Ottawa 1, Toronto 3; Binghamton 3, Rochester 4 (OT)

Playing their third game in four nights, tonight’s game was about as entertaining as watching paint dry.  Much like the Habs in the previous two games, the Leafs sat back all night (fronting their net) and the Sens had no answer for that.  Ben Bishop looked human, unable to keep his punchless team in the game in the third period.  The CBC broadcast was endlessly fond of shots of Randy Carlyle, which made for riveting television.  Here’s the box score.

First Period
The Sens dominated most of the play to start the period, establishing a good cycle.  Rob Klinkhammer had the best chance to score on a breakaway.  Ottawa continued its trend of ineffectiveness on the powerplay.  The weirdest part of the period was Sergei Gonchar fighting.
Second Period
The flow of play evened out and the Leafs broke the ice when Karlsson scored on his own net (the puck getting caught in Bishop‘s pads and went in).  The game entered goofy land when Neil and Grabovski were thrown out after a fight–the latter didn’t have his tie-down on, but I have no idea why Neil got the boot.  The Sens controlled play afterward, but struggled to get pucks to the net.
Third Period
The refs stepped in to help the Leafs with a terrible hooking call on Jim O’Brien (Kessel was holding O’Brien‘s stick) and the Leafs immediately scored on the 4-on-3.  The officials were clearly aware it was a terrible call because they made an immediate make-up call, with the Sens eventually getting a 5-on-3.  Barely able to generate a shot (although Spezza did kick the puck in), the Leafs salted the game away with their own 5-on-3 goal.  Greening was able to break the shutout before the game ended with a nice tip in front of Reimer.

Here’s a look at the goals:
1. Toronto, Connolly
Karlsson’s pass from behind the net hits the back of Bishop’s pads and goes in
2. Toronto, Kessel (pp)
Beats Bishop 5-hole through a screen
3. Toronto, Phaneuf (pp)
Beats Bishop with a one-timer on the short side
4. Greening (Kuba, O’Brien)

Top-performers: no one really stood out for the Sens tonight, who were clearly tired and out of sync.

Players Who Struggled:
Ben Bishop – you can make arguments for him on all three goals, but if he stops at least one of the two powerplay goals it’s a different game
Bobby Butler – he wasn’t terrible, but he was dressed to help provide offence and that didn’t happen

-Binghamton lost in overtime tonight, with Mike McKenna making 41-saves in the loss.  Andre Petersson, Pat Cannone, and Wacey Hamilton scored.  Mark Borowiecki was a team worst -2, while Petersson, Conboy, and Henningson were +1.  Here’s the box score and Joy Lindsay‘s game summary.

-Elmira beat Florida 3-1, with Bobby Raymond going pointless and Brian Stewart dressing as the backup.

Senators News: March 17th

-I thought the Sens might recall Robin Lehner for tonight’s game, but Ben Bishop is expected to start and there are no lineup changes against Toronto.

Filip Kuba talked about the importance of creating separation from the teams chasing 8th in the conference, “That’s a big win for us. Not only are we leading the division, but we’re also trying to separate from the bottom teams as well. This is a big accomplishment, but it doesn’t really mean anything. We have to keep going. We’ve got plenty of games left and we’ll see where we are (at the end). To be there right now, with the way we’ve worked on the ice and off the ice, is big.”

Daniel Alfredsson made a great point about why players should embrace the endlessly repetitive questions from media scrums, “It’s not you [the media] I’m talking to, it’s the fans behind you. I think when you get older, it’s not a burden at all. Maybe in the beginning, when you’re worried about saying the right thing all the time. I think I’m comfortable enough now where I can handle all the questions. You guys portray us to the fans. I’ve always taken pride in it too. I always talk to the media. Win, lose or otherwise. There’s always exceptions, but then the younger guys (on the team) pay attention, and see that’s the way to do it. It’s part of the job and I enjoy it.”

Wayne Scanlan writes about the contrasts between Bryan Murray and Brian Burke.  Scanlan points to talent assessment as the reason for Ottawa’s current superiority over Toronto, specifically: 1. Goaltending, 2. Prospect depth, 3. Depth at center, and 4. Coaching.  I think internal pressure can be added to that–Burke has never fully embraced a rebuild, constantly pushing the envelope.  In one respect I’ll say the jury is out on Burke though, and that’s drafting.  Next fall will be when his first group of draftees (2009) truly impacts the organisation and that’s the true test of depth.

