Ottawa at the 40-Game Mark

Ottawa has reached the 40-game mark (excluding last night’s 4-3 win over Boston), so it’s time to take stock and see how the team has performed (for the previous segment go here).  The Sens went 7-10-3, which puts them tied for 12th in the conference and they remain 6th in the division.  Their 111 goals for is tied for 3rd in the conference and their 131 goals against is 16th (last).  Ottawa has the 14th best powerplay (18.7%), and their penalty killing (79.3%) is 24th.  Their poor record is a dip from their first 20-games and virtually confirms this as a lost season.

Player’s stats (AHL=games in the AHL):

Erik Karlsson 20-3-14-17 -12
Clarke MacArthur 20-8-8-16 Even
Bobby Ryan 20-7-7-14 -1
Jason Spezza 19-2-10-12 -9
Kyle Turris 20-4-6-10 +5
Mika Zibanjad 18-4-6-10 -7
Patrick Wiercioch 13-2-5-7 Even
Zack Smith 20-4-3-7 -4
Chris Phillips 19-1-5-6 Even
Cory Conacher 18-1-4-5 -1
Marc Methot 15-1-6-7 -5
Colin Greening 20-3-2-5 -6
Milan Michalek
20-3-2-5 -16
Joe Corvo
13-2-2-4 -5
Erik Condra 20-2-1-3 +3
Chris Neil 20-2-1-3 -4
Cody Ceci 8-1-1-2 -1 [AHL 9-0-4-4 +3]
Jared Cowen
17-0-2-2 -1
Eric Gryba 8-0-1-1 Even
Jean-Gabriel Pageau 8-1-0-1 -2 [AHL 8-3-2-5 +1]
Derek Grant 7-0-1-1 Even [AHL 9-1-5-6 +1]
Mark Borowiecki 5-0-0-0 -2 [AHL 8-1-0-1 -2]
Matt Kassian 6-0-0-0 -1
Mike Hoffman 3-0-0-0 -2 [AHL 13-6-8-14 +1]

Robin Lehner 2-7-1 2.68 .922
Craig Anderson 5-3-2 3.26 .901

Many obvious truths are borne out by the basic numbers: MarArthur has been a fantastic free agent acquisition, his season largely wasted amidst a struggling lineup; Michalek‘s career has completely come off the rails as his production has vanished and he sports the worst plus/minus on the team by a large stretch (I’m aware of the weakness of plus/minus as a stat, but think it means something in this case); Spezza‘s struggles continue; Karlsson‘s big minus number seems largely based in trying to do too much, but his production remains astounding; Turris‘ offensive numbers are back in their normal range; Conacher continues to look like a Brandon Bochenski clone in terms of production; there’s no apparent reason for Paul MacLean’s love affair in having Phillips and Neil on the powerplay (or the latter playing much at all); it’s difficult to suss out the reasoning behind some of the rotation on the blueline, albeit Gryba and Corvo seem to have drawn the short straws most of the time (which makes sense); Kassian remains on the roster for no reason whatsoever; the team’s inability to win with Lehner in net remains puzzling; Anderson‘s numbers are starting to return to normal.  Ceci‘s addition, if it remains permanent, should involve moving either Gryba or Corvo–I don’t see a market for either, so I’d guess sending the former to the minors.  It looks as though the coaching staff has finally accepted that Zibanejad should play with better players, although their reluctance to do so in general makes me hesitant to say they’ve seen the light.  I’d like to see Wiercioch regularly in the lineup, but MacLean’s love of Cowen makes that unlikely.  Spezza‘s TOI should reflect the fact that he’s the team’s second best center, but I don’t think the coaching staff is willing to go down that path.

Despite the glut of blueliners on the team and in the organisation, rumours continue to swirl around acquiring Michael Del Zotto and I just don’t see the point in making that move (putting aside the fact that the Sens have to go dollar-for-dollar to get him).  At this point I think a good portion of the team’s struggles are directly related to poor coaching decisions.  It’s an odd thing to say about what’s considered a great coaching staff, but there are things apparent both to simple observation and via various analytical measures that make me see it this way.  One of the most obvious things is the long rope MacLean gives to his veterans, even after it’s clear they simply aren’t capable of improving their play.  Can the team improve?  I think they can (their underlying numbers have), but the playoffs seem out of reach at this stage.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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Binghamton at the 30-Game Mark

The Binghamton Senators have passed the 30-game mark so it’s time to take stock and see how the team and the players are performing.  The B-Sens went 4-3-3, putting them 1st in their division and 3rd in the conference (for their previous ten games go here).  The team’s 107 goals remain 1st in the conference, while their 90 goals are tied for 11th worst.

