Senators News: February 29th

Robin Lehner talked about his first career NHL shutout, “Obviously, it’s not as big as last year for me (when he won the AHL MVP during the Binghamton Senators run to the Calder Cup title), there were some records for my country and the organization for being so young, but it’s up there. I think the first two periods were hard for me, too. I had to stand around for a bit. They still had pretty good chances when they got them. I think the D helped me a lot, to see the puck and take away rebounds. I think we had a real good team game today.”

-Paul MacLean didn’t like the Sens third period, but was happy with the win, “They’re still a real good team and still have a little ways to go. But we’re real pleased we were able to come in here, a tough building, and find a way to win the game. Getting a shutout just makes it better. I thought we didn’t play real great in the third period, but we found a way to stay on the inside and not give up too many second or third opportunities. Penalty killing did a good job of keeping that at bay. For the  most part, it was a pretty solid effor from our team, from start to finish.”

Scott Burnside looks at Ottawa’s success thus far this season, but only goes skin deep in talking about the culture change under Paul MacLean and the contributions of Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza.

TSN and Sports Illustrated‘s power rankings are out with Ottawa 12th and 15th

Peter Raaymakers worries about Robin Lehner, fearing his mediocre pro numbers are a result of complacency.  He points to Barry Brust taking over the starters mantel last year and Mike McKenna‘s superior numbers this year.  It’s interesting food for thought, but Raaymakers is drawing the wrong conclusion from the numbers.  The reason Lehner hasn’t dominated consistently is because he’s young.  Jacob Markstrom, who is supposed to be a better prospect than Lehner, has had similar problems–and so do most young goaltenders.  I have absolutely no concerns about Lehner being a starting goaltender in the NHL if he can stay healthy.

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Player Profiles: Ben Bishop and Matt Gilroy

With the changes in the Sens rosters it’s time to take a look at their two acquisitions:

Ben Bishop, G, Contract: 0.650/13 (RFA)
3-85 2005 (Larry Pleau), 6’7, Shoots L, YOB 1986, St. Louis, MO
2009-10 AHL 48-23-18-4 2.77 .901
2010-11 AHL 35-17-14-2 2.55 .914, NHL 7-3-4-0 2.76 .899
2011-12 AHL 38-24-14-0 2.26 .928

Bishop was drafted from the Texas Tornado’s of the NAHL.  He spent three years developing with Maine in the NCAA before turning pro in 2008-09.  Hockey Futures‘ very dated analysis of him is, “Thanks to his incredible height, Bishop gives shooters very little net to aim for. But despite his size, he is deceptively quick, and often relies on his athleticism to make saves. He is a good technical goaltender who covers his angles well.”  Despite playing the most games for Peoria in his rookie year he was outplayed by Manny Legace and Chris Holt.  In his second season he was the definitive starter (ahead of Hannu Toivonen), but split time with Jake Allen last season.  This year he was the clear number one and seriously competed with Brian Elliott for the back-up role with St. Louis.  He’s played nearly 160 games in the AHL and there’s no question he’s among the best goaltenders at that level.  Bishop is an excellent example of how long the development curve for goaltenders can be.

Matt Gilroy, DR, Contract: 1.0/13 (UFA)
FA 2009 (Glen Sather), 6’2, Shoots R, YOB 1984, North Bellemore, NY
2009-10 NHL 67-4-11-15 Even 23pim
2010-11 NHL 58-3-8-11 +5 14pim
2011-12 NHL 53-2-15-17 +2 16pim

The Hobey Baker winning blueliner was a hotly pursued free agent out of Boston University (where he was Eric Gryba‘s teammate), with the Sens among those who pursued him.  Hockey Futures‘ describes him as, “A defensively responsible blueliner, Gilroy has excellent hockey sense, a strong determination, and good vision. A very good puck mover, Gilroy is a character player, with captain potential.”  Signing with the Rangers, he wound up fifth on the depth chart (behind Del Zotto, Staal, Girardi, and Rozsival).  The following season he remained 5th on the depth chart until the Rangers acquired Bryan McCabe at the deadline and he dropped further.  The Rangers let him walk and he signed with Tampa in the off-season.  Gilroy leaves the Lightning as the second highest scoring blueliner (behind Marc-Andre Bergeron), second highest plus minus (also behind Bergeron), and averaged 17:36 TOI.  I think at his age and stage of development not much is going to change in terms of his production (although any player can improve defensively).