Senators News: October 29th

-Ottawa faces Chicago tonight in what should be an entertaining game tonight.  Craig Anderson will start and to save my sanity on paper the awful third line (Greening-Smith-Neil) has been broken up.

-The Sens pummelled Detroit 6-1 on Wednesday (boxscore) before falling to Anaheim 2-1 (boxscore) Friday and San Jose 5-2 (boxscore) Sunday.  The two loses have meant varying degrees of panic in the fanbase as some conclude that the Sens need to play “harder” to perform better (Jeremy Milks, as always, is on this bandwagon as he rails against “the pacifists”–Jeremy needs to calm himself, perhaps with a warm glass of milk and more nap time).  If it seems largely ridiculous, it is.  Varada is hovering over the panic button and speculates about improving the defense via trade, but doesn’t suggest what useful piece the Sens would have to part with to get any of the players he suggests (all of whom, with the exception of Nikita Nikitin, probably make more money than Ottawa can afford to add to their budget).  Take a deep breath people–it’s going to be okay, just like Bobby Ryan is when goals suddenly meant he was no longer “fat”.  On the more rational side of things Travis Yost looks at the numbers and continues to wonder who would fit with Jason Spezza on the top line.

Amelia L writes an excellent article on the Sens current attendance issues and makes a number of on-target comments:

The Alfie/Melnyk Summer of Awful probably has a something to do with it. No one can quantify the impact Alfie’s departure had on the fan base. Many are mad at Alfie, but I suspect those who are still show up. Many are mad at Melnyk; maybe some of them aren’t coming anymore.


Ottawa’s somewhat erratic schedule probably isn’t helping

I’d also say the opposition doesn’t help either (west coast teams just don’t draw well other than Vancouver).  She continues:

I get the frustration from fans who want support to be more absolute. Success in the NHL is tied to money and ticket revenue is a large part of that. But I also get fans which are purposely staying away because they were angered by the summer. Sports teams are large organizations. In general, they are not receptive to an individual fan’s complaint. Teams with some of the most committed fans, fans who keep coming despite the frustrations of the on-ice or on-field product, often get treated to more frustration. Fans have few productive outlets for their discontent, but the most noticeable is to stop coming to games. Stop buying tickets, merchandise, concessions, and paying for parking. Stop.

This is absolutely correct.  Toronto is a great example of how lackadaisical an organisation can be if the building is full every night irrespective of performance.  So much of the criticism is heaped onto the fans, but in reality it’s the organisation that’s failing to meet the needs of its consumers.  My feeling is that most of the empty seats are circumstantial (see above), but some of it is related to Melnyk’s consistent public statements that he’s not going to spend money on the team–this implies the team won’t truly compete due to his financial issues and that’s not conducive to fan-confidence or excitement.

-Binghamton was .500 on the weekend, beating Wilkes-Barre 4-3 Friday (boxscore), but losing 3-1 to Adirondack on Saturday (boxscore).  Jakub Culek played his first B-Sens’ game on Friday, but was promptly sent to Elmira (along with Troy Rutkowski) afterwards as Ludwig Karlsson was called up and played on Saturday.

-Speaking of Elmira, the Jackals also went 1-1; Karlsson scored a goal in the loss (New picked up an assist), while Scott Greenham made 46 saves (!) in the win and Culek (and New) picked up assists.

Sarah Kwak can’t figure out what needs to happen to stop reckless hits and dirty plays in the NHL, but Teemu Selanne provides her the obvious solution:

I don’t think [the punishments are] enough

Exactly.  Sarah’s plea for players to simply stop because it’s wrong is wishful thinking that isn’t worth wasting ink on.  Until the punishment changes, the hits will keep on coming.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


Senators News: October 23rd

-It looks like Patrick Wiercioch, Jean-Gabriel Pageau (see below), and Matt Kassian will be scratched for tonight’s game, while Craig Anderson gets the start.  It’s the Sens first game against Daniel Alfredsson and Travis Yost does a good job recapping the drama from this summer.

