Senators News: February 28th

-Yesterday’s blog failed to appear due to various weather-related issues; I h0pe everyone stayed safe on the roads and haven’t had to spend too many hours digging out of the snowy deluge.

-Ottawa faces Boston (12-2-2) tonight; the Bruins are lead by David Krejci (14 points) and backstopped by Tuukka Rask (10-1-2 1.89 .930).  Robin Lehner will get the start.

-Here’s my look at the Sens at the 20-game mark.

Scott has the scoring chances for the Montreal game 6/19, which looks about right.

Wayne Scanlan revisits the David Dziurzynski story (there’s a bit more to be found here for those interested).

Bryan Murray was on The Fan 590 and Nichols has continued his transcription service:

I don’t think anyone [management] is that smart. No one ever expected that we would lose that calibre of player with Cowen and Karlsson on the blue line in particular. I think you see we don’t move the puck quite as well out of our own end as we probably will going forward. Losing Spezza, Michalek and Latendresse up front… Peter Regin’s back now. Anderson in goal (is injured too). It’s been a bit trying and I’m a nervous wreck every game but we’ve fortunately so far been able to find a way to compete every night, at any rate.

I like the humility Murray admits too here where clearly he’s surprised at how well the team has performed in the absence of so many good players.

Well, Marc first of all, we had to trade Nick Foligno to get him. We liked Nick a lot. We thought he had a really good future with the organization, but I had called about Marc Methot two or three times over the last couple of years. We liked his compete (level). We liked his size and skating. He was a perfect fit, we felt, for Erik Karlsson and now that Erik is out, Eric [Gryba] has come up from the minors and Marc has kind of taken him under his wing. The two of them have been more of a shutdown pair than they have been an offensive pair but (he was) a real good acquisition for us, there’s no question. And goaltending-wise, we’ve just been real blessed really having Anderson and then when he went down, getting Ben Bishop last year. And we’ve got (Robin) Lehner waiting in the wings to be a top goaltender in the league, so those are the areas that as we know…. Doug, you and I know that when we had (John) Vanbiesbrouck playing in Florida, we had a pretty good hockey team because he’d give you a chance to win every night.

Pretty basic message: great goaltending gives you a chance to win every night.

Well, the scouts have done a very good job – led by Pierre Dorion and Tim Murray. I think that we evaluate and do a good job, but the other part is, a couple of years ago, when we made the decision to move guys like Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly, they were very difficult decisions to make – to let that quality of person go. But we were able to get first round picks and other picks back. We had three first rounders that particular year, so the scouts had a chance to really good and work, and they’ve done that. The other part that we’ve worked very hard at is the player development part – where we have Randy Lee in charge of that (with) a variety of people doing a lot of work and (having) daily contact almost with the prospects. And I think when you do that, you send a loud and clear message to the players that you expect a commitment. If they’re going to ever be players, we want them to play in this organization and fortunately for us, some of them have really come up, played well and played hard for us. I think long-term, we’ll get better as a result of this.

I think the most interesting thing here is how much credit Randy Lee deservedly gets for helping round players out, particularly when it comes to the work the Sens do in improving players skating (Dziruzynski above, or Mark Stone, etc).

Lyle Richardson briefly looks at Ben Bishop trade rumours and while I agree with him there’s no urgency in a move being made it seems much more likely that he will be traded than kept (given Lehner‘s performance in the AHL and Bishop‘s upcoming RFA status).

NHL realignment is being proposed, but as it has not yet been accepted I won’t delve into it too much other than to say that it’s clear the promise made to Detroit years ago will be honoured by them moving into the Eastern conference.

-Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri notched a natural hat trick last night and I’m always reminded that he’s the first round pick Ottawa traded to the Islanders in the Chris Campoli deal.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ottawa Senators at the 20-Game Mark

Ottawa has reached the 20-game mark and it’s time to take stock and see how the team has performed.  The Sens went 6-3-1 (identical to the previous ten games) which puts them 4th in the conference and they remain 2nd in the division.  Their 48 goals for is eighth in the conference and their 37 goals against is second.  Ottawa’s powerplay dropped to 17th overall (16.7%); they continue to have the 3rd best penalty killing in the league (88.0%) while being the 8th most penalized team; they have the 5th best 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio (1.26).

