Senators News: January 31st

-The big news is that Jason Spezza is out indefinitely as he will have back surgery.  The Sens historically are not good without Spezza so it will be interesting to see how they manage in his absence.

-Here are my thoughts on last night’s game.

Alfredsson talked about dealing with frustration with the first period of last night’s game:

We kind of told ourselves after the first that we thought we got a couple of calls against us that were tough and we just have to keep moving our feet and we’ll get some power plays and it’s nice when you can capitalize on it.

-Binghamton has recalled Darren Kramer and Dustin Gazley while signing Elmira d-man Kyle Bushee to a PTO.

-Elmira suspended Justin DaCosta who signed a deal with Kookoo in the Finnish second division.  The departure to Europe is also why the team suspended Artem Demkov not long ago (he’s playing for Hamburg in the DEL).

Bob McKenzie‘s mid-season draft rankings are out (I’ve put ISS‘ rankings, where different, in brackets, with NR designating the player did not make their top-30):
1. Seth Jones
2. Nate MacKinnon
3. Jonathan Drouin
4. Aleksander Barkov
5. Elias Lindholm (6)
6. Sean Monahan (5)
7. Rasmus Ristolainen (8)
8. Hunter Shinkaruk (14)
9. Nikita Zadorov
10. Valeri Nichushkin (7)
11. Alexander Wennberg (21)
12. Darnell Nurse (10)
13. Frederik Gauthier (19)
14. Andre Burakowsky (18)
15. Ryan Pulock (17)
16. Adam Erne (15)
17. Anthony Mantha (NR)
18. Max Domi (28)
19. Bo Horvat (22)
20. Josh Morrissey
21. Mirco Mueller (NR)
22. Zachary Fucale (NR)
23. Kerby Rychel (27)
24. Jason Dickinson (13)
25. Curtis Lazar (11)
26. Jacob De La Rose (NR)
27. Valentin Zykov (16)
28. Ryan Hartman (25)
29. Robert Hagg (12)
30. J. T. Compher (26)

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ottawa 5 Montreal 1

Ottawa overcame the absence of Jason Spezza and Sergei Gonchar, along with an early deficit and a sluggish first period, to crush Montreal 5-1.  Craig Anderson made 31-saves for the win, but did not need to be dominating to secure the win.  Here’s the boxscore.

Game Notes
-Despite two fights and a ton of penalties the game was not particularly explosive
-Speaking of fights, both were completely incidental and irrelevant (particularly Zack Smith‘s)
Smith came close to an own-goal in the third as he cleared the puck off his own post
Chris Neil took two dumb penalties (one while on the powerplay), but he did score late
Mark Borowiecki continues to struggle and had a particularly egregious turnover in the third
-Along with his goal Jim O’Brien had a short-handed breakaway
-So many NHL teams front their goaltenders to block shots, but tonight the Sens were able to benefit from the strategy as three of their goals were second chances off blocks and a fourth was deflected in by a defender attempting to block
Anderson‘s best save was off Prust point-blank in the third
-Despite playing well Zibanejad had the least amount of ice time on the team

The Goals
1. Montreal, Plekanec (pp)
Anderson stumbles and is unable to stop the puck from trickling through his feet
2. O’Brien (Karlsson, Condra)
Bangs in Karlsson‘s shot after its blocked by the crowd in front
3. Alfredsson (Wiercioch, Turris) (pp)
Wiercioch‘s point shot is blocked and Alfredsson hammers home the loose puck; it was a nice break for Alfie as just moments before he rang a shot off the post
4. Zibanejad (Greening, Benoit) (pp)
Big slapper deflects off Habs defender through Budaj
5. Phillips (Smith, Greening)
Hammers home the puck from the slot
6. Neil (Benoit, Smith)
Another shot blocked in front gets cashed in on the wrap-around

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: January 30th

-Ottawa plays Montreal (4-1-0) tonight; the Habs are lead by Andrei Markov and Raphael Diaz (7 points) and are backstopped by Carey Price (4-1-0 1.98 .924).  Jason Spezza will miss the game as he remains injured.

-Here are my thoughts on last night’s gameScott had the scoring chances 10-14.  Jeremy Milks has a good blog talking about the game and the performances of individual players, but as always he can’t stop beating a dead horse:

Keith Jones on NBC last night said he liked the increase in fighting this year and had no problem with fights off the opening faceoff. As a longtime NHL player, Jones understands the motivation behind it. While most journalists and commentators shift ncomfortably when the subject comes up because they don’t want to come off as barbarians in today’s buttoned-down environment, Jones was genuine about it and didn’t try to soften it up for the viewers.