-The Sens finally recalled Mika Zibanejad (ostensibly due to a Pageau injury).  How much impact will he have?  It’s difficult to say, the interim established (assuming it needed establishing) that Stephane Da CostaPageau, and Derek Grant do not do enough for the bottom six to keep Zibanejad in Binghamton.  The blogosphere has universally rejoiced at his return, with only Nichols referencing the financial reasons that seem to have led to his initial demotion.  Will Zibanejad remain once Pageau is healthy?  I’d guess yes, but we shall see.

-A few thoughts on Binghamton early in the season: Andrew Hammond‘s early difficulties seem to be caused by him staying deep in his net; Cole Schneider responded well to being scratched by notching two goals in the Bridgeport game; it’s been a quiet start for Corey Cowick (one point in six games); Jim O’Brien has the worst plus/minus among forwards on the team (Troy Rutkowski has the worst overall); among the various players on the depth chart Mike Hoffman (after Zibanejad) has had the best run (four goals and six points) thus far.

-This comes as no surprise, but Eric T reports NHL teams are adopting the use of advanced statistics (he gives examples from 18 teams, not including Ottawa, although we have reason to believe Paul MacLean also uses them).

Darren Dreger writes about how the NHL is trying to make fighting safer:

NHL linesmen have been instructed to stop a fight when the participants opt to remove their helmets prior to swapping blows.

There’s no rule attached to this and let’s keep in mind:

Linesmen now have the authority to step in, when it is safe to do so

When it’s safe?  So they can help with safety when it’s safe for them to do so.  I suppose the effort is better than nothing, but I can’t envision it making much of a difference.

-The Sens and Dany Heatley have settled their dispute over bonuses.  Given that the terms are unknown there’s no conclusions that can be drawn from it.

Sam Cosentino talks about how NHL’s Central Scouting has changed its approach.  It won’t impact things for fans directly, but the technical improvements (particularly with video and ensuring scouts have up-to-date information) should make assessment even more accurate.

Steve Buffery believes the Sochi Olympics may be the last for women’s hockey and is glad because it’s a Canada-USA show every time.  The underlying assumption here is that any sport where a few countries dominate (is it two? three? Buffery doesn’t specify what amounts to too few or why that’s bad) shouldn’t be part of the Olympics, but Buffery doesn’t bother examining that assumption or looking to see if there are other Olympic sports with similar disparity (there are).  To be consistent Buffery should believe that men’s hockey should have been banned from the Olympics until 1994 for similar reasons, but I expect he has a lot of complicated arguments for why that isn’t the case.  You can draw your own conclusions.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: October 21st

-Work and other commitments have me way behind on various Sens matters, so let’s catch up as best we can.

-Ottawa lost 3-1 to the Oilers in a game in which they played fairly well, but weren’t able to beat a floundering Devan Dubnyk.  Here’s the box score and BT‘s summary.

Travis Yost drills into player usage by the Sens thus far this season and while his conclusions are nothing we haven’t seen before I do think he’s onto something in terms of Erik Condra‘s struggles being tied to his linemates.  Could it be that the celebrated Jean-Gabriel Pageau needs some time in the minors to sort himself out?  How odd would that be for the community?

Jared Crozier also has lineup questions when it comes to the Sens, but I have no idea why he thinks Matt Kassian “has his place”–what has he done in the games he’s played in to claim a place in the lineup?

-With Stephane Da Costa sent down to Binghamton Derek Grant was recalled, replacing Pageau in the lineup due to the latter’s struggles in the faceoff circle.  The blogging community didn’t have much to say about Grant (although Chris compiled a couple of comments from last season), but for those who follow Binghamton his call-up isn’t a big surprise (PK and faceoff acumen along with a goal scoring touch).  Mika Zibanejad remains in Binghamton, perhaps awaiting injury or a slump before Ottawa finally brings him back.

-Binghamton beat Syracuse 6-2, despite being out shot 42-20.  Nathan Lawson picked up the win, Chris Wideman picked up three assists and Ben Blood (of all people) scored a goal.  Here’s the boxscore and the highlights (I enjoy the broadcaster mistaking Wideman for Lebda).

-The B-Sens then lost to Syracuse 4-1 with Lawson taking the loss.  Here’s the boxscore and Jeff Ulmer‘s recap.