Player’s stats (NHL=games in the NHL, ECHL=games in the ECHL):

Cole Schneider 7-5-6-11 +5
Mark Stone 9-5-5-10 -1
Mike Hoffman
8-5-4-9 -2 [NHL 3-0-0-0 -2]
Stephane Da Costa 10-3-5-8 +2
Fredrik Claesson 10-1-6-7 +3
Chris Wideman
10-0-7-7 -5
Derek Grant 9-1-5-6 +1 [NHL 1-0-0-0 Even]
Jim O’Brien 10-2-3-5 +2
Andre Petersson 10-1-4-5 -2
Matt Puempel
10-3-1-4 -2
David Dziurzynski
10-2-1-3 +2
Jean-Gabriel Pageau 4-1-1-2 +1 [NHL 8-1-0-1 -2]
Cody Ceci 4-0-2-2 +2 [NHL 8-1-1-2 -1]
Danny New
5-1-1-2 +2 [ECHL 6-1-5-6 Even]
Buddy Robinson 8-1-1-2 Even [ECHL 1-0-0-0 -1]
Mark Borowiecki 8-1-0-1 -2 [NHL 1-0-0-0 -1]
Michael Sdao 8-0-1-1 -2
Corey Cowick
8-0-1-1 -4
Wacey Hamilton
7-0-1-1 -1
Shane Prince
6-0-1-1 +2
Ben Blood
8-0-0-0 Even
Tyler Eckford
6-0-0-0 +2
Darren Kramer
4-0-0-0 -2
Troy Rutkowski
1-0-0-0 Even [ECHL 8-0-2-2 -3]
Jakub Culek [ECHL 8-1-5-6 -4]
Ludwig Karlsson [ECHL 9-2-6-8 +1]

Nathan Lawson 3-1-0 2.37 .928
Andrew Hammond 1-2-3 3.33 .895

The B-Sens went through the bulk of an awful losing streak in the absence of Lawson, but have bounced back since the veteran returned.  Hammond wasn’t terrible during the streak, but isn’t ready to take on that kind of workload.  On the positive side, Schneider is red-hot and a healthy Stone along with Hoffman and Da Costa are lighting it up.  Claesson is providing unexpected offence, matching Wideman‘s tally over the stretch as the pair took over the scoring duties in Ceci‘s absence.  On the downside, Cowick‘s season last year is looking more and more like a fluke as he cannot produce, Prince (when in the lineup) is struggling again, and Robinson was demoted briefly due to performance.  On the blueline Blood and Eckford add nothing offensively and Borowiecki is well off his usual pace.  Rutkowski has been mediocre in Elmira, while Culek has cooled off in the ECHL while Karlsson is heating up (we might see him called up in the near future).  Schneider lead the team as a plus (+5), while Wideman anchored the team as a minus (-5).  It’s difficult to guess what the parent club might do if they choose to call up a player (this would require sending someone down or an injury/trade), but at this point it would be hard to ignore Schneider (Claesson, alas, just has too many bodies in front of him while Ottawa is healthy).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: December 19th

-The Sens went 2-2 since I last wrote, narrowly beating the hapless Buffalo 2-1 (boxscore), losing to powerhouse Los Angeles 5-2 (boxscore), defeating St. Louis 3-2 in overtime (boxscore), and then dropping a disappointing effort 5-2 to the mediocre Devils (boxscore and Amelia L‘s excellent recap; the game featured Marc Methot as a healthy scratch).  The latter loss sent Paul MacLean over the top and he blasted the team afterward:

We’re an inconsistent group. We can’t get the puck out of our zone. We play good against good teams. We play bad against teams below us. That’s just a lack of focus, a lack of leadership and that’s a lack of us wanting to play in the National Hockey League and be an elite team. We are a long, long way from being an elite team.