What is Jeremy’s point?  All I can see is that Keith Jones likes fighting which is good because fighting makes some people uncomfortable.

Nichols continues his yeoman’s work of transcribing interviews and in this case it’s Paul MacLean who had the following to say:

Well it is for sure. Again, it’s like a playoff mode where you have to have the ol’ three legged stool of power play, penalty killing and goaltending. I think that’s really what it is right now and for us, we’d really help our penalty killers and our goalie a lot if we didn’t take our five or six minor penalties every night. Again, that sense of sloppiness and execution in our game, if we clean that part up, we feel we’ll take less penalties. You’re taking penalties because you make a bad pass and you turnover a puck and now you’re reaching to try and recover from a play and you wind up taking a penalty. So if we can get that execution stuff cleaned up, it’s going to help us a lot.

On Craig Anderson:

One thing about Craig, he’s very athletic and he’s a lean athlete…and he’s very competitive. I think the work he did is a little bit different than some of the other (guys). He didn’t just go out there and stop tons of pucks, like you said, you’re playing three-on-three or four-on-four and get into bad habits. So he ended up with Francois Allaire and Roberto Luongo in Florida at his house and community rink down there. They actually did the goalie-specific stuff that Francois is very well known for being very good at it. Craig’s not the typical Francois Allaire goaltender, but still, at the same time, the drills and stuff that is goalie specific that (Francois) put them through – I think it’s really helped him well and served him well to this point.

On Kyle Turris:

The work that he put in with Chris Schwarz at the end of last season has given him confidence. He has grown into a man. The difference of, last year at times, he’d going in and put his arm out and he’d be looking up at the ref because he’s the guy going down. Now he goes in and he puts his arm or body on somebody and maybe that guy is going down. Or more importantly, he’s staying up. He’s not the guy that is down on the ice anymore; and that gives (him) a lot of confidence. If you can feel strong and stable on your skates, it gives you tons of confidence. I think his maturity and his growing into his body and being stronger has really helped him a lot and that’s given him confidence. We challenged him last night to play against Sidney Crosby and to try and do a job on him. Yeah, they had some scoring opportunities and (Kyle’s line) had some scoring opportunities. But for the most part, it was a one-one game and Crosby wasn’t… he was still a factor in the game… but at the same time, I thought Kyle’s group did a very nice job against him.

And that’s a challenge that he is going to have to take on. If he’s going to be the number two centerman, he’s either playing against Malkin or a Crosby. And he’s going to be playing against… you go down the list, it’s Plekanec or somebody else in Montreal. In Boston, it’s going to be Krejci or Bergeron – one of those guys. When you’re starting to play against the better guys in the league, you have to be aware of what’s going on. You have to be focused on what it is. And you can’t just do it one night. Like he did it last night and that’s great, but now we’re playing Washington tomorrow so, who is it? Is it Backstrom tomorrow night? You’ve got to do it every night and you have to do it against the good guys every night and that’s going to be the test – our team, like every team, — is the consistency and our ability to get to that level and stay there.

On Jakob Silfverberg:

Well I think, I agree (that he is close to breaking out) because when he was in Binghamton at the start of the year, when I was down there watching him, he’s very similar to that type of player right now. He’s a smart enough player to, he can play the game and he’s kind of feeling his way around and where he can be successful and getting some comfort with the league and with the players. I agree that at some point here, the puck is going to start going in the net for him and he’s going to start making plays and things are going to start to happen for him. Yeah, he just has not played in the NHL [excluding two playoff games last year]. I mean, he’s played in the (Swedish Elite League) and he’s been an elite player. I think he shows that in the way that he’s got his way around the AHL at the start, and ended up being a really consistent player for Luke (Richardson) down there. And I think as we’ve talked about, he’s starting to do the same thing up here for us and at some point, he’s going to start to produce some offence. He does all the good things without the puck. Defensively, very little schooling as to being in the right place (is necessary) and being inside, he knows how to get around the rink. He knows his way around the rink and I think he’s used to the smaller rink here in North America from playing in Binghamton. Now he’s just getting used to being in the National Hockey League where things are just a little bit quicker and he’s starting to catch up with it, and I think he’s going to be fine.