Kurt Kleinendorst talked about last night’s win “We’re trying to hang onto positives. I know it’s not great, but that brings us back to .500 over our last eight. We need to be better than that, but at least we’re treading water. I saw a lot of good things, I really did. For 13 more games, if we can continue to do a lot of things well, I’ll be very pleased.  That was a good win. Guys were competing. I thought the first period was probably one of our best opening periods of the season. Our problem right now is we’re just not quite able to maintain that intensity throughout the whole game. But we found it in the third, and give the guys a lot of credit.”

Will Moran provides an lengthy scouting report on Cole Schneider.  “His play without the puck is excellent and he drives the net hard. His skill around the net and ability to find the puck and the back of the net through extensive traffic is quite impressive. Schneider understands how to find the soft spot in coverage below in the circles and how to lose a defender deep in the offensive zone. He can get a shot off from in tight and can pick a spot through traffic with impressive accuracy.”  Schneider wants to emulate New York Ranger Ryan Callahan, which is a great template to follow.

Lyle Richardson writes about the connection between team payroll and the Stanley Cup, despite the theoretical level playing field created by the CBA.  Richardson’s article illustrates how as the cap has increased payroll has become more integral to success (without guaranteeing it).

-Elmira lost 3-2 to Florida last night, with Brian Stewart taking the loss and Bobby Raymond picking up an assist.

-The International Scouting Service (ISS) has released their latest rankings and here’s the top-30 (for the previous list go here; I’ve listed their previous ranking in brackets where applicable):
1. Yakupov, Nail, LW 10/6/93 L 5.10.5 189 Sarnia OHL
2. Grigorenko, Mikhail, RW 5/16/94 L 6.03.25 200 Québec QMJHL
3. Murray, Ryan, LD 9/27/93 L 6.00.5 201 Everett WHL  (5)
4. Forsberg, Filip, RW 8/13/94 R 6.01 176 Leksands SweAl (3)
5. Trouba, Jacob, RD 2/26/94 R 6.02 196 USA Under-18 NTDP (4)
6. Dumba, Matt, RD 7/25/94 R 5.11.75 183 Red Deer WHL
7. Gaunce, Brendan, C 3/25/94 L 6.02 215 Belleville OHL
8. Rielly, Morgan, LD 3/9/94 L 5.11.5 190 Moose Jaw WHL
9. Ceci, Cody, RD 12/21/93 R 6.02.5 207 Ottawa OHL
10. Reinhart, Griffin, LD 1/24/94 L 6.03.75 207 Edmonton WHL
11. Collberg, Sebastian, RW 2/23/94 R 5.11 Vastra SweJE
12. Maatta, Olli, LD 8/22/94 L 6.01.5 202 London OHL
13. Finn, Matthew, LD 2/24/94 L 6.00.25 195 Guelph OHL
14. Skjei, Brady, LD 3/26/1994 L 6.03 203 USA Under-18 NTDP
15. Aberg, Pontus, LW 9/23/93 R 5.11 187 Djurgarden SweE
16. Galchenyuk, Alexander, RW 2/12/94 L 6.00.5 198 Sarnia OHL
17. Faksa, Radek, LW 1/9/94 L 6.03 202 Kitchener OHL  (19)
18. Koekkoek, Slater, LD 2/18/94 L 6.02 184 Peterborough OHL (17)
19. Pouliot, Derrick, D 1/16/94 L 5.11.25 186 Portland WHL (18)
20. Girgensons, Zemgus, F 1/5/94 L 6.01.25 201 Dubuque USHL
21. Dalton Thrower, D, 12/20/93 R 5.11.00 179 Saskatoon WHL
22. Bystrom, Ludvig, LD 7/29/94 L 6.00.75 208 Modo SweE
23. Hertl, Tomas, LW 11/12/93 L 6.02 198 pounds Slavia CzeE (24)
24. Matteau, Stefan, LW 2/23/94 L 6.01 210 USA Under-18 NTDP (25)
25. Matheson, Mike, LD 2/27/94 L 6.01.25 180 Dubuque USHL (26)
26. Sissons, Colton, C/R 11/5/93 L 6.01 189 Kelowna WHL (27)
27. Kerdiles, Nicholas, C/L 1/11/94 L, 6.01.5 200 USA Under-18 NTDP (28)
28. Anton Slepyshev, LW, 5/13/94 L, 6.02 187 Novokuznetsk KHL (NR)
29. Teuvo Teravainen, LW, 09/11/94, 5.11 161 Jokerit FinE (NR)
30. Maidens, Jarrod, C 3/4/94 L 6.00.5 178 Owen Sound OHL (23)

Falling out of the top-thirty: Andreas Athanasiou (29) and Mike Winther (30)