Ottawa 2, Phoenix 3

The Sens lost a point (and a chance to win) due to a brutal call that cost them the tying goal (Dan O’Halloran and Tim Peel were the officials–the latter part of the Anaheim crew).  The result tonight was another clear illustration of why team’s should never comment on officiating.  Overall, the Sens were half-asleep for half the game, benefitting when Paul MacLean finally moved away from the failed line combinations he used in Anaheim (the end of the Bobby Butler experiment among other things).  I was surprised that MacLean did not dress Andre Petersson, particularly in a back-to-back situation, but  he’s been reluctant to play him.  Here is the box score.  A look at the goals:
1. Phoenix, Brule
Kuba can’t clear the zone and Brule cashes in on Boedker’s rebound
2. Phoenix, Doan
Karlsson gets burned by Korpikoski and Doan cashes in the rebound
3. Alfredsson (Foligno, Phillips)
A great behind the net pass from Foligno to a wide open Alfredsson who makes no mistake
4. Phoenix, Vrbata
Butler is late on the backcheck
5. Neil (Condra, Smith)
Great pass from Condra sends Neil in on Smith and he makes no mistake

Jared Cowen – rock solid defensively tonight
Daniel Alfredsson – a great performance from Alfie who should have had the game-tying goal

Players Who Struggled:
Zenon Konopka – his resume for tonight: took a bad penalty
Bobby Butler – amazing how effective the first line became when he was taken off it

Senators News: January 24th; Ottawa 1, Los Angeles 4

Don Brennan thinks Craig Anderson played well last night, which is simply inaccurate–Anderson has been much better the past month, but did not play well last night.

Kyle Turris talked about the difference in his game since coming to Ottawa, “I’m definitely a lot more comfortable here. I’m having more fun, playing more of my game and how I know I can play, compared to when I was with Phoenix. It’s been amazing. Coach MacLean has given the team and myself confidence, allowing us to play our game and have fun. Having that confidence makes you 100 times better as a hockey player. The game and the majority of sports is all about confidence. He has instilled that in me from Day 1. I can’t thank him enough for it. It’s made me feel comfortable and allowed me to play my game. It’s just such a great group of guys. We all mesh so well” (link).

-Eugene Melnyk provides a note of sanity amongst trade speculation, “(Dealing) would come with one caveat. Let’s not lose focus of what our job is: That’s to rebuild. The deal we made for Kyle Turris was more of an anomoly than anything else because we did give up a piece of our future and we weren’t going to be competitive without a second-line centre. We had to give something up. You tell me: Unless there is an injury here, I can’t see a void. If it isn’t broken, don’t try to to fix it. Even if we lose a couple in a row, it’s not the end of the world. We need to just keep grinding away. The ones that will succeed in the league, are the ones left standing” (link).

-TSN’s Kerry Fraser writes about Erik Karlsson‘s diving flap (link), “I find it difficult to believe that the referee would openly make a statement to label or brand a player as a “diver.” What I could believe is when questioned by the coach as to why a penalty was not called on the play a response such as, “I felt your player fell down easy, did a toe pick, embellished the light contact in an attempt to draw a penalty or (more directly) I thought your player took a dive.” Any of these types of responses would be appropriate as opposed to branding the player a “diver”. The referee has to make decisions all the time based on criteria such as this to determine when an infraction occurred. In the emotion and intensity of any game a statement can sometimes be misinterpreted. Words of explanation must be chosen wisely by game officials so as not to be construed as offensive or inflammatory. The job of the referee is to always be part of the solution and not part of the problem. When a discussion of this nature takes place it is advisable to have another official alongside to provide support if necessary and act as a witness to what was actually stated. If by any remote chance something inappropriate was accidentally stated by the referee, I am confident that a direct apology will be made in a private conversation to right the ship.”  To unpack these comments you have to read between the lines: no referee should ever call a player a diver and if by chance they do they should apologise.  It seems clear O’Rourke did call Karlsson a diver and no apology has been forthcoming.  It’s a classless move by O’Rourke who clearly didn’t like being called out for it judging by last night’s officiating.