-Binghamton rounded out their weekend with a 6-5 OT win, earning Andrew Hammond his first professional win (and Jakub Culek‘s first professional game).  Here’s the boxscore (the B-Sens were 4-4 on the powerplay!) and Jeff Ulmer‘s recap.

-Elmira dropped their opener 3-2 and there were no points among the organisations signed players.

Allan Muir looks at the debacle that is NHL discipline and points out the KHL has been more bold after Matt Murley was targeted.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: October 18th; Ottawa 5 New Jersey 2

-Ottawa beat New Jersey 5-2 last night despite the Sens continuing to take too many penalties.  Here’s the boxscore and Dave Young‘s summary.  Paul MacLean was not happy with the game:

But again, we gave up 42 shots at home. I don’t think we handled momentum swings very well. But saying all that, really the positive thing is coming back from a six-game road trip, playing a day after coming back from the west coast. It’s always a difficult game. The team responded. (Craig Anderson) was obviously outstanding in the net and kept the game where we needed it to be. And at the end of the day, we win the game, so it’s time to get ready for the next one. We’re going to have to come up with an answer for it, because we take way too many penalties. In my opinion they’re lazy penalties, for want of a better term, where we reach instead of moving our feet and skating. We end up taking penalties because we’re reaching with our stick, and that turns momentum the wrong way. Seven and half minutes left in the first period, we’re up 2-0 and take four minor penalties, and arguably all four we didn’t have to take. So we’re going to have to address that again and find a better solution than we have.

Other than scratching Chris Neil (unlikely) I’m not sure how MacLean intends on cutting into the dumb penalties (Travis Yost looks at the lengthy trend of Ottawa being penalized well above the norm and doesn’t like the idea of officiating bias being part of the reason–normally I’d agree with him that it’s a weak excuse, but this is the NHL so it’s not outside the realm of possibility).  Travis also illustrates how poorly the Sens played last night, again pointing at the Greening-Smith-Neil line–but that’s MacLean’s decision so surely he either thinks he’s getting something out of them or believes it’s better than any other alternative.

Varada thinks the ungodly commute to CTC hurts the Sens attendance and he’s absolutely correct.  There’s nothing funnier (or sadder) than seeing desperate fans rushing from the building hoping to get their car out of the lot before the inevitable 30-minute traffic jam.

-Varada hates Chris Phillips on the powerplay as much as I do.

Roger the Shrubber tells fans they shouldn’t boo Eugene Melnyk because it’s rude (Jeremy Milks cringed as well, but presumably in manly fashion), but it’s apparently justifiable if Eugene is “terrible” (how we’re meant to define that is left unexplored–presumably you’ll have to ask Roger if it’s okay).  I feel for Roger, because he raises a potentially interesting question (the ethics of booing), but fails to explore it.  His premise is:

The question is whether doing so [booing] makes you a boorish moron


let’s all just accept that it’s rude to boo someone.  You are literally yelling wordless disapproval at someone’s face

These aren’t arguments–there’s no attempt to justify either assertion, but even if we accept them how does Roger dovetail that into accepting booing if he decides Melnyk is “terrible”?  Doesn’t that mean that if I think Melnyk is “terrible”, I’m justified in booing him?  If “terrible” is completely subjective, than Roger is in no position to judge anyone’s behaviour, but that’s what he’s doing here.  Regardless, he’s tackling something I see rarely discussed so hopefully Roger will keep at it and we’ll see something more rounded next time.

Allan Muir looks at how rebuilding teams are doing and Ottawa is not included in the discussion–it’s a compliment, but also (I think) incorrect–the Sens are not completely out of rebuilding mode.

Stephane Da Costa cleared waivers and was sent down to Binghamton; I haven’t heard if he’ll be in tonight’s lineup.

-Binghamton faces Syracuse (1-1-1) tonight and the Crunch’s Lindsay Kramer writes about Syracuse’s struggles for offense early in the season.  Jeff Ulmer offers a preview for Binghamton that includes this about Shane Prince:

Coach Luke Richardson said Prince was playing too much on the perimeter and not getting any scoring chances and he expects better from him. Richardson also added that Prince wasn’t happy not being penciled in and thinks that he got the message.

