Binghamton Senators Season Overview


Binghamton is far enough into the season for me to take a snapshot of how the year is going.  Clearly the team is tumbling over a precipice–awful special teams, questionable player usage, and a lack of talent have all contributed to a 4-9-1 start (worst in their division).  Their 41 GF is 3rd in their division and tied for 7th in the conference, while their 50 GA is 5th and tied for 11th respectively.  Let’s break it down player-by-player (I’ve been tracking player mistakes that have lead to goals and they are mentioned below–I couldn’t think of a good term for it, so for now I’ll call them Bad Goals, or BG); I’m not a huge fan of using grades, but it’s a simple way to reflect how I think they’ve played (A=above and beyond expectations, B=exceeds expectations, C=meets expectations, D=below expectations, F=god awful):

Cole Schneider 14-7-2-9 SOG 42 Grade: B
The winger has strong numbers despite mostly playing with the Paul as his center (who isn’t quite ready to set the world on fire); as a player who historically picks up a lot of assists, his numbers are indicative of limited support (since Puempel‘s call-up his wingers have been Greening and McCormick).  Most of his points have been a result of individual efforts or sudden breakdowns by the other team–virtually none are from strong offensive pressure

Eric O’Dell 14-6-3-9 SOG 31 BG 3 Grade: C
His numbers are solid, but a lot of it was front loaded and courtesy of cerebral plays by Lindberg; lately he’s been guilty of poor decisions with the puck and some temperamental (selfish) play taking idiotic penalties

David Dziurzynski 14-4-5-9 SOG 21 Grade A
Is way ahead of his normal production and at 25 it’s still possible (albeit unlikely) for him to break out offensively at this level (he’s helped by the fact that Richardson plays the third line a ton); that said, the fact that he’s scoring is a bonus, as he’s been a positive contributor to the team in general, helping carry the dead weight that is Stortini most of the season

Tobias Lindberg 13-3-6-9 SOG 22 Grade A
The rookie is by far the best new addition to Binghamton’s lineup, directly generating almost all of O’Dell‘s production; he was inexplicably scratched for a game by Richardson and karma repaid the coach with the worst beat down of the season; he’s a big part of the possession advantage the first line has in comparison to the rest of the roster (see below)–able to move and carry the puck; if there’s a criticism of him it’s that he prefers to pass than shoot, but that’s a small issue

Ryan Dzingel 14-3-6-9 SOG 47 Grade B
Leads the team in shots; he’s played with Lindberg in all but one game this season, but unlike O’Dell I don’t feel like he’s dependent on him for production; almost half of Dzingel‘s points come from one game (where he notched 4), so he’s been less consistent than the Swede, but less streaky than O’Dell

Colin Greening 14-3-5-8 SOG 30 BG 1 Grade C
At about his usual AHL productivity; he had a rocky start to the season (in terms of his play), but has improved; inexplicably Richardson experimented with him on the first line and that was an absolute disaster–he seems locked into a third line role now

Max McCormick 10-4-2-6 SOG 29 Grade B
He benefited tremendously from his NHL call-up (which I didn’t think was deserved, but had the desired effect), with five points in the six games since his return; he’s moved around in the lineup, but seems to have found a home on the second line; much like his linemate Schneider a lot of his production is a result of individual efforts or sudden breakdowns–there isn’t the offensive zone pressure you see with the first line

Patrick Mullen 14-1-5-6 SOG 18 BG 2 Grade C
A solid start for the veteran given that he’s been anchored the entire season with the the disaster that is Fraser; there’s nothing remarkable or awful in his play thus far

Nick Paul 13-0-6-6 SOG 17 Grade C
He’s still waiting for his first goal and I don’t think randomly scratching him did much for his confidence (4-0-1-1 since vs 9-0-5-5 before); he’s centered the second line with Schneider most of the season, playing like the rookie he is, with flashes here and there; one significant plus is that he’s been defensively responsible

Matt Puempel 6-3-2-5 SOG 20 Grade C
He was good enough in limited duty; a bit selfish at this level, he has enough talent to produce; certainly not the best player on the BSens when recalled

Zack Stortini 12-2-2-4 SOG 19 Grade F
He can’t skate, he can’t move the puck, he takes bad penalties, and yet he plays a ton including on the PP–clearly Richardson has a soft spot for his captain and can’t resist sending him out there to fumble around; among the team leaders in selfish/pointless penalties, he has cut it down a bit of late, but his example has had no impact on his teammates; I think he could be a useful fourth liner, but he’s only played there once as Richardson insists on using him on the third; final note, because of his terrible skating he’s guilty of taking shifts that are far too long

Fredrik Claesson 14-1-3-4 SOG 12 Grade B
A good start to the season for Freddy, despite his partners (three games with Tuzzolino, eight with Harpur, and three with Carlisle whom he meshes with best); forced to handle the puck more and cover for poor defense play, it’s been a strong start and all credit to him for doing this well given the circumstances

Michael Kostka 12-0-4-4 SOG 29 BG 2 Grade C
He’s been okay thus far–not as impressive as I hoped, showing a willful, selfish side that most of the team’s vets have displayed this season–dumb penalties etc; that said, he can make a pass and carry the puck and given how scarce that is for Binghamton’s blueliners he’s a key asset; he’s spent all but one game this season carrying the load for Lepine