No one can argue with MacLean about the team’s inconsistency or them not being elite, but the shot at leadership is interesting.  Jason Spezza has been a target of criticism throughout his career, but media darlings Chris Phillips and Chris Neil are sacrosanct in print/radio and I don’t doubt that the focus from local journalists will remain fixated on the captain (it does make you wonder if MacLean misses having Daniel Alfredsson in the room).  Regardless, the comment smacks of desperation (as does the insertion of Matt Kassian into the lineup for tonight’s game).  Is MacLean truly at the end of his rope?  At some point I thought we might see his line combinations come in line with analytics, but whatever stock the coaching staff puts into Corsi et al it clearly does not sway the many gut feels we see game-in and game-out.  The various closed-door meetings seem pretty useless to me–has any team turned it around in the regular season because of a meeting?  Needless to say, the fanbase is collectively losing it’s shit.

Travis Yost explores the data to see which forwards are weighing down their linemates and the long trend of Spezza‘s bad season is obvious (Jeremy Milks argues he could use consistent wingers, which is true), whose only real compatriot is Milan Michalek (the two really stand well below anyone else).  Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur are outstanding (as expected), and Mika Zibanejad‘s numbers continue to demonstrate he’s underutilized.

Varada warms the cockles of my heart by talking about the most annoying term of analysis in hockey: compete level.

I think that trying to quantify “effort” in pro sports is a game of diminishing returns—if you’re looking to consistently gain advantage over another group of pro athletes, “trying harder” or raising your “compete level” probably isn’t the way to do it. Some teams or players have lazy moments, but I would wager those are extremely insignificant outliers on an overall level of competition that, to us mere mortals, is unfathomable. Everybody tries hard.  I suspect that when I hear “effort,” like when I hear “focus” or “leadership” or “grit,” what I’m actually hearing is an easy substitution for any number of more nuanced and complex reasons for why a team might stink. Effort is always unquantifiable, so, there can always be more of it. What’s worrisome is that you hear these platitudes the most from Paul MacLean. Now, MacLean isn’t exactly going to get up in front of the media and outline the Xs and Os of his playbook for all the world to see. What else is he going to say other than, “We need to get ready for the next game, prepare properly, and raise our compete level”? But I’m telling you—if this is what the players are getting in the dressing room, I don’t know how mad we can be about the Sens’ current record. After almost half a season of hearing about compete level, it’s starting to sound obnoxiously disconnected from the real world.

This is sweet, sweet music to my ears.  I want to punch every hack who goes on about “compete level” or any other effort-related euphemism and those punches are going to go Paul MacLean’s way soon if he doesn’t shut up about it.  Varada is absolutely correct that coach’s aren’t going to detail the specific flaws in their team or players, but they need to mix it up a little–many fans take to heart that a player isn’t trying hard, apparently unaware of the fact that you can’t be a regular NHL player without working your ass off.  Players sometimes make bad decisions, but the effort is always there.

-Despite the disappointing season, Eugene Melnyk is negotiating to extend Bryan Murray.  This comes as no surprise as the faults this year largely lay in the lap of the owner rather than the GM.

-Binghamton lost both its games since I last wrote, dropping a 5-2 decision to Utica (boxscore and Jeff Ulmer‘s recap) and then a 7-4 game to Hershey (boxscore and Jeff‘s recap).  Andrew Hammond took both losses as Luke Richardson wasn’t willing to play his now-released PTO goalie.  Despite the long losing streak, Richardson remains positive, in contrast to MacLean.  Admittedly, Luke is under a lot less pressure, but I prefer his handling of the B-Sens.  The return of Nathan Lawson will definitely help matters.

-I took at look at how Sens prospects and players on AHL contracts are performing in Elmira.

-Speaking of prospects, Peter Morrow writes about the Sens prospects (focussing on those in junior), but doesn’t offer much analysis.

Mikael Wikstrand has joined Frolunda, having clearly outgrown the Allsvenskan.

SkinnyFish takes a look at Steve Simmons inability to remain consistent (along with his struggle with analytics)–a problem many of his colleagues share.

