Senators News: September 14th

The Sens news roundup:

-Rob Brodie has an article on Derek Grant (link).  Grant talks about why he turned pro, “I just felt the opportunity was there and I thought I was ready to take the next step. I kind of pushed myself and forced myself to be ready. I finished the year off in (Binghamton) and that was a lot of fun and a good experience.”  Kleinendorst commented on where they see him this season, “I think he’s more of a natural left wing than a centre. We’re going to try him down the middle. You can see he’s a big kid, he’s got good skills and he’s smart guy. He should play a good role for us. He should fit in nicely, for sure.

The Ottawa Sun‘s Bruce Garrioch wrote an article to wrap the rookie tournament (link), which contains a few interesting tidbits.  Kurt Kleinendorst on the performance of Mark Stone, “All in all, maybe he struggled just a little bit. He didn’t have a great night, but he had a great finish. When we really needed him, he came through for us.”  The Sens have been very happy with Robin Lehner, Rick Wamsley saying “When players have some level of success as a coach, you worry about some hangover because of the success. I haven’t seen a hangover. That wasn’t a worry, but that’s something you worry about as a coach.”  Finally, on the triva side of things, Andre Petersson and Erik Karlsson were childhood friends in Sweden.

The Ottawa Citizen‘s Alan Panzeri has an article on Patrick Wiercioch (link), looking at what’s holding the college standout back from being an NHL regular.  Kleinendorst said, “Wiercioch’s issue is probably more strength than anything. He’s really smart. He has got the offensive instincts. He’s very comfortable  with the puck. But in the AHL, you’re playing against men. In college, you’re playing  against younger men, older boys. Strength-wise, you really can’t compare college to the (AHL). So for (Wiercioch), I think it was just an adjustment to the pro game. It was an  adjustment to his strength. He just needed to get stronger, and I think he has,  and now we’ll just have to see if he’s got strong enough.”  The blueliner commented, “I did what they’ve been telling me to do for the last couple of years.

-Ottawa’s ECHL affliate Elmira announced three signings (link): Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel (CHL 56-6-17-23), Dustin Gazley (NCAA 38-11-15-26), and Mike Radja (DEL 49-11-8-19).

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Ottawa Rookies 4 Toronto Rookies 3 (OT)

The final game of the rookie camp is in the books and the Ottawa Senators remained undefeated after a 4-3 OT win over Toronto.  This was the best game of the tournament.  As expected, Robin Lehner started for Ottawa, facing Toronto’s Mark Owuya.  There were far fewer broadcaster errors, making it the best called game on Rogers.

The Ottawa scratches: Jean-Gabriel Pageau (groin, the same injury that forced him to miss game one), Darren Kramer (bumps & bruises, which was what kept him out of the Chicago game), and The Team 1200 mentioned that  Wacey Hamilton was never with the team, having tweaked something prior to the tournament.  The Sens iced seven defencemen.
The Toronto scratches: Tyler Brenner, David Broll, Jerry D’Amigo, Dave Cowan, and Stuart Percy

Ottawa Forward Lines (unchanged beyond the scratches)
Prince-Zibanejad-Petersson
Puempel-Da Costa-Stone
Noesen-Grant-Cowick
Culek-Caporusso

Defence Combinations (other than the middle pairing these changed a lot)
Cowen-Rundblad
Wiercioch-Gryba
Godrey/Fransoo-Borowiecki

Summary
First Period
1. Ottawa, Stephane Da Costa (Jared Cowen, Shane Prince)
This was a phantom assist for Prince
Shots: Ottawa 14, Toronto 13
Ottawa Penalties: none, but it featured Corey Cowick getting pummelled by Garrett Clarke
Second Period
2. Ottawa, Jakub Culek (Louie Caporusso)
3. Toronto, Matt Frattin (Mitchell Heard) (pp)
Jake Gardiner should have received an assist; this was a 5-on-3
Shots: Ottawa 11, Toronto 13
Ottawa Penalties: Prince (a dumb interference penalty), Godfrey (boarding), Prince (unsportsmanlike), Zibanejad (hooking), Gryba (hooking); there was also an fight between Mark Borowiecki and Jamie Devane that’s worth watching (hockeyfights/ 104970)
Third Period
4. Toronto, Sondre Olden (Jesse Blacker) (pp)
5. Ottawa, Mika Zibanejad (Shane Prince)
6. Toronto, Greg McKegg (Josh Nicholls, Mitchell Heard)
Shots: unknown (the broadcasters at Rogers did not list them)
Ottawa Penalties: Borowiecki hook (terrible call)
OT
7. Ottawa, Mark Stone (Eric Gryba, Shane Prince)
Shots: unknown (the broadcasters at Rogers did not list them)
Other notes: Da Costa was terrible on faceoffs throughout the game

Player Performances
Forwards*
* I tracked scoring chances and they are included in brackets next to the player’s name
Mika Zibanejad (3) – the best forward on the ice
Andre Petersson (3) – played a strong game in all three zones
Matt Puempel (6) – no one had more chances to score, but he couldn’t cash-in
Stephane Da Costa (1) – continued to show his great hands
Shane Prince (0) – contributed on the scoreboard, but was much less involved
Mark Stone (3) – I liked his hustle and his game winner was fantastic
Louie Caporusso (3) – his best game of the tournament; lot’s of hard work and creativity
Corey Cowick (1) – showed plenty of effort, but wasn’t as noticeable
Stefan Noesen (1) – despite playing hard this was his worst game (too many turnovers)
Derek Grant
(1) – was physical, but didn’t get much accomplished offensively
Jakub Culek
(3) – continues to make a lot of mental errors

Blueline
Mark Borowiecki – thundering hits, a great fight, and lot’s of passion
Eric Gryba – played a simple game and showed a little offensive flair
Jared Cowen – tried to do too much, but there lot’s to like
David Rundblad – too many turnovers
Patrick Wiercioch – tried to force things that weren’t there
Jordan Fransoo – kept things simple
Josh Godfrey – was virtually invisible

Goaltending
Robin Lehner – played very well; all the goals against were in man-advantage situations (two scored on powerplays and the other with the goalie pulled).

Overall Impressions
The best forward was Mika Zibanejad (he and Mark Stone were the only players to have points in all three games).  His speed, hands, his hockey sense, and his physicality all put him at the top of the forward group.  Next are Stephane Da Costa and Andre Petersson; Da Costa showed his great hands, head for the game, and a terrific shot, while Petersson demonstrated great effort in all zones of the ice as well as producing on the score sheet.  Other forwards who improved their stock include Corey Cowick (with lots of hustle and production) and Shane Prince.  Only one player up front hurt himself in the tournament–Jakub Culek has not progressed since last year.

Among the blueliners David Rundblad was the best overall, showing great poise with the puck and fantastic hands.  He made defensive errors, but not out of proportion compared to his teammates.  Jared Cowen was number two, but he needs to continue to work on his hands.  Beyond the two highly touted players I think Mark Borowiecki stood out, showing his heart and determination.  No blueliner hurt their chances at the tournament, but I expected more from former second-rounder Josh Godfrey.

In net there’s no question that Robin Lehner was dominant.  He made all the routine saves and a number of the spectacular variety.  His backup, Matej Machovsky, has a long way to go to become a pro.

For a different perspective check out Adnan’s article for The Silver Seven (link).

Post-game Interviews with Kurt Kleinendorst and Mark Stone are here (link).