Buddy Robinson 6-1-2-3 SOG 10 BG 1 Grade C
Missed the start of the season due to injury and then was scratched randomly for two games because…well no one really understands it; he should be playing on the third line (at least) given his talent, but he’s been stuck on the fourth the last couple of games because Richardson wants Stortini on the third–no one can shine with Ewanyk and Hobbs as linemates

Travis Ewanyk 14-1-1-2 SOG 14 BG 1 Grade C
He should probably be in the ECHL, but on the whole he hasn’t been the disaster I was expecting–he needs to not take stupid penalties, but while he adds nothing to the roster he can (at best) not hurt the team

Danny Hobbs 14-1-1-2 SOG 23 BG 2 Grade F
The ECHL-forward has scored one less goal than he’s caused against and doesn’t really belong in the AHL (that said, I don’t think we’ll see him sent down); he’s played the entire season with Ewanyk

Guillaume Lepine 11-0-2-2 SOG 18 Grade C
Exactly what you’d expect–no hands, no real talent, but he has played pretty safe and avoided the dumb penalty plague; he’s not an AHL caliber player, but with Kostka to carry the load for him it hasn’t been awful–better than Harpur and Tuzzolino this season, but that’s faint praise

Alex Guptill 3-0-1-1 SOG 6 Grade F
He didn’t take bad penalties or make critical defensive errors, but he doesn’t do anything positive either, so the ECHL is a good place for him (sadly, he’s been worse in Evansville)

Chris Carlisle 8-1-0-1 SOG 8 Grade C
After two games in Evansville he was called up–it was a decision to bring him up because Binghamton has plenty of defensemen, but he’s stayed in the lineup (playing as a fourth line forward for three games); he hasn’t showboated in the AHL like he did in the ECHL and for the most part stayed within himself; Rutkowski would have been a better option to bring up, but it’s clear Richardson doesn’t care for him so Carlisle was the only other option with hands

Ben Harpur 9-0-1-1 SOG 8 BF 3 Grade F
He’s been as awful as predicted, turning the puck over and generally putting a strain on his defensive partners (mostly Claesson); on the positive side, as a non-physical player he hasn’t contributed much to the penalty parade; he makes bad decisions and can’t pass or carry the puck; time in Evansville might help

Mark Fraser 14-0-1-1 SOG 8 BG 5 Grade F
Unquestionably the most disappointing player on the team; while he can skate and hit, he has no hockey sense whatsoever and zero hands; by my count he’s directly caused five goals against (five!), along with leading the team in idiotic penalties; a completely useless player, unfortunately the organisation loves him so he’ll be plaguing the team for the whole season; he’s played with Mullen all season

Nick Tuzzolino 5-0-0-0 SOG 9 BG 1 Grade F
The ECHL-defensemen was awful in limited duty and Richardson praising him was ridiculous, but thankfully he’s no longer being dressed; he should be sent down to Evansville; when in action he was paired with either with Claesson or Harpur

Alex Wideman 4-0-0-0 SOG 0 BG 1 Grade F
I have no idea why he wasn’t immediately sent to the ECHL; he has good speed, but he doesn’t bring anything else and he accomplished nothing in limited playing time (how does a forward have no shots in four games?)  Even at the ECHL-level it’s not clear he has the hands to produce and if he’s not offensively productive he’s not adding anything; inexplicably he spent two of his games on the third line

Chris Driedger 4-4-0 2.89 .905 BG 4 Grade B
By far the better of the two goaltenders in Binghamton; while he has allowed some bad goals this year, he’s also played very well and confirmed that his play at the end of last season was no fluke

Matt O’Connor 0-5-1 4.14 .859 BG 9 Grade F
He’s been absolutely awful; 9 of the goals he’s allowed have been soft which is a ridiculous number; for a big man he’s small in his net and his confidence is clearly shaken; I think starting a few games in the ECHL would be good for him, but I don’t think the organisation will let that happen; it’s normal to preach patience with goaltenders and I think his problems are a mix of confidence and technique, both fixable, so we can still hope to see him play well

Some Notes on the Team’s Performance:
-Binghamton has lost every single game the Dzingel-O’Dell-Lindberg line has been split up (0-4-0), scoring just one goal in two of those games (overall outscored 20-10, so yes kids, they help defensively too)
-Since Matt Puempel was recalled the BSens are 1-6-1, although that includes the period above when the first line was split up
O’Connor has allowed four or more goals in his last four starts
-Despite an over abundance of “defensive defensemen” FraserClaesson, HarpurTuzzolino, and Lepine) the BSens PK has been awful (30th in the league at just 73%); despite these struggles, none of the players who take stupid penalties have been scratched

