

Binghamton_Senators_svg

I knew that when Chris Driedger was recalled to Ottawa that the BSens would find a terrible goaltender to serve as Scott Greenham‘s backup (ala Peter Mannino from last year), but the question was which terrible goaltender.  They settled on Frank Palazzese who has been playing for the Wheeling Nailers.  Is he among the top goaltenders in the ECHL?  No.  Is he the best goaltender on his own team?  No.  He’s forty-second in league save percentage among goaltenders who have played at least ten games (Christoffer Bengtsberg, playing for the BSens affiliate in Evansville, is 26th in that category).  Collectively BSens fans can cross their fingers that Palazzese remains on the bench until Driedger returns or O’Connor gets healthy.

prospects

It has been awhile since my last prospect update, so here we go.

QMJHL
Francis Perron (Rouyn-Noranda) 39-28-38-66
Remains third in scoring in the league (fourth in points-per-game)
Filip Chlapik (Charlottetown) 26-6-17-23
Hasn’t played since returning from the WJC (5-0-0-0)
Tomas Chabot (Saint John) 24-7-14-21
Acquitted himself well in the WJC (5-0-3-3)
Gabriel Gagne (Shawinigan) 15-8-6-14
Has done well since being traded; his lack of games played is due to injury

USHL
Joel Daccord (Muskegon) 11-9-1 2.92 .902
He’s 19th in league save percentage (there are 17 teams in the league)

NCAA
Colin White (Boston College) 18-11-16-27
Was excellent for the USA in the WJC (7-3-4-7)
Quentin Shore (U Denver) 20-4-5-9
In the midst of his least productive season
Christian Wolanin (U North Dakota) 18-3-6-9
Has cooled off considerably after a hot start
Robert Baillargeon (Boston U) 19-4-5-9
Still nowhere near to recapturing his success as a NCAA rookie
Kelly Summers (Clarkson) 20-0-8-8
Solid numbers from the blueline
Shane Eiserman (U New Hampshire) 17-0-7-7
Roughly on par with his production last year
Miles Gendron (U Connecticut) 16-2-4-6
After a fast start he’s regressed to what’s expected
Chris Leblanc (Merrimack) 17-2-1-3
A complete failure of a season

Sweden
Marcus Hogberg (Linkoping) 8-5-3 2.56 .899
He’s 14th (out of 17) in save percentage in the league, although that’s no cause for alarm at his age playing in the top league
Andreas Englund (Djurgardens) 26-2-2-4
Caught fire in the men’s league after returning from the WJC (7-0-2-2), and by “caught fire” I mean his non-existent production went from zero to not-zero
Filip Ahl (HV71) 17-0-0-0; (junior) 18-18-13-31
Produces at a monstrous pace in junior, but has had no success either in the SHL or Allsvenskan
Christian Jaros (Lulea) 5-0-0-0, (Allsvenskan) 22-2-3-5
Was okay at the WJC (5-1-1-2) while being unremarkable in tier-2 Sweden

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

It was a busy weekend in Sens land so let’s get to it, shall we?

Ottawa beat Boston 2-1 in overtime and then got steamrolled 7-1 by Washington.  I’m not sure there’s any lesson to learn here other than the Sens are a mediocre team performing how you’d expect them to be given their talent/coaching.

Nichols indulges in lengthy trade speculation which, while a lot of fun, never asks the questions the organisation really cares about: is player X good in the corners?  Will they drop the gloves?  Are they a local kid?  I’m not sure anything else really matters to Murray these days.

