Senators News & Notes

Ottawa beat Boston 3-1 on the weekend in a game that wasn’t that exciting and featured yet more of Dave Cameron’s lack of imagination/incompetence with the lineup (Ross A provides a breakdown).  You can see the organisation’s philosophy in player usage, as Max McCormick nearly played 10 minutes versus Ryan Dzingel getting barely 5 in the last game–“grit” over skill every time.

Travis Yost reminds me of a great Dave Tippett comment:

We had a player that was supposed to be a great, shut-down defenseman.  He was supposedly the be-all, end-all of defenseman.  But when you did a 10-game analysis of him, you found out he was defending all the time because he can’t move the puck.

Amen.

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I posted a breakdown of the team’s performance prior to their weekend games.  Speaking of the team, at long last Troy Rutkowski was been recalled (replacing the suspended Mark Fraser).  From watching Rutkowski at this level I can see his primary issue: his skating.  He’s not fleet of foot, although there’s always room to improve that.  Now with Fraser back from suspension Rutkowski is out.

On Saturday Binghamton faced punchless Hartford (the lowest scoring team in the conference), winning the game 4-2 on the strength of their powerplay (3 goals).  O’Connor got the start and the team played the same forward lines as their last game, with Rutkowski and Carlisle filling in for injured/suspended players.  Prior to the game Luke Richardson actually praised Tobias Lindberg.  Highlights:
-Nice defensive play by Robinson stealing a pass to the point
1. BSens get a turnover off the linseman and an innocent point shot by Lepine deflects in off a defenders stick
O’Connor stops a breakaway (Mullen was pokechecked at the blueline)
-“Stortini couldn’t get to it” should be a meme
2. Robinson hooked as the trigger man on a 2-on-1 and on the PP O’Dell picks up the garbage off a Schneider deflection
Flanagan gets an incredibly rare faceoff violation call which results in one great save by O’Connor during the PK (Schneider late on the backcheck for the man alone in front)
-Neither Paul nor Schneider can capitalize on a loose puck in front
3. BSens take a too-many-men call and on the PK O’Connor is beat through a screen
Second
4. On a 5-on-3 PP Schneider cleans-up the garbage in front of the net
Mullen with a brutal giveaway straight up the gut, but O’Connor bails him out (in fairness, the pass was to Stortini so perhaps a real hockey player would receives it before it gets to the opposition)
5. Lepine passes to the wrong team and on the rebound of the initial shot Hartford cashes in (Kostka had no idea there was a player behind him)
Mullen with a great defensive interception
Claesson gets yet another clipping penalty
-Nice little scramble in front with Robinson and O’Dell having chances
-Great save by O’Connor off a one-timer
Third
Lindberg all alone in front but backhands it wide on the PP
6. On the PP a nice little backhand pass to a wide open O’Dell through the crease

Without Harpur and Fraser in the lineup there were fewer defensive gaffes and a better offensive flow for the team.  O’Connor didn’t have to be the hero to earn the win.

On Sunday Binghamton faced Hershey (the fifth best team in the conference), this time with Driedger in net.  The only other change was Hobbs returning to the lineup with McCormick‘s inexplicable NHL call-up.  The play-by-play:
-Nice D from Claesson sweeping the puck out of harms way on a centering pass
1. Fantastic give-and-go between Lindberg and Paul with the latter scoring on a deke
O’Dell drops the gloves after a clean hit on Rutkowski–pretty silly, but I’m sure Richardson loved it
-Great save by Driedger on the PK off a re-direct
Lindberg steals the puck and sets up Paul for a one-timer
O’Dell picks up an errant pass and gets the puck to Dzingel for a great chance in the slot
2. Just moments after that play Dzingel gets caught in no-man’s land and Driedger is beat far side off the post from just inside the circle
Mullen loses the puck at the blueline leading to a 2-on-1
Claesson makes a great shot block in the slot
Second
-Great save by Driedger on the PK from a shot in the slot
Lepine turns the puck over right in front of his net, but Driedger is there
Mullen‘s backhand pass bounces off the side of the net (intended for a Lepine who was nowhere near the net) and goes to a Hershey player who is stoned by Driedger
-Paul turns it over on the same sequence forcing yet another save from Driedger right in front
-Sens 5-on-3 features Stortini who is unable to either make a pass or carry the puck resulting in an easy out on the only entry the BSens had into the zone
3. With the PP now 5-on-4 Puempel finishes off a pretty three-way passing play
4. Flanagan with a brutal turnover in the slot and Hershey makes no mistake
Stortini-line is stuck in its own end for an eternity with a near miss right in front of Driedger
5. Lindberg steals the puck and passes on a 2-on-0 to Robinson
-Claesson turns it over leading to a breakaway and save by Driedger; he proceeds to turn it over immediately after the save requiring another great save from a shot in the slot
Third
6. Flanagan picks up a Hershey turnover, drops it to Puempel who scores top-shelf, far side from just inside the circle
Stortini-line hemmed in again with turnovers from Rutkowski and the captain (a shot going off the post during the sequence)
Lindberg with a steal in the offensive zone but Paul can’t quite get the tip on his high shot
Dzingel hustles back to break up a 3-on-2
-An exhausted Rutkowski nearly had a breakaway after a steal (he managed a shot, but couldn’t create separation)
-Nice save from Driedger from in tight (both Paul and Kostka were caught chasing the same player behind the net, leaving the Hershey forward wide open)
7. BSens lose the draw and Driedger is beat as Kostka is used as a screen
-Great save by Driedger on a spinorama in front
8. Greening scores on the empty net

