Senators News & Notes

Ottawa dropped a 3-0 decision to Chicago, which I think Ary M sums up best with:

Sens Zero: Dave Cameron

That applies to much of the season, although it’s not like Bryan Murray is helping matters.

Sens fans are in a tizzy at the prospect of landing Jonathan Drouin, who demanded a trade from Tampa back in November.  Drouin appears to be suffering the Ottawa treatment for skilled players–as Nichols puts it:

leads one to believe that the coaching staff hasn’t put faith into him because of whatever perceived deficiencies there are in his game caused by some combination of inexperience, work ethic, defensive acumen or blah blah blah.

Jon Cooper’s poor judgement benefits whatever team lands Drouin, so ultimately the pain is for Lightning fans.  Could Murray make a deal for him?  I really don’t know–he’s been more miss than hit in his deals, but the possibility is there.

STATS

Jack Han looked into whether coaching can impact shooting accuracy and concludes the following:

Essentially, Micah found that in the past two years, NHL coaches have shown no ability to affect how skilled their teams are at putting shots on net.

The best coaches are better at driving shot differential (Corsi or any other shot differential measure) with their systems, but once a shot is taken, all bets are off. Across teams, the proportion of shots on net to blocks and misses tends to even out with time.

This is an interesting tidbit because one of hockey’s great coaching cliches is about getting shots on net–apparently that has no impact at all and is literally lip-service.

Binghamton_Senators_svg

An interesting note from the Hershey broadcast of the game below: apparently the AHL told teams at the start of the season that borderline/dangerous hits would be called more frequently, which explains Claesson‘s clipping calls (among others).

Binghamton blew a four-goal lead to lose 6-5 to Hershey on Saturday.  Driedger got the start, with the only lineup change seeing Lindberg out due to injury (Hobbs drew in).  The play-by-play:
Stortini takes a dumb interference call in the offensive zone
1. Penny makes a steal on the PK and scores on a breakaway (Robinson earns a phantom assist)
Flanagan is stoned while in all alone
2. Mullen is out-muscled in front and for some reason Sdao leaves his own check to go after Mullen‘s, leaving the former free to bang home the rebound
Robinson misses an empty-net on a sweet pass from Dzingel
3. Puempel finishes off a pretty three-way passing play
Dzingel dekes his way in front but can’t quite score
-Nice stop by Driedger on a wraparound
Kostka with a brutal giveaway, but Hershey misses the net
Penny takes a dumb elbowing penalty in the offensive zone
Second
-Great save by Driedger right in front while the BSens were shorthanded
4. Penny comes out of the box creating a 3-on-1 and Ewanyk cleans up Schneider‘s garbage
5. On the next shift Dzingel makes a great pass to Robinson (who created the turnover) and he out waits Peters for the goal (the latter was pulled after this goal)
-The bulk of the next 10 minutes is spent in Binghamton’s zone, but without yielding a good scoring chance for Hershey
6. Dzingel scores on a backhand from behind the net
7. On the subsequent shift Hobbs is turned into a pylon and an uncontested Walker scores high glove from the slot
Ewanyk tries the stuff play
8. A 3-on-2 develops on the same play (a lumbering Stortini never quite gets involved) and Fraser gets caught puck-watching leaving a Hershey player wide open in the slot who scores high glove
Third
O’Dell with a chance off a rebound on a 5-on-3
Schneider can’t tap a bouncing puck into an empty net
Driedger stops the stuff play (Flanagan and Kostka turned into pylons)
9. Driedger is beat off a tip in front
Puempel misses the net on a great chance right in front
10. Lepine misses with a pokecheck and Kostka can’t adjust his position in time as Driedger is beat glove-side
OT
Schneider decides to keep on a 3-on-1 and shoots it into Ellis‘s pads
11. Off the above Hershey is sprung on a breakaway and Driedger is beaten on the deke

Despite Binghamton’s 5-1 lead they weren’t the dominant team in the game and the better team won.  That said, for a team stacked with “defensive defensemen” and guys who are “good in the corners” this is not the type of game you are supposed to lose.

EvansvilleIceMenCHL

The IceMen lost 4-3 to Missouri on Saturday with Bengtsberg taking the loss (the only lineup change was Strandberg drawing in for the injured Leveille).  The goals:
1. Moon creates the turnover and MacDonald scores with a laser from the dot
2. Four-way passing play ends with Fawcett burying it into an empty net
3. On the PK Sims is turned into a pylon and Bengtsberg is deked
4. Duco creates the turnover and Guptill scores from the slot
5. Bengtsberg is beat from the point (not a great goal)
6. Himelson gets crosschecked to the ice, leaving his man open to bang in a rebound
7. In OT all three IceMen pursue the puck leaving a Missouri forward wide open in front who makes no mistake

A game Evansville should have won, but it’s still encouraging to see a team that was so awful to start the season compete with the ECHL’s best.

On Sunday the IceMen lost 3-2 to Toledo in a shootout; Bengtsberg again with the start.  The defensive pairings were slightly juggled, but the forward group remained unchanged.  The goals:
1. After Dunn took a dumb penalty off a faceoff, Bengtsberg is beat by a low, far-side shot through a crowd
2. Moon creates the turnover and then gets the pass on a 2-on-1 to score
3. On a 2-on-1 the Toledo forward keeps and beats Bengtsberg short-side
4. Moon dekes the defender down low and then the goaltender

The IceMen haven’t scored a powerplay goal in six games (0-25), although their other issue is a thin defense now that Rutkowski is in Binghamton.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Holiday madness and computer problems have delayed me posting, but here we are at last.

Nichols offers a long (long) piece critical of the Bryan Murray regime and rejecting the old excuse that at least he’s better than John Muckler.  I agree with the general thrust of his opinion (cf here), including Murray’s continuing crutch of blaming his coaches when things go wrong.  Where I disagree with Nichols is where we always disagree–prospects and the draft.  The problem remains the same (a mix of never defining his criteria and boundaries of whatever theory he’s operating under, along with an admitted limited understanding of the prospects themselves).  I don’t have an issue with Nichols’ indifference to prospects (Travis Yost trumpets his ignorance all the time, for example), but I wish he’d join Travis in avoiding the topic because of it.  Anyway, before going more into what I agree with, here are my issues:

or the fact that the organization got so lucky drafting and developing talents who were taken so late in the draft, Ottawa’s body of work over the last seven years isn’t as impressive as you would think

Three assumptions here: 1) the organisation was lucky that late picks developed, 2) developing late picks is lucky, 3) their record isn’t as impressive as “we” (the fans presumably) think.  This kind of generalization only seems to happen when Nichols talks about prospects and the draft and there’s really no excuse for it.  To take the above seriously you have to back it up with something and there’s no attempt to do so–this is common in sports journalism, but Nichols is better than that.  I know Nichols reads this blog and the numbers for recent draft success are available–why not look at what the data supports?  Next up:

early round selections like Jared Cowen, Stefan Noesen, Matt Puempel, Shane Prince, Curtis Lazar, Andreas Englund, Cody Ceci, Patrick Wiercioch, Jakob Silfverberg and Robin Lehner have all struggled to assert themselves at the NHL level

Andreas Englund isn’t even signed!  I get the feeling Nichols just looked at a list of Ottawa’s drafts and then copy-pasted the names he saw from the 1st and 2nd rounds.  This looks like a rushed composition–he should have left Englund out, Prince out (who hasn’t had enough NHL-time to say anything about him), Noesen out (his injury-problems means he hasn’t had NHL opportunities), and perhaps Lehner where you can argue he hasn’t truly had the opportunity to start at the NHL-level.  It’s also early to call Silfverberg or Ceci busts (IMO), and Nichols doesn’t reference the percentages of success where those picks occur (ergo, which should succeed; eg see my link above).

Obviously it’s great to be able to draft and develop players who can play games at the NHL level in the event of injury or because their organization is trying to parlay quantity for quality, but lately, it feels like Ottawa has struggled to draft and develop talented prospects who can play important roles and help take this team to another level.