Player’s stats (INJ=games missed due to injury, SCR= scratched, SUS=suspended, AHL=games in the AHL):

Colin Greening 9-2-3-5 -1 TOI 13:46 SCR 1
Daniel Alfredsson
10-2-3-5 +1 TOI 18:28
Erik Condra 10-2-2-4 +3 TOI 13:55
Jakob Silfverberg 10-1-3-4 +2 TOI 15:50
Mika Zibanejad 9-1-2-3 +3 TOI 12:59 SCR 1
Kyle Turris
 10-0-3-3 +1 TOI 19:05
Erik Karlsson 4-2-0-2 +1 TOI 27:03 INJ 6
David Dziurzynski 6-2-0-2 +1 TOI 14:13 [AHL 4-1-1-2 +1]
Eric Gryba 6-0-2-2 -1 TOI 20:44 [AHL 4-0-2-2 +5]
Stephane Da Costa 8-1-1-2 -3 TOI [AHL 3-1-1-2 +1]
Patrick Wiercioch 8-0-2-2 Even TOI 15:15 SCR 2
Sergei Gonchar 10-0-2-2 +1 TOI 24:06
Zack Smith 10-0-2-2 -1 TOI 15:15
Milan Michalek 3-0-1-1 +1 TOI 18:23 INJ 7
Jim O’Brien 7-1-0-1 Even TOI 11:55 SCR 3
Andre Benoit 7-1-0-1 Even TOI 15:52 SCR 3
Chris Neil 10-0-1-1 -1 TOI 14:04
Chris Phillips 10-0-1-1 +1 TOI 19:51
Mark Methot 10-0-0-0 Even TOI 22:38
Kaspars Daugavins 9-0-0-0 -2 TOI 11:11 SCR 1
Mike Lundin 6-0-0-0 -2 TOI 17:02 SCR 4
Derek Grant 5-0-0-0 -1 TOI 8:39 SCR 1 [AHL 4-2-0-2 +1]
Peter Regin 3-0-0-0 -1 TOI 11:31 INJ 7
Jason Spezza [injured]
Guillaume Latendresse [injured]
Erik Karlsson [injured]
Jared Cowen [injured]

Craig Anderson 2-2-1 1.49 .952 INJ 2
Ben Bishop 4-1-0 2.17 .935

Besides the many injures to the team over this period (Karlsson, Michalek, Regin, and Anderson), what’s apparent is that the Sens have been able to win by committee.  No one player has dominated, with Greening and Alfredsson sharing the scoring lead with a modest 5 points over ten games.  The blueline, in the absence of Karlsson, has provided virtually no offense (trio tied at 2 points each), while on the forward side Turris is in the midst of an awful slump.  The Sens combination of great goaltending, excellent penalty killing, and strong defensive play has been enough (thus far) to keep them high in the standings.  Condra and Zibanejad lead the plus/minus column (+3), while the demoted Da Costa was a team worst -3.  Of the Binghamton players brought up both Gryba and Dziurzynski look like they belong, with the latter being the biggest surprise as he was not in the midst of a great season in the AHL.  O’Brien‘s play has suffered after a hot start, while Lundin‘s debut has been a big disappointment.  I’ve long thought that Bryan Murray’s pro scouting (signing free agents and making trades) does not match his amateur scouting and I wonder if some moves will be made in that regard.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: February 26th; Ottawa 2 Montreal 1 (SO)

-The Sens pulled off yet another victory by defeating Montreal 2-1 in the shootout.  The team did not play well and owe the win to Ben Bishop (definitely his best game of the year).  David Dziurzynski scored Ottawa’s only goal in regulation, while Jakob Silfverberg and Peter Regin scored in the shootout.  Here’s the boxscore.