What impact has Luke Richardson had on this team?  All I see are negatives: splitting his dynamic top line was not only disastrous, but he stuck with it long after that was apparent; He sat Lindberg for no reason whatsoever (it even raised the eyebrows of Pierre Dorion); his team takes a ridiculous number of penalties, but despite talking about cutting down on them he’s done nothing to punish players for continuing to do so; his special teams are terrible–the PP percentage is higher than it deserves and there’s no reason for Stortini to be trotted out there to fumble around on the ice; the PK is inexcusable; he doesn’t understand the talent he has: Alex Wideman isn’t an AHL player, but he inserted him into the lineup; Tuzzolino isn’t an AHL player, but not only played but was praised while in the lineup; even though he’s stuck with Fraser there’s no reason to play him top minutes; Robinson has both been scratched and played on the fourth line when he’s far better than other players who haven’t missed a game.  Need more be said?  He even offered up a turkey of an excuse for the team’s awful record by complaining about callups and suspensions rather than errors (particularly his own–the buck should stop with him).  You have a guy who doesn’t force his players to be responsible and doesn’t understand how to use his players–the jury is in and it’s time for Richardson to go (although I don’t believe that will happen).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


Senators News & Notes

jared cowen

The delight that is Jared Cowen continues–he’s like the gift that keeps on giving.  We know that Bryan Murray (and, one assumes, Dave Cameron) gives Cody Ceci and Mark Borowiecki a free pass on their play (which has been awful), but Murray has publicly criticised both the Man-Bun and Patrick Wiercioch.  When asked about it today, the two players had very different responses.  First, let’s go to the professionalism of Wiercioch:

I think that’s fair. I think my play last year probably raised the expectations of what everyone would expect from me on a daily basis. And that’s the level I’m trying to achieve and that’s what I’m working towards. … I think Dave [Cameron] and I have a terrific relationship. He’s understanding of my situation in Ottawa and what I’ve gone through and I think he’s been up front and honest. I think that communication is something that we’ve lacked here in years past. With him, there’s an open-door policy where you are watching video clips and even the negative ones, they are there to make you a better player and a better teammate

Now let us experience the wit and wisdom that is Jared Cowen:

I don’t hear it [Murray’s criticism]. I don’t pay attention to that stuff because it doesn’t really matter. I think you could say the same thing about a lot of guys, so I don’t take it too personal. It’s hard to play when you’re thinking about getting pulled out of the lineup and all that kind of extra junk. I haven’t missed a game yet so it’s not like it’s been bothering me, so I haven’t had to think about sitting out. So hopefully, this is a one-and-done thing.

It’s not surprising to hear how clueless Cowen is, but if somehow Murray hasn’t figured out what who this guy is yet he should by now.  It’s time to pull the trigger on a deal–a pick, an asset, virtually anything.  Hit the eject button and move on–there’s nothing worthwhile to be gained by trotting this guy out night in and night out.


One of the funny things that’s been going on the last couple of months is the criticism by the analytics community of’s numbers.  Pucky Daddy recaps this and what really stands out to me is Chris Foster (of’s repeated assertion that:

We’re not in competition. We’re not trying to take traffic away from other sites or shut down other sites. We want to be part of the conversation as well. And we have a big voice

Really?  The official site of the NHL, the league’s own site, isn’t trying to compete?  It just wants to be another blog?  Millions of dollars spent to share the limelight with War on Ice–that’s what Gary Bettman approved?  It doesn’t sound like their press release in:

The new NHL stats platform goes beyond data to offer insights that will help avid fans go deeper and help casual fans understand the game better. There are also unlimited storytelling opportunities as we provide our fans with a personalized and interactive experience.

The league wanted the broadest possible audience as well as to be the place to go for serious stats honks, so Foster’s assertion is more than a little ridiculous.  Clearly he’s trotting out some face-saving rhetoric after being caught with innumerable errors which, while fixable, required Travis Yost and others from the analytics community to notice (Yost puts the blame on SAP and not the NHL, incidentally).  I’m glad it’s being fixed, but I find the obfuscation amusing.


An embattled Luke Richardson (who I think should be fired–my post on that isn’t finished yet) trotted out a very lame excuse for his team’s poor performance:

We had a combination of some call ups, some injuries and a suspension and it just seemed to put us in a funk. That’s not an excuse

If it’s not an excuse, why bring it up?  It certainly sounds like justification and it gives his players a way out–we’re not struggling, we’re just missing some key pieces and feeling a little down.  It’s absurd.  While the roster Richardson has will never light the world on fire, a lot of the blame for how its performed lies on his shoulders–player decisions in terms of who plays where and who sits have made no sense whatsoever.  That said, I think there’s plenty of rope for Richardson to remain throughout the season even at this pace.


Evansville got blasted Wednesday night, losing 6-2 to Alaska as Deegan Asmundsen continues to struggle in net (the Aces were coming in on an eight game losing streak).  A look at the goals:
1. Humphries launches a grenade up the boards that gets turned over and Asmundsen is beaten on a mini-break (five-hole)
2. Goal off a deflection from the point via a faceoff win
3. Asmundsen is scored on from behind the goal line as the puck is deflected in off himself
4. A wrist shot from the top of the circle (faceoff win) simply goes over Asmundsen‘s shoulder and he’s pulled
5. Off a faceoff scramble Carlson is beat on a rebound in tight
6. Fawcett bangs in Leveille‘s deflected pass on a broken play in front
7. Fawcett tips in a point shot
8. Lazy coverage in front by Brisebois leaves Traversa with a wide open net after Carlson over commits to a shot and winds up out of his crease