This is a sentiment Nichols has expressed repeatedly without ever attempting to fully explain it–I’m not sure if he thinks it’s so obvious he shouldn’t have too, or if he has a hard time elucidating it.  We again have two assumptions here: 1) Ottawa is now struggling to develop prospects that can play important roles (in contrast to an unspecified past, which Nichols has already called terrible above, ie, the Muckler era), 2) Ottawa develops a lot of NHL-caliber prospects who can fill-in or play depth roles (which runs against his narrative that Ottawa has struggled at the draft under Murray).  We again run into the problem that we don’t have a coherent argument from Nichols on this point.  Next up:

part of the problem stems from the variance in the year-to-year talent levels of the draft and when you’re drafting in the middle of the first round every season, the likelihood of finding elite talent in that region is much smaller

Then what really is his argument?  Either Ottawa hasn’t been situated in the draft well-enough to get elite talent (as the above implies), or they’ve drafted poorly and missed elite talent (as the quote above this implies).  It can’t be both because those are separate arguments–where they finish isn’t the same as how they draft.

With those criticisms aside, let’s talk about some specifics I agree with wholeheartedly:

If there is a recurring theme that can characterize Bryan Murray’s eight-year reign as GM, it’s that there has always been an excuse. … Rarely is management publicly scrutinized by the media within this city. … It also doesn’t help that the Senators are the only major sports team in this market and have a broadcasting partnership with the only local sports radio station in the city.

This is all sadly true–the buck never stops with management and there is no actual journalism vetting the organisation.  This lack of responsibility trickles down to the coaching staff where players are blamed for how the team does.

It’s one thing to be young, it’s another to have projectable upside that these young players can safely reach. Unfortunately, with the exception of guys like a Stone or a Hoffman, it appears that most of Ottawa’s youth has plateaued or seen their development stagnate.

If Nichols’ is referring to players on the NHL-roster then I largely agree with him.  If he’s talking about the organisation I disagree, as there are players who could replace the deadwood currently on the roster (if Nichols is only referring to top-six, top-four players, then the replacements are fewer, but he never attempts to explain what an acceptable prospect pool would be or how he knows via whatever data he’d be using).

After eight-years of this management group being in power, the Senators are still mired in mediocrity.

This is unquestionably true.  Basically all the non-prospect stuff from Nichols is his usual, solid self and well worth reading.

Some Ottawa housekeeping notes: due to injuries Fredrik Claesson and Michael Kostka were recalled to Ottawa.  The former dressed in Ottawa’s 2-0 loss to New Jersey and was solid in his debut (playing with Erik Karlsson helps).  Kostka has already been returned.

Binghamton_Senators_svg

It’s been a super busy time of year for me, but I’m finally caught up on Binghamton’s last two games.  The first was a 2-1 shootout win over middling Leigh Valley (a .500 team; Matt O’Connor was injured in the game, so Driedger picked up the win).  The goals:
1. O’Dell takes a dumb hooking penalty (who hooks someone’s face?); on the PP Ewanyk fails to clear and O’Connor is beaten off a deflection from the blueline
2. Just after Fraser passes to the wrong team leading to a shot wide of the goal, Kostka keeps the puck in the zone and Puempel deflects his shot in
3. Puempel scores in the shootout

This was not the most entertaining of game to watch (thus the lack of play-by-play), although the goaltending was excellent.

Binghamton beat St. John’s 3-2 at home.  The IceCaps are a good team, but were not playing their top lineup, along with playing their rookie/backup goaltender.  With O’Connor‘s injury Greenham was recalled (with Driedger getting the start); Michael Sdao was finally been cleared to play (he hasn’t played a game since April 11th of last year); Hobbs was a healthy scratch for the first time this year (Penny took his spot).  The play-by play:
Paul with a great chance in front via a pass from Lindberg from behind the net
1. Robinson scores from a bad angle at the bottom of the circle (yet another behind the net pass, this time from Dzingel)
Flanagan with a good chance from the dot
Carlisle‘s dump-in is blocked leading to a good save by Driedger the other way
Stortini still on the powerplay, which continues to be painful to watch
2. Puempel‘s PP shot dribbles through the goaltender and O’Dell whacks it in after Schneider‘s initial attempt
Paul shoots the puck over a half-empty net
Carlisle loses a battle behind his own net while on the PP leading to an excellent shorthanded chance in front for St. John’s
Fraser takes a dumb penalty in his own zone (Grady complained about the call, but it was high and potentially dangerous hit)
Second
Schneider loses his check who is wide open in front requiring a great save by Driedger
3. Paul picks up an errant St. John’s pass and centers to a wide open Lindberg in the slot who makes no mistake
O’Dell with a great chance in front
Schneider has a chance in front and then centers to Lindberg with the net empty, but two defenders prevent him from receiving the puck
4. Centering feed gets out to a wide open St. John’s forward who makes no mistake (neither Stortini nor Greening collapsed when Flanagan went deep to chase)
5. A tip from a point-shot dribbles in
Third
O’Dell steals the puck for a 2-on-1, but Stortini can’t receive the pass
Driedger makes two great stops on the rush–one where Kostka can’t block the shot and the rebound where O’Dell is late on the backcheck
Puempel had two attempts at the empty net blocked
Driedger makes a nice save off a shot from the dot

A fun game to watch and one of the few this season where the goaltender did not have to be great for Binghamton to win.  The defensive combinations were a bit scrambled as the Sdao-Carlisle pairing only played intermittently; the rest of the time Mullen was paired with Sdao and Fraser with Carlisle.

Two trends to note: since Stortini has been moved to the fourth-line the team is 5-0; after scoring zero powerplay goals in seven straight games, the team now has goals in three of four (all from the new first unit–removing McCormick and Mullen and adding Kostka and Dzingel).  Stortini‘s presence on the second PP unit continues to drag it down.

EvansvilleIceMenCHL

Evansville won the first of their back-to-back games against Quad City 3-2, with the returned from injury Bengstberg picking up the win.  The forward lines were unchanged, but with Rutkowski recalled the team brought up SPHL defenseman Chris Joseph on the strength of his incredible production (20-0-1-1); this lead to the reuniting of the IceMen’s worst blueline pairing (Humphries-Himelson).  The goals:
1. MacDonald steals the puck in his own zone and Sims finishes off a nice pass from Moon
2. Humphries loses the battle for the puck and a pass from behind the net finds a wide open Mallard who makes no mistake
3. On a delayed penalty call on Moon the Mallard’s score from the point off a one-timer
4. Less than two-minutes later Guptill finds Duco open in the slot and he makes no mistake
5. A minute later Moon bangs in MacDonald‘s rebound

A solid game from the Swedish netminder.

The IceMen would lose the next game against the Mallards 6-4, this time with Zenzola in net (no lineup changes).  The goals:
1. Three-way passing play beats Zenzola (as Fawcett doesn’t skate to cover his check)
2. On the PP after a huge melee the Mallards pounce on a rebound
3. Wideman scores on the rush from the top of the circle
4. On a delayed penalty call Guptill scores via a backhand in the slot
5. Rumble steals the puck and Guptill finds Dunn wide open who makes no mistake
6. Zenzola is beaten off a tip
7. Zenzola is beat on a clear breakaway as Rumble was out of position
8. Just after their PP expires Humphries can’t contain his check who bangs in a pass from the corner
9. Mallards score on the empty net from center ice
10. Duco is left all alone in front and makes no mistake

Evansville took far too many penalties (shorthanded six times) and paid the price.  A few trends to note: the IceMen have now had an edge in shot differential the last three games; they haven’t scored a powerplay goal in four games; the powerplay goal against was the first in four games.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Ottawa beat Boston 3-1 on the weekend in a game that wasn’t that exciting and featured yet more of Dave Cameron’s lack of imagination/incompetence with the lineup (Ross A provides a breakdown).  You can see the organisation’s philosophy in player usage, as Max McCormick nearly played 10 minutes versus Ryan Dzingel getting barely 5 in the last game–“grit” over skill every time.