The Raaymaker departs from his usual poorly thought out opinion pieces to review Stan Fischler’s Behind the Net.  Hockey books aren’t generally my thing, but for those interested he provides a reasonable summary of the contents.

-The NHL is talking expansion and the usual chestnuts of Las Vegas and Seattle are being floated.  The former has been described as an option since the 1980s while the latter has come up since the 90s.  I can’t say the chatter excites me at all.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Sens Prospects in Elmira (ECHL)

I thought I’d take a look at how Sens prospects (and B-Sens signees) are performing in Elmira (for those who don’t know, both Ottawa and New Jersey share Elmira as an ECHL affiliate).  The Jackals are 9-11-2, which makes them 10th in the Eastern Conference.  Like every ECHL team, their lineup fluctuates constantly, but as a constant throughout the league it’s no more or less a factor for their competition (the weirdest instance was Jordon Southorn departing for Britain’s EIHL, only to come back shortly thereafter to play for Fort Wayne).  I’m not going to tackle the issue of whether winning matters for a prospect’s development (off the cuff I’d say good coaching is more important, but I’m not a fan of gut feels as fact so take that with a large grain of salt).  At some point in the future I’m sure there will be advanced statistics like Corsi at this level (I’ve always liked Graphic Comments‘ explanation of them), but for now we have the more traditional stats to work with (in this case I’m only interested in their ECHL stats).  Note: I’ve ignored Buddy Robinson, as he suited up for only a single game before being recalled to Binghamton.

Ottawa prospects (those on their ELC; all are rookies):

Jakub Culek (C/LW)
2012-13 QMJHL 9-4-3-7 ppg 0.77 (missed most of the season due to injury/junior technicalities)
2013-14 ECHL 17-4-11-15 ppg 0.88
I haven’t always been kind to Culek as a prospect, but at least at this level the 21-year old leads the team in scoring, points-per-game, and plus/minus; the one critique I could make is he doesn’t shoot enough (32 SOG), but that’s a pretty minor flaw in what has been a great start to his pro career in Elmira.  He’s seen action in two AHL games.

Ludwig Karlsson (LW)
2012-13 NCAA 17-5-3-8 ppg 0.47 (missed half the season with a wrist injury)
2013-14 ECHL 13-3-4-7 ppg 0.50
The 22-year old free agent signees’ performance took a step back after suffering a concussion and it’s only in his last four games that he’s rounded into form (4-2-2-4 +2).  Due to the injury, it’s difficult to assess his play, but he should dominate at this level.  His three games in Binghamton don’t permit much analysis.

Troy Rutkowski (D)
2012-13 WHL 72-20-46-66 ppg 0.91
2013-14 ECHL 9-0-3-3 ppg 0.33
The 21-year old unsigned Colorado draft pick has spent less than half the season with Elmira, so it’s difficult to really judge his performance, but it’s clearly better than what he’s shown in his six games in Binghamton.  He should dominate here and I think if he spends enough time with the Jackals he will.

AHL-contracts:

Danny Hobbs (LW)
2012-13 ECHL 53-9-22-31 ppg 0.58
2013-14 ECHL 22-7-6-13 ppg 0.59
The 24-year old ex-Greenville Road Warrior and former Ranger draft pick is on par with his performance last year; he’s very unlikely to see time in Binghamton.

Danny New (D)
2012-13 ECHL 21-2-9-11 ppg 0.52
2013-14 ECHL 22-2-9-11 ppg 0.50
24-year old blueliner attended the Sens 2010 development camp and spent half of last season in Binghamton; his numbers (like Hobbs above) are a mirror-image of the previous season, although he’s saddled with an awful plus/minus (-12).  He has played one AHL game this season, with more to come given his call-up today.

Scott Greenham (G)
2012-13 ECHL 11-19-3 3.39 .908
2013-14 ECHL 5-6-1 2.59 .920
The 26-year old ex-Bakersfield Condor attended the Sens 2011 development camp and is in the midst of his best pro season.  He hasn’t started since December 6th and is apparently injured.

Both Karlsson and Culek are going to struggle to get much AHL action given the glut of forwards in Binghamton, but Rutkowski can push his way onto the blueline given the relative thinness at that position.  I’m not sure if Greenham has AHL-chops, but goaltender development is about as strange as it can get, so it will be interesting to see if/when he gets his shot.  I think New is a player who will generally bounce back and forth between levels.