Evansville is a bad team, but one whose model is quite similar to Binghamton and Ottawa’s–great goaltending (when healthy) permits a lineup with limited talent to compete.  The main difference is the IceMen don’t have any dominating offensive players–it looks like they got fleeced by trading Zarbo for Moon and their blueline remains something of a nightmare.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

trevor daley

It’s very Bryan Murray to be chasing an older defensemen (Trevor Daley) [reactions to which you can imagine], but Chicago’s asking price makes no sense for the organisation (a pick and either Shane Prince or Matt Puempel)–a defensemen has to go back the other way.  I don’t doubt the Sens would peddle a 2nd round pick as that’s what they do almost every year, but as for the asset?  Between the two I think the org is more likely to give up on Prince, but as I said, they have to move a defensemen if they are going to add one (I’d put the odds on Patrick Wiercioch going).


Speaking of Murray, he continues to play the role of grumpy old man when it comes to Mikael Wikstrand as he recently rejected the Swede when he reached out to him (essentially it’s play in Binghamton or sit–so the same story).  This sort of lackadaisical approach, which seems based on his “tough love” approach with Samuel Pahlsson in Anaheim, is pretty lazy–the situations aren’t the same at all–and it’s hard not to think that at season’s end Wikstrand (no longer bound to a contract) will simply disappear into the SHL or KHL and the Sens will lose a useful asset for nothing.


One thing I’ve wondered about with the recall of Scott Greenham is whether he can actually play or not.  He’s still within the 21-day IR Evansville put him on (from November 2nd), although I don’t believe that period has to be respected at the AHL level.  Given Binghamton’s schedule it may not matter, as Driedger can easily play both the Friday and Sunday games.


Some Evansville roster moves: the disappointing Matt Hussey has been waived–I’m not sure why they signed a player who didn’t play last year, but he’s gone after eight games of selfish and unproductive play.  With Scott Greenham recalled the team has brought in former Sens draft pick Francois Brassard on emergency recall–he’s been playing in Peoria in the SPHL (1-0-0 2.00 .905).  Evansville also received Mathieu Brisebois (AHL 9-1-1-2) on loan from Norfolk, via a trade by the Rangers of the useless Samuel Noreau to Chicago.  Brisebois has a good ECHL track record and should help shoulder the offensive load that’s largely been Troy Rutkowski‘s to carry.  Brassard has been the backup in Peoria and assuredly will play behind Asmundsen until Bengtsberg gets healthy. [A subsequent correction–Brassard had visa problems of all things, so instead Peoria starting goaltender Dustin Carlson was called up.]

On the coaching side there’s been a development as well, as assistant coach Johan Lundskog has had to leave the team indefinitely for personal reasons, returning to Sweden.  This comes on the heels of owner Ron Geary battling for a new arena deal, but the two are unrelated.


I was asked this week what the Federal Hockey League was (Evansville’s affiliate).  While I’d discussed it briefly back in August, I didn’t go into it figuring there was no interest whatsoever.  For clarifications sake, the FHL (just like the SPHL) is the tier below the ECHL.  The FHL operates primarily in the northeastern/midwestern United States and this is its sixth season in operation.  The SPHL is the same tier, but operates in the south, is older, larger, and has a slightly better pool of players.  These leagues are how ECHL teams fill holes in their lineups–there are no “hidden gems” here, but they’re an important part of the hockey ecosystem.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes


Trevor Shackles asks the obvious question of whether or not Bryan Murray should remain GM of the Sens.  I think he’s far kinder to Murray than I would be at this stage, with it becoming clear Murray is unable to identify talent–either externally or internally.  I think Trevor and I are essentially on the same page, but just to make my point, here are some decisions by Murray over his tenure:
-signed Luke Richardson as a FA (yes kids, as a player)
-signed Randy Robitaille to provide scoring depth (he was back in Europe the following season)
-hired John Paddock (fired that year and has regressed to a WHL coach)
-traded a 6th (Ben Smith) for Martin Lapointe (he retired when the season ended)
-signed Jesse Winchester (advertised as an offensive talent–here are his numbers as a Senator: 233 games, 11 goals, 41 assists)
-re-signed Shean Donovan
-signed Jason Smith (he retired mid-contract)
re-signed Luke Richardson who retired after two games
-hired Craig Hartsburg (fired during the season with no subsequent head coaching jobs above the WHL)
-traded Dean McAmmond and a 1st round pick (Kyle Palmieri) for Mike Comrie and Chris Campoli–the former was awful and the latter was booed out of town two seasons later)
-traded for Pascal Leclaire
-signed Alexei Kovalev as a FA
-signed Matt Carkner to a two-year, one-way deal
-signed Bobby Butler as a scorer
-traded a 2nd round pick (Kent Simpson) for Andy Sutton
-give up the chance to draft Vladimir Tarasenko to acquire David Rundblad
-re-signed Jesse Winchester
-re-signed Bobby Butler
-traded a 3rd round pick (T. J. Tynan) for Nikita Filatov
-brought back Alex Auld
-signed Mike Lundin
-gave Jim O’Brien a one-way deal (two years!)
-traded a 6th round pick (Pontus Sjalin) for Matt Kassian (!)
-traded Ben Bishop for Cory Conacher and the pick that became Tobias Lindberg
-brought back Joe Corvo (!)
-signed David Legwand (for two years)
-etc, etc, etc

He also waived Mike Hoffman through the league, was going to trade Patrick Wiercioch for a 3rd round pick, and on and on (Francis Lessard played NHL games under his watch).  It’s clear that if it weren’t for the scouts and Tim Murray in particular the team would be starving for talent and loaded up with broken down, ineffective veterans.  Obviously there have been successes, but the above (going back to an era without an internal budget) illustrates an inability to properly assess talent.