Travis Yost reminds me of a great Dave Tippett comment:

We had a player that was supposed to be a great, shut-down defenseman.  He was supposedly the be-all, end-all of defenseman.  But when you did a 10-game analysis of him, you found out he was defending all the time because he can’t move the puck.

Amen.

Binghamton_Senators_svg

I posted a breakdown of the team’s performance prior to their weekend games.  Speaking of the team, at long last Troy Rutkowski was been recalled (replacing the suspended Mark Fraser).  From watching Rutkowski at this level I can see his primary issue: his skating.  He’s not fleet of foot, although there’s always room to improve that.  Now with Fraser back from suspension Rutkowski is out.

On Saturday Binghamton faced punchless Hartford (the lowest scoring team in the conference), winning the game 4-2 on the strength of their powerplay (3 goals).  O’Connor got the start and the team played the same forward lines as their last game, with Rutkowski and Carlisle filling in for injured/suspended players.  Prior to the game Luke Richardson actually praised Tobias Lindberg.  Highlights:
-Nice defensive play by Robinson stealing a pass to the point
1. BSens get a turnover off the linseman and an innocent point shot by Lepine deflects in off a defenders stick
O’Connor stops a breakaway (Mullen was pokechecked at the blueline)
-“Stortini couldn’t get to it” should be a meme
2. Robinson hooked as the trigger man on a 2-on-1 and on the PP O’Dell picks up the garbage off a Schneider deflection
Flanagan gets an incredibly rare faceoff violation call which results in one great save by O’Connor during the PK (Schneider late on the backcheck for the man alone in front)
-Neither Paul nor Schneider can capitalize on a loose puck in front
3. BSens take a too-many-men call and on the PK O’Connor is beat through a screen
Second
4. On a 5-on-3 PP Schneider cleans-up the garbage in front of the net
Mullen with a brutal giveaway straight up the gut, but O’Connor bails him out (in fairness, the pass was to Stortini so perhaps a real hockey player would receives it before it gets to the opposition)
5. Lepine passes to the wrong team and on the rebound of the initial shot Hartford cashes in (Kostka had no idea there was a player behind him)
Mullen with a great defensive interception
Claesson gets yet another clipping penalty
-Nice little scramble in front with Robinson and O’Dell having chances
-Great save by O’Connor off a one-timer
Third
Lindberg all alone in front but backhands it wide on the PP
6. On the PP a nice little backhand pass to a wide open O’Dell through the crease

Without Harpur and Fraser in the lineup there were fewer defensive gaffes and a better offensive flow for the team.  O’Connor didn’t have to be the hero to earn the win.

On Sunday Binghamton faced Hershey (the fifth best team in the conference), this time with Driedger in net.  The only other change was Hobbs returning to the lineup with McCormick‘s inexplicable NHL call-up.  The play-by-play:
-Nice D from Claesson sweeping the puck out of harms way on a centering pass
1. Fantastic give-and-go between Lindberg and Paul with the latter scoring on a deke
O’Dell drops the gloves after a clean hit on Rutkowski–pretty silly, but I’m sure Richardson loved it
-Great save by Driedger on the PK off a re-direct
Lindberg steals the puck and sets up Paul for a one-timer
O’Dell picks up an errant pass and gets the puck to Dzingel for a great chance in the slot
2. Just moments after that play Dzingel gets caught in no-man’s land and Driedger is beat far side off the post from just inside the circle
Mullen loses the puck at the blueline leading to a 2-on-1
Claesson makes a great shot block in the slot
Second
-Great save by Driedger on the PK from a shot in the slot
Lepine turns the puck over right in front of his net, but Driedger is there
Mullen‘s backhand pass bounces off the side of the net (intended for a Lepine who was nowhere near the net) and goes to a Hershey player who is stoned by Driedger
-Paul turns it over on the same sequence forcing yet another save from Driedger right in front
-Sens 5-on-3 features Stortini who is unable to either make a pass or carry the puck resulting in an easy out on the only entry the BSens had into the zone
3. With the PP now 5-on-4 Puempel finishes off a pretty three-way passing play
4. Flanagan with a brutal turnover in the slot and Hershey makes no mistake
Stortini-line is stuck in its own end for an eternity with a near miss right in front of Driedger
5. Lindberg steals the puck and passes on a 2-on-0 to Robinson
-Claesson turns it over leading to a breakaway and save by Driedger; he proceeds to turn it over immediately after the save requiring another great save from a shot in the slot
Third
6. Flanagan picks up a Hershey turnover, drops it to Puempel who scores top-shelf, far side from just inside the circle
Stortini-line hemmed in again with turnovers from Rutkowski and the captain (a shot going off the post during the sequence)
Lindberg with a steal in the offensive zone but Paul can’t quite get the tip on his high shot
Dzingel hustles back to break up a 3-on-2
-An exhausted Rutkowski nearly had a breakaway after a steal (he managed a shot, but couldn’t create separation)
-Nice save from Driedger from in tight (both Paul and Kostka were caught chasing the same player behind the net, leaving the Hershey forward wide open)
7. BSens lose the draw and Driedger is beat as Kostka is used as a screen
-Great save by Driedger on a spinorama in front
8. Greening scores on the empty net

Driedger deserves full credit for the win as against a good team the BSens returned to being a sloppy turnover machine.  Offensively it was a great night for the Paul-line and ultimately it was the team’s ability to capitalize on third-string goaltender Dekanich that maximized their superior goaltending.

While it’s great that the BSens are on a winning streak, fans have to be realistic and understand they are beating backup (or third-string) goaltenders and mostly poor teams (Leigh Valley and Hartford).  Even after three-straight wins the team is still six points behind the next worst team in the conference (Springfield).

EvansvilleIceMenCHL

Evansville won its only game of the holidays on Saturday, beating Cincinnati 4-2 in a game they dominated (outshooting the Cyclones 51-19).  Zenzola picked up the win.  The goals:
1. Humphries throws the puck away and Zenzola is beaten at a bad angle short side
2. Cyclones score off a high backhand in the slot
3. Moon steals the puck and on the ensuing possession Zay scores with a backhand in the slot
4. Leveille scores on a breakaway
5. Sims scores off a rebound
4. Duco scores on an empty net

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Binghamton Season Overview (updated)

Binghamton_Senators_svg

The Christmas break seemed like a good time to update my snapshot of Binghamton’s season thus far.  Here what my last assessment boiled down to:

Clearly the team is tumbling over a precipice

That was 12 games ago and since that time Binghamton has gone 3-8-1, which is essentially the same pace as the start of the season (4-9-1).  Let’s look at the big numbers:
7-17-2 (last in the North Division, 29th in the AHL)
71 Goals For (13th in their conference, 21st overall)
94 Goals Against (worst in the league by GAA)
14.6% PP (13 goals scored; 21st in the league)
79.2% PK (25 goals against, 27th in the league)
6 games with a significant negative shot differential (1-5-0)
6 games with a significant positive shot differential (3-2-1)
Record when giving up a PP goal 3-13-1
Record when scoring a PP goal 4-5-1

Their scoring has dropped from 7th to 13th, their goals against has also dropped to 30th; since I looked at their special teams 7 games ago they haven’t scored on the powerplay (0-20), while their PK has marginally improved (from 77.5%).  Other notes of interest:
-In 6 of their 7 wins the BSens gave up only 1 goal against
Lindberg has dressed in every game (6) where the BSens have enjoyed a significant shot differential (+9 or more)
-In the aforementioned games Harpur was either scratched or missed most of the game due to injury (4 of 6)
Harpur played in every game (6) where the BSens suffered a significant negative shot differential (-7 or more)
-GA when Harpur is scratched: 3.00 over 5 games (vs 3.76 when he plays)

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

Even Strength Point Leaders (by points-per-game)
Dzingel 21 (0.80)
Lindberg 10 (0.55)
O’Dell 11 (0.50)
Puempel 8 (0.47)
Dziurzynski 9 (0.45)
Schneider 10 (0.38)
McCormick 8 (0.38)
Kostka 7 (0.35)
Mullen 7 (0.26)
Greening 6 (0.26)
Paul 6 (0.24)
Claesson 6 (0.23)
Robinson 4 (0.22)
Stortini 5 (0.20)
Lepine 3 (0.15)
Fraser 3 (0.12)
Ewanyk 3 (0.11)

