Senators News: April 9th

Kevin Sellathamby turns off his spell check and looks at the Mike GreenErik Karlsson comparison.  It’s not something that worries me as a fan–I think Green is a more physical player, but looser defensively–but for those who are anxious for Karlsson to win the Norris it’s worth checking out.

-Here’s my review of the Sens regular season and my profile of Sens prospect Mark Stone.

Ian Mendes provides a boatload of trivia going into the Ottawa-Ranger series.  One bit not included: seven players who won the Calder Cup with Binghamton last year are on their roster–I’m guessing that’s a record.

Joy Lindsay Tweets that Mika Zibanejad is in Ottawa and is expected to play in Binghamton’s final two games on the weekend.

Nicholas J. Cotsonika points out that despite the supposed parity in the NHL no team outside the top-four conference seeds has won the Cup since 1995 (New Jersey).  Post-lockout, only three #8 seeds have won (3 times in 6 years; Edmonton in 06, Anaheim 09, and Montreal in 10) and only two #7’s (Colorado in 06 and Philadelphia in 10).  Cotsonika also provides his predictions and in Ottawa’s case see’s them losing in seven games with a realistic chance of an upset.

Chris Stevenson makes his first round predictions and picks the Sens to beat the Rangers in seven.

Central Scouting‘s final rankings for the 2012 draft were released this morning.  CS ranks players in an odd way, with goalies separated out and European and North American players compared only to each other.

-Here’s a look at the entertainment value of each series.  Defense tends to dominate the playoffs as scoring plunges due to a lack of special teams play.  From best to worst, here are the series worth watching (Greg Wyshynski tackles the same issue and his rankings are in brackets):
1. Pittsburgh-Philadelphia (1)
Both teams hate each other, have players who play on (and over) the edge, and they both play an aggressive style
2. Nashville-Detroit (3)
While the Preds are defensive minded, they use an aggressive forecheck system and that combined with the Wings puck-possession and the teams mutual animosity should produce entertaining hockey
3. Boston-Washington (2)
This could turn into a snore-fest, but both teams have the potential to play energetic styles
4. New York Rangers-Ottawa (6)
The Sens are a loose team defensively and like to push the pace, while the Rangers will forecheck aggressively
5. Vancouver-Los Angeles (4)
The Kings play a style that makes your eyeballs bleed, but if the Canucks can push the pace it might create some excitement
6. Phoenix-Chicago (7)
The Coyotes are yet another dull team to watch, but the Hawks are a fun team to watch and might force Phoenix into something palatable
7. St. Louis-San Jose (5)
A defensive juggernaut playing a notorious playoff choker
8. New Jersey-Florida (8)
Putting the style of play aside, does anyone care about this series?  Two of the NHL’s least interesting teams

-I had the misfortune of watching Sportsnet‘s playoff preview on Saturday and have no way to get my two hours back.  It featured Scott Morrison, Damian Cox, Denis Potvin, and a bunch of other people whose opinions hold the weight of a wet paper towel.  I sometimes wonder if TSN looks as good as it does simply because of how bad Sportsnet and Hockey Night in Canada are.  The analysis from Sportsnet can be summed up like this: Nick Kypreos played for the Rangers, Mike Keenan coached the Rangers, Neil Smith managed the Rangers, and, er, everyone is confused by criticism of Crosby and the Penguins and theorize it can only be professional jealousy.

-Not to be out done with useless analysis, Pierre McGuire threw his hat into the ring this morning on The Team 1200 and offered the following chestnuts: 1) the Rangers previous playoff failures (referencing 09 and 11, although the Rangers haven’t made it past the second round post-lockout) were not due to Henrik Lundqvist being overplayed, 2) the Rangers playoff failures make them better suited for success this year.  If there’s logic in that I can’t find it.  Let’s use Pierre-think on Ottawa: the Sens lost in 2010 as did Craig Anderson with Colorado, therefore those failures have taught them lessons that will lead to success.  Hell, if failure leads to success then the Canucks should win the Cup, right?  No, wait, 15 teams in the playoffs this year didn’t win last year, so they will all have success!  Given how rarely teams repeat as Stanley Cup winners, suggesting failure leads to success is going to work in at least one case every year.

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Prospect Profile: Mark Stone

Mark Stone (RW, 6’2, DOB 1992, 6-178/10)
2008-09 WHL Brandon 56-17-22-39 -5 27pim (ppg 0.69) 10th pts
2009-10 WHL Brandon 39-11-17-28 +13 25pim (ppg 0.71) 9th
2010-11 WHL Brandon 71-37-69-106 +14 28pim (ppg 1.49) 1st all-star
2011-12 WHL Brandon 66-41-82-123 +45 22pim (ppg 1.86) 1st
2011-12 WJC Canada 6-7-3-10 +10 2pim (1.66) 1st

Nearing the end of a fantastic year where he finished second in scoring in the WHL (behind Brendan Shinnimin) and was a star in the World Junior Championships for Canada, Mark Stone was signed before the season began and will play in Binghamton next year.  The year he was drafted he was projected as a fourth-line player (ranked #119 by Central Scouting), with Red Line Report saying, “Big winger has nice hands, but skating issues drop him on our list.  Stride saw improvement this season, but is still a problem – heavy footed and has a short stride.  Has good hands in close and a decent passing touch, but tends to be a garbage goal scorer and we’ve only seen rare glimpses of an accurate shooting touch.  Makes accurate passes and is especially adept at finding linemates in transition. Very good at protecting the puck, but skating keeps him from being able to drive the net with authority.  Despite good size and decent strength, doesn’t use the body at all.  Tends to be a bit timid in board battles and doesn’t initiate much contact.  Progress stalled this season due to broken thumb and concussion.”  The injuries referenced by RLR played a big role in his stock falling at the draft (as did his place on a stacked Brandon team, with Stone playing third line minutes).  Hockey Futures says, “The size and hands are there as is the willingness to work the boards and get to the dirty areas. In the offensive end he has good instincts, an underrated shot and impressive passing skills. His hockey IQ is way up there and his anticipation allows him to get in good position on both ends of the ice. The one noticeable weakness is his choppy stride which he’s working on and has spent time with the Ottawa skating coach improving his foot-speed. Smart on the ice and well-spoken off of it, Stone has the talent, intensity and work ethic to get himself to the NHL in time.”  Here’s Stone being interviewed after scoring the OT winner at this year’s rookie tournament, and here’s a goal from the World Junior Championships.