The Sens prospect update is a little funny in that Tim Boyle is included despite the organisation cutting ties with him over the summer (amusingly, he couldn’t maintain a roster spot in the ECHL and is plugging away in the SPHL).  The main takeaways from the report: all the prospects in the QMJHL are doing well (Tomas ChabotFrancis PerronFilip Chlapik), the non-goaltending Swedes are not (Filip AhlChristian JarosAndreas Englund), and the collegiate players are a mixed bag (Colin White and Christian Wolanin are the standouts).  Marcus Hogberg has a poor save percentage (.896), but is winning a lot (7-2-1).  The org must be high on Englund–no points, but leading the team in hits….


Evansville lost the re-match to Wheeling 4-2 on Sunday; former AHLer Matt Hussey was either scratched or injured (I couldn’t determine which, but the former wouldn’t surprise me as one assist in eight games and a minus eight is no return on the investment).  A look at the goals (Bengtsberg had to leave the game early in the second due to injury; Asmundsen came in and earned the loss):
1. Moon takes a dumb penalty and on the PP Torquato bangs in a rebound
2. Just a minute after Asmundsen got into the net he’s beaten on a nice three-way passing play as Rutkowski lost his check leaving Krause wide open
3. Dunn scores from the dot as he was left wide open
4. Just 21-seconds later Strandberg floats a puck from just inside the blueline through a crowd in front
5. Asmundsen is beaten on a wrister through a screen five-hole
6. Lazy backcheck by Moon leaves Burton wide open who makes a nice pass for Brace‘s second goal of the game

A pretty consistent theme for Evansville where their veterans are guilty of selfish play–most of those players are the fault of the Evansville braintrust, but Leveille is the Sens fault.  Other book keeping: veteran Lukin has been out due to injury, as has rookie Zay (the former in practice the latter in game play).  Scott Greenham‘s injury is described as day-to-day, but we’re at the two week mark at this point (the BSens have recalled him, but there’s been no indication if he can play yet or not).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Ross A offers a recap of Ottawa’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Rangers, a game without Jared Cowen but featuring Zack Smith going full Binghamton Senator by taking a bunch of pointless, selfish penalties.  I enjoyed what I saw of the game and it will be interesting to see what Cameron does with the lineup going forward (I like Lazar on the fourth line).


Binghamton blew yet another two-goal lead in the third as they lost 4-3 in regulation to Springfield.  Shift lengths for some of the vets are getting absurd–over a minute at times for the third line (Stortini-Dziurzynski-Greening), which wouldn’t fly with most coaches.  My summary:
1. McCormick is alone in front and cleans up the rebound
2. Stortini is too slow to be timely on the backcheck and then all the Sens lose track of the puck and Mullen gets walked around and Driedger beat with a soft backhand
-Stortini line gives up another 2-on-1 their next shift but Driedger makes a great save
-Carlisle loses the puck at the blueline but Driedger stops the breakaway (Carlisle did help deflect away the rebound)
-Kostka makes the exact same turnover but is able to keep up enough with Lessio enough to knock the puck off his stick
3. Kostka took a dumb tripping penalty, but McCormick and Dziurzynski broke out on a 2-on-0 and the former scored while the latter crashed into the boards and had to leave the game for awhile
-Fantastic point-blank stop on the PK by Driedger
-An example of why Fraser drives me nuts: with no pressure he bangs the puck off the boards to the wrong team
-McCormick with a great chance for the hat-trick off a nice pass from Greening
-McCormick had another A-grade chance on the PP but couldn’t quite hit the hot pass from O’Dell
-Dumb penalty by Dziurzynski as after a couple of big slashes he gets called for a hook; penalty killed, but Kostka proceeds to take a lazy hold right after it–fortunately Springfield took a penalty immediately afterwards
4. Schneider puts in Greening‘s rebound
5. Fraser took a somewhat acceptable tripping call (in this case via a scoring chance) and Springfield scores immediately as a spinorama confused Driedger who thought it was going to be a pass
6. McCormick took a penalty while the goal was being scored which kept Springfield on the PP and they scored off a great cross-ice pass for a one-timer
-O’Dell drew a hooking call, but four BSens could not take the puck off of one Springfield forward while on the PP eventually taking a penalty
7. On a broken play on the PK Driedger is beat by a shot between two Binghamton defenders
-Driedger made a great windmill stop with his stick off a rebound

Despite letting in one iffy goal, Driedger was excellent.  The first line wasn’t its usual dominant self (Dzingel was the best of the three of them), but while McCormick played a good game his line didn’t dominate either.  I thought Robinson was wasted on the fourth line and would have liked him swapped with Stortini.  Binghamton’s special teams continue to be absolutely atrocious and it’s well past time to put the PK struggles on the shoulders of the coach–it’s not getting any better and there’s no shortage of “defensive specialists” on the team’s blueline.  Jeff seems to want to put the blame for defensive miscues on Mullen (wanting him benched, which is incredible), but while he wears the goat horns for the first goal against, he’s hardly responsible for the loss.  Why Jeff continues to shill for Mark Fraser is beyond me (he’s avoided mentioning most of Fraser‘s mistakes this season), but it does echo the organisation’s opinion.