TSN, Sportsnet, ESPN, and The Hockey News‘ power rankings are out, with Ottawa 10th, 10th, 11th, and 11th

The Sens played an uninspired game in their 4-1 loss to LA, running into penalty problems (officials were Dan O’Rourke and Tim Peel, the later clearly not happy to see his name in the papers) and were unable to deal with LA’s forecheck.  Craig Anderson was deservedly pulled (for the first time since December 27th) and the Bobby Butler experiment on the first line failed yet again.  Chris Neil was KO’d by Kyle Clifford who “accidentally” ran into him–I wonder if this is part of a new trend.  Here’s the box score.  A look at the goals:
1. LA, Mitchell
Borowiecki turns the puck over and Anderson let’s a floater in from the point
2. LA, Clifford
Anderson baubles the puck in his glove and Clifford bangs it in when he drops it
3. LA, Johnson (pp)
5-on-3 one-timer
4. LA, Lewis (penalty shot)
Phillips is called for closing his hand on the puck in the crease and Lewis scores on the penalty shot
5. Alfredsson (Karlsson, Gonchar) (pp)
A great one-timer by Alfredsson

Top-performers: no one had a great night, but Daniel Alfredsson and Filip Kuba were the best.

Players Who Struggled:
Erik Karlsson – had a difficult time dealing with the Kings heavy forecheck and was a turnover machine
Craig Anderson – two bad goals is too many

Senators News: January 23rd; Binghamton 4, Adirondack 3

Erik Karlsson was magnanimous in his comments about officials today after the diving flap in Anaheim, “I’ve been a ref myself. I liked it a lot. I think it’s fun. It’s hard, and at this level it’s even harder. I know they’re going through a lot of stuff. I respect them a lot for what they do. It’s not easy being out there all the time and making hard decisions. They’re doing a good job at what they’re doing” (link).

-Binghamton continued its winning trend over Adirondack; Jim O’Brien had the winner for the second game in a row (O’Brien scored twice, Cannone and Da Costa adding the others).  Mike Hoffman and O’Brien lead the way with three-point nights and Mike McKenna earned the win.  Here’s the box score and Joy Lindsay’s game summary.

-Prospect updates (their position in team scoring is noted in brackets, defence compared to defence; I’ve also indicated if the player’s scoring position has change (with a + for up, – for down, and = for unchanged):
Mark Stone (RW, Brandon, WHL) 42-31-44-75 (1st=)
Shane Prince (C/LW, Ottawa 67s, OHL) 36-25-33-58 (3rd=)
Stefan Noesen (C/RW, Plymouth, OHL) 41-20-33-53 (1st=)
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (RW, Chicoutimi, QMJHL) 28-28-23-51 (3rd=)
Matt Puempel (LW, Peterborough, OHL) 30-17-16-33 (4th=)
Darren Kramer (C/LW, Spokane, WHL) 44-15-14-29 (5th=)
Jakub Culek (C/LW, Rimouski, QMJHL) 36-8-15-23 (6th=)
Jordan Fransoo (D, Victoria, WHL) 47-2-12-14 (2nd=)
Jakob Silfverberg (C/RW, Brynas) 34-13-18-31 (1st=)
Mika Zibanejad (C/RW, Djurgarden) 14-3-4-7 (15th=)
Fredrik Claesson (D, Djurgarden) 33-1-5-6 (t-4th+)
Marcus Sorensen (RW, Boras) 23-7-6-13 (6th=)
Ryan Dzingel (C, CCHA-Ohio State) 23-5-13-18 (3rd=)
Michael Sdao (D, ECAC-Princeton) 20-6-9-15 (1st=)
Bryce Aneloski (D, WCHA-Nebraska-Omaha) 26-3-10-13 (1st+)
Chris Wideman (D, CCHA-Miami) 26-1-11-12 (1st=)
Ben Blood (D, WCHA-North Dakota) 25-2-9-11 (3rd-)
Max McCormick (LW, CCHA-Ohio State) 17-4-7-11 (7th=)
Jeff Costello (LW, CCHA-Notre Dame) 21-3-6-9 (10th-)
Brad Peltz (LW, ECAC-Yale) 7-1-0-1 (20th=)

Ottawa at the Fifty-Game Mark

The Sens are now fifty-games into the season (for the previous ten-game segment go link).  Ottawa went 7-2-1, earning 15 points (the same as their previous stretch).  They are 2nd in their division (unchanged), 5th in the conference (up from 6th), and 9th in the overall standings (up from 13th).  They are 6th in goals for (up from 13th), 27th in goals against (up from 29th), 17th in powerplay percentage (unchanged), 19th on the penalty kill (up from 25th).  They are 10th in 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio (1.03), up from 19th; they are 15th in the league in faceoffs (up from 21st); they are 29th in shots allowed (down from 28th) and 11th in shots-for (down from 7th).

