Ottawa 4, Columbus 3; Binghamton 3, Norfolk 2 (SO)

The Ottawa Senators scored two goals in the final minute of the third period to tie and then win their game with Columbus.  The game was not particularly entertaining, but Ottawa generally carried the play.  For the box score go here link.  Here’s a look at the goals:
1. Kuba (Spezza, Gonchar) (pp)
A great seam pass to for a one-timer
2. Columbus, Johnson
Anderson lets a weak shot go through him and Columbus pounces on the puck behind him
3. Columbus, Russell
Anderson is deep in his net and is simply beat by the shot
4. Smith (Condra, Neil)
A great one-timer in close generated by cycling the puck
5. Columbus, Nash
With no screen in front Anderson simply misses the shot
6. Spezza (Michalek, Karlsson)
Shot on goal with traffic in front, Spezza bangs in the rebound
7. Michalek (Gonchar, Spezza) (pp)
A fantastic tip by Michalek

Players who had strong games:
Chris Neil – threw a great open ice hit and helped generate the second goal
Jason Spezza – another three-point night
Filip Kuba – played a great game, particularly defensively
Milan Michalek – stepped up when the team needed a goal
Sergei Gonchar – picked up a pair of assists and was confident on both ends of the ice

Players who struggled:
Stephane Da Costa – continues to struggle; he’s making mistakes and turning the puck over
Mika Zibanejad – continues to bobble the puck and look uncertain on the ice
Craig Anderson – let in three bad goals, but his team bailed him out

In Norfolk the Binghamton Senators bounced back after getting thumped yesterday to win 3-2 in a shootout.  I did not see this game so I’m reliant on reports.  For the box score go here link and for Joy Lindsay’s game story go here linkAndre Petersson scored his first goal (he added one in the shootout), Josh Godfrey his first point, and Robin Lehner made 37 saves on 39 shots and added two assists.

The Elmira Jackals lost 3-2 to the Wheeling Nailers.  There were no points for Binghamton players, but goaltender Brian Stewart took the loss.

Senators News: October 22nd; Binghamton 0, Norfolk 7

-The Sens lines at the morning skate (the defence is unchanged):
Milan Michalek — Jason Spezza — Colin Greening
Nick Foligno — Mika Zibanejad —Daniel Alfredsson
Erik Condra — Zack Smith — Chris Neil
Zenon Konopka— Stephane Da Costa — Jesse Winchester

The Ottawa Sun‘s Bruce Garrioch writes about the speculation Daniel Alfredsson could be traded (link).  There’s nothing new here, although Garrioch delves into the details of the matter.

-Garrioch writes about Peter Regin‘s latest shoulder injury (link), with Paul MacLean saying, “I haven’t had an opportunity to speak with him, but everything I’ve heard from (athletic therapist) Gerry (Townend) he’s pretty down. Those were his words for it and it’s only natural. He’s an experienced NHL player and he’s been a very consistent player for us through (five) games. It’ll be more of an opportunity for somebody else. He was kind of a steadying influence at the centre-ice position.”  Regin‘s buddy Erik Karlsson added, “That sucks for him and for the team as well. He’s played great and he’s gotten going again. (The latest injury) doesn’t help. I don’t know how bad it is, but it’s definitely hurting the team and hurting him as well.”

The Ottawa Citizen‘s Ken Warren writes about Craig Anderson‘s performance against WInnipeg (link), which includes Paul MacLean praising his team’s defensive work: “Defensively, we did a good job of keeping things to the outside“, comments that Anderson echoed.

-Rob Brodie writes about Zenon Konopka for the Sens website ahead of his 200th NHL game (link), with Paul MacLean saying “It’s one thing to get here, it’s another thing to stay here. If you get to play 200 (NHL) games, that means you worked real hard at your game to become someone who’s good enough to play in this league for that long. Sometimes getting to the NHL, a lot of people think, is hard. But the reality is, it’s often harder to stay here. And he’s proven that he can stay here.”

-ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun writes about the Senators plans going forward (link), with Bryan Murray saying, “We have to be more competitive and we should be.” And “Both from a financial perspective and from the hockey perspective, we decided that this is going to be a year where we have a lot of new players. We know it’s going to take a little time here. Some kids will get better, and others will fall by the wayside. They’re not all going to be top-end players. We hope out of this group that a number will end up being good NHL players, but we have to go through this painful process to begin with.’’  LeBrun believes that Filip Kuba will be dealt by the trade deadline, with Murray saying “I hate to say this, but if there’s a need on another team for a veteran defenseman, we’ll probably one have available that we’d be willing to talk about.’

Jared Cowen has been told he’s on the team for good (link).

-Columbus GM Scott Howson was on The Team 1200 yesterday and was asked about Nikita Filatov.  His comments weren’t new, but I like to remind fans of how the Columbus organisation under both Howson and Doug MacLean have handled top draft picks: Tim Jackman (2-38/01, played 19 NHL games with Columbus), Joakim Lindstrom (2-41/02, now with Colorado), Alexandre Picard (1-8/04, has played 67 NHL games), Gilbert Brule (1-6/05, now in the AHL), Adam McQuaid (2-55/05, won a Cup with Boston), Jakub Voracek (1-7/07, now with Philadelphia), Stefan Legein (2-37/07, retired and now plays in the AHL), Nikita Filatov (1-6/08, now with Ottawa’s organisation).

-The Binghamton Senators got hammered by Norfolk 7-0 last night.  I didn’t see the game so I’m reliant on reports.  Here’s the box score link and Joy Lindsay’s game report linkMark Parrish and Mike Hoffman were the only players not on ice for a goal against.  Kurt Kleinendorst was not happy with his team, saying “It’d be hard to find a whole lot that was right. I don’t know if it was the long bus ride. I don’t know. There was nothing good. There was nothing that we did well. There was no one who played well. This was a complete reflection of us as a group.” And “In fact, if you were to talk to Robin, I think he’d say two of the three he’d want back. It looked like there were a lot of shots, but there weren’t a lot of big saves. But I’m not slamming Robin. This was a group effort, and I think it’s on all of us.  This is a great, great test. To have an effort like that, if we don’t respond tomorrow … The way we play tomorrow is going to be a reflection on what kind of a team we are, because if we don’t bounce back and at the very least compete for 60 minutes and be the harder-working team, that would be a little bit of a red flag.”

-Joy Lindsay has an extensive list of Ottawa prospects who use twitter (link): Borowiecki, Cannone, Caporusso, Cowick, Downing, Godfrey, Grant, Gratchev, Hamilton, McKenna, Noesen, O’Brien, Pageau, Petersson, Raymond, Stewart, Stone, Wideman, and Zibanejad.

Mark Parrish was named Binghamton’s captain prior to the game.

-The Elmira Jackals beat Florida 5-2 last night, with Louie Caporusso earning an assist and Max Gratchev scoring.

Senators News: October 21st

Peter Regin hurt his surgically repaired shoulder last night, but there’s no word on how long he’ll be out for

The Ottawa Sun‘s Don Brennan’s “Cheapseats” article (link) wonders if Daniel Alfredsson‘s play is in decline.  I think it’s a rhetorical question–he is, but he’s still an effective player.  I think he runs into trouble when he tries to do too much, but for the most part he’s been very good this season.

-Pierre McGuire (on The Team 1200) doesn’t like Craig Anderson‘s public comments throwing his team under the bus (which I referenced yesterday), link (October 20th): “A little red flag for me goes up when Craig Anderson ’cause he says ‘hey, it can’t be us we need some help from the guys’.  I read that in the paper.  I don’t like seeing that.  And I don’t think his players like seeing that either.  If I’m Paul MacLean [whistles] in the office please we need to have a little chat.”