Game Notes
-interference hasn’t just crept back into the game, but it’s starting to get ridiculous (especially hooking)
-speaking of the officiating, one has to wonder what sins Bryan Murray committed for the organisation to continue to be on the short end of the power play stick
-the Sens were dominated by the Habs for most of the game and had few opportunities
-both Chris Neil and Mark Methot took dumb, selfish penalties in the game (the Habs scored on Neil‘s)
Kyle Turris looks like he’s lost his confidence; along with his offensive woes he was horrific on faceoffs and took a pointless penalty in overtime
-Habs hit iron three times last night, the Sens just once (Regin in OT)
Silfverberg remains deadly in shootouts
Regin was not expected to play last night, but as Paul MacLean says:

I apologize, I said there were no changes, and after I came downstairs Peter marched into my office and said ‘I’m ready to play, I want to play. You’ve got to put me in the lineup.’  He’s a veteran player and when he comes in and tells you that, you’ve got to respect that. So I said, ‘well, you’re in.’ It was a good decision by him.

-I understand what Jeremy Milks means when he compares Dziurzynski to Brian Boyle as a player who has come out of nowhere for most, but let us recall that Boyle was a first round pick (1-26) in 2003 whereas Dziurzynski was a free agent signing out of the BCHL–very different pedigree.  Jeremy also doesn’t like people criticising Neil because he’s done good things for the team–just because a player makes good plays doesn’t mean they are immune to criticism because of bad ones

-Don Brennan, he (and Bruce Garrioch and various bloggers like Milks above) of the Sens aren’t tough enough arguments, finally looks at the lack of fighting by the Sens.  As Chris Neil points out:

It’s been different with all the injuries we’ve had.  For Smitty and me, you don’t just go out and fight, you’re playing a lot more. If something happens to one of our teammates, we’ve got to go take care of it. We know that. But you’ve got to play the game as well. We’ve been going against the other team’s top lines, (coach Paul MacLean) wants us to shut them down, and that’s what we’re focused on.

So the fighters on the Sens have to focus on playing the game as opposed to fighting and look at how the team has performed with that focus.  For those counting at home, the leader in fighting majors so far this season are the Toronto Maple Leafs (9th in the league), followed by NHL juggernaut Columbus (30th) and the Philadelphia Flyers (19th).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: February 25th; Binghamton 1, Adirondack 2

-Ottawa faces Montreal (12-4-2) tonight; the Habs are lead by Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty (13 points each) and backstopped by Carey Price (10-3-1 1.97 .923).

Scott had the scoring chances in the Toronto game 10/12.

Luke Richardson is not surprised that the call-ups from Binghamton have done so well:

I’m not surprised. The coaching staff is really engaged with the players and the players follow the gameplan well. When you have a team that follows the game plan well, and they make (the players) do it in a way where they make the players feel a part of it, not sitting there yelling and telling them how to do it, you’re going to have success. They make sure the players push themselves. They ask the questions of the players that make the players ask the questions of themselves.

-Both Colin Greening and David Dziurzynski talked about how chemistry has kept the team going despite the injuries:

You know the guys you went though those playoff series [2011 Calder Cup run], those hard series, the bus rides, and to have that familiarity, it’s important, because you feel comfortable and you know what kind of players they are as well.

We just keep gelling and grinding out wins, and I think (you gain) confidence knowing all the guys — that helps a lot. We were a pretty close group of guys when we won (the Calder Cup) and we’re just familiar with a lot of faces.

Pierre LeBrun has Ottawa 9th in his power rankings, saying:

Not sure how long we can keep ranking the Senators this high, but they deserve it, winners of four straight games and missing all their top players. Paul MacLean, we bow to you.

-Binghamton fell to Adirondack 2-1 despite heavily outshooting the Phantoms; Marc Cheverie made 20 saves in the loss while Dustin Gazley scored the only goal.