Here’s a quick snapshot of player’s stats over the last ten games, although with TOI and faceoffs I’ve simply indicated if the numbers have changed significantly (INJ=games missed due to injury, SCR=scratched):
Jason Spezza 10-6-4-10 +4 TOI 20:07 FO% 54.2
Kyle Turris 10-4-5-9 +8 TOI 16:15 FO% 44.9 (TOI and FO% increasing)
Erik Karlsson
9-2-7-9 +7 TOI 25:29 1 INJ
Daniel Alfredsson
10-3-5-8 +7 TOI 18:30
Colin Greening 10-3-5-8 +2 TOI 16:11
Nick Foligno
10-1-7-8 +3 TOI 14:47
Milan Michalek 10-4-2-6 +1 TOI 19:32
Filip Kuba
10-1-5-6 +5 TOI 23:25 (TOI increasing)
Chris Neil 10-3-1-4 Even TOI 13:23 
Sergei Gonchar
10-0-4-4 +2 TOI 22:15
Jared Cowen
10-0-3-3 +3 TOI 20:13 (TOI increasing)
Bobby Butler 10-2-0-2 +2 TOI 11:12 (TOI decreasing)
Chris Phillips
9-0-2-2 +1 TOI 18:58 INJ 1 (TOI decreasing)
Erik Condra
10-0-2-2 +2 TOI 14:57 (TOI increasing)
Zack Smith 10-1-0-1 +1 TOI 15:02 FO% 47.7
Kaspars Daugavins 10-0-1-1 Even TOI 11:57 (TOI decreasing)  
Zenon Konopka
10-0-0-0 -1 TOI 7:34 FO% 59.5
Matt Carkner
8-0-0-0 Even TOI 12:39 SCR 2 (TOI decreasing)
Brian Lee 3-0-0-0 +1 TOI 14:38 SCR 2 INJ 5
Mark Borowiecki 1-0-0-0 Even TOI 13:01 (5-1-2-3 -1 AHL)
Andre Petersson 1-0-0-0 Even TOI 5:02 (5-4-4-8 -3 AHL)
Jesse Winchester (injured)
Peter Regin (injured)
Craig Anderson 7-2-1 2.85 .912 GAA and SV improved
Alex Auld DNP

A number of things stand out in the segment: Alex Auld simply isn’t playing while Chris Phillips see’s his ice time continuing to decline (most of the extra ice time is going to Jared Cowen).  Zack Smith and Erik Condra have gone ice cold, while Kyle Turris, Colin Greening, and Nick Foligno have heated up.  Erik Karlsson continues to be incredibly productive and Craig Anderson has hit his stride and is winning games for the team.  Turris leads the way at an incredible +8 while Kaspars Daugavins and Zenon Konopka are the only minus players at -1.

Senators News: January 22nd; Ottawa 1, Anaheim 2

Ottawa’s two-game winning streak came to an end in Anaheim yesterday as the Ducks were able to slow down the pace of the game and minimize the Sens chances.  It was not a great night for the officials (Dan O’Rourke and Greg Kimmerly–the latter was also brutal in San Jose as well as in Dallas back on December 2nd).  Andre Petersson‘s debut was wasted as he was given just 5 minutes of ice time–what Paul MacLean could have learned from that is beyond me.  Matt Carkner continued his trend of barely playing when he’s in the lineup.  Click here for the box score.  A look at the goals:
1. Anaheim, Perry
Karlsson leaves the front of the net to help Kuba in the corner and Spezza doesn’t react to it, leaving Perry wide open (reading Karlsson comments after the game it’s clear Spezza should have rotated down to cover for him, link)
2. Anaheim, Visnovsky
Karlsson tips the puck into his own net
3. Neil (Foligno, Karlsson)
Neil bangs in his own rebound