The Ottawa Citizen‘s Allen Panzeri talks about Mika Zibanejad‘s approaching deadline (link), writing “Zibanejad said he’s trying not to think about the nine-game deadline, but admits  it’s a difficult thing to do. He’s also under a little extra pressure this week  with his parents, Mehrdad and Ritva, in Ottawa along with some other relatives.”  Panzeri quotes MacLean who adds, “I think he’s an NHL player.  Now, we’re going to make a decision  based on what’s best for Mika, but I think he has played fine.”

-Joy Lindsay writes ahead of Binghamton’s game tonight against Norfolk (link), with Kurt Kleinendorst saying “I want to get better every weekend, and I think so far, we’ve done that. It’s not about winning, and it’s not about getting all tied up in losing. It’s all about the process. It’s about playing the game the right way. And you’re going to lose games, even when you play the game the right way, but you’re going to win the majority of them. That’s what I’m trying to get across to the guys. This is a process thing. Let’s not focus on wins and losses. Let’s focus on how to play.”

-The Elmira Jackals played the Florida Everblades tonight, featuring Louie CaporussoMax Gratchev and Bobby Raymond.

Ottawa 4, Winnipeg 1

The Jets were just what the doctor ordered.  Despite losing Peter Regin early in the first period and falling behind 1-0, Ottawa rallied and won their second game of the season.  For the box score go here link.  There was a lot to like about the Senators game tonight, although there’s still plenty of room for growth and improvement.  For those who didn’t see Sportsnet‘s coverage, I was bemused to see no discussion of the game at all during the second intermission.

Here’s a quick look at the goals:
1. Winnipeg, Byfuglien
Colin Greening does not go out to cover the point and Zack Smith doesn’t rotate over in confusion
2. Michalek (Greening, Spezza)
The puck goes to the net and Greening does all the work to get the goal
3. Spezza (Greening, Michalek)
Great steal by Michalek and a fantastic pass by Greening
4. Alfredsson (unassisted)
Intercepts a Oduya aerial pass and beats Pavelec
5. Michalek (Smith, Spezza)
Empty netter comes from Spezza forechecking

In terms of individual performances, on the positive side:
Colin Greening – played a strong game along the boards and in front of the net
Milan Michalek – cashed in on his chances
Jason Spezza – it’s hard to argue with a three-point game, but he lead the team in turnovers (again)
Filip Kuba – might have been his best game since 2009-10; nothing flashy, just a safe, simple game

On the negative side:
Stephane Da Costa – the injury to Regin did not help his ice time at all nor did he deserve more than he got

I think winning this game was vital for the Sens after holding a team meeting and all the extra work on their system.  It will be interesting to see if they can carry the momentum into Saturday’s game.

Senators News: October 20th

-Here are Ottawa’s expected lines:
Milan Michalek-Jason Spezza-Daniel Alfredsson
Nick Foligno-Peter Regin-Chris Neil
Colin Greening-Mika Zibanejad-Erik Condra
Zack Smith-Zenon Konopka-Stephane Da Costa
Erik Karlsson-Filip Kuba
David Rundblad-Chris Phillips
Sergei Gonchar-Jared Cowen

The Ottawa Sun‘s Don Brennan (link) quotes Paul MacLean about Stephane Da Costa‘s struggles, “We’re looking for him to play better defensively. Stephane has always been good with the puck. When we have the puck he’s always been a good player. But defensively he’s had some issues we’ve needed to clear up. He also has to learn to play defence to play in the National  Hockey League. It’s not just all about having the puck all the time. We want to make sure he’s diligent in that department, too. Plus-minus isn’t always a fair stat, but when it gets to a certain number … we want to make sure he’s learning and getting the instruction he needs to be a better defensive payer. Because you can’t play in this league unless you can play defence.”