Driedger deserves full credit for the win as against a good team the BSens returned to being a sloppy turnover machine.  Offensively it was a great night for the Paul-line and ultimately it was the team’s ability to capitalize on third-string goaltender Dekanich that maximized their superior goaltending.

While it’s great that the BSens are on a winning streak, fans have to be realistic and understand they are beating backup (or third-string) goaltenders and mostly poor teams (Leigh Valley and Hartford).  Even after three-straight wins the team is still six points behind the next worst team in the conference (Springfield).

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Evansville won its only game of the holidays on Saturday, beating Cincinnati 4-2 in a game they dominated (outshooting the Cyclones 51-19).  Zenzola picked up the win.  The goals:
1. Humphries throws the puck away and Zenzola is beaten at a bad angle short side
2. Cyclones score off a high backhand in the slot
3. Moon steals the puck and on the ensuing possession Zay scores with a backhand in the slot
4. Leveille scores on a breakaway
5. Sims scores off a rebound
4. Duco scores on an empty net

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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Binghamton Season Overview (updated)

Binghamton_Senators_svg

The Christmas break seemed like a good time to update my snapshot of Binghamton’s season thus far.  Here what my last assessment boiled down to:

Clearly the team is tumbling over a precipice

That was 12 games ago and since that time Binghamton has gone 3-8-1, which is essentially the same pace as the start of the season (4-9-1).  Let’s look at the big numbers:
7-17-2 (last in the North Division, 29th in the AHL)
71 Goals For (13th in their conference, 21st overall)
94 Goals Against (worst in the league by GAA)
14.6% PP (13 goals scored; 21st in the league)
79.2% PK (25 goals against, 27th in the league)
6 games with a significant negative shot differential (1-5-0)
6 games with a significant positive shot differential (3-2-1)
Record when giving up a PP goal 3-13-1
Record when scoring a PP goal 4-5-1

Their scoring has dropped from 7th to 13th, their goals against has also dropped to 30th; since I looked at their special teams 7 games ago they haven’t scored on the powerplay (0-20), while their PK has marginally improved (from 77.5%).  Other notes of interest:
-In 6 of their 7 wins the BSens gave up only 1 goal against
Lindberg has dressed in every game (6) where the BSens have enjoyed a significant shot differential (+9 or more)
-In the aforementioned games Harpur was either scratched or missed most of the game due to injury (4 of 6)
Harpur played in every game (6) where the BSens suffered a significant negative shot differential (-7 or more)
-GA when Harpur is scratched: 3.00 over 5 games (vs 3.76 when he plays)

Before we get to player-by-player, here are individual stat leaders by a few different categories:

Even Strength Point Leaders (by points-per-game)
Dzingel 21 (0.80)
Lindberg 10 (0.55)
O’Dell 11 (0.50)
Puempel 8 (0.47)
Dziurzynski 9 (0.45)
Schneider 10 (0.38)
McCormick 8 (0.38)
Kostka 7 (0.35)
Mullen 7 (0.26)
Greening 6 (0.26)
Paul 6 (0.24)
Claesson 6 (0.23)
Robinson 4 (0.22)
Stortini 5 (0.20)
Lepine 3 (0.15)
Fraser 3 (0.12)
Ewanyk 3 (0.11)

Powerplay Point Leaders (bracketed: on-ice for PP goals)
Schneider 6 (10)
Mullen 5 (9)
O’Dell 4 (6)
Puempel 4 (6)
Greening 3 (5)
Stortini 3 (3)
Lindberg 2 (3)
Paul 2 (3)
Dzingel 1 (6)
Kostka 1 (2)
Claesson 1 (2)
Carlisle 1 (1)
Ewanyk 1 (1)

On-Ice for powerplay goals against (25 total)
Claesson 19
Kostka 12
Dziurzynski 10
Ewanyk 8
Mullen 7
McCormick 7
Fraser 6
Greening 6
Schneider 6
Robinson 4
Lepine 4
Hobbs 3
5 players tied at 1

Player-by-player: I’m not a huge fan of using grades, but it’s a simple way to reflect how they’ve played (A=above and beyond expectations, B=exceeds expectations, C=meets expectations, D=below expectations, F=god awful); other acronyms: ESP=even-strength points PPP=powerplay points, SOG=shots on goal:

Ryan Dzingel 26-7-15-22 ESP 21 PPP 1 SOG 76 Grade B
Far and away the most dominant offensive player on the team, his lack of powerplay points is puzzling but something I expect to turn around; he’s far ahead when it comes to even-strength production.  Here’s how he’s done with his linemates:
O’Dell-Lindberg 10-0-4-4
O’Dell-McCormick 4-0-3-3
O’Dell-Schneider 3-2-1-3
Paul-Lindberg 2-2-2-4
Schneider-Puempel 2-0-1-1
McCormick-Robinson 1-1-2-3
Puempel-McCormick 1-0-2-2
O’Dell-Robinson 1-1-0-1
Guptill-Robinson 1-1-0-1
Lindberg-Robinson 1-0-0-0
He’s spent most of the year with O’Dell (18 games), followed by Lindberg (13), McCormick (6), and Schneider (5).  There’s been no sensitivity from the coaching staff in following the production shown here.  He deserved his call-up to Ottawa and for my money he’s one of only three forwards who should see time in the NHL if there are injuries/trades.

Cole Schneider 26-10-7-17 ESP 10 PPP 6 SOG 77 Grade C
His production has fallen off a cliff lately (9-1-1-2), mostly while playing with Puempel and Paul.  It’s difficult to zero in on what the problem has been and I see it largely as a slump combined with struggling linemates.  Here is his production by line:
Paul-Puempel 11-4-3-7
Paul-McCormick 4-2-0-2
O’Dell-Dzingel 4-2-4-6
O’Dell-Greening 3-2-0-2
Dzingel-Puempel 1-0-0-0
Lindberg-Paul 1-0-0-0
Paul-Robinson 1-0-0-0
O’Dell-McCormick 1-0-0-0
He’s spent most of the season with Paul (17 games), then Puempel (12), O’Dell (8), McCormick (5) and Dzingel (5).  Like with Dzingel above, the coaching staff have shown little sensitivity to production rates with linemates (why they try to shoehorn McCormick into scoring roles is beyond me).  He’s the second of three forwards on this list who deserves a shot in the NHL when call-ups occur (he’s excellent defensively).

Eric O’Dell 22-9-6-15 ESP 11 PPP 4 SOG 47 Grade C
His production has slowed significantly since October (14-4-4-8), although some of that can be attributed to ever-shifting linemates.  Here’s how he’s performed with various combinations:
Dzingel-Lindberg 10-6-1-7
Dzingel-McCormick 4-1-1-2
Dzingel-Schneider 3-1-2-3
Greening-Schneider 3-0-2-2
Dzingel-Robinson 1-0-1-1
Schneider-McCormick 1-0-0-0
He’s spent most of the season with Dzingel (18 games), then Lindberg (10), Schneider (6), and McCormick (5).  He’s produced at some level with most combinations, although the puzzling desire to shove McCormick into a scoring role hasn’t help.  He’s not worth an NHL call-up at this stage, as he doesn’t really drive offense, producing only when with players who do.

Patrick Mullen 26-1-13-14 ESP 7 PPP 5 SOG 29 Grade B
For a player BSens fans pilloried the previous season, I’ve been surprised at how good he’s been–easily the best and most consistent defensemen on the team this year.  He’s the only blueliner doing anything on the PP and he’s been effective on the PK as well (including being on-ice for four of the team’s five short-handed goals).  Saddled with the dead weight that is Fraser most of the season, when his partner was suspended he got the moribund Harpur instead.  He’s got good speed, good hands, and has been solid defensively.  Could he fill-in at the NHL level?  I’m not sure, but by performance he’s the most deserving on the blueline at the moment.

Matt Puempel 17-7-5-12 ESP 8 PPP 4 SOG 45 Grade D
Much more is expected of a first-round pick in the final year of his ELC, but he’s in the midst of a four-game pointless streak and simply hasn’t impressed.  Here’s his production through various linemates:
Paul-Schneider  11-5-3-8
Dzingel-Schneider 2-1-0-1
McCormick-Paul 1-0-1-1
Lindberg-Paul 1-0-1-1
McCormick-Dzingel 1-1-0-1
Flanagan-Greening 1-0-0-0
Most of his time has been spent with Paul (13 games) and Schneider (13), then Dzingel (3).  Unlike most of the other forwards there hasn’t been much experimentation with how Puempel has been deployed (other than the continuing failed experiment of putting him on the point on the powerplay)–so at least some of the fall in his production boils down to Paul‘s struggles.  Like O’Dell above, he doesn’t really drive the offense, but produces when he’s with players who do.  He did not deserve his NHL call-up.