Powerplay Point Leaders (bracketed: on-ice for PP goals)
Schneider 6 (10)
Mullen 5 (9)
O’Dell 4 (6)
Puempel 4 (6)
Greening 3 (5)
Stortini 3 (3)
Lindberg 2 (3)
Paul 2 (3)
Dzingel 1 (6)
Kostka 1 (2)
Claesson 1 (2)
Carlisle 1 (1)
Ewanyk 1 (1)

On-Ice for powerplay goals against (25 total)
Claesson 19
Kostka 12
Dziurzynski 10
Ewanyk 8
Mullen 7
McCormick 7
Fraser 6
Greening 6
Schneider 6
Robinson 4
Lepine 4
Hobbs 3
5 players tied at 1

Player-by-player: I’m not a huge fan of using grades, but it’s a simple way to reflect how they’ve played (A=above and beyond expectations, B=exceeds expectations, C=meets expectations, D=below expectations, F=god awful); other acronyms: ESP=even-strength points PPP=powerplay points, SOG=shots on goal:

Ryan Dzingel 26-7-15-22 ESP 21 PPP 1 SOG 76 Grade B
Far and away the most dominant offensive player on the team, his lack of powerplay points is puzzling but something I expect to turn around; he’s far ahead when it comes to even-strength production.  Here’s how he’s done with his linemates:
O’Dell-Lindberg 10-0-4-4
O’Dell-McCormick 4-0-3-3
O’Dell-Schneider 3-2-1-3
Paul-Lindberg 2-2-2-4
Schneider-Puempel 2-0-1-1
McCormick-Robinson 1-1-2-3
Puempel-McCormick 1-0-2-2
O’Dell-Robinson 1-1-0-1
Guptill-Robinson 1-1-0-1
Lindberg-Robinson 1-0-0-0
He’s spent most of the year with O’Dell (18 games), followed by Lindberg (13), McCormick (6), and Schneider (5).  There’s been no sensitivity from the coaching staff in following the production shown here.  He deserved his call-up to Ottawa and for my money he’s one of only three forwards who should see time in the NHL if there are injuries/trades.

Cole Schneider 26-10-7-17 ESP 10 PPP 6 SOG 77 Grade C
His production has fallen off a cliff lately (9-1-1-2), mostly while playing with Puempel and Paul.  It’s difficult to zero in on what the problem has been and I see it largely as a slump combined with struggling linemates.  Here is his production by line:
Paul-Puempel 11-4-3-7
Paul-McCormick 4-2-0-2
O’Dell-Dzingel 4-2-4-6
O’Dell-Greening 3-2-0-2
Dzingel-Puempel 1-0-0-0
Lindberg-Paul 1-0-0-0
Paul-Robinson 1-0-0-0
O’Dell-McCormick 1-0-0-0
He’s spent most of the season with Paul (17 games), then Puempel (12), O’Dell (8), McCormick (5) and Dzingel (5).  Like with Dzingel above, the coaching staff have shown little sensitivity to production rates with linemates (why they try to shoehorn McCormick into scoring roles is beyond me).  He’s the second of three forwards on this list who deserves a shot in the NHL when call-ups occur (he’s excellent defensively).

Eric O’Dell 22-9-6-15 ESP 11 PPP 4 SOG 47 Grade C
His production has slowed significantly since October (14-4-4-8), although some of that can be attributed to ever-shifting linemates.  Here’s how he’s performed with various combinations:
Dzingel-Lindberg 10-6-1-7
Dzingel-McCormick 4-1-1-2
Dzingel-Schneider 3-1-2-3
Greening-Schneider 3-0-2-2
Dzingel-Robinson 1-0-1-1
Schneider-McCormick 1-0-0-0
He’s spent most of the season with Dzingel (18 games), then Lindberg (10), Schneider (6), and McCormick (5).  He’s produced at some level with most combinations, although the puzzling desire to shove McCormick into a scoring role hasn’t help.  He’s not worth an NHL call-up at this stage, as he doesn’t really drive offense, producing only when with players who do.

Patrick Mullen 26-1-13-14 ESP 7 PPP 5 SOG 29 Grade B
For a player BSens fans pilloried the previous season, I’ve been surprised at how good he’s been–easily the best and most consistent defensemen on the team this year.  He’s the only blueliner doing anything on the PP and he’s been effective on the PK as well (including being on-ice for four of the team’s five short-handed goals).  Saddled with the dead weight that is Fraser most of the season, when his partner was suspended he got the moribund Harpur instead.  He’s got good speed, good hands, and has been solid defensively.  Could he fill-in at the NHL level?  I’m not sure, but by performance he’s the most deserving on the blueline at the moment.

Matt Puempel 17-7-5-12 ESP 8 PPP 4 SOG 45 Grade D
Much more is expected of a first-round pick in the final year of his ELC, but he’s in the midst of a four-game pointless streak and simply hasn’t impressed.  Here’s his production through various linemates:
Paul-Schneider  11-5-3-8
Dzingel-Schneider 2-1-0-1
McCormick-Paul 1-0-1-1
Lindberg-Paul 1-0-1-1
McCormick-Dzingel 1-1-0-1
Flanagan-Greening 1-0-0-0
Most of his time has been spent with Paul (13 games) and Schneider (13), then Dzingel (3).  Unlike most of the other forwards there hasn’t been much experimentation with how Puempel has been deployed (other than the continuing failed experiment of putting him on the point on the powerplay)–so at least some of the fall in his production boils down to Paul‘s struggles.  Like O’Dell above, he doesn’t really drive the offense, but produces when he’s with players who do.  He did not deserve his NHL call-up.

Tobias Lindberg 18-3-9-12 ESP 10 PPP 2 SOG 40 Grade B
Jerked around by the coaching staff and then suffered through a mysterious injury that magically cured when the team needed a forward to fill out their line up.  Here’s a look at the team with and without him:
Record with/without: 6-10-2/1-7-0
GF with/without: 53 (2.94)/18 (2.25)
Beyond being one of the most productive players on the team (second in even-strength points), the team is much more competitive when he plays and he’s had a huge impact on their ability to score.  Despite this he’s somehow been in Richardson’s doghouse all season.  Here’s how he’s done with various linemates:
O’Dell-Dzingel 10-1-6-7
Dzingel-Paul 2-2-0-2
Paul-McCormick 2-0-0-0
Carlisle-Ewanyk 1-0-2-2
Paul-Schneider 1-0-1-1
Dzingel-Robinson 1-0-0-0
Paul-Puempel 1-0-0-0
He’s been most productive with Dzingel, who he’s played alongside with most (13 games); followed by O’Dell (10) and Paul (6).  A cerebral player, he has great speed, great hands, and a high hockey IQ.  His willingness to experiment offensively is probably what Richardson hates, but the coach needs to check his ego.  He’s the third (and final) forward worthy of an NHL call-up; he’s also the only forward prospect on the roster who might have top-six talent.

David Dziurzynski 20-5-6-11 ESP 9 SOG 26 Grade C
His unexpected fast start (15-5-6-11) was tailing off when he was inexplicably recalled to Ottawa.  I like Dizzy at the AHL-level, as he’s a useful player at this level, but it’s long been apparent he doesn’t have NHL talent.  Here’s his production with linemates:
Greening-Stortini 9-3-4-7
McCormick-Stortini 5-0-1-1
Da.Dziurzynski-Stortini 2-0-0-0
Paul-Wideman 1-0-1-1
Robinson-Wideman 1-1-0-1
Robinson-McCormick 1-0-1-1
Hobbs-Stortini 1-0-0-0
The thing to note here is how negatively playing with Stortini impacts him–those shiny numbers at the top with Greening don’t exist once the Newfoundlander is removed; the coaching staff doesn’t pay attention to production with him either (also of note is that, like everyone else, McCormick‘s presence does nothing to create offense).  His most frequently linemates are Stortini (17 games), Greening (9), and McCormick (6).