This kind of accountability is fantastic–it shouldn’t matter who you are, if you aren’t doing what you are supposed too you sit.  Jeff also includes lineups for tonight, but I haven’t seen anything posted so I’m not sure what his source for them is.  [A quick update: Derek Grant was recalled by the Sens.]

-This isn’t apropos of anything in particular, but it’s on my mind.  One of the things I find puzzling/frustrating when it comes to any debate is the following: someone posts or states a theory about a topic and gets the following response: “no” or “you’re wrong” or some variant thereof with no explanation, no argumentation, no facts, just a straight out denial.  Admittedly there are trolls who just want to stir the pot, but this happens enough that there’s clearly more going on.  What does this accomplish?  We default to simplistic statements (in a hockey context, “player X isn’t very good”) without justifying them from time to time, but generally these are simply meant as bookmarked opinions that can easily be expanded on (and aren’t used in serious discussion).  I understand no one likes to be wrong and that sometimes it’s hard to explain a feeling or position, but ultimately I’d rather learn the truth than simply “win” an argument.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: October 17th

-Ottawa’s home opener against New Jersey is tonight (a team no casual fan gets excited about, something Melnyk points out in the link below) and Stephane Da Costa (who was put on waivers) will sit again in favour of Matt Kassian.  Here are the expected lineups: MacArthur-Turris-Ryan, Michalek-Spezza-Conacher, Greening-Smith-Neil, Kassian-Pageau-Condra; Methot-Karlsson, Cowen-Wiercioch, Phillips-Gryba; Anderson will start.

-The Da Costa move (presumably he is Bingo-bound) confirms my prediction that he would only remain with the Sens during their Western road trip.  No word on Zibanejad, but he is the likely candidate to be recalled unless the Sens make a trade.

-The Sens beat Phoenix 4-3 in overtime on Tuesday, putting a stopper in the rising panic in the fanbase.  Craig Anderson picked up the win and Cory Conacher notched the winner in overtime.  Ottawa gave up two early goals in the first, but showed resilience in coming back.  Here’s the boxscore.

Paul MacLean didn’t mince words about how the team has opened the season:

We feel good about the six points, but we don’t really feel good about how we played in all those games. We found a way to get some points out of four of the games.

Travis Yost offers a few thoughts on the Sens’ road trip as well as praises Kyle Turris.  I agree with Travis that the Greening-Smith-Neil line just doesn’t do the job and I hope MacLean moves away from it permanently.

Scott had the scoring chances in the Anaheim game 17-32.

Eugene Melnyk just can’t keep his mouth shut and Nichols offers us a transcription.

Well you know what, there are a lot of numbers get thrown around and you’re, we’re not really 26th. I know that Capgeek and all these guys, they all do these estimates and stuff like that, but that doesn’t really show the whole picture because the difference between being in the third quartile or the second quartile is so miniscule. The high guys… I’ve done it. Look, we’ve done it. Been there, done that. We spent to the cap three straight years and you know what, what did we get done? We spent money for nothing. We didn’t get into the playoffs one year. We got one round in another year and that’s not the way to win. You’re not going to do it. It’s a whole new ballgame. It’s all development, coaching, staying young and staying healthy. But the patching up would be, the wonderful thing that… the big commodity that we have is cap space. If we have an injury and we need to fill a void and that’s going to be the difference between going an extra round or deeper, then I’m prepared to do it.

The flaws in this are apparent, as NIchols points out:

Yes, the Senators and Melnyk have spent to the cap and yes, the team’s results during those years was awful. But doing so completely ignores the context of why it was done. Having bought the organization from bankruptcy, Melnyk tried to do be the opposite of Rod Bryden. He wanted to reward fans (Eagles concert) and make them believe that he would be willing to do whatever it took to make and keep Ottawa as a Stanley Cup contender. When the Senators made it to the Cup Finals, it was arguably with one of the worst rosters that the team had in years. Recognizing the harmful efforts that the John Muckler regime had on the farm system through poor drafting and short-sighted trades, the Sens re-signed everyone and made patchwork signings and trades because they simply had no young (and inexpensive) talent coming through the system who could compete for jobs. Signings like Kovalev were designed to sell tickets and serve as placeholders until Bryan Murray’s amateur scouting staff could work cultivate prospects. It took some time, but now we’re in a situation in which the system has yielded a number of impressive prospects and an absurd amount of depth. Ottawa’s situation now is one in which money is needed. No one is encouraging management to spend blindly.