Tobias Lindberg 18-3-9-12 ESP 10 PPP 2 SOG 40 Grade B
Jerked around by the coaching staff and then suffered through a mysterious injury that magically cured when the team needed a forward to fill out their line up.  Here’s a look at the team with and without him:
Record with/without: 6-10-2/1-7-0
GF with/without: 53 (2.94)/18 (2.25)
Beyond being one of the most productive players on the team (second in even-strength points), the team is much more competitive when he plays and he’s had a huge impact on their ability to score.  Despite this he’s somehow been in Richardson’s doghouse all season.  Here’s how he’s done with various linemates:
O’Dell-Dzingel 10-1-6-7
Dzingel-Paul 2-2-0-2
Paul-McCormick 2-0-0-0
Carlisle-Ewanyk 1-0-2-2
Paul-Schneider 1-0-1-1
Dzingel-Robinson 1-0-0-0
Paul-Puempel 1-0-0-0
He’s been most productive with Dzingel, who he’s played alongside with most (13 games); followed by O’Dell (10) and Paul (6).  A cerebral player, he has great speed, great hands, and a high hockey IQ.  His willingness to experiment offensively is probably what Richardson hates, but the coach needs to check his ego.  He’s the third (and final) forward worthy of an NHL call-up; he’s also the only forward prospect on the roster who might have top-six talent.

David Dziurzynski 20-5-6-11 ESP 9 SOG 26 Grade C
His unexpected fast start (15-5-6-11) was tailing off when he was inexplicably recalled to Ottawa.  I like Dizzy at the AHL-level, as he’s a useful player at this level, but it’s long been apparent he doesn’t have NHL talent.  Here’s his production with linemates:
Greening-Stortini 9-3-4-7
McCormick-Stortini 5-0-1-1
Da.Dziurzynski-Stortini 2-0-0-0
Paul-Wideman 1-0-1-1
Robinson-Wideman 1-1-0-1
Robinson-McCormick 1-0-1-1
Hobbs-Stortini 1-0-0-0
The thing to note here is how negatively playing with Stortini impacts him–those shiny numbers at the top with Greening don’t exist once the Newfoundlander is removed; the coaching staff doesn’t pay attention to production with him either (also of note is that, like everyone else, McCormick‘s presence does nothing to create offense).  His most frequently linemates are Stortini (17 games), Greening (9), and McCormick (6).

Colin Greening 23-5-5-10 ESP 6 PPP 3 SOG 46 Grade C
At this point in his career he is what he is, although his AHL numbers are lagging behind where they were when he started in Binghamton (in fairness to him he’s spent a lot of time playing on the fourth line).  Linemate production:
Dziurzynski-Stortini 9-2-3-5
Ewanyk-Stortini 5-1-0-1
Ewanyk-Hobbs 4-2-2-4
O’Dell-Schneider 3-0-0-0
Flanagan-Puempel 1-0-0-0
Flanagan-Ewanyk 1-0-0-0
He’s been on a long dry streak (7-1-0-1), compounded by playing with largely useless players (like Stortini).  His most frequent linemate is Stortini (14 games), followed by Ewanyk (9) and Dziurzynski (9), then Hobbs (4).  He doesn’t complement top-line players, but he is useful as a third-liner so long as he has decent linemates (he’s a north-south player who can’t distribute the puck, so someone has to do that work for him).

Max McCormick 21-7-3-10 ESP 8 SOG 54 Grade C
Has spent far too much time playing top-six and powerplay minutes, but as an organisation and coaching favourite, he’s been given a lot of opportunities.  Here’s his production by linemate:
Dziurznyski-Stortini 5-1-0-1
Paul-Schneider 4-3-1-4
Dzingel-O’Dell 4-2-0-2
Paul-Lindberg 2-0-0-0
Dzingel-Robinson 1-1-1-2
Dziurzynski-Robinson 1-0-1-1
O’Dell-Schneider 1-0-0-0
Paul-Puempel 1-0-0-0
Dzingel-Puempel 1-0-0-0
Paul-Robinson 1-0-0-0
He’s played most often with Paul (8 games), Dzingel (6), Schneider (5 games) and Dziurzynski (5) and Stortini (5).  The lack of consistency in linemates and production are evident (you’ll also note that despite copious powerplay time he hasn’t produced with the man-advantage). I’d take his positive numbers with Paul-Schneider as non-repeatable.  While I like McCormick quite a bit, he’s an offensive drag and needs to be put on an energy line that doesn’t have production expectations (he’s a lot like Greening where he’s a north-south player with a decent shot, but can’t distribute the puck or drive the play).

Michael Kostka 20-1-7-8 ESP 7 PPP 1 SOG 50 Grade C
The veteran blueliner has spent most of the year carrying around the lumbering dead weight of Lepine.  Other than a productive November (7-1-4-5), he’s struggled to produce offensively (13-0-3-3), something hinged on having to do so much work for his partner.  He’s also failed to produce on the powerplay, but as he’s often on the second unit that’s a mitigating factor.  I wouldn’t say I expected more from Kostka, but he was not having a season that deserved an NHL call-up.