-Binghamton released both David Marshall and Ian Keserich from their PTO’s.

-Here is the latest prospect update (for players with more than 10 games played I’ve indicated where they are in scoring; for blueliners they are compared to other defensemen on the team):

CHL
Cody Ceci (OHL Ottawa/Owen Sound) 61-16-38-54 (1st)
Matt Puempel (OHL Kitchener) 44-29-9-38 (3rd)
Stefan Noesen (OHL Plymouth) 43-23-19-42 (t-5th)
Jordan Fransoo (WHL Victoria) 56-5-13-18 (3rd)
Jakub Culek (QMJHL Cape Breton) 9-4-3-7 (10th) (injured)
Jarrod Maidens (OHL Owen Sound) (injured)
Chris Driedger (WHL Calgary) 30-13-3 2.48 .917
Francois Brassard (QMJHL Quebec) 27-17-3 2.84 .906

Allsvenskan (Swe)
Mikael Wikstrand (Mora) 40-11-11-22 (1st) WJC 6-0-4-4 (1st)

KHL
Nikita Filatov (Salavat) 47-10-11-21 (6th)

NCAA
Ryan Dzingel (Ohio) – 34-14-18-32 (1st)
Max McCormick (Ohio) – 34-11-13-24 (3rd)
Jeff Costello (Notre Dame) – 26-8-15-23 (4th)
Bryce Aneloski (Nebraska-Omaha) – 31-4-15-19 (2nd)
Michael Sdao (Princeton) – 27-7-6-13 (1st)
Tim Boyle (Union) – 15-0-2-2 (t-7th)

USHL
Robbie Baillargeon (Indiana/Omaha) – 48-16-21-37 (1st)

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: February 24th; Ottawa 3 Toronto 2

-Ottawa defeated the Leafs 3-2 last night, overcoming a 1-0 deficit to win the game in the final minute.  Ben Bishop made 26 saves in the win (a few big ones, but both goals were on the soft side), while Mika Zibanejad (excellent tip), Erik Condra (crashing rebound), and Colin Greening (aerial rebound) scored.  Here’s the boxscore.

Game Notes
-the infamous Greg Kimmerly was one of the officials, but had no significant impact on the game
-overall the Sens were the stronger team
Zack Smith is heading towards Bill Muckalt territory with his struggles to cash in on scoring opportunities
David Dziurzynski‘s strong play continues
Derek Grant has improved and looks more settled in his role (he had a great chance in the second, narrowly missing on the backhand)
-it was not a great game for Jim O’Brien whose major moment was getting drilled by Kadri
Mike Lundin was expected to play, but had the flu which meant Andre Benoit stayed in the lineup; it was a happy circumstance for the team
-there were no “clean” goals tonight, with a tip and two rebounds lighting the lamp
-it was a great night for Greening who was a factor in all three goals
-wasn’t Ottawa going to suffer without the likes of Zenon Konopka and Matt Carkner?
Mark Parisi had issues with Chris Neil‘s game, but I did not; he was also unhappy with Eric Gryba‘s penalty late in the third, but given that it was a phantom call it’s not really his fault

-Steve Simmons (on TSN’s The Reporters) credited the consistency of the systems in Ottawa and Binghamton for helping players from the AHL make the transition to the NHL to keep the Sens afloat despite all their injuries.

-Binghamton lost 5-3 to Albany last night, blowing a 3-1 lead.  Marc Cheverie made 30 saves in the loss while Mark Borowiecki, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Shane Prince scored.  Here’s the boxscore.

-Binghamton faces Adirondack (20-27-3) tonight; the Phantoms are lead by Danny Syvret (26 points) and backstopped by Scott Munroe (11-13-0 2.59 .917).