Binghamton_Senators_svg

Binghamton played a trio of games starting on Friday when Tobias Lindberg and David Dziurzynski joined the lineup (Travis Ewanyk was scratched and Danny Hobbs dispatched to Evansville).  Driedger got the start for the team’s 6-3 win over 5th place Utica. play-by-play:
-Pretty funny to hear the BSens repeat Richardson’s mantra when to comes to Lindberg (the usual, “needs to be more responsible and make safe plays” stuff), given that he hasn’t been a problem in either case this season
Stortini takes a dumb, offensive-zone penalty
1. Schneider keeps on a 2-on-1 shorthanded and scores shortside (under the arm)
2. Stortini cleans up the garbage off Lindberg‘s shot (you can tell the Swede was looking to bounce the puck off the ‘tender to his teammate)
Dziurzynski takes essentially the exact same dumb penalty Stortini took above
-Great stick check by Fraser to deflect a pass on the PK
3. With a powerplay on the way after O’Dell was taken down, Lepine scores on a weak shot on a bad angle with no traffic–Utica ‘tender pulled
Mullen with a giveaway right up the gut, but nothing comes of it
-Great pass by Lindberg to Paul between the circles but he shoots it high and wide
4. The puck bounces in off Kostka‘s skate into his own net
Fraser jumps a Utica player for no particular reason at the blueline and gets the extra minor
Second
-Utica scores, but the goal is waived off because of a hand-pass
5. O’Dell falls and off the turnover Driedger is beaten from the slot
6. Penny picks the puck out of a scrum along the boards and works the give-and-go with Lepine, jamming the puck in off his own rebound
Sdao takes a dumb slashing call
-Utica hits the post off a deflection on the PP
Driedger makes a great stop while on his back
O’Dell saves a goal as the puck goes through Driedger‘s legs
-Good chance for Lindberg at the top of the circle
Kostka takes a dumb boarding penalty
-Binghamton’s broadcast was complaining about the penalties, but given the leagues crackdown on dangerous hits/plays they shouldn’t be surprised
7. Greening picks up a loose puck and then off a rebound Flanagan scores
Third
-Fantastic save by Driedger off a wide open Utica forward
8. Kostka floats a shot in from the point on the PP (looked like it deflected off a Utica defenseman)
9. Paul turns it over and Driedger is beaten when the rebound bounces in off Kostka‘s backside
-Driedger with a nice pokecheck in front
Lindberg sets up Paul in the slot
Carlisle is very fortunate not to be called as he rams the head of a Utica player into the dasher
Fraser with a nice shot block

Despite the score Binghamton was fortunate to win this game–they were outshot (badly until the second half of the third), were shorthanded five times (all bad penalties), and scored at a .333 clip (six goals on their first 18 shots)–none of this is sustainable.  That said, there good performances for the fans to enjoy (along with the win).

There were no lineup changes on Saturday (including Driedger in net) as they lost to 6th place Rochester 2-1. The play-by-play:
Fraser takes yet another dumb penalty
1. Sens lose the faceoff and the point shot gets through via a screen
Robinson follows up with a dumb penalty of his own
2. Kostka is just a touch late to the front of the net allowing the Amerk forward to chip in a centering pass from the corner
Driedger makes a great save from a shot in the slot with lot’s of traffic
Kostka with a brutal giveaway, but the Amerks missed the net
-Best offensive pressure of the period for Binghamton was the Linberg-Paul-Schneider line with about three minutes to go
-Nice stop by Driedger off a one-timer
Second
Driedger makes a great save while his team is on the PP
Kostka with a good chance at the top of the circle
Stortini is still inexplicably on the powerplay
Puempel misses the net from right in front
-Good save by Driedger on a shot from the dot
Third
Schneider has his shot from the slot blocked
-Great save by Driedger from an Amerk all alone in front
Stortini with yet another dumb penalty
Fraser wins a one-on-one defensively
3. Robinson tips in a point-shot from Kostka
Kostka makes the save with the net empty

Binghamton massively outshot Rochester, but didn’t have that many qualify scoring chances (the better team won on the night).

Finally, on Sunday the same lineup (but with Greenham in net) beat middling Leigh Valley again (they are now 4-1 against the Phantoms) by a 2-1 score.  The goals (Leigh Valley yet another broadcast with no overlay for their broadcast):
1.Dziurzynski comes out of the box, creates the turnover, and O’Dell finishes a 2-on-1 with Dzingel
2. Nick Cousins turns Greening into a pylon and uses Fraser as a screen to score
3. Paul bails out Lepine after turning if over in his own end and on the rush Lindberg sets Paul up in the slot who bloops a half shot, half deflection in

The BSens were badly outshot in the game, but goaltending and their top-two lines bailed them out.  Overall the team has to be happy with a 2-1 record through the 3-in-3, albeit they were facing the dregs of their conference.