Zack Stortini 24-4-4-8 ESP 5 PPP 3 SOG 27 Grade F
The lumbering goon has been an expected disaster this season–he can’t skate, play defense, pass, or shoot, yet he’s been given endless opportunities on the powerplay and on the third line to contribute.  Richardson (and the organisation) has a soft spot for useless veterans and that has benefited Stortini enormously at the expense of much better teammates.  Here’s a look at his linemate production:
Greening-Dziurzynski 9-2-2-4
Dziurzynski-McCormick 5-0-1-1
Greening-Ewanyk 5-1-0-1
Dziurzynski-Da.Dziurzynski 2-1-1-2
Ewanyk-Hobbs 1-0-0-0
Dziurzynski-Hobbs 1-0-0-0
Ewanyk-Penny 1-0-0-0
His most frequent linemates are Dziurznyski (17 games), then Greening (14), and Ewanyk (7).  If you parse out his powerplay points there’s basically no production with anyone and he hurts his linemates (only Greening-Dziurzynski could somewhat overcome the burden of carrying him).  If he has to play at all it’s on the fourth line, but the team would be better off if he never hit the ice.

Nick Paul 25-1-7-8 ESP 6 PPP 2 SOG 39 Grade D
What a rough start for the rookie; a talented player with good hands, he completely lost his confidence when Richardson irrationally scratched him on November 7th (a mistake the coach has at least learned from, as he hasn’t been scratched again): pre-scratch 9-0-5-5, post-scratch 16-1-2-3.  He’s had excellent linemates for the most part:
Schneider-Puempel 11-0-5-5
Schneider-McCormick 4-0-1-1
Dzingel-Lindberg 2-0-1-1
Lindberg-McCormick 2-0-0-0
Schneider-Lindberg 1-1-0-1
Schneider-Robinson 1-0-0-0
Robinson-McCormick 1-0-0-0
Lindberg-Puempel 1-0-0-0
McCormick-Puempel 1-0-0-0
Dziurzynski-Wideman 1-0-0-0
His most frequent linemates are Schneider (17 games), Puempel (13), McCormick (8), and Lindberg (6).  What’s clear from this picture is Paul needs two talented linemates or he can’t produce (that the McCormick experiment has continued for so is unfathomable).  There was a lot of hype about Paul prior to the season and I think he still has the potential to be a useful top-nine forward, but he’ll need plenty of time to develop.

Fredrik Claesson 26-2-6-8 ESP 6 PPP 1 SOG 24 Grade C
Another competent defenseman stuck with lamentable partners; by and large he’s carried Harpur around all season and that’s been a struggle for him.  Here’s how he’s done with his various partners:
Harupr 14-1-3-4 -10
Carlisle 7-1-2-3 +2
Tuzzolino 5-0-1-1 +2
Don’t be fooled, Tuzzolino is also awful, but he’s not as god-awful as Harpur.  There are a couple of puzzling things here: 1) Freddy should not be on the powerplay, but he has consistently played on the second unit, 2) he’s been on-ice for most of Binghamton’s powerplay goals against by a wide margin, but I’m not sure if this is a bad sign or simply a product of a small-sample size.  It’s really hard to assess Claesson as he’s been saddled with the worst defenseman in the organisation for over half his season.

Buddy Robinson 18-3-2-5 ESP 4 SOG 32 Grade C
Why a player coming off back-to-back 30-plus point seasons has been marooned on the fourth-line so often is beyond me (it’s to make room for Stortini, but that’s a terrible reason).  His usage is what underlies his poor offensive numbers.  His lines:
Ewanyk-Hobbs 5-1-1-2
Flanagan-Penny 4-1-0-1
Paul-McCormick 1-1-0-1
Wideman-Dziurzynski 1-0-1-1
O’Dell-Dzingel 1-0-0-0
Schneider-Paul 1-0-0-0
Dzingel-McCormick 1-0-0-0
Ewanyk-Carlisle 1-0-0-0
Lindberg-Dzingel 1-0-0-0
Guptill-Dzingel 1-0-0-0
Dziurzynski-McCormick 1-0-0-0
He really hasn’t had regular linemates, but the most frequent is Ewanyk (6), Hobbs (4) and Flanagan (4) and Penny (4) and Dzingel (4).  I’m not sure what you can expect from Robinson offensively given how he’s been used (he’s been fine defensively).  He’s best suited to third-line duties.

Chris Carlisle 16-2-2-4 ESP 2 PPP 2 SOG 21 Grade C
Called up early in the season from Evansville when it became apparent that the horrific blueline in Binghamton needed help.  Despite that need, he’s spent a third of his time (5 games) dressed as a forward.  As a blueliner he’s spent most of his time with Claesson, but he’s also spent time with Kostka:
Claesson 7-1-1-2 +2
Kostka 4-0-1-1 +1
The numbers are essentially the same and the fact he’s been scratched the last three games makes no sense whatsoever.  He deserves to be playing regularly on defense given the current defensecorps.

