Ottawa 4, Florida 3

In a game that ended with a wild finish, the Senators defeated the Panthers in regulation to win their fourth in a row.  I thought Ottawa carried the play throughout the game, with Florida’s offence largely dependent on counter attacks.  For the box score go here link.  A look at the goals:

1. Florida, Garrison
This was a nothing play and a simple shot that Anderson should have had
2. Alfredsson (Spezza, Gonchar)
On a delayed penalty call Alfredsson benefits from a Gudbranson shot block and scores from the slot
3. Florida, Weiss
All three forwards are caught deep and the Panthers score on a 4-on-2
4. Da Costa (Condra, Michalek)
On another delayed penalty, Condra makes a beautiful cross-ice pass to Da Costa for a tap in at the side of the net
5. Greening (Karlsson)
The Panthers turned it over twice in their zone and Greening blasts a shot in off the far post
6. Florida, Versteeg
With the net empty over commits to one side and gets caught out of position after a cross-ice pass
7. Foligno (Alfredsson, Rundblad)
Panthers turn it over at the blueline and Foligno picks up Alfie‘s rebound and roofs it with less than 4 seconds left

Best players tonight:
Daniel Alfredsson – tied the game at two and assisted on the game winner, a great game for Alfie
Stephane Da Costa – was given great opportunity and was produced his best game in the NHL (he finished +3 after leading the team in the minus category)
Colin Greening – played a strong game (despite turning it over for the tying goal) and nearly had the winner
Nick Foligno – his hard play earned the team its second goal and he capped it off with the game winner

Players who struggled: for the first time this season I don’t think any particular player on the team had a bad night.  There were mistakes and turnovers, but not on the level of previous games (Kaspars Daugavins did come back to earth tonight however and he’s going to need to watch his turnovers).

Final note: David Rundblad again deked down from the blueline for a grade A opportunity; picked up a nice assist on the winner and I don’t see him sitting for Brian Lee any time soon.

Senators News: October 27th

Mika Zibanejad was returned to Sweden yesterday, a move I’ve been advocating for awhile.  The sentiment in the media was agreement with the decision (eg, Bruce Garrioch of The Ottawa Sun, link, and Wayne Scanlan of The Ottawa Citizen, link).  Zibanejad was philosophical about the move, “I wanted to stay, but I knew there were options to send me home. I was prepared for that and I was prepared to stay. I’m going home. It’s sad, but on other hand it’s a good thing for me. It’s going to be a chance for me to improve my game. I’m going to a place where I know the coach, my teammates and everything around me. That’s my hometown, so I’ll be comfortable and I can focus on improving my game.”  Bryan Murray’s comments about why he was sent back echo my own that he should be, “He was playing the last little bit to survive and not make mistakes, rather than be the creative kind of kid we want him to be. From a selfish point of view, it was very difficult. We like him. He’s a guy that would work hard and do everything the coaches would ask.”  Scanlan’s article suggests financial reasons were also part of the decision, but I disagree entirely.  The Sens are barely above the cap floor and letting Zibanejad‘s fat contract go makes it more difficult to make roster moves.

-As expected, Daniel Alfredsson will return to the Sens lineup after taking a game off for maintenance

-Here are the Sens lines heading into tonight’s game (Anderson will start):
Colin Greening-Jason Spezza-Milan Michalek
Nick Foligno-Stephane Da Costa-Daniel Alfredsson
Kaspars Daugavins-Zack Smith-Chris Neil
Jesse Winchester-Zenon Konopka-Erik Condra
David Rundblad-Chris Phillips
Sergei Gonchar-Jared Cowen
Filip Kuba-Erik Karlsson

-There’s still no official update on Peter Regin, but what’s been speculated has been grim.  Regin is currently seeking a second opinion and may have to have surgery on his shoulder a second time.

The Silver Seven‘s Mark Parisi wonders about Ottawa’s second line center position now that Zibanejad is gone, Regin is injured, and if Stephane Da Costa isn’t ready (link).  He doesn’t like any of the options he presents, which are: 1) Zack Smith, 2) Corey Locke, 3) Nick Foligno, 4) a trade for a veteran center.  It’s an interesting question, but I’d like to add a couple of other options: 1) Colin Greening (a center his whole career until he made the NHL), 2) Mike Hoffman.  Of all six possibilities none really stand out, but the nod would go to Greening if MacLean is willing to break up the top line.

-Joy Lindsay reports that Corey Locke has returned to practice while Mark Parrish is absent (link).  These are the lines in his absence: Cowick-Locke-Petersson, Hoffman-O’Brien-Downing, Grant-Cannone-Filatov, Dziurzynski-Hamilton-Lessard; Borowiecki-Conboy, Wiercioch-Gryba, Godfrey-Schira, Raymond-Heshka.