Colin Greening 23-5-5-10 ESP 6 PPP 3 SOG 46 Grade C
At this point in his career he is what he is, although his AHL numbers are lagging behind where they were when he started in Binghamton (in fairness to him he’s spent a lot of time playing on the fourth line).  Linemate production:
Dziurzynski-Stortini 9-2-3-5
Ewanyk-Stortini 5-1-0-1
Ewanyk-Hobbs 4-2-2-4
O’Dell-Schneider 3-0-0-0
Flanagan-Puempel 1-0-0-0
Flanagan-Ewanyk 1-0-0-0
He’s been on a long dry streak (7-1-0-1), compounded by playing with largely useless players (like Stortini).  His most frequent linemate is Stortini (14 games), followed by Ewanyk (9) and Dziurzynski (9), then Hobbs (4).  He doesn’t complement top-line players, but he is useful as a third-liner so long as he has decent linemates (he’s a north-south player who can’t distribute the puck, so someone has to do that work for him).

Max McCormick 21-7-3-10 ESP 8 SOG 54 Grade C
Has spent far too much time playing top-six and powerplay minutes, but as an organisation and coaching favourite, he’s been given a lot of opportunities.  Here’s his production by linemate:
Dziurznyski-Stortini 5-1-0-1
Paul-Schneider 4-3-1-4
Dzingel-O’Dell 4-2-0-2
Paul-Lindberg 2-0-0-0
Dzingel-Robinson 1-1-1-2
Dziurzynski-Robinson 1-0-1-1
O’Dell-Schneider 1-0-0-0
Paul-Puempel 1-0-0-0
Dzingel-Puempel 1-0-0-0
Paul-Robinson 1-0-0-0
He’s played most often with Paul (8 games), Dzingel (6), Schneider (5 games) and Dziurzynski (5) and Stortini (5).  The lack of consistency in linemates and production are evident (you’ll also note that despite copious powerplay time he hasn’t produced with the man-advantage). I’d take his positive numbers with Paul-Schneider as non-repeatable.  While I like McCormick quite a bit, he’s an offensive drag and needs to be put on an energy line that doesn’t have production expectations (he’s a lot like Greening where he’s a north-south player with a decent shot, but can’t distribute the puck or drive the play).

Michael Kostka 20-1-7-8 ESP 7 PPP 1 SOG 50 Grade C
The veteran blueliner has spent most of the year carrying around the lumbering dead weight of Lepine.  Other than a productive November (7-1-4-5), he’s struggled to produce offensively (13-0-3-3), something hinged on having to do so much work for his partner.  He’s also failed to produce on the powerplay, but as he’s often on the second unit that’s a mitigating factor.  I wouldn’t say I expected more from Kostka, but he was not having a season that deserved an NHL call-up.

Zack Stortini 24-4-4-8 ESP 5 PPP 3 SOG 27 Grade F
The lumbering goon has been an expected disaster this season–he can’t skate, play defense, pass, or shoot, yet he’s been given endless opportunities on the powerplay and on the third line to contribute.  Richardson (and the organisation) has a soft spot for useless veterans and that has benefited Stortini enormously at the expense of much better teammates.  Here’s a look at his linemate production:
Greening-Dziurzynski 9-2-2-4
Dziurzynski-McCormick 5-0-1-1
Greening-Ewanyk 5-1-0-1
Dziurzynski-Da.Dziurzynski 2-1-1-2
Ewanyk-Hobbs 1-0-0-0
Dziurzynski-Hobbs 1-0-0-0
Ewanyk-Penny 1-0-0-0
His most frequent linemates are Dziurznyski (17 games), then Greening (14), and Ewanyk (7).  If you parse out his powerplay points there’s basically no production with anyone and he hurts his linemates (only Greening-Dziurzynski could somewhat overcome the burden of carrying him).  If he has to play at all it’s on the fourth line, but the team would be better off if he never hit the ice.

Nick Paul 25-1-7-8 ESP 6 PPP 2 SOG 39 Grade D
What a rough start for the rookie; a talented player with good hands, he completely lost his confidence when Richardson irrationally scratched him on November 7th (a mistake the coach has at least learned from, as he hasn’t been scratched again): pre-scratch 9-0-5-5, post-scratch 16-1-2-3.  He’s had excellent linemates for the most part:
Schneider-Puempel 11-0-5-5
Schneider-McCormick 4-0-1-1
Dzingel-Lindberg 2-0-1-1
Lindberg-McCormick 2-0-0-0
Schneider-Lindberg 1-1-0-1
Schneider-Robinson 1-0-0-0
Robinson-McCormick 1-0-0-0
Lindberg-Puempel 1-0-0-0
McCormick-Puempel 1-0-0-0
Dziurzynski-Wideman 1-0-0-0
His most frequent linemates are Schneider (17 games), Puempel (13), McCormick (8), and Lindberg (6).  What’s clear from this picture is Paul needs two talented linemates or he can’t produce (that the McCormick experiment has continued for so is unfathomable).  There was a lot of hype about Paul prior to the season and I think he still has the potential to be a useful top-nine forward, but he’ll need plenty of time to develop.

Fredrik Claesson 26-2-6-8 ESP 6 PPP 1 SOG 24 Grade C
Another competent defenseman stuck with lamentable partners; by and large he’s carried Harpur around all season and that’s been a struggle for him.  Here’s how he’s done with his various partners:
Harupr 14-1-3-4 -10
Carlisle 7-1-2-3 +2
Tuzzolino 5-0-1-1 +2
Don’t be fooled, Tuzzolino is also awful, but he’s not as god-awful as Harpur.  There are a couple of puzzling things here: 1) Freddy should not be on the powerplay, but he has consistently played on the second unit, 2) he’s been on-ice for most of Binghamton’s powerplay goals against by a wide margin, but I’m not sure if this is a bad sign or simply a product of a small-sample size.  It’s really hard to assess Claesson as he’s been saddled with the worst defenseman in the organisation for over half his season.

Buddy Robinson 18-3-2-5 ESP 4 SOG 32 Grade C
Why a player coming off back-to-back 30-plus point seasons has been marooned on the fourth-line so often is beyond me (it’s to make room for Stortini, but that’s a terrible reason).  His usage is what underlies his poor offensive numbers.  His lines:
Ewanyk-Hobbs 5-1-1-2
Flanagan-Penny 4-1-0-1
Paul-McCormick 1-1-0-1
Wideman-Dziurzynski 1-0-1-1
O’Dell-Dzingel 1-0-0-0
Schneider-Paul 1-0-0-0
Dzingel-McCormick 1-0-0-0
Ewanyk-Carlisle 1-0-0-0
Lindberg-Dzingel 1-0-0-0
Guptill-Dzingel 1-0-0-0
Dziurzynski-McCormick 1-0-0-0
He really hasn’t had regular linemates, but the most frequent is Ewanyk (6), Hobbs (4) and Flanagan (4) and Penny (4) and Dzingel (4).  I’m not sure what you can expect from Robinson offensively given how he’s been used (he’s been fine defensively).  He’s best suited to third-line duties.

Chris Carlisle 16-2-2-4 ESP 2 PPP 2 SOG 21 Grade C
Called up early in the season from Evansville when it became apparent that the horrific blueline in Binghamton needed help.  Despite that need, he’s spent a third of his time (5 games) dressed as a forward.  As a blueliner he’s spent most of his time with Claesson, but he’s also spent time with Kostka:
Claesson 7-1-1-2 +2
Kostka 4-0-1-1 +1
The numbers are essentially the same and the fact he’s been scratched the last three games makes no sense whatsoever.  He deserves to be playing regularly on defense given the current defensecorps.

