Senators News: December 31st

-Binghamton faces the St. John’s Ice Caps (15-17-1) tonight; St. John’s is lead by Derek Meech (with only 17 points) and backstopped by Eddie Pasquale (8-11-1 2.57 .919).

-Elmira plays Wheeling (13-11-6) this afternoon; the Nailers are lead by Paul Crowder (24 points) and backstopped by Scott Darling (6-5-1 2.89 .884).  This will be Ben Blood‘s last chance to get a professional point in 2012.

-Everyone is going to be watching the Russia-Canada WJC game this morning–enjoy!  I will have to see it after the fact and I hope it’s a good one.

-Various journalists are providing a 2012 year in a review, but I don’t think the calendar year works well in a hockey context.  There were six months of (mostly) exciting action leading to the Stanley Cup, which was followed by months of tedious CBA negotiations.  For me, in terms of the blog, the most fun I had was researching my NHL success story articles (like this).  It’s the kind of information that has always interested me, but been hard to find.

The 6th Sens‘ Scott sent me some feedback on my comment yesterday about the NHL in the era before the shootout in relation to ties.  He pointed to a Phil Birnbaum blog from 2007 (using Phil’s own research), updated mid-season in 2010 (based on a Gabriel Desjardins article), that shows more games going into OT since the NHL began to award the loser point.  Here’s Birnbaum’s case:

When an NHL team loses a game in overtime or in a shootout, it still gets a point in the standings. That means that, for overtime games, three points are divided between the two teams. But for non-overtime games, only two points are divided. So teams have an incentive to allow more games to go into overtime.

Desjardins makes the argument more vociferously:

Teams seem to have figured out that dragging 10 games to the shootout is as good as winning five more games in regulation and can vault a team into the playoffs. Therefore, the weaker team on any given night has an incentive to first get the game to overtime, where it is guaranteed at least a point. Then, in the five-minute extra period, the team tries to reach a shootout, where it can nab another point.

It’s an interesting sentiment which may be perfectly valid, but I wish there was better data used for the argument.  Birnbaum only has stats for two seasons (97-99) prior to points awarded in OT.  This is much too small a sample to use as a basis for comparison (this isn’t necessarily Birnbaum’s fault, as he couldn’t find the numbers, but it causes problems and I’m not sure why he couldn’t simply look at the standings year-by-year and do the math).  There’s no explanation offered for the significant uptick in games going into OT in the 02-03/03-04 seasons which the post-lockout era hasn’t come close to approaching (presumably the incentive noted above should see a steady increase).  Birnbaum’s and Desjardins’ numbers (where they overlap) have slight differences (.229 and .230 to .228 and .228) which I assume is due to how they rounded the numbers.  Desjardins’ “dramatic increase” is still well below the 02-03 peak in ties (.252), a fact which deserves some explanation given that his thesis is that the shootout is the cause for the upswing.

I think there’s some substance to the argument, although I’m not sure teams rolling the dice on OT and shootout is enough of a factor to explain the (apparent) increase in ties.  I’d like to see numbers that go much further back (into the 80s at least) in order to get a sense of what is going on.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


Senators News: December 30th; Binghamton 2, Rochester 1

-Binghamton won again last night with a 2-1 effort over Rochester.  Robin Lehner made 26-saves for the win while Derek Grant and Corey Cowick provided the offence.  Chris Wideman (playing in place of Fredrik Claesson) earned his first AHL point in his fifteenth game.  Here are the highlights.

-Elmira lost 6-5 to Fort Wayne last night with Marc Cheverie earning the loss and both Dustin Gazley and Louie Caporusso picking up single points.

Ian C. McLaren writes about Jakob Silfverberg, but like his previous articles there’s nothing new here (you can sum it up with “he’s doing well and should be a pretty good NHL player”).

Adrian Dater offers up predictions for 2013, some of which I’ll comment on:
2. The NHL will expand by two teams, suggesting Quebec and Seattle
I think this is possible, although it is just as likely that two existing teams will relocate
3. New rule changes will be made to add excitement to the game
This seems a virtual certainty, although I don’t share Dater’s enthusiasm for eliminating the trapezoid nor the loser point in OT; the latter was installed as much to prevent teams playing for ties (leading to boring defensive hockey), while the trapezoid helps teams forecheck effectively.  A full two-minute powerplay (Dater’s other suggestion) is something I like
10. The fans will come back
I don’t doubt this at all–the hardcore fans will never leave, while casual fans will continue to flock to winners just like they always do

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: December 29th

-Binghamton plays Rochester (15-11-3) tonight.  The Amerks are lead by T. J. Brennan (29 points) and backstopped by David Leggio (14-8-1 3.12 .904).  The B-Sens beat Rochester 5-1 in their last meeting.