Sens/B-Sens players who played in Elmira last year have all had varied paths this season (New is above): Ben Blood has been a Binghamton regular and appears to have benefitted substantially from his time with the Jackals; Darren Kramer is also a regular, but I’m less certain his game has evolved; Louie Caporusso continues to be an ECHL star (with Reading, but no transition to the next level); Dustin Gazley is also with Reading, but isn’t having the same success; Jack Downing joined Boston’s organisation and has had a cup of coffee with Providence.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: December 12th

-Ottawa played three straight shootout games, losing to Toronto (boxscore), beating Philadelphia (boxscore), and then losing to Buffalo (boxscore), who they face again tonight.  The Sens sent down Mike Hoffman and replaced him with Jean-Gabriel Pageau; they also called up Cody Ceci as Jared Cowen is suspended for two games and Marc Methot has the flu.

-Speaking of Hoffman, Nichols echoes my thoughts:

A few days after Paul MacLean emphasized how pleased he has been with the way that Mike Hoffman has played, today it was announced that Hoffman had been demoted to the Binghamton Senators.

It’s getting a little absurd how much the organisation yoyo’s its comments on players (Defense Minister was having some fun with that on Twitter today, relating to Mika Zibanejad).  Bobby Kelly expounds on his frustration with how the organisation handled Hoffman.

Travis Yost sums up my thoughts about Zibanejad:

One of the things I’ve really been harping on this season — and again, it’s one of my only two objections with Paul MacLean’s deployment; I’ve absolved him of most of the team’s struggles this year — is the continued supressed usage of F Mika Zibanejad. Since the summer, particularly due to the way this roster has been assembled, it became clear to me rather quickly that if Zibanejad could transition to the wing, he’d be quite the weapon for this team — and allow for ideal line combination structure. Zibanejad was laughably cut from the team for reasons unknown, but since his call-up, he’s more or less tore through the competition. He’s the team’s best raw neutral zone player (probably second-best when adjusted for quality of competition), leads the team in EV possession, and generates shots at league-high levels. The argument to have him logging big minutes is hugely-supported; the argument to suppress his minutes (and consequently, create big minutes for lesser forwards) is far less supported. The idea that the Swedish forward suddenly morphed into a guy who can handle top-six minutes is rather ludicrous, particularly when you look at all of the available data and video from last season. I had doubts that Zibanejad could comfortably transition to wing, but a few games with Jason Spezza later, I saw a guy who reminded me a whole lot of the good Alexander Semin — not nearly as polished offensively, but twice as ready to fight away from the puck, defending his net.

Nichols looks at the Sens playoff odds and offers us this (the third column is the required winning percentage for the Sens):

Points Record Playoff Probability Point %
100 34-13-5 99.7 .702
99 33-13-6 99.3 .692
98 33-14-5 98.4 .683
97 32-14-6 97.0 .673
96 31-14-7 94.5 .663
95 31-15-6 90.7 .654
94 30-15-7 85.2 .644
93 30-16-6 77.6 .635
92 29-16-7 67.7 .625
91 29-17-6 55.7 .615
90 28-17-7 42.7 .605

Eric T looks at how to bring shot quality into player evaluation:

The stat community relies heavily on shot differential measures (Corsi and Fenwick) that don’t make any effort to account for the quality of those shots. But of course shot quality also has to matter a little bit, so why not try to factor it in?

He overviews Delta, the term for measuring shot quality and concludes:

Delta is even a slightly worse predictor of future Delta.

Eric offers five suggestions to make the approach more useful.

-Binghamton has continued to lose, dropping three more games since my last post (4-2 to Hershey (boxscore and Jeff Ulmer‘s recap);  3-2 to Albany (boxscore and Jeff‘s recap); and 4-3 to the Bears last night (boxscore and Jeff‘s recap)).  The latter two losses were via shootout (echoing the parent club).

