Senators News: April 29th

-Here’s my review of the Sens in the playoffs.

Paul MacLean talked about his first season coaching in the NHL, “I feel good about the fact I can coach in the league and we’ve had satisfaction, so I guess I give myself credibility that I can do this. But now the hard part is to do it again. I remember when I scored 30 goals for the first time, and I was all pumped up about it and an old guy, Floyd Thomson, said ‘Oh yeah? well now you’ve got to do it again.’ I feel the same way today. That’s a motivator for me, and it also scares me to death. Because I know how hard it is, and it’s hard to do. But I’m looking forward to it, and I’m excited about September, of getting back for training camp and getting started again. But I’m also scared to death.”

Bryan Murray made an interesting comment regarding his second line, “Up front, we’re always looking for somebody to step in and score goals. That line with (captain Daniel Alfredsson) played with Turris, if we had one more guy that could score consistently or be a 20-to-25 goal scorer would make our team different.”  That’s a shot across the bow at Nick Foligno.  Murray also said the team needs another defensive defencemen which might come internally or externally.

Joy Lindsay Tweets that “[Bryan] Murray said he told Lehner that Bishop‘s one-way can be managed, but that org likes goalies to play in minors — and win“, apparently without a sense of irony since Lehner has already won the Calder Cup.

Ian Mendes Tweets that “[Bryan] Murray says he will not automatically qualify all of his RFAs“, but implies Nick Foligno will be back by saying “he challenged Nick Foligno in their exit meeting. Wants him to prove he’s a 2nd liner.”

Peter Regin talked about his status going forward, “It was a different injury this time. It wasn’t the same. I guess I was just unlucky that it was the same body part on the same side, so it looked bad that way. I’m confident, the doctors are confident, so it shouldn’t be a problem.”

Bruce Garrioch grades the Sens and I’ll delve into his comments after listing the grades (Regin and Gilroy were not assessed):
A+ Karlsson, Alfredsson
A Anderson, Spezza, Paul MacLean, Bryan Murray
B+ Cowen, Phillips, Neil, Michalek
B Kuba, Gonchar, Turris, Greening, Bishop
B- Foligno
C+ Carkner, Smith, Condra, Konopka, O’Brien, Winchester
C- Daugavins
D Auld
F Butler

As you’d expect there are oddities in Garrioch’s assessment.  You’d think MacLean and Murray would warrant an A+; Phillips (as always with Ottawa’s media) is given the grade of a teacher’s pet; how Kuba is only a B is difficult to understand, but Garrioch doesn’t provide a rationale for how he grades players, so there’s nothing to evaluate how grades are assigned.  Winchester does not deserve a C+, while Smith, Condra and Daugavins deserve better grades; I’m not sure why Auld doesn’t get the same failing grade Butler earns.

Now for the odder statements from Garrioch: he wants Carkner to be retained–the same player who has a bad knee and can’t play during the regular season; he says Gonchar showed veteran leadership in the playoffs, but will likely be dealt in the off-season (no reason is provided for why); he speculates Chris Kelly might be brought back because…well, no reason is provided; he says Winchester has a role when healthy–what role?  There’s nothing he offers that other players don’t do as well (or better).

Jean-Gabriel Pageau‘s season is over as Chicoutimi was knocked out of the QMJHL playoffs.

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Ottawa Senators: Playoff Review

The Ottawa Senators lost in seven games to the President’s Trophy winning New York Rangers.  Six of the seven games were decided by one goal, with the other game having a two-goal margin.  While this is a fantastic accomplishment for a team thought to be among the worst in the NHL coming into the season, the loss stings as Ottawa had two chances to close out the Rangers, but couldn’t get the deal done.