-Here are highlights from Binghamton’s win over Albany last night.

Nichols wonders if Binghamton can keep up their winning ways:

Despite being outshot in 17 of their 27 games by a shot differential of -118 and owning the league’s worst shots allowed per game (36.4 shots/game) mark in the league, somehow the Senators have managed to outscore the opposition 90-70. They are three shots per game worse than 29th ranked Norfolk (33.4). The team they are in spitting distance of for the division and conference lead, Syracause, is giving up only 24.8…or 11.6 shots per game fewer than the B-Sens.

Operating at an 87.7% success rate, Bingo has the second best penalty killing unit in the league and it leads the AHL with 8 shorthanded goals for. Nonetheless, the fact that the team is so heavily reliant on the Silfverberg line to score goals and on Robin Lehner (11-4-1-1, 1.93 GAA, .943 SV%) and Ben Bishop (6-3-1-0, 2.89 GAA, .926 SV%) to bail them out has to disconcerting. It’s an old maxim for a reason — ‘show me a good coach and I’ll show you a good goalie’.

Binghamton does give up an enormous number of shots, but the goaltending really is that good.  If an NHL season is salvaged and Ben Bishop plays in Ottawa that will put more pressure on Robin Lehner, but he seems up to the task this year.  Nichols also offers his opinion on Mark Stone (attributing his modest offensive numbers to playing on a checking line, which I think is correct), as well as offering up more words from Luke Richardson about Jakob Silfverberg:

I don’t know if they have any goals of his on Youtube or that… this guy can shoot a puck. I don’t understand how someone can get this much on their (shot)… It’s a heavy, heavy shot and the release is scary. He loves (going) glove and I can say it because it doesn’t matter. He scored two goals the other night in Rochester – one on a half-breakaway and the other one was in a shootout which is really a breakaway. The goaltender, I don’t care, he can know that he’s going over his glove or he can put his glove there and (Silfverberg) still beats him. (His shot) is that hard and that fast. It’s wicked. He’s finding it for sure in probably the last month. I talked to him the other day a little bit after practice, I knew he was finding it and he is finding it a lot more comfortable out there and even the physicality, this guy is a competitor. He is not afraid of anything. Not to compare him to Daniel Alfredsson, but he reminds me of him; very shy off the ice but when he gets revved up on the bench, he’ll come off just like anybody else – yelling and screaming and mad when things don’t work out. And if someone takes a run at him, he’ll go back out there and he’ll get right in that guy’s space and give him a little bit of a shot. He’s a big guy and strong but he can really take over a game. He’s smart. Defensively, he’s a real key to our penalty killing unit. We’ve got him now playing with Mike Hoffman and (Stephane) Da Costa, so it’s a pretty potent offensive line… He’s going to be a guy that when the lockout ends, unfortunately he won’t be in the (AHL) long for me, but to his credit, he’s a world class player and he deserves to be in the best league when it gets going.

The comments about Silfverberg‘s shot echo what Pierre Dorion (and others) in the Sens organisation have said before.

-Elmira defeated Evansville 6-3 last night, with Jack Downing enjoying a three point night, Dustin Gazley picking up two points, and Louie Caporusso adding a goal.  Elmira plays the Fort Wayne Komets (15-13-2) tonight; the Komets are lead by Brandon Marino (36 points) and backstopped by Ken Reiter (8-6-1 2.90 .911).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: December 28th; Binghamton 3, Albany 2

-Binghamton defeated Albany 3-2 tonight in a game I was unable to watch.  The Devils outshot the B-Sens 37-17, but Robin Lehner stood tall and goals from Cole Schneider (with two) and Jakob Silfverberg (with the winner) were enough for the win.  Mark Borowiecki returned to the lineup which put Chris Wideman in the pressbox.  Here’s the box score.

-Elmira defeated an undermanned Cincinnati last night, with Dustin Gazley enjoying a 3 point night and Louie Caporusso picking up an assist.

Nichols looks at the speculation that Mika Zibanejad is suffering from a concussion; the same one he suffered back in April:

With Zibanejad now out of the lineup four plus weeks, we’ve seen the organization blame his absence on the removal of wisdom teeth, strep throat and the flu. Of course, this could be the truth, but the longer Zibanejad remains out of the lineup (and off his skates altogether), the more fans will look to alternative explanations or speculation as to what ails Mika. Obviously there should be some level of skepticism reserved; however, as Scott (@Wham_City) has pointed out, the above account in question (@SensProspects); broke the Jared Cowen surgery news (a Bob Mckenzie report followed 3 hours later). I wouldn’t get too hung up on the anonymity, I don’t think this is a guy/gal talking out their ass. FWIW SteffeG has heard similar things with regards to Mika still suffering from “concussion symptoms”. Professional teams are wary of the “c” word, and will go to great lengths not to use it in public, as anyone who’s followed the Toronto Marlies of late will have noticed.