-In another article (link) Brennan quotes MacLean about the defensive work they did at practice yesterday, “Not to say we fixed it all (Wednesday), but I think we took some strides towards it. Getting started would be a good idea for this team as well. I’m not sure if we have a mental block. Sometimes if you expect things to go badly, they go badly. I’m not sure if we have the mindset that we think we’re going to get scored on first, and then we make sure that happens. That’s one of the things that’s a concern. We’d rather come out (Thursday) and try to dictate the way the game is played at the start, and see how we can play with the lead for more than three minutes.

The Ottawa Citizen‘s Allen Panzeri looks at the Sens efforts to turn things around (link), with Paul MacLean saying, “We’re going to communicate and talk with (the players), and ask what they  think, and (tell them) what we think, and have a free exchange of ideas. We’re still building a foundation for the future. Obviously, right now  it’s a little bit shaky. I’m not second-guessing it. I’m just saying we need to do it better.”  Chris Phillips added, “The skating and the effort are there, but we’re getting pushed off the puck, losing our guys, staples of the game of hockey.”  To me, losing guys in coverage and poor positioning on the penalty kill are the biggest problems for the team.

The Ottawa Sun has an unattributed article (link) where Craig Anderson continues to blame his teammates for his mediocre performance, “You need the guys around you for support. Just like a goal scorer. He needs support from his wingers and guys around him to help him score. Same thing with goaltenders. You’re only as good as the guys in front of you.  I’ll be the first to give credit to my teammates when we play great.  (But) I can’t do it by myself. We’re working hard and we’re going to come out of this.”  I think Anderson would be better off simply saying he needs to be better and leave it at that.

-Joy Lindsay looks at Nikita Filatov‘s start in Binghamton (link), with the winger saying: “And, as I thought when I was coming here, just lots of fun because I knew the guys and it’s perfect group of guys. And I think we had tough times sometimes in the games, but we battled through and our comebacks were amazing. I just think we have to start a little bit better games, and we can be winning games more easy.  When I was going here, they wanted me to shoot the puck more and kind of try to be better without the puck, so that’s the things I’m working for.”  Kurt Kleinendorst added, “He’s a talent. We knew he was a talent. He’s obviously a talent. I like his demeanor. So far, there’s nothing that I’ve seen that is discouraging to me at all. I know that we have to work with him to be competive every single day in practice and every single night in games, and just be a little bit more structured within a system. That’s really what came down from Ottawa, as well. They love him. They know how talented he is. It’s not a matter of making him a better skater or passer or shooter, or anything like that. It’s making sure that we spend every day being consistent, being competitive, and then we just need to help find a little bit more of our system, because our system is very similar to Ottawa’s system. So if we can do that, then I think we’ve accomplished what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Bobby Raymond has been sent down to the ECHL (Florida)

-Here are the Binghamton lines at practice (link) with Robin Lehner expected to start:
Nikita Filatov-Corey Locke-David Dziurzynski
Kaspars Daugavins-Jim O’Brien-Mark Parrish (Downing)
Derek Grant-Pat Cannone-Andre Petersson
Mike Hoffman-Wacey Hamilton-Francis Lessard (Corey Cowick)
Mark Borowiecki-Tim Conboy
Eric Gryba-Patrick Wiercioch
Shaun Heshka-Craig Schira
Bobby Raymond-Josh Godfrey

-The Senators website has posted an article about Binghamton’s season thus far (link).

Senators News: October 19th

-After last night’s game there was a team meeting, which when added to Paul MacLean’s difficult practice last week are the two most obvious strategies to get the team going.  Chris Phillips said “It was a wakeup call to all of us to be more accountable. We have to figure out what our identity is and be better to a man really. We can’t be going home thinking, ‘I had my guy and everybody else is doing a bad job.’ We have to take a long, hard look at ourselves and figure out how we can be better and how each guy can help the team more.”  He refers to the Senators primary problem of defensive coverage.

-Fans should keep in mind that the combined record of the team’s Ottawa has played is 21-1-2 thus far.