Hockey Futures‘ D. J. Powers has posted part-two of his ECAC preview (link), which doesn’t mention Brad Peltz at Yale, but says the following about Michael Sdao at Princeton, “One area where Sdao has begun to make strides in his development is on the offensive side. While Sdao will likely never be among college hockey’s top scoring defensemen, he has shown some good offensive capabilities.”

The Hockey News‘s Adam Proteau has posted his top ten players of the month (link, and yes, apparently Proteau thinks October 26th is the end of the month).  Jason Spezza comes in at #6.

-I give credit to Sportsnet‘s Ian Mendes for eating his words about Brian Elliott (link).  It remains to be seen if Elliott can consistently play well for the Blues, but he got destroyed by the media here when there were many other targets equally deserving.

Senators News: October 26th

The Ottawa Sun‘s Don Brennan writes about the game last night (link), in which he calls Ottawa’s powerplay surprisingly successful.  Is it surprising?  The team has all the elements necessary to score on the powerplay (if not at this pace).  It’s largely the same group of last year, but in the previous season the top players were injured and in and out of the lineup.  Along with goaltending it’s Ottawa’s powerplay that’s going to be the straw the stirs the drink.

-Brennan looks at visor-wearing in the NHL (link), with Paul MacLean saying “It actually scared me [a puck in the eye] more than John Ferguson scared me. It was significant enough for me to keep it on.  I didn’t really pay too much attention to verbal abuse [for wearing a visor]. It was hard enough for me to play, let alone think and talk at the same time. You can’t do too many things at once out there, even then.”  On the Sens only Chris Neil, Zenon Konopka, Zack Smith, and Filip Kuba do not wear visors.

-Joy Lindsay provides a few notes from Binghamton’s practice (link), including “Godfrey moved up into the spot alongside Schira, leaving Heshka and Raymond as the fourth set of defensemen. Kleinendorst said he’ll probably keep eight around for ay least a while now that Raymond is back from his stint with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades. Kleinendorst had good things to say about Filatov, who was separated from Locke to balance out the offensive talent and make each line a bit more defensively responsible.”

-Joy Lindsay’s line updates from this morning (link): Cowick-Dziurzynski-Petersson, Hoffman-O’Brien-Parrish, Filatov-Cannone-Grant, Downing-Hamilton-Lessard; Borowiecki-Conboy, Gryba-Wiercioch, Heshka-Schira, Godfrey-Raymond.  Locke is not participating due to injury.

-Prospect updates (their position in team scoring is noted in brackets):
CHL
Jakub Culek (Rimouski, QMJHL) 12-1-4-5 (10th)
Mark Stone (Brandon, WHL) 13-9-19-28 (1st)
Stefan Noesen (Plymouth, OHL) 8-1-6-7 (9th)
Matt Puempel (Peterborough, OHL) 13-6-7-13 (1st)
Shane Prince (Ottawa 67s, OHL) 6-3-4-7 (7th)
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (Gatineau, QMJHL) 10-10-6-16 (2nd)
Darren Kramer (Spokane, WHL) 9-7-5-12 (2nd)
Jordan Fransoo (Brandon, WHL) 13-0-1-1 (6th)
SEL
Jakob Silfverberg (Brynas) 15-5-7-12 (t-1st)
Marcus Sorensen (Skelleftea J20) 7-2-2-4 (t-8th)
Fredrik Claesson (Djurgarden) 14-1-2-3 (3rd)
NCAA
Ben Blood (WCHA-North Dakota) 6-1-1-2 (t-2nd)
Chris Wideman (CCHA-Miami) 6-1-3-4 (1st)
Jeff Costello (CCHA-Notre Dame) 2-0-2-2 (12th)
Brad Peltz (ECAC-Yale) DNP
Michael Sdao (ECAC-Princeton) DNP
Bryce Aneloski (WCHA-Nebraska-Omaha) 6-0-4-4 (1st)
Max McCormick (CCHA-Ohio State) 4-1-3-4 (t-3rd)
Ryan Dzingel (CCHA-Ohio State) 6-3-3-6 (1st)

Ottawa 3, Carolina 2 (SO)

Ottawa won tonight’s game in a shootout after a falling apart right near the end of the third period.  They played a poor first period (struggling to break out of their zone or win a faceoff), but dominated the second to take a two goal lead.  In the end they were able to earn the two points in the shootout (a former Senator menace).  For the box score go here link.  Tonight was an ugly night for the officials (Foligno was hauled down on three separate occasions with no call and Neil was high-sticked at the end of the second with no call).  Looking at the goals:

1. Konopka (Gonchar, Winchester)
Racing down the left side Konopka simply beats Ward short side with a great shot
2. Spezza (Greening, Gonchar) (pp)
A fantastic screen in front by Greening who pokes the rebound through Ward and Spezza taps it in for the easy goal
3. Carolina, Ruutu
Cowen and Gonchar get confused over who is going to touch the puck to create an icing in front of their net; neither touches it and Carolina bangs it in
4. Carolina, Skinner (pp)
A fantastic tip off a point shot
5. Spezza scores the only goal in the shootout for the win