Allan Muir takes a look the new NHL proposal for those who want to check it out.  He also wonders if Nail Yakupov has shown enough passion so far at the WJC championships…I find criticisms like “indifference” a little too easy to make and I can’t say I’ve noticed that at all in the games I’ve seen.  I do agree with Muir that Canada ought to give Jordan Binnington a start, but it remains to be seen if that will happen.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: December 27th; Binghamton 3, Syracuse 5

-Binghamton fell 5-3 to Syracuse last night in a game I was unable to watch.  Ben Bishop faced 43 shots in the loss and would like to have a couple of the goals back.  Stephane Da CostaJakob Silfverberg, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored for Binghamton (Silverberg‘s goal involved one the least excited team celebrations I’ve seen in awhile).  Eric Gryba finished +2 on a night when no one else was better than even.  Here are the highlights and the summary.

Luke Richardson talked about the loss:

We got totally outplayed, the first period especially. The second period, once we got our legs going we skated a little bit but our competitive level was nowhere near Syracuse tonight. (In the third period) we skated, we drew penalties, we got pucks to the net. The big part is we came back to the house area in front of our net a little better. On one or two touches were out of the zone and in the first two periods we were spending way too much time in our zone and when you do that you’re tired.

-Elmira faces Cincinnati (15-8-2) tonight; the Cyclones are lead by Michael Pelech (21 points) and backstopped by Brian Foster (12-3-2 2.32 .913).

-As expected Canada pummelled Germany yesterday, winning 9-3.  Slovakia should be a tougher test, but I expect Canada to win without too much difficulty.

Michael Rosenberg offers a humorous look at sports events in 2013.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: December 26th

-Binghamton plays Syracuse (17-7-4) tonight in a meeting of top AHL teams; the Crunch are lead by Tyler Johnson (30 points) and backstopped by Dustin Tokarski (10-5-3 2.40 .904).  Binghamton lost 4-3 in their last game against Syracuse 4-3 (on the 13th).

-In an illustration of how his rookie season has not gone well, Ben Blood has been sent back down to Elmira while Daniel New has been recalled to Binghamton.

-This time of year there’s not much in the way of hockey news that isn’t World Junior Championship-related.  Hockey’s Future posted team previews for the tourney (Canada, , Sweden, Russia, FinlandCzech RepublicSlovakia, Switzerland, Germany, and Latvia).  The US preview has yet to be posted.  Allan Muir also offers an overview.

Pierre LeBrun offers ten ways for the NHL to recover when the lockout ends:
1 – free NHL center ice for the rest of the season, which is an idea I like
2 – immediate realignment, which is something I have mixed feelings about (thoughts are here and here)
3 – add a play-in round of the playoffs, which I like
4 – bring back the World Cup of Hockey, which I have mixed feelings about
5 – 3-on-3 OT’s, which I’m not sure is a meaningful change, but there’s no reason not to try it out
6 – shorten the pre-season, which is a good idea, but team’s won’t give up the money made during it so I don’t see it happening
7 – make free agency start earlier, about which I have no strong opinion
8 – make free agency a bigger more deliberate media event, which is something else I don’t have strong feelings
9 – create a European division for the NHL, which is a nice idea but I don’t think it’s workable in the near future
10 – agree to a lengthy CBA, which is something everyone outside the league would celebrate

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

December 25th

Best wishes to everyone–I hope you’ve enjoyed a safe and happy holiday.

Senators News: December 23rd; Binghamton 5, Rochester 1

-Binghamton crushed Rochester 5-1 in a game I was unable to watch.  Robin Lehner picked up the win with 34 saves while Shane Prince, Andre Benoit, Jakob Silfverberg, Mark Stone, and Mike Hoffman provided the offence.  Here are the highlights and Luke Richardson‘s post-game comments.

-The B-Sens have been fantastic after a slow start and that’s a credit to both the organisation for the players they’ve drafted and signed along with the work the coaching staff has done.  It will be interesting to see how things evolve if there’s no NHL season.

Bruce Garrioch says that the Pittsburgh Penguins want Sergei Gonchar back, which may be signing him as a UFA or take the form of a trade, although it’s hard to imagine the Sens trading him at this point as Scott sums up:

With Cowen sidelined, minus Gonchar, the defensive depth chart projects as; Karlsson, Methot, Phillips, Lundin, Benoit, Wiercioch, Boro. Can’t say that group inspires much confidence (said as a person who’s loving what Wiercioch is doing in the A). With a thin defence corps I’d expect the Senators to handle a Gonchar trade like they handled the possibility of moving Kuba last year, ie. they’ll entertain offers but have no problem watching the asset walk. Sergei played 22 minutes a game last year, and while clearly a declining asset, is still an important and useful body on a depleted Senators blueline. Trading away what little depth they have for a meager return seems a big gamble if the goal is the postseason.