Travis Ewanyk 26-1-3-4 ESP 3 PPP 1 SOG 32 Grade F
A player who obviously belongs in the ECHL, inexplicably he’s been dressed for every game this season.  What does he do well?  Nothing.  He adds nothing to the team whatsoever.  Here are his line splits:
Greening-Stortini 5-0-1-1
Hobbs-Robinson 5-0-0-0
Hobbs-Greening 4-1-0-1
Hobbs-Carlisle 3-0-0-0
Hobbs-Guptill 2-0-1-1
Hobbs-Wideman 2-0-0-0
Flanagan-Greening 1-0-1-1
Lindberg-Carlisle 1-0-0-0
Robinson-Carlisle 1-0-0-0
Hobbs-Stortini 1-0-0-0
Penny-Stortini 1-0-0-0
While Hobbs was healthy they formed part of a line (17 games); he’s followed by Stortini (7), Robinson (6), and Greening (5) and Carlisle (5).

Guillaume Lepine 19-0-3-3 ESP 3 SOG 22 Grade F
The ECHL defensemen is one of those big, lumbering, physical players who doesn’t do anything well but is “good in the corners”.  Carried by Kostka, he’s unfortunately a better option than either Harpur or Tuzzolino.  To understand how comically bad he is, look at his numbers when moved away from his regular partner:
Kostka 15-0-3-3 +7
Tuzzolino: 2-0-0-0 -4
Harpur 2-0-0-0 -2
He should be giving part of his paycheck to Kostka.

Mark Fraser 24-0-3-3 ESP 3 SOG 17 Grade F
He’s big, he’s fast, and he’s physical, which apparently is enough to blind the organisation to the fact that he can’t play defense at the AHL-level.  A selfish player who continually takes dumb penalties (along with regular defensive gaffes), Mullen has had to do yeoman’s work to make his numbers seem almost reasonable.  Watching him try to make a pass or shoot the puck is painful.

Danny Hobbs 18-1-1-2 ESP 2 SOG 26 Grade F
An ECHL forward that Richardson fell in love with last season, he does nothing well–the only positive I can give him is he hasn’t taken as many selfish penalties as most of the other bottom-six forwards.

Darian Dziurzynski 3-1-0-1 ESP 1 SOG 8 Grade incomplete
A PTO call-up from the ECHL who showed a lot of energy, but the sample size is simply too small to assess him (other than he’s clearly better than players like Ewanyk and Hobbs).

Kyle Flanagan 7-1-0-1 ESP 1 SOG 7 Grade C
Another PTO call-up from the ECHL, there are things to like about his game (speed and puck-skills), but he’s shown defensive weakness and a tendency to take penalties when he gets in trouble.  His linemates:
Penny-Robinson 4-1-0-1
Greening-Puempel 1-0-0-0
Ewanyk-Greening 1-0-0-0
Dziurzynski-Penny 1-0-0-0
I think there are better options the BSens could use to take his place.

Alex Guptill 3-0-1-1 ESP 1 SOG 6 Grade F
Now in the ECHL, he didn’t look like he belonged in the AHL and his performance in Evansville (17-6-2-8) hasn’t changed that opinion

Ben Harpur 21-0-1-1 ESP 1 SOG 11 Grade F
The worst player on the roster by a large margin, he needs his defensive partner to do all the work for him.  He’s not quick, he’s not strong, he’s not aggressive, he’s not good positionally, he can’t pass, he can’t shoot–basically he occupies space and a roster spot–c’est tous.  His partners:
Claesson 14-0-1-1 -8
Tuzzolino 2-0-0-0 -1
Mullen 2-0-0-0 -3
Lepine 2-0-0-0 -2
Kostka 1-0-0-0 even
No one can make him look even competent and the organisation needs to send him to Evansville to see if it’s even possible for him to develop.

Nick Tuzzolino 9-0-0-0 SOG 13 Grade F
The ECHL-defensemen was awful in limited duty and Richardson praising him earlier this season was ridiculous; he belongs in Evansville.  His splits:
Claesson 5-0-0-0 Even
Harpur 2-0-0-0 -4
Lepine 2-0-0-0 -2

Ryan Penny 6-0-0-0 SOG 8 Grade C
One of only two call-ups from the affiliate in Evansville; the rookie had decent numbers in the ECHL (17-3-7-10), and has a reasonable skill-set; he’s clearly better than some of the fourth-line alternatives and hasn’t had the defensive gaffes of (say) Flanagan above.

Alex Wideman 4-0-0-0 SOG 0 Grade F
I have no idea why he wasn’t immediately sent to the ECHL; while he has good speed, he doesn’t bring anything else to the table (how does a forward have no shots in four games?); he’s been effective in Evansville (22-4-13-17)

Chris Driedger 5-6-0 3.02 .907 Grade B
Had a great start and deserved his NHL call-up (where Dave Cameron ignored him).  In his one game since coming back he was off his game, but one game doesn’t mean much.  By my count he’s given up 5 bad goals this year (quite reasonable given the numbers of games he’s played)

Matt O’Connor 2-9-2- 3.65 .878 Grade D
An atrocious start that had some questioning his future, his last three games he’s turned it around and given a hint that the good times could continue.  There’s a lot of season left and it will be interesting to see how he does behind Binghamton’s porous defense.  He’s given up 12 bad goals this year (which is very high)

Andrew Hammond 0-2-0 4.05 .864 Grade F
Was awful in his conditioning stint

Scott Greenham 0-0-0 4.92 .800 Grade incomplete
Arrived in Binghamton coming off an injury in the ECHL and did not look right in limited duty; it took him awhile to regain his form in Evansville once he was returned

Coaching
What impact has Luke Richardson had on this team?  He’s been terrible.  Jerking around Paul put him in a long funk, while whatever war he’s having with Lindberg is selfish and simply hurts the team.  Despite talking about the team taking fewer penalties, that talk has made no difference and he’s done nothing to punish the players most guilty of doing so.  His preference for certain veterans (especially Stortini) hurts the team tremendously, and his stubbornness in keeping players without good hands on the powerplay has caused it to stumble.  Finally, instead of taking responsibility for the team’s performance he offers up excuses.  I’ve been saying this for awhile now, but he needs to go and be replaced by someone who knows what they’re doing.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

The Sens lost 2-1 to Florida in a shootout in a game where they basically didn’t deserve even a point.  Dave Cameron showed his lack of imagination by barely playing either Ryan Dzingel or Shane Prince and continuing to give us a steady diet of guys who are “good in the corners” (David Dziurzynski now has the NHL’s worst Corsi rating).

6th sens

Nichols points to Ottawa’s December-slide and their continuing poor underlying numbers.  You’d think something like this would alert the organisation to the reality of analytics, but we all know how they think–they will blame the schedule and think about how if they had just a bit more toughness and ‘compete level’ everything would be alright….

I bring this up just for Nichols:

Dzingel has never appeared or earned an honorable mentionable in one of ESPN Insider’s Corey Pronman top 10 prospects lists for the Senators since his draft year

Take this as a sign about Pronman’s ability to assess prospects.  I know ESPN pays him to write things about prospects and you want to rely on a professional since you don’t pay attention to prospects, but the proof is in the pudding and his track record with Ottawa is awful.  Anyone who has watched Ryan Dzingel play or paid attention to his career is not surprised by the recall.

STATS

I stumbled across this the other day and it’s a quote I think is well-worth sharing:

It’s not hard to see why MSM [mainstream media] would hate advanced stats, of course. It undercuts their voice of authority and takes away from the ability to craft a narrative at will. Why take at face value a story from an MSM member about a certain player “always crumbling under pressure” when you can see an argument, with numbers readily available to anybody with some time on their hands, showing that might not be the case.

We can add to this that many of them find understanding advanced stats difficult, putting them in a position to be embarrassed by the general public, so rather than admit ignorance they simply attack the system and its advocates.

Binghamton_Senators_svg

Jeff Ulmer has a post praising both Fredrik Claesson and Ryan Dzingel and I thought I’d add my own two cents on both players:

The 23-year-old Swede is playing the role of a mentor this season being paired up with rookie Ben Harpur

Claesson has played 14 of his 26 games paired with the hapless Harpur.  Here are his numbers with each partner:
Harpur 14-1-3-4 -10
Carlisle 7-1-2-3 +2
Tuzzolino 5-0-1-1 +2
There’s little question that Harpur is the primary drag for Freddy.