Melnyk proceeded to suggest the organisation might use its ample cap space to soak up another team’s problem if the pot was sweetened enough, which is the kind of thing the Leafs did while rebuilding.

Varada wants to know how much more fans would be willing to pay to go to games.  First he points out Ottawa has the lowest ticket prices in Canada (middle of the league otherwise), but he mentions an important facet of this discussion:

There’s a lot we don’t know here. For instance, does this average include corporate suites? What about ticket packages that drive down the average but increase stability for a team that needs a reliable revenue stream? Does the location of those other teams’ arenas increase walk-up purchases of pricier tickets?

I think there’s a lot to be said (as Varada points out) in what you are getting with your ticket and I don’t see Ottawa trying to add value to what they are selling.  The Sens focus purely on what’s on the ice, while Montreal and Toronto sell their tradition (and yes, I have no idea why the Leafs “tradition” is a positive selling point), the Oilers sell hope, and so on.  There’s just nothing else being added to the value of the product to justify moving those prices up.

-Elmira continues to clear the decks of its roster, releasing Olivier Croteau and Dylan Quaile.  Their season opening roster has been released and it features no surprises.  The Jackals play Wheeling tomorrow to begin their season.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: October 15th

Scott had the scoring chances vs San Jose 7-23.  Ouch.

-The Sens are having a hard time selling tickets to the home opener–is it the local economy, the on ice product, or an owner who tells fans he’s on a budget and can’t compete?  I haven’t seen any serious attempt to answer the question, but I assume it’s a combination of the first and third option.

Jeremy Milks preaches patience and expects (along with every other Sens blogger) Mika Zibanejad to be recalled, but he also throws out Jim O’Brien as someone to come up.  From what I can tell Jeremy hasn’t paid any attention to what’s going on in Binghamton, but he thinks the Sens need bigger centers (because bigger is better) and that the financially strapped team would rather pay O’Brien his NHL salary in the NHL.  The Mika call-up is a no brainer, as is the Stephane Da Costa demotion, but I don’t see O’Brien returning.

-Back in January Phil Birnbaum used a mathematical approach to try to determine how much of a role luck played in determining NHL outcomes (based off Tangotiger‘s work from 2006 when he looked at all the big leagues).  Phil doesn’t explain the methodology for explaining “luck” and Tango’s is buried in his comments (you can get a better sense of what the math is all about here), but concludes it takes 73 games before luck ceases to be a factor in the NHL.  Do we see that evident in league standings?  It does offer an answer to how random lower seeded playoff teams seem to be along with the yingyang throughout the league in terms of standings amongst all but the best of the best.  Interesting food for thought.

-Not to beat a dead horse, but warning bells are ringing for Jakub Culek who is the only player on Binghamton’s roster to see no game action this season.  Barring injury I continue to assume he’ll be sent down to Elmira. [Chris Lund informs me Culek is rehabbing a shoulder injury, which both explains why he’s still on the Binghamton roster as well as why he hasn’t played; given that he’s been practicing with the team he’s presumably close to being ready to play.]

-A few updates on B-Sens from last year who lacked a team coming into the season: as mentioned yesterday Louie Caporusso and Dustin Gazley have found homes with Reading (ECHL); Jack Downing is with South Carolina (ECHL) after attending Bruins camp; ATO Nick Craven is currently with Utah (ECHL).

-Elmira continues to reduce its roster, cutting Michael Beaudry, Vincent Richer, and goaltender Nick Niedert.

-Here’s my overview of undrafted success stories in the NHL.