-Elmira lost 4-2 to Wheeling last night, with Marc Cheverie picking up the loss and Caporusso and Gazley picking up single points among Bingo signees.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: December 22nd; Binghamton 5, Rochester 6 (SO)

-Binghamton lost 6-5 in a shootout last night as the Rochester Americans broke Ben Bishop‘s personal win streak while overcoming a two-goal deficit in the third period.  Jessiman, Eckford, Silfverberg, Benoit, and Wiercioch scored for the B-Sens.  Here are the highlights.

-Binghamton plays Rochester again tonight, presumably with Lehner getting the start.

Darren Kramer has been called up to Binghamton.  His last game played with Elmira was November 30th (where he was injured).

Hockey’s Future takes a look at the prospects on the upswing and on the decline and Robin Lehner makes the former list:

Few goaltenders have had as strong a start to the 2012-13 season as Robin Lehner. The 21-year-old Swede, who is now in his third professional season, is 9-4-1 through 15 starts, and his 1.99 goals against average and .941 save percentage are among the best in the AHL. He is also the main reason why the Senators as a team are allowing only 2.43 goals-per-game, among the fewest in the league. The numbers are even more impressive considering Lehner plays behind a defense that allows an average of over 30 shots per game.

-Elmira lost 5-1 to Wheeling last night with none of the Binghamton signees factoring in on the Jackals only goal and Cheverie did not play.  The teams play again tonight.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: December 21st

-Binghamton plays Rochester (12-10-3) tonight; the Americans are lead by Marcus Foligno (24 points) and backstopped by David Leggio (11-8-1).  The B-Sens beat Rochester 3-2 in their previous meeting over a month ago.

-Elmira plays Wheeling (10-10-5) tonight; the Nailers are lead by Paul Crowder (18 points) and backstopped through an equal rotation of Patrick Killeen (3-5-4) and Scott Darling (4-5-1).

-I haven’t done an Elmira overview this season so I thought this was as good a time as any to do so.  The Jackals are 12-11-3 which puts them 9th in the Conference.  The team is 5th in goals for and tied for 5th in goals against.  Player stats (those in bold are signed by Ottawa, while those in italics are signed to AHL contracts with Binghamton):
Artem Demkov 26-15-11-26 -4 20pim
Dustin Gazley 20-6-18-24 -7 15pim
Andrew Rowe 26-12-10-22 -11 16pim
Jack Downing 24-8-11-19 Even 13pim
Louie Caporusso 18-6-11-17 +4 6pim
Jean Bourbeau 26-7-6-13 +3 23pim
Jordan Pietrus 26-4-9-13 +7 41pim
Kyle Bushee (D) 26-4-9-13 +1 18pim
Jordon Southorn (D) 25-2-8-10 36pim
Rob Bellamy 26-3-7-10 -3 50pim
Daniel New (D) 17-1-8-9 +2 4pim
Chris Wideman (D) 5-0-5-5 +2 7pim
Darren Kramer 8-3-2-5 Even 31pim
Chaz Johnson 13-4-1-5 +4 55pim
Kevin Harvey 17-2-3-5 -2 59pim
Justin Dacosta (D) 17-0-5-5 Even 6pim
Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel (D) 11-0-4-4 Even 0pim
Brad Peltz 12-2-2-4 +2 10pim
Brandon Blandina 7-1-2-3 +2 0pim [now with Reading]
Matt Campanale (D) 26-1-2-3 -2 6pim
Justin Daniels 1-1-1-2 +1 0pim
Kevin McCarey 1-0-2-2 +2 0pim [released]
Jimmy Martin (D) 13-0-1-1 +4 2pim [now with Utah]
Corey Bellamy 1-0-0-0 Even 2pim [released and playing in the FHL]
Jarrett Rush (D) 4-0-0-0 -2 0pim [now with South Carolina]
Ben Blood (D) 17-0-0-0 +3 15pim
Marc Cheverie (G) 8-7-1 2.54 .919
Maxime Clermont (G) 3-4-2 3.57 .887

Scott dives into a poll conducted by Icethetics that lists the Senators logo as near the bottom of the barrel.  This doesn’t strike me as news, but instead something the marketing boys for the team might get excited about.  I don’t share the enthusiasm for the older Sens jersey, nor the vocal minority that wants the team to play in their boring white jerseys at home again.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)