On the young blueliners:

Well, I think that we can assess it that they can all play in the league; it’s whether or not we can play them all at the same time is the one concern we have. I think Andre Benoit may not have played in the National Hockey League but he has a lot of experience in the (AHL) and he played in the KHL. So he gives us a little bit of a veteran presence and a comfort that … Patrick (Wiercioch) played with him in Binghamton and (Mark) Borowiecki played some with him in Binghamton as well, so there’s a partner that they know and  have a comfort level on the ice with him. We’ve played each of them a little bit with Sergei (Gonchar) on the left side and some with Phillips as well. We felt in the first three games that Patrick Wiercioch played fine. Wiercioch and Borowiecki are two different players. Patrick can get the puck moving and he’s a puck-mover, and he can get it moving. The play that he made on the power play on the Turris goal in the home opener here was a great play; a NHL-type play. Well, Borowiecki made a couple of NHL-type plays last night. One-on-one (with) Malkin, (Borowiecki) was physical; that’s the element that Borowiecki brings. He doesn’t bring that puck-moving eliteness that Patrick does but Patrick doesn’t bring the physicality that Borowiecki (brings). You can compare the apple to the orange, but I think both of them I think are ready to play in the National Hockey League… it’s whether we have enough ice-time or patience to keep them out there at the same time, is a challenge that we have. But the more we play them and the more we see them, the (higher) comfort level we’re going to find with them. And then we have to factor in the Michael Lundin when he comes back. He’s a player that is totally forgotten. He’s an NHL defenceman. He can skate. He can move the puck. He can do some things that are a combination of maybe what (Borowiecki and Wiercioch) bring. Right now, we just have to wait and let that sort itself out. (Lundin’s) not close (to returning). I think he had the pins taken out of his fingers yesterday or the day before. But, he’s still not skating with the team yet until he gets the proper flexibility and that could be, I’m going to take a guess and say another ten days at least before he gets to skate with us. And then it could be another ten days before he even gets into the lineup. We’ll see how it is, but we’re looking forward to getting him into practice to see what he can do.

Adrian Dater offers his power rankings with Ottawa 14th, saying:

This remains a surprisingly good team. Not great, but good. Goalie Craig  Anderson continues to play superbly in net, posting a .975 saves percentage  through his first four starts. The Avalanche didn’t want to pay him after he  took them to the playoffs in 2009 and dealt him away for Brian Elliott, who  later moved on to St. Louis as a free agent. Now Anderson and Elliott are two of  the top goalies in the league. Erik Karlsson is showing that last year’s Norris  Trophy wasn’t a fluke, with five points and a plus-5 in his first five games.  And how about Kyle Turris, with four goals in his first five?

Robin Lehner was named the AHL’s player of the week.

Stefan G:Son explores why Sens prospect Mikael Wikstrand decided to re-sign with Mora in the Allsvenskan rather than sign with an SEL club.  He quotes Wikstrand:

Ottawa said it was up to me, but at the same time they obviously wanted me in the SEL, I know what I can get here in Mora. Lots of time on the power play and the kill and the time to develop my game. There were lots of clubs calling, actually, but I felt that I wouldn’t get as much ice-time there for next year that I would here. With Mora I can play the 25-30 minutes per game that I need. I like to play that much and that’s why it felt right to stay here another year. Ottawa obviously wanted me in the SEL but also said that I got to make my own decision if that felt right.

Stefan points out that the move isn’t unprecedented (Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Mikael Backlund are just two examples), and then there’s Anaheim prospect Max Friberg who hurt his draft status to stay at home and play in the Swedish third division.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ottawa 3 Washington 2

Ottawa won a game that they looked out of for almost two periods.  Whether it was the flu bug running through the team or the absence of Jason Spezza or both, until Jim O’Brien scored late in the second the game wasn’t close.  Craig Anderson made 31 saves and was excellent in the win.  Here’s the boxscore.

Game Notes
-it wasn’t a great night for Mark Borowiecki, particularly in the first period where turnovers were a problem
-speaking of turnovers, Zack Smith made two brutal ones in the final minute of the game
-throughout the game the best line for Ottawa was Condra-O’Brien-Zibanejad; eventually Zibanejad was promoted to other lines in the third period
Erik Karlsson continued his mastery of Alex Ovechkin who was invisible

The Goals
1. Washington, Brouwer
Latendresse loses the puck at the blueline that creates a 2-on-1
2. Washington, Hendricks (pp)
A great tip by Hendricks
3. O’Brien (Condra, Zibanejad)
Finished off a great feed in the slot by Condra
4. Michalek (Turris)
Backhand off a lost faceoff beats Neuvirth who was off his angle
5. Gonchar (Karlsson, Alfredsson) (pp)
Slapper gets deflected off a Washington defender between Neuvirth‘s legs

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: January 29th

-Ottawa plays Washington (1-3-1) tonight; the Caps are lead by Mike Ribeiro (6 points) and backstopped by Michal Neuvirth (1-1-1 2.92 .889).