EvansvilleIceMenCHL

Injury problems to the blueline are impacting the IceMen.  On their Friday night 3-2 loss to Indy they only had four defensemen (Strandberg played on the blueline, as indeed he would on Saturday), calling up SPHL veteran Nicholas Kuqali for the re-match (a 3-0 loss to Indy).  Bengtsberg started both games.  The goals:
Friday
1. Moon steals the puck and passes to Hobbs on the 2-on-1
2. 3-on-2 the Indy player keeps the puck and scores low far-side from the dot
3. A 3-on-2 that turns into a 4-on-3 (Moon lazy on the backcheck) and the defenseman scores from the top of the circle (top-shelf)
4. Hobbs picks up Dunn‘s rebound and uses him as a screen
5. Leveille gets puck watching and leaves his check wide open in the slot
Saturday
1. Deflection in front
2. Dunn (and the forwards of Evansville 2nd unit PP) make a terrible line change leading to a 3-on-2 that Humphries plays terribly allowing the Indy player to walk straight down main street and score top-shelf
3. On the PP Indy scores on a rebound five-hole

The Evansville powerplay drought has hit eight games (0-30) and is no longer simply a cause for concern, but something that’s critically hurting the team’s chances in games.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

The Sens lost to Florida (nkb describes) and we’ve hit that point where Ottawa is around where I expected them to be in the standings–a borderline playoff team.  Things could get much worse, given the coaching and management, but fans shouldn’t bemoan where they are right now (they are who we thought they were).

I don’t know what happened to Nichols, but he’s posted more this past week than he normally does in a month.  Let’s dive in, shall we?
-He talks about how Dave Cameron’s risk-averse approach hasn’t worked and how under-utilized Shane Prince is (agreed & agreed)
-The WJC (a fun event, but overrated in terms of what you learn about prospects) comes up via Pierre Dorian’s comments and the one thing that is worth emphasizing is this:

I think last year, I think if we’re honest about his [Andreas Englund] play at the world juniors and how he played in the men’s league, his play was average and I think we’re being kind when we say it’s average

Amen.  The rest of his comments about Englund are basic “good in the corners” stuff.  Dorian ejaculating over Colin White and Tomas Chabot is par for the course, although him comparing Christian Jaros to Englund is cause for concern.
-Nichols makes the case that the Sens should go after Jason Zucker
-He addresses that the Sens were apparently working hard to trade Patrick Wiercioch early in the season, but now are attempting to move dead weight Jared Cowen–a little tardy to the party boys!  And good luck with that
-He notes that Bob McKenzie is virtually certain that Jonathan Drouin will go to a Western Conference team

Binghamton_Senators_svg

The Binghamton coaching staff finally came to their senses and sent Danny Hobbs (22-1-1-2) down to Evansville.  Ostensibly this was done to make room for David Dziurzynski, but Hobbs is not an AHL-player and getting him off the roster is a positive (this also indicates that the staff understands Ryan Penny is a better player than Hobbs).  None of these moves occurred before the loss described below.

Binghamton faced Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday (the top team in the Atlantic, although you couldn’t tell by their sparse attendance); predictably the Sens lost (Driedger took the loss).  Incidentally, the Pens broadcast is the only AHL-feed I’ve seen thus far with neither the score nor the time displayed.  The goals:
1. Puempel fights off his check to bang in Lepine‘s rebound (really poor rebound control from the Pens goaltender)
2. Driedger is beaten off a deflection from the point (Kostka unable to disrupt the man or his stick)
3. Mullen turns it over at center ice and is then unable to block the shot from the hashmarks that beats Driedger five-hole
4. Kostopoulos bulldozes through Kostka and shrugs off his hook on the breakaway to score
5. Empty-netter

This is yet another game where Fraser was paired with Carlisle and this simply doesn’t work–Fraser is such a poor defender he needs a partner who can make up for his mistakes and while Carlisle is a decent player he’s not at a stage where he can do that.  We also the usual pointless, undisciplined penalties (Stortini with a boarding call in the second).

EvansvilleIceMenCHL

No games yet this week, but besides getting Hobbs they also finally traded away useless Mark Anthoine (to Manchester)–he’s the fourth forward from the team’s season starting lineup that has subsequently been traded (and all for the better).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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