ISS has released its October rankings for the 2014 draft:

1 Reinhart, Sam C 11/6/1995 R 6.00.75 185 Kootenay WHL
2 Ekblad, Aaron D 2/7/1996 R 6.03.5 216 Barrie OHL
3 Dal Colle, Michael F 6/20/1996 L 6.01.5 179 Oshawa OHL
4 Nylander, Willie F 5/1/1996 R 5.11 169 Rogle SweAl
5 Karlsson, Anton LW 8/3/1996 L 6.01.25 187 Frolunda SweJE
6 Kapanen, Kasperi RW 7/23/1996 L 5.10.5 172 Kuopio FinE
7 Lindblom, Oskar RW 8/15/1996 L 6.01.25 191 Brynas SweJE
8 McKeown, Roland D 1/20/1996 R 6.00.75 197 Kingston OHL
9 Bennett, Sam LW 6/20/1996 L 6.00.25 178 Kingston OHL
10 Draisaitl, Leon C 10/27/1995 L 6.01.75 208 Prince Albert WHL
11 Ritchie, Nicholas F 12/5/1995 L 6.02.25 231 Peterborough OHL
12 Virtanen, Jake LW 8/17/1996 R 6.00.75 208 Calgary WHL
13 Clarke, Blake F 1/24/1996 L 6.01.25 199 North Bay OHL
14 McCann, Jared C 5/31/1996 L 6.00.25 179 S.S. Marie OHL
15 Bleackley, Conner C/RW 2/7/1996 R 6.00.5 192 Red Deer WHL
16 Perlini, Brendan LW 4/27/1996 L 6.02.5 205 Niagara OHL
17 Fleury, Haydn LD 7/8/1996 L 6.02.5 198 Red Deer WHL
18 Martin, Brycen LD 5/9/1996 L 6.01.75 182 Swift Current WHL
19 Barbashev, Ivan F 12/14/1995 L 6.00 181 Moncton QMJHL
20 Kempe, Adrian C 9/13/1996 L 6.01.5 187 Modo SweE
21 Middleton, Jacob LD 1/2/1996 L 6.02.75 208 Ottawa OHL
22 Glover, Jack RD 5/17/1996 R 6.03.25 190 USA Under-18 NTDP
23 Tuch, Alex RW 5/10/1996 R 6.03.5 213 USA Under-18 NTDP
24 Vrana, Jakub RW 2/28/1996 L 6.00 183 Linkoping SweE
25 Schmaltz, Nick RW 2/23/1996 R 5.11.5 172 Green Bay USHL
26 Ho-Sang, Joshua RW 1/22/1996 R 5.11 166 Windsor OHL
27 Goldobin, Nikolai RW 10/7/1995 L 5.11.5 178 Sarnia OHL
28 Deangelo, Anthony RD 10/24/1995 R 5.10.75 175 Sarnia OHL
29 Larkin, Dylan LW 7/30/1996 L 6.00.75 190 USA Under-18 NTDP
30 Poganski, Austin RW 2/16/1996 R 6.01.25 198 Tri-City USHL

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Undrafted Success Stories in the Post-Lockout NHL

Back in September I re-visited my look at undrafted players who made their way into the NHL.  There remains a wide variety of roads fr those not selected in the draft, from college, Europe, the CHL, the CIS, AHL, and ECHL.  Given the way I defined the various categories there remain a few players missed above: Cory Conacher, Ben Street, and Mark ArcobellaConacher is an NCAA grad, but was not signed to an NHL contract coming out of college, instead playing a season in the AHL before Tampa signed him.  The story is the same for Arcobella and Street, although each split their rookie seasons between the ECHL and AHL.  These three players earned their minor league contracts from NCAA play and their NHL contracts from AHL play, but don’t fit neatly into the usual patterns of either route (if pressed I’d call them minor league grads, so I’ve added them as such in the numbers below).

College remains the most common route for undrafted players, with 66 reaching the NHL that way since 2006.  Europe clocks in at a distant second place with 29, followed by the CHL (24), AHL (22), ECHL (11), and finally the CIS (3).  Including the outriders above that’s 154 players who had played at least one NHL game without the benefit of being drafted.  This a large tally, although it’s worth keeping in mind the NHL consists has well over 600 players playing each year, so this represents a small percentage (the average is about 20 players a season, so less than 3% were untouched by the draft).