The Ottawa Sun‘s Bruce Garrioch looks at the reaction to the game (link) with Paul MacLean saying “It’s time for some self-evaluation and to look in the mirror and ask the guy there if you’re doing enough. The coaching staff is going to have to do that itself because obviously what we’re doing is translating from a practice into a game. We need to have a self-evaluation of ourselves and make sure that we’re doing the right things.”  He stood up for Alex Auld despite a terrible game, but Auld himself was direct, “I didn’t really give the guys much of an opportunity to get off to a good start. I definitely feel like they deserve better goaltending. I don’t feel like I did my job.”

The Ottawa Citizen‘s Ken Warren is already impatient with the rebuild (link), for which he supplies no particular reasons before talking about the game itself.

-Rod Brodie writes about David Rundblad for the Sens website (link), who talked about playing the Flyers, “It’s good for my game. When you play against very good players, it makes you learn things and it makes you a better player. It’s good for me to play against them” and playing in general, “When you get to play more and more, it’s easier. You get to feel everything and learn every situation … it’s easier to get into the game and get into the feeling of the game. Against Washington, it felt good. I got to play a lot in the second and third period and it was nice to get my first (career NHL) point, too.”

Senshot‘s Ian Mendes thoughts on last night’s game (link) and The Silver Seven‘s Darren M’s thoughts (link).

-Binghamton called up Josh Godfrey and Jack Downing to practice with the team.

-For those interested in wrapping up Don Cherry’s mea culpa on the weekend and giving it some context check out Sports Illustrated‘s Stu Hackel’s article (link).  Like Stu, I still remember Don’s “diatribes against Europeans and Francophones” (essentially they don’t play “our” style of game–they’re soft).  For me, Coaches Corner stopped being relevant when the CBC fired Dave Hodge in 1987 and replaced him with Ron MacLean.  Cherry became an increasing self-parody intended as much to sell Rock ’em Sock ’em videos as look at the game.  Incidentally, Grey Wyshynski (Puck Daddy) has posted Stu Grimson‘s statement (link).

Ottawa 2, Philadelphia 7

The Ottawa Senators got hammered tonight by the Flyers.  I missed the final four minutes of this game (so the last three goals), but while the Sens weren’t good in this game they at least didn’t quit.  For the box score go here linkStephane Da Costa may be looking at a future in Binghamton as he received the second lowest minute totals in the game.  Taking a quick look at the goals tonight:
1. Philadelphia, Read
Scored on a near-impossible angle; a terrible goal let in by Auld
2. Philadelphia, Simmonds
Goalmouth scramble and Phillips slide to block a shot prevents the forwards from corralling the rebound
3. Philadelphia, Giroux
A great shot, but not one Auld should be letting in
4. Philadelphia, Talbot
Michalek loses his check in coverage
5. Ottawa, Spezza (Alfredsson, Karlsson)
Good net drive by Spezza is rewarded with a great feed from Alfredsson
6. Philadelphia, Van Riemsdyk
Brian Lee can’t handle his check out front and he makes a great tip
7. Philadelphia, Couturier
Karlsson leaves his check and Kuba is late to pick him up
8. Philadelphia, Zolnierczyk
Konopka loses his check
9. Ottawa, Karlsson (Smith, Konopka)
Good net drive by Smith with Karlsson pouncing on a loose puck

I don’t think any player really stood out in the game, but there are a few who were particularly bad:
Alex Auld – let in two terrible goals and was unable to make a meaningful save in his one period of action
Erik Karlsson – he wasn’t the only player to struggle on the powerplay, but poor decisions on their 4-on-3 and 5-on-3 in the second period really cost the team momentum
Brian Lee – he has to do something when he’s on the ice and was most notable for turnovers

There will be cries of woe after this game, but as bad as the loss is I just see it as part of the growing pains fans should expect this year.  On the whole it was (again) veterans making mistakes that caused problems–that’s actually a positive since when the team matures that personnel will no longer be here.  As I said above, the team never quit and that’s what I take away from the game.