He excels on the penalty kill and is always the one out on the ice killing penalties and the occasional five on three situations.

This brings up one of the weirdest stats I’ve tracked: he’s been on-ice for a disproportionate number of powerplay goals against (19 of 25), far above any other defender (his usual PK partner Michael Kostka is next at 12; Patrick Mullen is at 7, Mark Fraser at 6, Guillaume Lepine at 4, and Tuzzolino and Harpur at 1 each).  Is this simply bad luck for Claesson?  A larger sample size is needed before I’d be comfortable saying either way, but it’s something to keep in mind.

There has been some rumors that he might return to his homeland and play for his beloved Djurgården hockey team in Johanneshov, Sweden if Ottawa doesn’t tender a new contract after signing an extension over the off season

I hadn’t heard this particular rumour before, although I’d be shocked if Ottawa didn’t offer him a contract extension.

Moving on to the recalled and returned Ryan Dzingel:

Might need to add some weight as his speed will work in the AHL but that could be an issue when facing bigger, more experienced players in the NHL. He’s got time in his development to fill out while continue to improve in finishing out his play-making abilities while carrying the puck in the offensive zone. Should be a strong contender for next year’s opportunity in training camp as he’s still a ways off before getting a call.

I think Jeff means he may need to add some strength rather than size (added size would dilute one of his assets, namely speed).  Dzingel‘s NHL-potential is hard to assess as yet, but he certainly has the hands and speed to play (reminiscent of Mike Hoffman in that respect), but this is an organisation that jerks their skilled players around, so it’s hard to see what Dzingel‘s fate will be moving forward.  It is a positive that he was recalled over Matt Puempel.

There’s less to say from Jeff’s piece on Dzingel, but I’ll add he was given a bit of the Tobias Lindberg treatment in his rookie season as Luke Richardson jerked him around the lineup and periodically benched him for worse players.  This season at least, Dzingel is getting the opportunities he deserves at the AHL-level.

prospects

QMHL
Francis Perron (Rouyn-Noranda) 31-25-33-58
Now third in the league in scoring (also third in points-per-game)
Filip Chlapik
(Charlottetown) 26-6-17-23
Is with the Czech WJC team
Tomas Chabot
(Saint John) 22-7-13-20
Is with Canada’s WJC team
Gabriel Gagne (Victoriaville/Shawinigan) 6-4-3-7
Traded to Shawinigan on the 20th; has been injured most of the year

USHL
Joel Daccord (Muskegon) 9-7-1 2.67 .906
Dropped to 17th in league save percentage

NCAA
Colin White (Boston College) 16-8-15-23
Playing on the US WJC team
Christian Wolanin (U North Dakota) 16-3-5-8
Third on the team in blueline scoring
Quentin Shore (U Denver) 16-4-4-8
Starting to produce
Kelly Summers
(Clarkson U) 15-0-6-6
No change since last time
Robert Baillargeon
(Boston U) 17-3-3-6
Continues to struggle in his junior season
Shane Eiserman (New Hampshire) 15-0-6-6
At about the same pace as his rookie season
Miles Gendron (Connecticut) 12-2-3-5
Third on the team in blueline scoring
Chris Leblanc (Merrimack) 14-1-1-2
Continues along his ugly junior season

Sweden
Marcus Hogberg (Linkoping) 8-3-3 2.64 .897
Hasn’t played since last time
Andreas Englund (Djurgardens) 24-1-0-1
With Sweden’s WJC team
Filip Ahl
(HV71) 12-0-0-0 (HV71 Jr) 18-18-13-31
Crushing Swedish junior (fourth in overall scoring, first in points-per-game)
Christian Jaros (Lulea) 3-0-0-0 (Asploven Jr) 22-2-3-5
Continues to be 5th in scoring from the blueline

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Ary M takes a look at Ottawa’s 5-2 loss to Tampa, while RobFeature wraps up their 4-2 win over San Jose on Friday.

[Just a quick update: Ryan Dzingel was just recalled and that’s well deserved.]

pierre dorion

Nichols ponders the future if Bryan Murray steps down and Pierre Dorion becomes the Sens next GM.  The big question is: will Dorion be progressive, or will he continue the lamentable dedication to using an ‘eye test’ for players and favour “good in the corners” guys over those with skill?  It’s impossible to know because Dorion has to follow the party line publicly, so it’s a guessing game if/until he’s handed the reins.  What is clear is that Murray is done–the game has passed him by and he’s a drag on the organisation.

Ary M offers a lengthy prospect update which is well worth reading through.  A couple of notes:
-I’m dubious that Andreas Englund has the puck-skills to help Binghamton next season (or Ottawa in the future)–you can read what scouts said when he was drafted here
Gabriel Gagne was taken before everyone‘s projections (the Central Scouting number Ary references is narrow, only comparing him to other non-goaltending NA skaters); you can read about him here

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Binghamton released Darian Dziurzynski from his PTO (apparently losing out to Flanagan as a fill-in).  This seems like the right move if you compare the two players prior AHL-numbers.

It was the same lineup for the BSens (plus Driedger) against Syracuse on Friday night and it was a complete disaster.  The play-by-play:
-Great stop by Driedger on a 2-on-1 down low (Fraser took a penalty on the play–the BSens broadcast crew lay into him for how dumb it was, which of course, it was)
1. On the PP Kostka gets caught out in no-man’s land leaving a man open who makes a nice tip in the slot
Dzingel has a great chance in front and in the following sequence the team draws a penalty and Paul has another great chance
Kostka gets the poke-check in to prevent a breakaway chance (this while the BSens were on the aforementioned PP)
-Another great save by Driedger as a man is left alone in front (Stortini‘s check, but he couldn’t keep up)
O’Dell with a great chance in the slot
Second
-Nice back check by McCormick
2. Driedger is beaten on a soft wrist shot through a screen
McCormick with a brutal giveaway in his own zone, but Driedger bails him out
-Nice D from Penny
-Great point-blank save by Driedger
Claesson is kicked out of the game after a second fighting major
Schneider scores, but the goal is wiped out because Fraser was pointlessly wrestling with a Crunch player behind the play
Third
3. Robinson picked up a holding-the-puck call putting the BSens down 5-on-3 and not long after a great save by Driedger (back to 5-on-4) the Crunch score off a soft wrist shot from the point
-Alone in front Dzingel can’t bury it
Greening takes a needless penalty in the offensive zone
Lepine takes a dumb, selfish penalty behind the play
4. On the PP the Crunch score on a nice tip

This was a prototypical Binghamton game–struggling with offense, defense, and discipline.  Other than Dzingel and O’Dell the forwards generated virtually nothing.  Fraser continues to be Fraser is continues to be exasperating.  The BSens hadn’t scored a powerplay goal since Lindberg‘s injury six games ago, incidentally.