The quality of these players is all over the map, but most are not (or were not) NHL regulars.  By my count (and current players on ELC’s are hard to judge), 45 of the 155 (29%) have been everyday NHLers (NCAA: 22, Europe 9, CHL: 6, AHL: 4, ECHL: 3, CIS: 1).  The only truly elite players in this group are goaltenders (all from Europe); the other “best” players in other categories fall along the lines of top-six or top-four players–nothing to sneeze at, but not the same weight as a starting netminder.

What can we conclude?  It’s the same story from last year, where scouts properly identify the vast majority of players in the NHL only missing those who are undersized or simply not exposed enough (ie, in Europe).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: October 14th; Ottawa 4 Anaheim 1

-The Sens fell 4-1 to Anaheim last night after blowing a 2-1 first period lead and losing 3-2 to San Jose the previous evening (Ducks boxscore and Mark Parisi‘s summary; Sharks boxscore and Adnan‘s summary; Travis Yost looking at both games).  Other than Robin Lehner not much went well for Ottawa, as they looked sloppy in both games and minor lineup tweaks did nothing to solve the issues.  Jean-Gabriel Pageau faced Paul MacLean’s wrath in the Anaheim game as he was benched after spotting a -2 in 3 minutes of ice time, but it’s Stephane Da Costa who is clearly does not belong on the roster.  The Frenchman has accomplished nothing in his NHL opportunity and while it may wait until the Phoenix game he’s clearly Binghamton-bound.  In general it’s worth mentioning that the Eastern Conference has an awful record against the west, so at least the Sens brethren have been equally terrible against similar opposition.

Parisi offers his ups and downs for the Sens this past week and has Chris Neil as the biggest dud (hard to argue–dumb penalties have cost his team over and over again), although I agree with Varada that this is simply how the guy plays so is he really down or just average?

-Speaking of Neil, prior to the Anaheim game Paul MacLean said:

We can’t continue to take penalties, the undisciplined type of penalties we take. We just can’t do it, have any type of success, and again (Saturday) we took way too many penalties we didn’t have to take, and we can’t expect our goalies to kill them off, so we have to be much better. For the most part, we ended up getting away from the things that make us successful then we started taking penalties. When you start taking penalties all it does is suck the life out of your team and gives them tons of momentum. We’ve got to find different ways of not (taking penalties). It ultimately could come down to not playing.

This does not appear to apply to the assistant captain as yet.

-Going back to Varada, I don’t disagree with him that Jared Cowen has struggled, but given that the guy missed most of training camp I give him some leeway early in the season.  I agree with Varada that Chris Phillips has been awful defensively, but like Neil that’s par for the course.

Travis has been pumping Kyle Turris‘ tires (along with Clarke MacArthur) even in the last couple of games, but I think his wish to see Jason Spezza demoted to the second line is just that: a wish.  Paul MacLean gives his veterans a lot of rope and that’s going to be extra long for the oft-injured captain.

-Binghamton exacted some revenge on Norfolk by beating them 4-1 on Saturday.  Nathan Lawson picked up the win and the team played well in earning the victory (here’s the boxscore and the local beat report).  Unlike their previous contest there were no fisticuffs as both teams stuck to playing hockey.  The B-Sens next game is against Syracuse on Friday.

-Elmira played its second (and last) pre-season game, earning a 3-1 over Louie Caporusso and Dustin Gazley‘s Reading Royals.  Ludwig Karlsson made his Jackal debut and finished it without making a meaningful impression.

-A little off-topic, but it’s funny to see Dallas Eakins scratch Nail Yakupov when the Oilers’ problems are between the pipes.  Admittedly, the internal alternatives to Devan Dubnyk aren’t that appealing, but right now Edmonton is better off trying to out score opponents than shut the door on them.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: October 12th

-Ottawa faces San Jose tonight and here’s the lineup: Michalek-Spezza-Ryan, MacArthur-Turris-Conacher, Greening-Pageau-Condra, Smith-Da Costa-Neil; the defense pairings are unchanged and Anderson will get the start [correction: Lehner will start].  The Sharks are currently 4-0 (reminiscent of their fast start last season) and are a good test for Ottawa.