Craig Anderson – no soft goals and kept the team in it
Chris Neil – threw a couple of big hits and scored

Players Who Struggled:
Chris Phillips – the unforced mental errors in his own zone continue
Erik Karlsson – he wasn’t terrible, but his mistakes contributed to both goals
Jason Spezza – had more than 24 minutes of ice time but was unable to generate offense

-Referee Dan O’Rourke told Paul MacLean that Erik Karlsson is considered a diver.  I haven’t noticed that myself, but it does explain why there was no call when he was elbowed in the face by Patrick Marleau and went down.  That reputation (even unwarranted) is extremely hard to shake so I feel for Karlsson.

-Sens players weren’t happy with their game with Chris Neil saying, “It’s definitely disappointing. We obviously let down in the second period and they took advantage of it. You can’t just expect to play 20 minutes in the third and win a hockey game” and Daniel Alfredsson simply, “I don’t think we were at our best“.

Andre Petersson had a great quote when asked if he was nervous about his NHL debut, “Not much. It’s just hockey. Played the same way as down there in Binghamton. So no, not nervous.”

-Elmira won last night, with Maxime Gratchev scoring twice (his first points since being re-assigned five games ago) and Louie Caporusso adding a single.  Brian Stewart sat as the back-up.

-It’s probably a waste of time correcting Don Brennan‘s errors, but Luca Sbisa is Swiss, not Italian.

Senators News: January 21st; Binghamton 4, Hershey 3

Andre Petersson will play tonight while Bobby Butler sits; Mark Borowiecki will sit in favour of Matt Carkner.

The Ottawa Sun‘s Don Brennan looks at why the Sens are fifth in the league on the road and provides five reasons: 1. Goaltending, 2. Coaching, 3. Strength down the middle, 4. Penalty-killing, 5. Team comaraderie.  Brennan has a short memory when it comes to goaltending, as early in the season the team was winning despite their goaltending.  I agree with #2 and #5, but the team’s penalty-killing has spent most of the season at the bottom of the league while the parade of different centerman belies strength throughout the season.

-The Binghamton Senators halted their losing streak with a 4-3 win over Hershey.  They blew a 3-0 lead, but Jim O’Brien gave them the game with a late short-handed goal.  Robin Lehner got the win, making 42 saves.  O’Brien scored twice while Corey Locke and Pat Cannone added the other goals.  Click here for the box score and here for Joy Lindsay’s game summary.

-Elmira won last night, with Louie Caporusso picking up a goal and an assist and Brian Stewart getting the win.  Maxime Gratchev was held off the score sheet.

Senators News: January 20th

-The Sens have recalled Stephane Da Costa

Colin Greening talked about last night’s win, “We’re very confident right now. This shows that we’re a very good road team. You’ve got to be able to get points on the road, especially when we’re coming on the west coast and we have a three hour time change … I’ve never experienced it before, but talking to the veteran guys this is a very tough place to play. Coming in here and being able to win, especially 4-1, is a testament to how resilient we are.”  One of the things I like about Greening is his willingness to shoot–something many of Ottawa’s veteran players are reluctant to do consistently.

Mark Borowiecki wasn’t nervous in his first game, getting the nerves out in warmup (Ottawa “I’m definitely very excited. It’s something you work all your life toward and it’s just nice to get a chance now. I’m excited to get out there. I got them all out in the pre-game skate. The first strides around the rink were pretty wobbly, but I’m feeling good now … I’m just (going to) keep it simple. Get the puck, move it to my first option and don’t try to play outside myself.”  Borowiecki plays a mature game and could easily replace Brian Lee on the team.

Steve Lloyd speculates that Andre Petersson will play on Jason Spezza‘s right wing against Anaheim tomorrow.  This may be based on a conversation Denis Potvin had with Bryan Murray which was referenced on last night’s Sportsnet‘s broadcast (where Murray said he expects Petersson to be Spezza‘s future right-winger).  I’ll be interested to see how Petersson handles the physical play in the NHL–the AHL is physical, but not at the same pace.

Joy Lindsay reports that Robin Lehner will get the start tonight against Hershey, looking for his first win since December 4th (he’s on a five-game losing streak).