On Saturday night the BSens beat Leigh Valley 2-1.  Initially the only lineup changes were Matt O’Connor starting and Tobias Lindberg magically healthy (overcoming the Richardson Flu?) as Max McCormick was out with injury.  However, Richardson juggled all four lines and I liked most of the changes (Stortini on the fourth in particular, although the lumbering enforcer is still inexplicably on the powerplay–which hasn’t scored now in seven games now).  The play-by-play:
-An exhausted Schneider can’t keep up with his check who rushes all alone in front, but baubles the puck and can’t put a shot on goal
Harpur passes to the wrong team, but fortunately Leigh Valley throws a weak wrister at the net
-On the BSens broadcast there was a funny (but accurate) comment about the defense: “we know Binghamton’s defense so we know he [O’Connor] will be tested”
Flanagan takes a dumb tripping penalty in the neutral zone; Harpur went off with an injury at the time (after falling in the corner earlier)
-Binghamton can’t score with a 5-on-3 advantage (best chance was for Puempel down low)
O’Dell makes a great defensive play by lifting the stick right in front
Mullen is out of position leaving a Leigh forward wide open in front and O’Connor makes a great save
Second
-Nice defensive play in front of his own net by Mullen intercepting a pass
Claesson makes a brutal pass behind his intended target, but fortunately nothing comes of it
-Good chance for Paul from the bottom of the circle
-Nice cross-ice pass by Lindberg for a Schneider one-timer, but his shot is deflected high
Greening is all alone in front but can’t cash in
1. Mullen breaks up the rush and Dzingel picks up the loose puck and scores (inexplicably O’Dell was given an assist and Mullen was not)
Paul with a great tip in front
-Wonky shot by Lepine deflects a couple of times and almost sneaks in
Puempel appears to be hurt after being run into the boards (he returned in the third)
Flanagan takes another dumb penalty (this time in the offensive zone)
-BSens have back-to-back odd-man rushes shorthanded but can’t get a shot on either of them
Kostka throws the puck away on the PK, but nothing comes of it
Third
Kostka passes to the wrong team in front but Paul deflects the shot wide
Lepine gives it away, but the BSens recover the puck
Fraser is turned into a pylon and O’Connor has to make a great save
Robinson with a chance all alone in front
-Great play by Mullen to break up a 3-on-1
-Fantastic save by O’Connor on a one-timer
2. O’Dell gets turned inside out and then can’t take the stick or the man as the rebound gets banged in
3. Fraser‘s weak wrist shot is deflected into the slot by Lindberg and Paul makes no mistake for his first AHL-goal
-BSens broadcast talked about Lindberg and Paul being scratched back in October for “apparent lack of effort”, which is ridiculous

You could see the difference in having three competent forward lines made for Binghamton, as they had much better possession during the game.  O’Connor rarely had to be spectacular (although the defensive gaffes in front of him continue to be mindbogglingly regular), but I’m starting to believe he’s turned the corner (at last).

EvansvilleIceMenCHL

Evansville beat Indy 2-1 on Friday, with Scott Greenham picking up the win.  A look at the goals:
1. Greenham is beaten by a rocket far side just inside the top of the circle
2. Fawcett steals the puck and Wideman fires in a one-timer
3. A pair of plays at the blueline keep the puck in and off the second turnover Sims bangs in a rebound

It was a solid effort by the IceMen all around.  The game saw the end of Troy Rutkowski‘s hot streak (3-2-4-6), although he was instrumental in the game winning goal.

The IceMen lost their re-match with Indy 3-1 (Greenham taking the loss).  No lineup changes.  The goals:
1. Rumble throws the puck away and then Greenham deflects the puck into his own net
2. Rumble loses sight of the puck and provides the perfect screen on Greenham
3. MacDonald bangs in a rebound (although this goal was credited to Fawcett for some reason)
4. On the PP Himelson passes to the wrong team right in front of his own net

Evansville had an enormous edge in play, but their weak defensecorps continues to plague them.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Ottawa lost 2-1 to Washington as Dave Cameron continues to lay out his future plans as an AHL or OHL coach by playing Mark Borowiecki at forward.  NKB offers an overview of the game.

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The other day Jeff Ulmer (who covers Binghamton) said this:

I don’t normally rely on stats in player evaluations

What does this mean, exactly?  What does he rely on?  The problem with being overly dependent on the “eye test”, which I assume he’s referring too, is that it’s completely subjective.  Jared Cowen looks good via the organisation’s eye test, so is that a viable option?  To me, evaluation has to be based on events–events that can objectively be seen and judged by anyone looking at the game (it did or didn’t happen).  If I want to write that so-and-so is playing well or playing poorly, there needs to be tangible reasons for that evaluation as opposed to me having “a feeling” etc.  Too often journalists (and bloggers) will simply say someone is good or bad without delving into specifics–I’m not saying that’s Jeff’s approach (unfortunately I don’t know where he was going with the above), but in general it’s not useful for analysis or assessment.

Last night Binghamton fell 3-2 to Toronto (the best team in the AHL).  With Guillaume Lepine healthy Chris Carlisle was inexplicably scratched (why it wasn’t Ben Harpur is anyone’s guess).  Matt O’Connor started, which was a surprise given how much Chris Driedger has outplayed him this season.  The play-by-play:
-Great shot block by Fraser
O’Connor passes to the wrong team and is lucky Toronto misses the net
-Dumb penalty from Fraser
Lepine turned into a pylon on the PK, but fortunately the Toronto forward missed the net
Fraser can’t make a three-foot pass, but Mullen bails him out with a great defensive play in front of the net
1. Claesson sweeps a rebound away, but Toronto recovers the puck and O’Connor is beaten short-side on a bad angle (an ugly goal)
Second
2. BSens lose a faceoff and off a juicy rebound O’Dell can’t get the stick of the Toronto player
Stortini throws a high hit (replay was pretty useless to decide if the hit was legal or not)
3. O’Connor is beat short-side/bad-angle again, but it hits the post and Flanagan is caught puck-watching so an untouched Marlie scores on an empty net
Third
Fraser takes a boarding penalty (a potentially dangerous hit)
-BSens about to get a PP and Mullen decides to start throwing punches for whatever reason; after the melee the PP is preserved, but it was still a selfish decision by the defenseman (the PP accomplished nothing)
Puempel on another PP has a great chance with the goaltender down and out, but he can’t get the puck through the crowd
-Pointless fisticuffs with two minutes to go (removing Stortini and Ewanyk from the game–see the result of their absence below)
4. McCormick backhands in a rebound
5. Kostka‘s point shot is tipped in by Schneider with virtually no time left

Toronto was a much better team throughout and Binghamton rarely had possession of the puck (it was frankly a boring game to watch as the Marlies easily smothered the Sens).  Prior to the game Richardson talked about how he thought being physical was the way to beat the Marlies, which while being completely wrong does explain his thought-process.

I wanted to give an example of Harpur‘s hockey IQ from the above game (not a bad one by his standards, but certainly not good).  Early on (before the first play-by-play moment above) he’s skating out of his zone under no pressure wanting to make change.  A fresh forward unit is in good position ahead of him, all of them open–Harpur can make a quick pass to a teammate or fire it hard around the boards; instead he skates slowly over the red line, freezing all the forwards (who have no idea what he’s going to do), and then makes a soft dump as he goes for a change.  This results in Toronto gaining possession and rushing up the ice, forcing the new defense pairing (and the forwards who are now standing still) into a desperate defensive posture.  Every player will make mistakes under pressure, but in its absence you have to make good decisions.

EvansvilleIceMenCHL

The IceMen released goaltender Keegan Asmundson (a disappointment all season).  The team added forward Mike Duco (who put up middling numbers in the ECHL last season with Indy, but started this year in the EIHL (UK)).  The team also added assistant coach David Leger, who seems to be replacing Johan Lundskog (so those rumours that he might be back after Christmas now seem unlikely).

The IceMen blew a 5-4 lead late in the third to lose 6-5 in OT to Atlanta. Sims, Dunn, and Duco were added at forward while Strandberg,  Anthoine, and Lukin sat.  The goals:
1. Himelson can’t keep up with his check who is therefore wide open
2. Leveille tips in Wideman‘s centering pass
3. On the PP Rutkowski, shortly after keeping the puck in the zone, fires home a one-timer
4. Off a face-off Greenham flubs a weak shot with his glove deflecting it into his own net
5. On the PP Duco tips in a point shot
6. Rumble deflects a centering feed into his own net
7. Guptill‘s centering pass goes in off an Atlanta defenseman
8. On the PK (5-on-3) the defenseman is allowed to walk down main street and beats Greenham with a low wrist shot
9. Dunn steals the puck and centers it to a wide open Sims who makes no mistake
10. With the goaltender pulled Greenham is beaten five-hole as he guesses pass instead of shot
11. In OT on the PK (after failing to score on a PP themselves) Atlanta scores on a pretty passing play

There were several weird goals on the evening, but the blame for this loss rests on the shoulders of Greenham who was not sharp–he really hasn’t been the same since coming off his early season injury.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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