The IceMen beat Wheeling 2-1 in OT last night, with Bengtsberg getting his sixth straight start.  The goals:

1. Wideman finishes off a nice passing play on a 3-on-2
2. A point shot is deflected in
3. Shorthanded towards the end of OT, Leveille splits the defense and goes 5-hole to end it

I haven’t been impressed with Alex Guptill‘s first two games in the ECHL, although he’s talented enough to keep playing.  Leveille, despite the goal, continues to play selfishly.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

I’d like to congratulate myself on predicting Patrick Wiercioch would be scratched prior to either Jared Cowen or Mark Borowiecki, but he was back for the game against the Rangers today and Dave Cameron finally acknowledged the obvious by scratching the useless Cowen.  The Sens comical 7-5 loss versus Nashville is neatly described by Michaela Schreiter, while the 3-2 win over Vancouver is covered by Ross A.

Nichols explores the idea of trading for Matt Duchene as rumours abound; I saw some pretty humorous Tweets about this potentiality, but here’s Nichols conclusion about the idea:

Adding a speedy playmaking center like Duchene could help transition the offence by improving their ability to carry the puck with speed through the neutral zone and boasting Turris/Zibanejad/Duchene down the middle certainly would certainly be impressive. On the other hand, whatever success Ottawa can have this year will be predicated on their ability to fix their shittacular blue line. Obviously a Duchene trade and improving the blue line does not have to be mutually exclusive, but without knowing what the opportunity cost would be to acquire him and without having some side deals in place to improve the blue line, adding Duchene alone is not going to be enough to turn this team’s fortunes around.

I agree fully with that final thought.

The aforementioned Michaela‘s five thoughts includes one on Dave Cameron:

if we looked at where this team is now (under Cameron) and where they were at this time last year (under Paul MacLean), there is not much of a difference. As of November 13, 2014 the Sens had a record of 8-4-4. Right now, the Sens’ record is 8-5-3. Both teams suffered from a lack of identity and allowed a very high number of shots against per game. This may be an indication that the problems on this team are not necessarily due to coaching. Maybe there needs to be a change in the roster before we have another coaching change. My fear is that firing Cameron will become a knee-jerk reaction if the team’s struggles worsen. Fortunately, I suspect we’ll see a trade before it comes to that. I think Dave Cameron is the right coach for this team, and I would like to see what he can do with the right roster in front of him. Management needs to look at the changes to be made on the team, before they look elsewhere.

I don’t quite follow her logic here–what is it about Cameron that makes her think he’s the right man for the job?  Besides that conclusion I agree with everything above.


The BSens did some more house keeping as the disappointing Alex Guptill was sent down to Evansville.  Was he the least useful forward on the roster?  I think it’s debatable, but he’s useless enough that it doesn’t really matter (although he may help the IceMen).

Binghamton faced Leigh Valley on Wednesday, breaking their goalie rotation by starting Chris Driedger consecutively and keeping the exact same lineup that won their previous game.  As I said in recapping that game Binghamton was badly outplayed and lucky to win and that assessment rang true in the result here (a 6-3 loss).  A look at the goals:
1. Schneider tips in Claesson‘s point shot
2. Greening gets the wrap around as Stolarz over commits to a shot
3. No one has Brent in front who scores from the slot (the O’Dell line was on–no one rotated to the middle when the aforementioned went to chase the puck)
4. Mark Fraser takes an idiotic boarding penalty (it was called a crosscheck) and off a broken play Driedger is beaten cleanly from the top of the circle
5. Kostka makes an ill-advised aggressive play at his own blueline leading to a 3-on-1
6. No one covers the front of the net (Dziurzynski-line was on with Harpur/Claesson) and a wide open Cousins makes no mistake
7. McCormick beats Stolarz from the top of the circle through a screen via his own defensemen
8. Mullen loses a puck battle and O’Dell doesn’t have his check in front who beats Driedger with 2-seconds left of the second
9. O’Dell turns it over in the offensive zone and Leigh Valley scores on the empty net

Jeff Ulmer‘s recap is oddly picky over who is and isn’t singled out and I completely disagree with him on Tobias Lindberg‘s defensive acumen (which is quite good).  I’ve read Jeff for a long time and while I love his work, he has a soft spot for tough guys and little patience with skilled players–I’m quite the opposite, but the facts don’t change regardless of personal preference and if you read through defensive mistakes on Binghamton’s goals this year you’re going to see goat horns on the former far more often than not.  It’s been nice to see all the games this year so I’m less dependent on others view of who is or isn’t playing well.