Travis Ewanyk 26-1-3-4 ESP 3 PPP 1 SOG 32 Grade F
A player who obviously belongs in the ECHL, inexplicably he’s been dressed for every game this season.  What does he do well?  Nothing.  He adds nothing to the team whatsoever.  Here are his line splits:
Greening-Stortini 5-0-1-1
Hobbs-Robinson 5-0-0-0
Hobbs-Greening 4-1-0-1
Hobbs-Carlisle 3-0-0-0
Hobbs-Guptill 2-0-1-1
Hobbs-Wideman 2-0-0-0
Flanagan-Greening 1-0-1-1
Lindberg-Carlisle 1-0-0-0
Robinson-Carlisle 1-0-0-0
Hobbs-Stortini 1-0-0-0
Penny-Stortini 1-0-0-0
While Hobbs was healthy they formed part of a line (17 games); he’s followed by Stortini (7), Robinson (6), and Greening (5) and Carlisle (5).

Guillaume Lepine 19-0-3-3 ESP 3 SOG 22 Grade F
The ECHL defensemen is one of those big, lumbering, physical players who doesn’t do anything well but is “good in the corners”.  Carried by Kostka, he’s unfortunately a better option than either Harpur or Tuzzolino.  To understand how comically bad he is, look at his numbers when moved away from his regular partner:
Kostka 15-0-3-3 +7
Tuzzolino: 2-0-0-0 -4
Harpur 2-0-0-0 -2
He should be giving part of his paycheck to Kostka.

Mark Fraser 24-0-3-3 ESP 3 SOG 17 Grade F
He’s big, he’s fast, and he’s physical, which apparently is enough to blind the organisation to the fact that he can’t play defense at the AHL-level.  A selfish player who continually takes dumb penalties (along with regular defensive gaffes), Mullen has had to do yeoman’s work to make his numbers seem almost reasonable.  Watching him try to make a pass or shoot the puck is painful.

Danny Hobbs 18-1-1-2 ESP 2 SOG 26 Grade F
An ECHL forward that Richardson fell in love with last season, he does nothing well–the only positive I can give him is he hasn’t taken as many selfish penalties as most of the other bottom-six forwards.

Darian Dziurzynski 3-1-0-1 ESP 1 SOG 8 Grade incomplete
A PTO call-up from the ECHL who showed a lot of energy, but the sample size is simply too small to assess him (other than he’s clearly better than players like Ewanyk and Hobbs).

Kyle Flanagan 7-1-0-1 ESP 1 SOG 7 Grade C
Another PTO call-up from the ECHL, there are things to like about his game (speed and puck-skills), but he’s shown defensive weakness and a tendency to take penalties when he gets in trouble.  His linemates:
Penny-Robinson 4-1-0-1
Greening-Puempel 1-0-0-0
Ewanyk-Greening 1-0-0-0
Dziurzynski-Penny 1-0-0-0
I think there are better options the BSens could use to take his place.

Alex Guptill 3-0-1-1 ESP 1 SOG 6 Grade F
Now in the ECHL, he didn’t look like he belonged in the AHL and his performance in Evansville (17-6-2-8) hasn’t changed that opinion

Ben Harpur 21-0-1-1 ESP 1 SOG 11 Grade F
The worst player on the roster by a large margin, he needs his defensive partner to do all the work for him.  He’s not quick, he’s not strong, he’s not aggressive, he’s not good positionally, he can’t pass, he can’t shoot–basically he occupies space and a roster spot–c’est tous.  His partners:
Claesson 14-0-1-1 -8
Tuzzolino 2-0-0-0 -1
Mullen 2-0-0-0 -3
Lepine 2-0-0-0 -2
Kostka 1-0-0-0 even
No one can make him look even competent and the organisation needs to send him to Evansville to see if it’s even possible for him to develop.

Nick Tuzzolino 9-0-0-0 SOG 13 Grade F
The ECHL-defensemen was awful in limited duty and Richardson praising him earlier this season was ridiculous; he belongs in Evansville.  His splits:
Claesson 5-0-0-0 Even
Harpur 2-0-0-0 -4
Lepine 2-0-0-0 -2

Ryan Penny 6-0-0-0 SOG 8 Grade C
One of only two call-ups from the affiliate in Evansville; the rookie had decent numbers in the ECHL (17-3-7-10), and has a reasonable skill-set; he’s clearly better than some of the fourth-line alternatives and hasn’t had the defensive gaffes of (say) Flanagan above.