-Elmira lost 2-1 last night with Jakub Culek scoring the lone goal for the Jackals.  I don’t know if Culek has AHL-chops, but among the Sens prospects toiling in the ECHL he’s been the best, as he’s now tied with Jordan Pietrus for the team’s scoring lead (but with a much better PPG ratio).  Neither Ludwig Karlsson nor Troy Rutkowski have dominated, although the former may still be dealing with the after effects of his concussion.  AHL-signee Danny New has decent numbers (20-1-8-9), but has the second worst plus/minus on the team (-12).  Danny Hobbs has been adequate, but neither he nor New are likely to see action in Binghamton barring major injuries.  Scott Greenham is having a career year (this is his third in the ECHL), but given that Binghamton choose to sign Rob Madore (playing for Cincinnati in the ECHL) to a PTO rather than recall him while Nathan Lawson recovers from injury presumably says something. [It seems as if Greenham is injured, as he hasn’t started for Elmira since December 6th.]

-I always liked Peter Regin, but his time on the Island hasn’t changed him from the sad shadow of his former self as he was last season (29-1-3-4 statistical line thus far).  Ouch.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: December 6th

-The Sens split their Florida trip, beating the hapless Panthers 4-2 (boxscore and Mark Parisi‘s recap) while losing to Tampa 3-1 (boxscore).  Ottawa fell behind in each game and their issues this season have finally hit the point (for me) where it’s beyond the point of no return in terms of making the playoffs (which I delve into below).

-A lot of ink has been spilt (does that expression still work in the digital age?) over what’s caused the Sens, so dynamic during the lockout shortened season, to fall hard.  I think the talent on the team (with the exception perhaps of the bottom rung on the blueline) is fine, but there’s something going on between the ears of a number of players that are preventing them from playing up to par.  Confidence is a nebulous thing, but it’s obvious to even casual observers that players like Jared Cowen, Colin Greening, etc have completely lost their mojo.  There are arguments to be made about how much the various players can truly offer, but to my mind all of them (with the exception of Conacher) have shown that they can be useful parts on the roster.  I don’t have an issue with Paul MacLean or his staff inherently, but whatever they are doing has not been able to swing the team out of its nosedive and the only external change I can think of is expectations.  The first two seasons under MacLean the team was rebuilding and the organisation did not have high expectations.  That all changed this summer with the Bobby Ryan deal and the hype generated over various media predicting how well the team would do.  I’m not saying externalities are part of the reason for the decline, but they can’t be ignored as a potential factor.  What does this all mean?  Unfortunately fans are going to have to buckle in and readjust their expectations.  The team will get better over the season–it’s hard for me to imagine the bottom falling out anymore than it has already–but likely when it’s clear the team is not going to make it into the playoffs.  On the positive side the area where the team is struggling the most (its depth up front and on the blueline) is what the organisation has in abundance in its system.  Time, for the moment, is on Ottawa’s side.

Travis Yost finds fault in how MacLean is using his players and if anything is clear from his piece it’s that Ottawa’s staff either isn’t using advanced statistic data to make their decisions or else trusts their gut more than the numbers they see (Travis does point out the underlying numbers for the team overall are starting to improve).

B_T takes a look at the Corsi data to see if there are little-used defensive pairings which might help the blueline (he includes the departed Mark Borowiecki) and while the sample size is small there’s encouraging numbers here.  I wish he’d explored how a new pairing would echo throughout the rest of the defense corps using the same Corsi data.

Nichols looks back at the ConacherBen Bishop trade looking to see if the Sens could have done better.  The article is exhausting in its explanation and I don’t think there’s a strong case made that there was a much better deal out there (which isn’t to say that’s Nichols’ argument, but just an assessment of the information available).

Bob McKenzie (via Nichols) downplays the odds of Tim Murray winding up in Buffalo.

-Binghamton faces Hershey (7-7-5) tonight and Jeff Ulmer has a preview.

-Here’s the latest Sens prospect updateMarcus Hogberg has been named to Sweden’s preliminary WJC roster.

Glen Erickson writes about Curtis Lazar whose head coach describes him as:

our spiritual leader

Which is an interesting description.  For those interested in scouting reports on Lazar, there’s a ton here.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: December 3rd

-My erratic blogging is bad for Twitter numbers–apologies to the regulars.  My erratic work schedule has not helped matters.