Here’s a look at how player performed throughout the series with my analysis and a grade for each player (A=outstanding season, B=above expectations, C=expectations met, D=below expectations, F=well below expectations; TOI=time on ice, FO%=faceoff percentage, INJ=games missed due to injury, SCR=scratched):
Jason Spezza 7-3-2-5 +2 20:58 FO% 54.3 Grade D
Was unable to bring up the level of his game to help a team starved for offence
Sergei Gonchar 7-1-3-4 +1 TOI 24:35 Grade B
Solid in all zones and his TOI was higher than in the regular season to reflect that
Nick Foligno 7-1-3-4 TOI 15:10 -1 Grade C
Played like he has his whole career–great one minute, invisible the next, then takes a bad penalty
Chris Neil 7-2-1-3 +2 TOI 13:35 Grade B
At his best in the most physical games
Kyle Turris
7-1-2-3 -1 TOI 16:37 FO% 39.7 Grade C
Couldn’t carry the offensive load when Spezza disappeared, but play well throughout
Daniel Alfredsson 4-2-0-2 -3 TOI 17:57 INJ 3 Grade C
The only elite forward to really show up in every game, but that’s what you expect from Alfie
Milan Michalek 7-1-1-2 +3 TOI 21:53 Grade D
He was excellent defensively, but the team needed him to produce and he couldn’t bury his chances
Filip Kuba 7-0-2-2 +1 TOI 23:25 Grade C
He continued his solid play from the regular season
Zenon Konopka 6-0-2-2 +2 TOI 11:17 FO% 70.7 SCR 1 Grade B
It’s amazing that a guy who was completely useless during the regular season could turn in a solid performance at playoff time, but his effectiveness dropped considerably as the series moved away from its early, chaotic start
Erik Karlsson 7-1-0-1 Even TOI 25:21 Grade D
He was one of Ottawa’s better players in the series, but he couldn’t provide the expected offensive contribution
Erik Condra
7-1-0-1 Even TOI 11:40 Grade C
Solid throughout; he played on every line during the series
Colin Greening
7-0-1-1 +1  TOI 13:59 Grade C
His offensive production could have been a little higher, but he provided much needed jam
Zack Smith 7-0-1-1 -2 TOI 13:21 FO% 53.7 Grade C
Showed a number of offensive flashes and was solid in his grinding role
Chris Phillips 7-0-1-1 Even TOI 21:33 Grade C
Just like the regular season, sometimes he helped his own team, sometimes he helped the Rangers
Jared Cowen 7-0-1-1 -3 TOI 17:01 Grade D
Much like the second half of the season, Cowen struggled with decision making
Jim O’Brien 7-0-1-1 Even  TOI 8:37 FO% 48.4 Grade B
A great series for O’Brien who gave the team all he had in limited ice time
Matt Carkner 4-0-1-1 +1 TOI 7:02 SCR 1 INJ 2 Grade B
Provided toughness when it was needed, but his wonky knee knocked him out of the series
Mark Stone 1-0-1-1 +1 TOI 8:43 SCR 6 Grade incomplete
Added to the lineup when it became apparent Butler had nothing to give; played well with limited minutes
Jesse Winchester 4-0-0-0 -2 TOI 10:52 FO% 52.0 INJ 3 Grade D
In the lineup largely for faceoffs and to grind, he wasn’t very effective and then was concussed
Bobby Butler 3-0-0-0 Even TOI 12:44 SCR 4 Grade F
Had yet more chances to show something, but remained invisible and was scratched in favour of prospects
Matt Gilroy 3-0-0-0 Even TOI 12:55 SCR 4 Grade F
Added nothing to the lineup in limited, laconic play
Jakob Silfverberg 2-0-0-0 Even TOI 9:10 Grade incomplete
While occasionally confused in coverages, he showed glimpses of the talent to come
Kaspars Daugavins 1-0-0-0 -1 TOI 10:30 SCR 6 Grade incomplete
Only appeared in game one
Craig Anderson 7-3-4 2.00 GAA .933 SV% Grade C
He had to at least equal Lundqvist in his play and he simply couldn’t

Players who were available but did not play: Mike Hoffman, Andre Petersson, Stephane Da Costa, David Dziurzynski, Mark Borowiecki, Eric Gryba, Patrick Wiercioch, Ben Bishop, and Robin Lehner.

Looking at performances as a whole the Sens remained just shy of what they needed.  Top offensive players couldn’t produce enough and Anderson couldn’t rescue the team often enough.  The players who went beyond expectations were mostly veterans with low expectations (Konopka, Carkner, Neil) or rookies (O’Brien), with only Gonchar among the better players lifting his level of play.  The playoffs didn’t particularly hurt the futures of any player, as marginal guys like Gilroy and Butler are already on their way out.  As a team I think the primary reason the Sens lost was the top-six forward group, specifically Spezza and Michalek failing to produce.

Throughout the series I named players as top-performers or as players who struggled (Karlsson and Anderson were tied for the most top-performer nods, while Spezza lead the way for players who struggled):
Erik Karlsson 3/0
Daniel Alfredsson 2/0
Jim O’Brien 2/0
Craig Anderson 3/2
Nick Foligno 1/0
Kyle Turris 1/0
Chris Neil 1/0
Filip Kuba 1/0
Bobby Butler 0/1
Chris Phillips 1/2
Milan Michalek 0/2
Jason Spezza 1/4