Ottawa 1, Chicago 2; Binghamton 5, Syracuse 2

The Senators can thank Robin Lehner for making a game that wasn’t close look respectively (he made 37 saves).  The Hawks dominated the game and the Sens were unable to generate momentum or even many chances.  Here is the box score.

First Period
Ottawa was atrocious to start the period with loose defensive play requiring Robin Lehner to repeatedly bail them out (especially saves on Patrick Kane and Andrew Brunette).  Matt Gilroy had the defensive play of the period, harassing Kane enough that he didn’t get a shot on a breakaway.  Despite their poor play, Ottawa scored first with Michalek surprising Emery on a one-timer.
Second Period
The Sens continued to struggle to start the second period.  Lehner stopped Patrick Sharp on a breakaway and then a penalty shot, but the Hawks finally scored on a 6-on-5 to tie the game and then went ahead on the powerplay.  MacLean threw the lines in the blender and the Sens played much better afterwards, but still had no answer to the Patrick Kane line.
Third Period
The Sens played their best in the third, but were still sloppy defensively (giving up a breakaway to Andrew Shaw) and had trouble getting pucks to the net.  Ultimately they had no answer offensively for the Hawks (including Gilroy missing an empty net).

Here’s a look at the goals:
1. Michalek (Spezza, Gilroy)
Spezza makes a perfect pass to Michalek above the circles and his one-timer catches the far post
2. Chicago, Bickell
Michalek leaves Bickell unattended in front and he beats Lehner high
3. Chicago, Hossa (pp)
Niether Kuba nor Konopka are able to collapse far side in time to prevent Hossa from scoring on the wrap around after Lehner makes the initial save

Top-performers:
Robin Lehner – made a number of huge saves and gave his teammates a chance to win
Milan Michalek – scored the team’s only goal and lead them in scoring chances
Colin Greening – was strong defensively and along the wall

Players Who Struggled:
Kyle Turris – was a big reason why the Patrick Kane line dominated and generated virtually nothing offensively
Bobby Butler – has gone back to being invisible, failing to generate offence

Binghamton jumped out to a 4-0 lead on Syracuse, chasing Antero Niittymaki and cruising to a 5-2 win.  Ben Bishop made 42 saves to earn the victory, while Mike Hoffman scored two goals and Andre Petersson, Corey Locke, and Pat Cannone had the others.  Locke and Hoffman each had three-point nights.  Here’s the box score and Joy Lindsay‘s game summary.

Elmira lost 3-1 tonight, with Brian Stewart dressing as the backup and Corey Cowick held off the scoresheet (Louie Caporusso is still injured).  Bobby Raymond had no points but was a +5 in Florida’s 9-3 victory.

Senators News: March 2nd

-No lineup changes are expected tonight.

Robin Lehner isn’t interested in talking about his season in Binghamton, “I don’t really care what people say about me and my statistics in the AHL. I know what they are and I know me, myself, how it’s been, and why. I’ve gone through a lot since I came over here, and I’m learning from it. I have people who are helping me to go through it. Everything is a learning thing and I’m learning every day.”

Craig Anderson won’t discuss how his injury happened, “I really don’t care to talk about the details of it all. (It was a) freak accident. Happened in the kitchen. Leave it at that. Something you learn from. Unfortunately, it was a costly mistake. I knew it was severe when it happened,” he said when asked if he thought his career was in jeopardy. “I knew it wasn’t the end of the world. I knew I had an issue, I knew I needed to take care of it. My main concern was just to get the help I needed right away, get the right people involved right away to make sure the road to recovery happened as soon as possible.”  I don’t understand his reticence, but the specifics are irrelevant.

-A lot of ink has been spilled talking about Erik Karlsson as a Norris Trophy candidate.  Laurie Boschman offers a pile of numbers supporting him, while Tyler Dellow presents numbers against him (Dellow makes the mistake in his presentation by not applying his analysis to any other player, making comparison via his method impossible).  Greg Wyshynski decries Karlsson‘s defensive acumen as compared to other candidates and ultimately I think that train of thought will win the day when it comes to voting (hockey traditionalists despise players they consider to be one-dimensional).  The prejudice clearly still bothers Paul Coffey, who said “No disrespect to defensive defencemen, but every team has one, How many teams have a defenceman that can do what Erik Karlsson is doing? (The award) should go to an exceptional defenceman. That’s Karlsson this year.”  Personally, whether Karlsson wins the trophy or not is irrelevant.  He’s having an excellent season and is a major reason why the Sens have played so well this year.

-Speaking of Karlsson, Chris Phillips credits him with the improvement on the Sens blueline this year, “I think having D-men jump up in the play and getting involved is something that helps the forwards. Being involved, being an option (for a pass), forces the other team to back off, not play them as hard, be aware of guys jumping up. That gives forwards more time with the puck and time to make plays.”

Bob McKenzie reports that a group from Saskatoon is trying to land an NHL franchise.  It’s hard to imagine a city that small being granted a franchise, but McKenzie does indicate that it’s not completely implausible.