Adrian Dater reports that Ambien use is prevalent among NHL players.  He writes:

When it came to problems associated with sleep, the NHL has had its wake-up call. The league, in accord with the NHL Players’ Association, instituted rules this past offseason related to getting enough rest as part of its new collective bargaining agreement. Among them: Players must receive at least four days off per month during the season. Previously, days off were at the coach’s discretion. Also, from the time a team’s plane lands after a flight, no practice can be started before at least nine hours has elapsed. The NHL and NHLPA formed a joint committee to study the use of Ambien by league players, and will make recommendations for monitoring and controls based on its findings by June 30.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: February 23rd; Binghamton 5, Hershey 4 (SO)

-Ottawa faces Toronto (11-7-0) tonight; the Leafs are lead by James Van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel (15 points) and backstopped by Ben Scrivens (5-4-0 2.10 .931).  Ben Bishop is expected to get the start.  Jim O’Brien and Mike Lundin are expected to play while Andre Benoit will sit (the latter choice seems pretty arbitrary).

-Binghamton beat Hershey 5-4 in a shootout after losing a 3-1 lead (and Nathan Lawson).  Darren Kramer (his first AHL goal), Wacey Hamilton (his first of the year), Cole Schneider, and Dustin Gazley (his first AHL goal) scored the goals, while Stephane Da Costa and Louie Caporusso scored in the shootout.  Here is the boxscore and the highlights.

-Binghamton faces Albany (20-19-10) tonight; the Devils are lead by Matt Anderson (29 points) and backstopped by Keith Kinkaid (16-11-5 2.65 .906).  With the injury to Lawson Binghamton signed Ian Keserich (3-1-0 2.40 .929 ECHL) to a PTO.

Hockey’s Future believes Stefan Noesen is currently one of the disappointments among prospects writing:

Stefan Noesen has not been the same player since he was suspended for 10 games in mid-December for a brutal hit on Tyler Hore. The incident took place just before Noesen was scheduled to leave for Russia to represent the United States at the World Junior Championship, and as a result, the IIHF barred Noesen from participating in the event. Noesen, in the end, would miss over a month of hockey and upon his return, was a much less effective player. Having totaled 17 goals in his first 26 games, Noesen has only four goals in 14 games since his return, including a 12 game goalless drought. Furthermore he has not been as consistently effective at both ends of the ice as he was in the past, showing lots of rust. Though his streaky play in the last two months is concerning, there are signs Noesen has started to regain his rhythm. He appears to have shaken off some of the rust, managing four goals and eight points in his last three games, but has also played with more confidence and authority. Noesen will have to continue to balance his game, as he is much more effective when he is plays with an edge. Expect him to join the Senators organization upon the conclusion of his junior season.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: February 22nd

-Here are my thoughts on last night’s game; Scott had the scoring chances 16/13.  The game was punctuated by an injury to Craig Anderson, but fortunately it’s nothing more serious than a sprained ankle.

-As expected, the team has recalled Robin Lehner, while also sending Stephane Da Costa back to Binghamton.  Da Costa‘s play hasn’t been terrible, but clearly he wasn’t doing enough to stay in the lineup.

-I agree wholeheartedly with Varada that Eugene Melnyk would do his players a favour if he spoke less with the media.

Erik Karlsson talked about his injury and Matt Cooke; nothing particularly surprising in his comments:

Ever since I got in the league he’s one of the guys I remember playing against and always being aware of him. It’s a freak incident that should not have happened. He said what he thought was right. At least he reached out, which I didn’t expect, but we’re going to leave it at that. I had a guy behind me, and I know exactly who it was, so I was taking a bit of caution. Missed the hit and still got me somehow. The situation could have been prevented. I don’t think it would have happened if it was another type of player, but I don’t think his intention was to cut me with his skate. I refuse to believe anyone would do that. I still think the situation and this injury could have been prevented.

-Binghamton faces Hershey (24-20-7) tonight; the Bears are lead by Jeff Taffe (42 points) and backstopped by Philipp Grubauer (5-3-1 1.91 .931).  Nathan Lawson is expected to get the start; Marc Cheverie and Jean Bourbeau (52-17-17-34) have been called up to the B-Sens.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)