The best players for Ottawa:
Milan Michalek – didn’t show up on the score sheet but was strong at both ends of the ice
Colin Greening – what’s not to like?  Wound up tied with Michalek for the most scoring chances on the team
Erik Condra – fantastic defensively and his all Binghamton line was terrific
Kaspars Daugavins – he played with confidence and tonight was by far his best game in an Ottawa uniform (I’m including the pre-season)
Filip Kuba – someone has pushed the “restart” button on the big Czech and he has been excellent
Craig Anderson – saved the game in the first period and the shootout, although I wish he’d handle the puck less as he’s off target on a high proportion of his pass attempts

The players who struggled:
Stephane Da Costa – I’m at a loss for why he hasn’t been sent down to Binghamton
Mika Zibanejad – he’s far too timid with the puck and needs to rebuild his confidence; he also turned the puck far too often

I don’t think David Rundblad was good enough to be among the best tonight, but for the third game in a row he was able to deke down from the blueline for a fantastic scoring chance–not many players can do that.

Senators News: October 25th

-Ottawa’s lines as per The Ottawa Sun:
Colin Greening-Jason Spezza-Milan Michalek
Nick Foligno-Mika Zibanejad-Kaspars Daugavins
Erik Condra-Zack Smith-Chris Neil
Jesse Winchester-Zenon Konopka-Stephane Da Costa*
Erik Karlsson-Filip Kuba
David Rundblad-Chris Phillips
Sergei Gonchar-Jared Cowen
*The Ottawa Citizen has Da Costa at center, which makes more sense

-As was reported yesterday afternoon, Daniel Alfredsson will miss tonight’s game with a maintenance day for his hip

The Ottawa Sun‘s Don Brennan writes about the injury (link), but includes comments about the team as well.  Jason Spezza mentions what I think has been the key to the Sens limited success, “We’ve had a lot of guys going to the net, and sticking around the net this year. Maybe more than ever. (Chris Neil) has been there, (Colin) Greening’s been there, Nicky Foligno’s been there, Milan (Michalek) has scored a lot of goals from there … there seems to be probably the best net presence we’ve had, and that helps the skilled guys from the outside a little bit. It’s been something I think that’s added a lot to our offence.

-Brennan also writes that the team should keep Mika Zibanejad (link).  There’s nothing new in the article, but Brennan has decided that Zibanejad is a lot like Tyler Seguin.

-The Brennan train continues with an article about Kaspars Daugavins (link), who talks about why he came back to North America: “Obviously, my hometown team [Dinamo Riga] (has) wanted me back for the last four years. But I still feel I can crack the NHL somehow, and I’m going to keep battling until I make it. If I see I have no chance to play here, maybe I’ll go back home. But it’s not going to happen soon.”

The Ottawa Citizen‘s Wayne Scanlan writes about the non-issue of Paul MacLean being too nice (link).  I’ve never heard the criticism and it makes me wonder if Scanlan just wanted to work in as many references to MacLean’s moustache as possible.

-Rob Brodie writes about Jason Spezza for the Sens website (link).  There’s nothing new, but it’s worth noting that Spezza‘s production hasn’t dipped this season despite worries by analysts.

-TSN, THN, and ESPN’s power rankings are out (link and link and link), with Ottawa 28th, 29th, and 27th.  Scott Cullen (TSN) rightly points out that goaltending has been a major issue for the Sens.

-Joy Lindsay tweets Binghamton’s lines at practice (link): Cowick-Locke-Petersson, Hoffman-O’Brien-Parrish, Filatov-Cannone-Grant, Dziurzynski-Hamilton-Lessard/Downing.

-And finally, for those who never saw it (or want to relieve it), here’s Kaspars Daugavins after the Binghamton Senators won the Eastern final: link.

Senators News: October 24th

-Joy Lindsay tweets that Kaspars Daugavins has been called up by the Sens (link).

The Ottawa Sun‘s Don Brennan writes how the Senators have surprised him thus far this season (link).  Brennan rightly points out that it’s early in the season, but the Senators lead the league in powerplay goals and are fourth in league scoring.  For my part, assuming the Sens stay healthy I expect they will remain a productive powerplay team, but the jury is out in terms of their 5-on-5 scoring.

The Ottawa Citizen‘s Ken Warren picks up the theme of the Senators recent change in fortune (link).  Warren asks four questions: 1) Will Zibanejad be returned to Sweden after a quiet debut with the Sens, 2) How many games will Peter Regin miss?, 3) How many games will Chris Neil be suspended for?, 4) Can Milan Michalek keep up his torrid scoring pace?  My answers would be: yes; not many for the team’s sake; no idea; and no.  The final question is less a matter of Michalek and more a matter who will pick up the scoring slack when he goes cold.

