The Sens beat the Leafs 5-4 in a shootout on Saturday. I caught some of the game (Callum Fraser has a full recap), and as expected Jared Cowen and Mark Borowiecki continued their Keystone Cops routine from the pre-season. I missed the Sunday night game (inexplicably the NHL does not schedule around my gaming night), but Ross A provides a summary of their 3-1 loss. Trevor Shackles worries the team is too reliant on its top line and besides arguing that players should be shifted brings up that Shane Prince should be inserted and Chris Neil deleted–whatever else happens, I’d love to see that. I also think that playing Curtis Lazar in a top-six role makes little sense.
Roster changes for skaters are not considered. To do so would require a much more sophisticated model that estimated team talent from estimates of individual player talent. New players, such as McDavid and Eichel, are not included for this reason. Similarly, aging effects are not considered. Coaching effects and in-game dynamics are obviously not considered, so things like relative sensitivity to score effects are not included. Penalty drawing and taking are not included.
Those are big issues, but it’s interesting to look through. He has Ottawa just squeaking into the playoffs.
For those following the Mike Richards case I think James Mirtle does a great job summarizing the worrying elements that have come out of it. Particularly egregious, in my mind, is the behaviour of King’s GM Dean Lombardi:
There’s no indication – and certainly not after the arrest – that the Kings tried to help Richards with his problem. And had he been performing at a higher level, on a more reasonable contract, it’s unlikely the team would have been so quick to nullify his deal. (Especially given there was talk this summer that the Kings were considering welcoming defenceman Slava Voynov – who pleaded no contest to domestic assault in July – back into the fold had he not returned to Russia amid immigration issues related to his jail time.)
The piece is well worth reading in full.
Binghamton announced its opening roster (already changed as Ryan Penny has subsequently been sent down to Evansville), which includes two extra defensemen and four (now three) extra forwards. Part of the logjam exists because of the injuries to Buddy Robinson (back sometime in November), Alex Guptill (I believe it’s short-term), and Michael Sdao (out long term), as well as the demotion of Colin Greening. The team named Zack Stortini as captain, which fits Luke Richardson’s love for veterans. I think the captaincy is overvalued by fans, so I’m not sure how much that matters.
I watched Binghamton’s opener against Albany and largely agree with Jeff Ulmer‘s summary. It’s worth noting that the supposed fourth line actually received third line minutes (and vice versa). Among the prospects playing Tobias Lindberg was by far the most impressive–I’m not sure if his talent will translate at the next level, but my own concerns that his numbers were inflated by teammates in Oshawa have largely melted away. A few other notes: Mark Fraser took a really dumb/selfish unsportsmanlike penalty that could have caused Binghamton all kinds of trouble (they spent most of the first half of the second period in the box); Ben Harpur launched a few grenades up ice from his own zone; Stortini was better than I expected, but doesn’t have enough speed for the powerplay and Richardson took an unnecessary risk putting him there (resulting in a number of shorthanded opportunities against) when the score was 3-1 (he also embarrassed himself in a non-fight with Raman Hrabarenka); Chris Driedger was excellent; the blueline (with the exceptions of Mike Kostka and Patrick Mullen) struggled to move the puck up the ice.
[Specific look at the goals:
1. Greening tips in Mullen‘s shot on the PP
2. O’Dell takes a dumb penalty and on the PP which is compounded when Greening gets a soft boarding call and on the 5-on-3 Blandisi‘s pass bounces in off a defenseman
3. Lindberg passes on the 2-on-1 and O’Dell makes no mistake
4. Great pass by Kostka finds Dziurzynski by himself in the slot
5. Behind the back pass by Lindberg to O’Dell gives him an open net]
As mentioned above Ryan Penny has been added to the IceMen’s lineup (he did not participate in Binghamton’s opener), but he’s only one part of a number of transactions for the team: Matt Harlow, Radoslav Illo, J. P. Labardo, and Robin Soudek were all released, while 36-year old Matt Hussey (who didn’t play last year after spending six seasons in the DEL) was signed. The decision to sign Hussey and release Soudek puzzles me and I’m curious what the explanation for each will be.
Tidying up a few details from Evansville’s FHL affiliate the Berlin River Drivers: much of their roster (12) is made up of players from defunct FHL teams (the Watertown Wolves, the Dayton Demonz, and the Berkshire Battalion). Besides those players, they’ve signed last year’s FHL MVP Cody Dion (who comes via the SPHL/CHL), Russian goaltender Dmitri Ryazhinov (who failed out of the MHL and is coming from the Kazakhstan league), veteran LNAH goon Neil Posillico, and veteran Czech player Andre Niec (the 33-year old has bounced around European tier-2 and tier-3 leagues most of his career). Interestingly, goaltender Dustin Carlson participated in Columbus’ training camp, which is a compliment to the 29-year old who has spent most of his career in the SPHL. I’ve heard of Nicolas Matejovsky before, as I think he was briefly ranked when he was draft eligible (he’s a rookie coming out of tier-2 college), but outside possible fill-ins for Evansville’s roster, none of these players are going to show up in Binghamton.
The NWHL is enjoying its inaugural season (with four teams in Boston, Buffalo, New York, and I think Hartford–they’re called Connecticut so it seems like a safe guess). While unrelated to the previous NWHL (99-07), it seems like its spiritual successor. The salaries, with a few exceptions, won’t be living wages, but it’s a start for women’s professional hockey.
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)1