On Friday Richardson put together the best possible lineup given the players available, with Harpur and Tuzzolino scratched and Buddy Robinson back in (the only other tweak I’d make is calling up Troy Rutkowski and sitting Fraser–for reasons I go into below); Matt O’Connor got the start.  The goals:
1. Fantastic pass from Robinson gives Hobbs an empty net and he doesn’t miss
2. Robinson can’t keep up with Peca who skates his way into the slot where he beats O’Connor through a crowd
3. Great little flip pass by Dzingel to Lindberg who outraces the defense and dekes the goaltender
4. McCormick fights Mormina after a dangerous hit on Nick Paul (looked like a hit to the head) and on the ensuing PK Robinson cashes in on a 2-on-1 with Claesson
5. Paul breaks his opponent’s stick (looked accidental) and on the ensuing PP and Vermin simply beats O’Connor with a shot
6. Fraser inexplicably tackles Vermin (who didn’t have the puck) and on the PP McGinn cashes in on a rebound
7. In OT Tambellini is left wide open in front by Mullen (who was caught watching the puck) and ends the game

One of the major themes of this season is Mark Fraser taking awful penalties (passim), but Richardson has chosen to do absolutely nothing about it–the guy isn’t going to learn until he sits if he doesn’t keep himself in check.  As for the game itself, O’Connor had his best start of the season, although there’s an odour to the Vermin goal.


Bengtsberg continues to play as Scott Greenham recovers from injury; Guptill knocked Sims out of the lineup and the horrific blueline duo of HimelsonHumphries was finally broken up (both still in the lineup, but with different partners).  The goals:
1. A lazy Guptill loses the puck, ignores his check, and watches as his check scores from the slot
Guptill took an elbow to the head from Cederholm in the 2nd, but he continued playing
2. Coming out of the box after the powerplay Sorensen beats Bengtsberg with a wrap around after an initial breakaway save
3. Fawcett cashes in on the centering play created by Dunn (who inexplicably didn’t get an assist)
4. On the PP Rumble scores with a knuckleball in off a rebound
5. Himelson turns it over and on the ensuing possession Fox is left all alone in front and makes no mistake
6. Leveille turns it over leading to an empty net goal

The problem for Evansville remains the same: a weak blueline and a lack of offensive talent.  Guptill should help, but with Noreau awful (and currently in the AHL) and Dieude-Fauvel hurt, there’s no help coming for the defensecorps.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

It has been a busy week for me that’s interfered with my usual hockey watching, but that said, there lot’s to talk about, so we’ll start with some articles of note (not forgetting that the Sens lost 3-2 to Carolina on Saturday, beat Winnipeg 3-2 on Thursday, and beat Montreal 2-1 on Wednesday since I last posted).

Callum Fraser looks into just how good (or bad) Dave Cameron has been as a coach this year and he sums it up perfectly:

one month in, Cameron hasn’t exactly impressed.

He hasn’t.  As Nichols (and others) surmised at the end of last season, so many of the roster and line changes fans were hoping for truly do seem accidental–the results of fortuitous injuries and suspensions.  Despite enormous evidence to the contrary Cameron continues to dress both Jared Cowen and Mark Borowiecki; he plays Curtis Lazar on scoring lines; he ineffectively uses callups (with the exception of Max McCormick); was clueless about Chris Wideman (it remains uncertain if his goal against Carolina will change that).  Despite his flaws Ottawa has a decent record, although fans need to keep in mind that more often than not they are regularly facing teams backup goalies (which tells you what the league thinks of the team).

The aforementioned Nichols hones in on the blueline, specifically looking at the middling starts of both Cody Ceci and Patrick Wiercioch and proposing that Methot play with the former and Karlsson with the latter (with the obvious scratching of one of the two anchors on the third pairing and adding Wideman).  It’s an interesting read and while I think he’s largely on the money I see no evidence Cameron will go there (he’s more likely to move Cowen up and Wiercioch down in the pairings).

Speaking of Nichols, he and other blogging luminaries were invited to join Ian Mendes for a TSN 1200 show called Advanced Chats.  I haven’t listened to them yet, but intend too.  It’s good on Mendes to reach out to the blogosphere and a good move for radio to try to appeal to a younger fans (for those that don’t know, radio has an elderly and failing audience).


Before I talk about the games, let’s mention the highway robbery Mark Fraser and Zack Stortini are getting with their AHL salaries–I’d say it’s hard to believe, but the long suffering fans in Bingo are used to overpaid AHL vets.  Since both players are “tough in the corners” there are fans who are happy to have them, but I’d rather spend that money (and veteran roster spots) on guys who will help the team win.  Moving on.

The B-Sens lost 3-1 to Rochester on Friday, with some interesting changes to the roster: Ben Harpur and Nick Tuzzolino were scratched on defense, in part because Michael Kostka returned from injury, but also to make room for the recalled Chris Carlisle–overall I liked the move since Binghamton struggles to move the puck from the back end.  However, Eric O’Dell was saddled with the dead weight that Colin Greening is on the first line (Zack Stortini, back from suspension, was happily on the fourth line).  Chris Driedger had the start in goal and here’s a look at the goals:
1. Kostka took a really stupid holding penalty and on the PP a nice cross crease feed results in a goal (no chance for Driedger)
2. the fourth line gets broken down on the cycle and Driedger is beaten from just above the dot
3. Dziurzynski creates a turnover on the PK and a hustling McCormick and Mullen create a 2-on-1 that gets the latter a goal
4. terrible turnover by Fraser in his own zone leads to a big rebound and goal

On Saturday Luke Richardson lost his mind in scratching Tobias Lindberg and Nick Paul, an incredibly stupid decision that resulted in an atrocious 6-1 loss to Toronto that’s not even worth recapping* (Matt O’Connor‘s struggles continued incidentally; Jeff Ulmer offers very brief thoughts on it–I have more on Richardson in a forthcoming post).