Alex Wideman 4-0-0-0 SOG 0 Grade F
I have no idea why he wasn’t immediately sent to the ECHL; while he has good speed, he doesn’t bring anything else to the table (how does a forward have no shots in four games?); he’s been effective in Evansville (22-4-13-17)

Chris Driedger 5-6-0 3.02 .907 Grade B
Had a great start and deserved his NHL call-up (where Dave Cameron ignored him).  In his one game since coming back he was off his game, but one game doesn’t mean much.  By my count he’s given up 5 bad goals this year (quite reasonable given the numbers of games he’s played)

Matt O’Connor 2-9-2- 3.65 .878 Grade D
An atrocious start that had some questioning his future, his last three games he’s turned it around and given a hint that the good times could continue.  There’s a lot of season left and it will be interesting to see how he does behind Binghamton’s porous defense.  He’s given up 12 bad goals this year (which is very high)

Andrew Hammond 0-2-0 4.05 .864 Grade F
Was awful in his conditioning stint

Scott Greenham 0-0-0 4.92 .800 Grade incomplete
Arrived in Binghamton coming off an injury in the ECHL and did not look right in limited duty; it took him awhile to regain his form in Evansville once he was returned

Coaching
What impact has Luke Richardson had on this team?  He’s been terrible.  Jerking around Paul put him in a long funk, while whatever war he’s having with Lindberg is selfish and simply hurts the team.  Despite talking about the team taking fewer penalties, that talk has made no difference and he’s done nothing to punish the players most guilty of doing so.  His preference for certain veterans (especially Stortini) hurts the team tremendously, and his stubbornness in keeping players without good hands on the powerplay has caused it to stumble.  Finally, instead of taking responsibility for the team’s performance he offers up excuses.  I’ve been saying this for awhile now, but he needs to go and be replaced by someone who knows what they’re doing.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

The Sens lost 2-1 to Florida in a shootout in a game where they basically didn’t deserve even a point.  Dave Cameron showed his lack of imagination by barely playing either Ryan Dzingel or Shane Prince and continuing to give us a steady diet of guys who are “good in the corners” (David Dziurzynski now has the NHL’s worst Corsi rating).

6th sens

Nichols points to Ottawa’s December-slide and their continuing poor underlying numbers.  You’d think something like this would alert the organisation to the reality of analytics, but we all know how they think–they will blame the schedule and think about how if they had just a bit more toughness and ‘compete level’ everything would be alright….

I bring this up just for Nichols:

Dzingel has never appeared or earned an honorable mentionable in one of ESPN Insider’s Corey Pronman top 10 prospects lists for the Senators since his draft year

Take this as a sign about Pronman’s ability to assess prospects.  I know ESPN pays him to write things about prospects and you want to rely on a professional since you don’t pay attention to prospects, but the proof is in the pudding and his track record with Ottawa is awful.  Anyone who has watched Ryan Dzingel play or paid attention to his career is not surprised by the recall.

STATS

I stumbled across this the other day and it’s a quote I think is well-worth sharing:

It’s not hard to see why MSM [mainstream media] would hate advanced stats, of course. It undercuts their voice of authority and takes away from the ability to craft a narrative at will. Why take at face value a story from an MSM member about a certain player “always crumbling under pressure” when you can see an argument, with numbers readily available to anybody with some time on their hands, showing that might not be the case.

We can add to this that many of them find understanding advanced stats difficult, putting them in a position to be embarrassed by the general public, so rather than admit ignorance they simply attack the system and its advocates.

Binghamton_Senators_svg

Jeff Ulmer has a post praising both Fredrik Claesson and Ryan Dzingel and I thought I’d add my own two cents on both players:

The 23-year-old Swede is playing the role of a mentor this season being paired up with rookie Ben Harpur

Claesson has played 14 of his 26 games paired with the hapless Harpur.  Here are his numbers with each partner:
Harpur 14-1-3-4 -10
Carlisle 7-1-2-3 +2
Tuzzolino 5-0-1-1 +2
There’s little question that Harpur is the primary drag for Freddy.

He excels on the penalty kill and is always the one out on the ice killing penalties and the occasional five on three situations.

This brings up one of the weirdest stats I’ve tracked: he’s been on-ice for a disproportionate number of powerplay goals against (19 of 25), far above any other defender (his usual PK partner Michael Kostka is next at 12; Patrick Mullen is at 7, Mark Fraser at 6, Guillaume Lepine at 4, and Tuzzolino and Harpur at 1 each).  Is this simply bad luck for Claesson?  A larger sample size is needed before I’d be comfortable saying either way, but it’s something to keep in mind.

There has been some rumors that he might return to his homeland and play for his beloved Djurgården hockey team in Johanneshov, Sweden if Ottawa doesn’t tender a new contract after signing an extension over the off season

I hadn’t heard this particular rumour before, although I’d be shocked if Ottawa didn’t offer him a contract extension.