-NHL.com has Jason Spezza as one of its upward trending players (link).

The Silver Seven‘s Darren M worries about Ottawa’s secondary scoring (link).  He makes the point that this is not a new problem, but I have three problems with his article: 1) we’re eight games into the season and while 10% sounds like a big number it’s too early in the year to establish trends, 2) Only looking at goal scorers is an inaccurate way to look at offence–assists are attached to 99% of goals scored because they matter in their production, 3) “Most people have credited the goals to [Michalek] finally being healthy, when they are far more attributable to luck” which is attached to a comment about how his shooting percentage is off the charts compared to his career average; I don’t like the use of the word “luck”–besides one of the goals being misattributed to him, none of his goals were lucky.  Darren would be better off saying he can’t keep up this pace (which I’d agree with).  Goal scorers are inherently streaky (with a few freakish exceptions like Mario Lemieux), so as long as someone on the team gets hot when Michalek gets cold there’s no issue.  I think last year’s Pittsburgh Penguins are a great example of how you can get production from players not known for it when you employ the right system.  As long as Ottawa continues to drive the net and get pucks through from the point, someone will score.

SenShot‘s Jared Crozier writes “according to Elias Sports Bureau, who specialize in all thing statistical, it was only the 4th time in the last 15 years that an NHL team trailing entering the last minute of a game actually won the game in regulation” (link).

-Binghamton has recalled Bobby Raymond, who went 1-2-3 in three games with the Florida Everblades

-Former Sen Brian Elliott is off to a great start in St. Louis (link), illustrating how much of the game is mental/confidence.  I think Elliott took far too much criticism here in Ottawa and I’m glad he’s found a home elsewhere in the NHL.

Senators News: October 23rd

The Ottawa Sun‘s Bruce Garrioch writes about last night’s game (link), with a quote from AlfredssonI haven’t been this excited in a long time. I thought we did a good job sticking with it. I was able to draw a penalty and that gave us a little bit of a chance and we obviously made the most of it.  There is no sweeter feeling than doing it like this, especially at home. The crowd gets into it. We know (the Jackets) are a team that’s struggling. It’s tough on them, but we knew with the lead they were just going to keep it safe.”  Paul MacLean adds, “We did a good job responding and sticking to it after they took the lead. The leadership shown by the leadership group in the last week has been outstanding. They’ve come to play. They haven’t played spectacular, they’ve just played. They’ve given our team a lot of confidence and that’s when leadership is hard to beat.”

The Ottawa Sun‘s Don Brennan writes about Jason Spezza (link), with Paul MacLean saying “Jason has been a very consistent player for us. He’s really working hard at being a complete player, and I think it has shown in all the games. His shift lengths are always at a good number, he’s shooting the puck a bit more than maybe in the past … he’s been taking a leadership role in the face off responsibilities … I’ve been very pleased with how Jason has played.”

-In the same article Brennan talks about the scoreboard in the arena which stopped working during the game–this is the second time this season that’s happened.  If my memory serves, the scoreboard is meant to be replaced sometime this year.

The Ottawa Citizen‘s Ken Warren writes about last night’s game (link) and includes a good quote from Milan Michalek: “We stayed patient right to the end. Hopefully that gives us confidence, to  win like that. It was a great feeling. Everybody was jumping around, on the  bench and in the room.”

-Joy Lindsay’s Binghamton post-game notes (link) include the following from Kurt Kleinendorst: “I was impressed. I mean, it was night and day — completely night and day. Last night, I could’ve counted on one finger the guys that played up to their potential. Tonight, we didn’t have a passenger. It was a fun game to be a part of, because when we play honest, we’re fine. But if we don’t, we’re not. But I give the guys a lot of credit, because they took it upon themselves and responded.” And “For me, it was no different with Robin than anybody else. It was a bounce-back game, and he bounced back. Right on down the roster, same thing about everybody, with the exception of my one finger. But everybody bounced back. It was good to see. Everybody just showed that they care. The nice thing was they did bounce back, they did compete, they battled hard, they stuck up for one another, and we got the result that we deserved. It was a really good learning experience that can hopefully be a stepping stone to everybody understanding there can be no nights off.”  Kleinendorst said Andre Petersson was the best forward on the team, “He was probably our best forward. Everybody played so well, but I saw so many good things tonight in his game. It wasn’t just his compete level — because the way he played was much more determined — but he even started to do some of the things that new to him. The North American game is a little different than what he’s used to on the big sheets, but I just felt like his whole game was the best I’ve seen him play. And isn’t it amazing how it ended up being the best production he’s had for us? Just goes to show you that when you play the right way, you get rewarded, as an individual, and as a team. I’m very happy for him; he needed that, as well.”