-The Sens are coming off two losses (to VancouverAmelia L‘s recap and Travis Yost‘s thoughts–and then to Detroit) and roster changes have been made in preparation for tonight’s game against Florida (7-15-5).  Mike Hoffman (the newly named captain in Binghamton) comes to Ottawa, while Mark Borowiecki (the captain he replaced) and Derek Grant return to the AHL.  Neither the Borocop nor Grant set the world on fire with the Sens, although Nichols points out the latter’s contribution outside the offensive sphere was excellent (his jab at the Sens carrying Matt Kassian is right on target).  The Hoffman promotion is well deserved (he leads the B-Sens in scoring), although it remains to be seen how much of his production can carry over at the next level.

Travis looks at the playoff odds for Ottawa and they remain grim (echoing thoughts from Elliotte Friedman almost a month ago; Ken Campbell also weighs in).

-After the Vancouver loss the knives were out for Craig Anderson and Nichols dug through the numbers to see that his major regression this season is his save percentage while the team is shorthanded.

-In the same article Nichols explores the three options he see’s for Ottawa:
1. Spend money to acquire players to try and win now, which he deems unlikely (agreed given the Sens limited budget)
2. Stick with the current group and hope they turn it around, which he thinks is most likely (agreed)
3. Do more rebuilding, which he see’s as least likely (agreed given the team’s assertion they want to win now)

Ryan Classic breaks out his red pen and assigns the Sens grades because we all went to school and know that letters equal to value….  I’m just kidding, Ryan does a solid job of slapping his opinion on player performances, although a C for Cory Conacher strikes me as generous (and how is Matt Kassian not an F?).

-Tim Murray, Bryan’s likely successor in Ottawa, has been given permission to interview for the Buffalo Sabres vacant GM slot.  It would be a great hire for Buffalo and a big loss for Ottawa.

-In light of the concussion lawsuit against the NHL, Scott recalled Bill Daly being asked about fighting in relation to player safety a couple of years ago and provides us with the transcription, the most interesting quote being:

I think 7 percent of our concussions last year were as a result of fighting. From my perspective that’s a pretty high number.

It’s actually a pretty low number (93% are non-fighting related?), but it’s interesting that Bill thinks it’s significant.

-On the more emotional note, Amelia L reminisces about Daniel Alfredsson‘s tenure as an Ottawa Senator and it’s worth reading in its entirety.  What sticks out to me are the various criticisms about Alfie (long forgotten these days); I wonder how many of those “controversies” were simply radio filler and journalistic bias?  They struck me as ridiculous at the time (right up there with the idea that a European captain couldn’t win the Cup), but I suppose there’s a possibility it was legitimate.

-The B-Sens also lost both their most recent games, dropping a 1-0 decision to Wilkes-Barre (boxscore and Jeff Ulmer‘s recap) and a 4-3 shootout game to St. John’s (boxscore and Jeff‘s recap).  Speaking of Binghamton, here’s my look at player performances through the first twenty games.

-Elmira was 1-1 on the weekend, with Sens prospects producing nothing in either game.

-Sens prospect Curtis Lazar has made the World Juniors list of invitees.

-Hit stats are something that get brought up quite frequently in hockey coverage and I wonder if anyone has looked at whether there’s a correlation between hitting and winning–I suspect it has been done and I’d love to see it.

-As regular readers here are well aware, I’m not a fan of lazy journalism and Allan Muir has jumped into that category with the following:

matter how many members of the Canadian media are tenting their fingers and murmuring “Excellent!” at the thought of Cherry’s dismissal, the fact remains that he is revered by a much larger and more important segment of the public. You know, the segment of the public that buys products like beer and trucks and hardware backed by advertising dollars that will be key to the success of this venture.

Where to begin with this?  There’s no basis provided for either of Muir’s assertions–that the “Canadian media” (who? The guys on Parliament Hill? The war correspondents? all of them?) wants Cherry gone or that he’s a lynchpin for the “important” segment of the public (people who buy things, so…well that’s everyone, presumably including the “Canadian media” too).  Many people might agree with the sentiment above, but you have to recognise that just saying something doesn’t make it so.  Facts allow you to theorize and Muir offers none.  Briefly to the point of his article: Cherry is a perfect fit for the kinds of sports personalities Sportsnet employs.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)