[* I decided to take a quick look at the goals at least:
1. Harpur throws the puck away and Nylander beats O’Connor short side with a bullet wrister
2. Robinson loses his stick so can’t defend the high slot where O’Connor is beat through a Greening screen
3. Lepine took an utterly stupid penalty (inexplicably throwing his elbow into the face of the Marlie player) and shortly after the PP Fraser throws the puck away and Panik scores on the 2-on-1
4. O’Dell/Kostka lose the puck battle in the corner and O’Connor somehow gives up a weak backhander right in front
5. Dzingel scores on a sharp angle off a rebound
6. Marlies win the draw and O’Connor is beat cleanly off a weak wrist shot
7. Ewanyk takes a pointless penalty and on the PP O’Connor is beat by the one-timer]

Some sanity returned last night against Leigh Valley as Richardson brought back the two players (randomly scratching Buddy Robison along with the moribund Alex Guptill) and reunited the top line from the start of the season; he also dressed seven defensemen which, given Binghamton’s deficiencies on the blueline, makes some sense.  I was able to watch the bulk of this game, so here are the goals and then a few comments:
1. O’Dell scores off his own rebound on the PP through a screen
2. Really dumb penalties to start the second period (particularly by Travis Ewanyk) lead to the tying goal (a nice cross-crease pass 5-on-3)
3. Stortini has an empty net as Greening beats LaBarbera but hits the underside of the crossbar
4. Dziurzynski wins the draw cleanly and redirects Lepine‘s shot in
5. Stortini scores on the PP as O’Dell‘s pass is redirected to him by a Leigh Valley defenseman
Stortini knocked out in an opening faceoff fight–he missed about half the first period because of it–I’m a bit lost on why Jeff thought this fight was good for the team
-it wasn’t a great night for Kostka, particularly with some terrible decisions on the PP
Dzingel saved a goal when it was 1-1 in the 2nd with a hook that prevented a goal into a wide open net

Despite the score Binghamton was outplayed and were fortunate to come out with a win.  As nice as it was for Stortini to pick up a couple of goals, he wasn’t the best player on the ice for Bingo (Driedger was by far) and anyone who expects that production to continue was probably KO’d by Tyrell Goulbourne (Jeff’s reaction is exactly the kind of thing I feared–hockey fans love a tough guy so he can get away with being useless for 10 games so long as he’s okay in just one).  For those who don’t follow the AHL, Leigh Valley is a terrible team but they heavily outplayed Binghamton (both teams were at the end of 3-in-3, so there’s no excuses there).  Binghamton continues to take too many penalties, aren’t very good on the PK, and struggle to move the puck out of their end–I’m happy about the win, but the underlying problems are not being solved.


After the IceMen’s 3-0 loss (see below) they traded Joe Zarbo for former IceMan star Nathan Moon.  A former Pittsburgh draft pick (4-102/08), Moon has been a productive forward in the ECHL for years now and should help the talent-thin team going forward.  Besides his acquisition Jordan Sims (son of the coach) entered the lineup now that he’s recovered from injury.

On Wednesday a largely lifeless Evansville lost 3-0 to Indy–Bengtsberg took the loss–a quick look at the goals:
1. A nice tip in front
2. Noreau gets turned into a pylon and Bengtsberg gets deked for the goal
3. PP goal off a rebound (poor defensive coverage in front, particularly by Trebish)

On Friday the IceMen had their revenge with a 4-2 win.  Bengtsberg played again (with Greenham taking the week off for a probable groin pull in his last start; Dieude-Fauvel was also hurt in that game).  A look at the goals:
1. Strandberg creates a turnover and his pass to the point is ripped in by Rutkowski for the first Evansville goal in the first period this year
2. After back-to-back saves on the PK Bengtsberg can’t stop the third while on his belly
3. No one picks up Ben Marshall who walks into the slot and rifles the puck passed Bengtsberg
4. Penny springs Fawcett all alone who makes a great move for the goal
5. Strandberg makes a nice little pass to Leveille in the slot who dekes for the goal
6. 2-on-1 Wideman keeps and scores with a knuckleball

On Saturday Evansville lost 2-1 Cincinnati (Noreau was scratched in favour of Rumble).  A look at the goals:
1. Bengstberg beat far side on a 2-on-1
2. 3-on-2 shot through a screen beats Bengtsberg far side
3. Leveille scores a powerplay goal all alone in front with just 17 seconds left

The problem of scoring remains for Evansville and it’s difficult to see how that can be remedied except internally (Moon is a better player than Zarbo, but I’m not sure there are many other bullets in the trade gun for the team).  Evansville’s blueline is awful and it’s their goaltending that’s kept so many of these games close.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


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