Jason Spezza will miss tonight’s game with an injury and Mika Zibanejad will be inserted into the lineup.  Kaspars Daugavins and Andre Benoit will sit while Peter Regin will center Silfverberg and Michalek.

Nichols goes through the logic of the Mika Zibanejad recall and the element that sticks out most to me is the Wayne Scanlan Tweet he includes:

F Mark Stone has broken finger and F Mike Hoffman broken collarbone. Stone needed to mend his sore ribs anyway. Time to heal.

Scott offers up the scoring chances in the Penguin game (14/14).

Jeremy Milks isn’t excited about the talented Swedish prospects in Ottawa’s pipeline because the team has enough elves; he’s more excited about Eric Gryba.  Er…what?  In fairness to Jeremy I’m not sure the two elements are necessarily related (elvish blueliners and talented Swedes), his point seems to be that physical depth players are more exciting than top line talent.  I guess to each their own?

-Binghamton has recalled Brad Peltz from Trenton; Peltz played one game for the Titans in which he was injured.

Rory Boylen‘s power rankings have Ottawa in 9th.

Tim Campbell explores re-alignment and points out that the situation is preventing the scheduling of the 2013-14 season, as Bill Daly said:

It’s a priority for the league to get something done in time for next year, and yes, its lack of resolution is holding up the scheduling process. It’s currently being worked on.

I don’t envision the problem to be a difficult one now that the CBA negotiations are over.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: January 28th; Ottawa 1, Pittsburgh 2 (SO)

-The Sens lost 2-1 in a shootout against the Penguins in a game I sadly missed (as did Daniel Alfredsson, although in his case he was sick).  Craig Anderson made 33 saves in the loss (none in the shootout) while Colin Greening scored the only goal.  The Sens were only given two powerplays which doesn’t help their offense.  Here’s the boxscore.

Paul MacLean was pleased with his team’s effort:

I thought it was a great game — we went up and down the rink … I think we were playing against arguably the best team in the east and, one way or another, I thought we played a good game.

Mika Zibanjead has been called up from Binghamton and it wouldn’t be surprising if he made it into the lineup if Alfredsson is still sick (neither Kaspars Daugavins or Peter Regin are playing much).

Mark Parisi has his ups and downs for the week that was in Sens land.

-Elmira crushed Trenton 8-1 last night despite being outshot; Dustin Gazley had four points while Louie Caporusso had two.

Pierre LeBrun offers up his power rankings and slots Ottawa 11th.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: January 27th; Binghamton 3, Hershey 2 (SO)

-Ottawa faces Pittsburgh (2-2-0) this afternoon; the Penguins are lead by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin (5 points each), and backstopped by Marc-Andre Fleury (1-1-0 3.00 .882).  Here’s the NHL’s previewCraig Anderson is expected to start.

-Binghamton defeated Hershey 3-2 last night in a shootout; Robin Lehner made 38 saves for the win while Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone provided the offence (Mika Zibanejad, Stephane Da Costa, and Jack Downing all scored in the shootout).  Here’s the box score and the highlights.

-Here’s the latest ten game segment: Binghamton at the Forty Game Mark

-Elmira faces Trenton (17-19-6) this afternoon.

Bobby Kelly takes a look at Sens prospect Mikael Wikstrand (Vikstrand) and rather than commenting on his thoughts (which are well worth reading) I wanted to link the scouting report that went with him at the draft.

Bruce Dowbiggin thinks:

It has been duly noted in the early going of the 2013 season that NHL referees seem intent on calling chapter and verse from the rule book.

Let’s not get too excited Bruce; NHL officials are just as capricious as ever, but yes, they have called more penalties to start the season.  Bruce does acknowledge that this trend is unlikely to continue.

-Only in the NHL would you get people complaining about Nail Yakupov‘s goal celebration.  It’s funny to see people like Don Cherry whining about it because Grapes always defines Canadians by their passion for the game (as opposed to the old Soviet Russians who were dispassionate–okay, Cherry has never said “dispassionate” in his life, but you get the point).  Wacky goal celebrations are part of what made guys like Dave “Tiger” Williams fun to watch–everyone should just relax and enjoy the show.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)