-Binghamton fell to Norfolk 5-0 last night as Andrew Hammond was shelled for all five goals in the first before Nathan Lawson was brought in for clean-up duty.  The B-Sens couldn’t beat Frederik Andersen and the game ended with a bunch of meaningless fights.  Here’s the boxscore.  Binghamton faces Norfolk again tonight and have made a few changes to their lineup, with Darren Kramer replacing Shane Prince and Tyler Eckford/Ben Blood dressing instead of Troy Rutkowski/Michael SdaoLawson will start and here are the lines: Hoffman-Zibanejad-Petersson, Dziurzunski-Grant-Robinson, Puempel-O’Brien-Kramer, Schneider-Hamilton-Cowick; defensive pairings weren’t posted, but I’d expect Blood to play with Wideman and Eckford to play with Claesson.

-Elmira has begun trimming their roster, releasing Mike McDonald, Scott Morongell, Tyler Noseworthy, Daniel Barczuk, Corey Bellamy, and Mike Monfredo.

Jeff Marek does his best to defend fighting, allowing that “tradition” isn’t an argument, so he goes for the “players consented” as justification (which presumably means if guys want to swing their sticks at each other we should let that happen too).  He tells us staged fights are fine and if you disagree:

indicates you’re being dishonest or haven’t watched the game long enough

But wait Jeff, didn’t you preface your article with:

less a conversation than two groups of people who’ve made up their minds, dug in their heels and covered their ears

I guess telling people who disagree with you that they are dishonest and don’t watch the game enough is an example of reasoned debate.  He then says we can’t compare the NHL to the NFL (where fighting is banned) because:

Hockey is a flow game, not a stop and start affair

So it’s like Basketball…which also banned fighting.  If someone can explain how “flow” equals “fighting is justified” please do so in the comments below.  Jeff then tells us a fighting ban will mean no one will buy tickets because…er, someone told him that. Now, I realise Marek isn’t a serious journalist and that this kind of garbage is typical from Sportsnet, but it’s always worth addressing because some people take published material at face value.  When you read his entire article he doesn’t actually formulate a single argument–he just says things are true without justifying them and is utterly indifferent to the physical trauma suffered by those who engage in the practice.  What fascinates me is how threatened some people are at the thought of fighting being removed from the game–how is that removal going to adversely impact their lives?

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: October 11th

Scott had the scoring chances in the LA game 13-16.

The Raaymaker thinks the solution to the Sens penalty killing woes is dressing Eric Gryba, summoning Jim O’Brien or Derek Grant from Binghamton, while getting Chris Neil to take fewer dumb penalties.  The bulk of these suggestions seem pretty unrealistic to me (other than a Gryba insertion).  One of the main reasons the Sens PK was so good last year had nothing to do with their personnel and a lot to do with their goaltending (as Chris discussed back in July).

Travis Yost talks about a front office change for the Sens, which others have said is not related to hockey ops.

-Binghamton plays Norfolk tonight and have made two changes to their lineup from their season-opening win: Buddy Robinson replaces the injured Mark Stone, while Andrew Hammond gets his first AHL start.  Norfolk is coming off a 4-3 shootout loss to Bridgeport; the Admirals are Anaheim’s farm team so B-Sens fans will get a look at Stefan Noesen (who never wound up playing in Binghamton).

-D. J. Powers is previewing NCAA hockey and some of his comments touch on Sens prospects.  About Ohio State‘s Ryan Dzingel:

The Wheaton, IL native was especially good on the Buckeyes special teams last season. Of his 16 goals, six came on special teams – five on the power-play and one shorthanded. Dzingel’s noticeably stronger 6’0” frame allowed him to better fend off opposing defenders and be more effective in controlling the puck. This was especially evident in his relentless drives to the net and his ability to find and utilize open spaces more effectively.

On Max McCormick:

McCormick finished third on Ohio State’s roster last season with 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists) in 40 games. The De Pere, WI native played his best hockey near the end of last season, so the Buckeyes are hoping that he’ll be able to pick up this season where he left off last season. Two notable areas that helped make McCormick so good last season were his stronger play along the walls and the grittiness that he has added to his game.

Graphic Comments does a great job at explaining advanced statistics (along with a nice jab at Glen Healy for not understanding them).  It’s baffling to me how a certain type of fan seems offended by the very idea of the stats (check out some of the comments)–as if facts can cause them harm.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)