Moving on to the recalled and returned Ryan Dzingel:

Might need to add some weight as his speed will work in the AHL but that could be an issue when facing bigger, more experienced players in the NHL. He’s got time in his development to fill out while continue to improve in finishing out his play-making abilities while carrying the puck in the offensive zone. Should be a strong contender for next year’s opportunity in training camp as he’s still a ways off before getting a call.

I think Jeff means he may need to add some strength rather than size (added size would dilute one of his assets, namely speed).  Dzingel‘s NHL-potential is hard to assess as yet, but he certainly has the hands and speed to play (reminiscent of Mike Hoffman in that respect), but this is an organisation that jerks their skilled players around, so it’s hard to see what Dzingel‘s fate will be moving forward.  It is a positive that he was recalled over Matt Puempel.

There’s less to say from Jeff’s piece on Dzingel, but I’ll add he was given a bit of the Tobias Lindberg treatment in his rookie season as Luke Richardson jerked him around the lineup and periodically benched him for worse players.  This season at least, Dzingel is getting the opportunities he deserves at the AHL-level.

prospects

QMHL
Francis Perron (Rouyn-Noranda) 31-25-33-58
Now third in the league in scoring (also third in points-per-game)
Filip Chlapik
(Charlottetown) 26-6-17-23
Is with the Czech WJC team
Tomas Chabot
(Saint John) 22-7-13-20
Is with Canada’s WJC team
Gabriel Gagne (Victoriaville/Shawinigan) 6-4-3-7
Traded to Shawinigan on the 20th; has been injured most of the year

USHL
Joel Daccord (Muskegon) 9-7-1 2.67 .906
Dropped to 17th in league save percentage

NCAA
Colin White (Boston College) 16-8-15-23
Playing on the US WJC team
Christian Wolanin (U North Dakota) 16-3-5-8
Third on the team in blueline scoring
Quentin Shore (U Denver) 16-4-4-8
Starting to produce
Kelly Summers
(Clarkson U) 15-0-6-6
No change since last time
Robert Baillargeon
(Boston U) 17-3-3-6
Continues to struggle in his junior season
Shane Eiserman (New Hampshire) 15-0-6-6
At about the same pace as his rookie season
Miles Gendron (Connecticut) 12-2-3-5
Third on the team in blueline scoring
Chris Leblanc (Merrimack) 14-1-1-2
Continues along his ugly junior season

Sweden
Marcus Hogberg (Linkoping) 8-3-3 2.64 .897
Hasn’t played since last time
Andreas Englund (Djurgardens) 24-1-0-1
With Sweden’s WJC team
Filip Ahl
(HV71) 12-0-0-0 (HV71 Jr) 18-18-13-31
Crushing Swedish junior (fourth in overall scoring, first in points-per-game)
Christian Jaros (Lulea) 3-0-0-0 (Asploven Jr) 22-2-3-5
Continues to be 5th in scoring from the blueline

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Ary M takes a look at Ottawa’s 5-2 loss to Tampa, while RobFeature wraps up their 4-2 win over San Jose on Friday.

[Just a quick update: Ryan Dzingel was just recalled and that’s well deserved.]

pierre dorion

Nichols ponders the future if Bryan Murray steps down and Pierre Dorion becomes the Sens next GM.  The big question is: will Dorion be progressive, or will he continue the lamentable dedication to using an ‘eye test’ for players and favour “good in the corners” guys over those with skill?  It’s impossible to know because Dorion has to follow the party line publicly, so it’s a guessing game if/until he’s handed the reins.  What is clear is that Murray is done–the game has passed him by and he’s a drag on the organisation.

Ary M offers a lengthy prospect update which is well worth reading through.  A couple of notes:
-I’m dubious that Andreas Englund has the puck-skills to help Binghamton next season (or Ottawa in the future)–you can read what scouts said when he was drafted here
Gabriel Gagne was taken before everyone‘s projections (the Central Scouting number Ary references is narrow, only comparing him to other non-goaltending NA skaters); you can read about him here

Binghamton_Senators_svg

Binghamton released Darian Dziurzynski from his PTO (apparently losing out to Flanagan as a fill-in).  This seems like the right move if you compare the two players prior AHL-numbers.

It was the same lineup for the BSens (plus Driedger) against Syracuse on Friday night and it was a complete disaster.  The play-by-play:
-Great stop by Driedger on a 2-on-1 down low (Fraser took a penalty on the play–the BSens broadcast crew lay into him for how dumb it was, which of course, it was)
1. On the PP Kostka gets caught out in no-man’s land leaving a man open who makes a nice tip in the slot
Dzingel has a great chance in front and in the following sequence the team draws a penalty and Paul has another great chance
Kostka gets the poke-check in to prevent a breakaway chance (this while the BSens were on the aforementioned PP)
-Another great save by Driedger as a man is left alone in front (Stortini‘s check, but he couldn’t keep up)
O’Dell with a great chance in the slot
Second
-Nice back check by McCormick
2. Driedger is beaten on a soft wrist shot through a screen
McCormick with a brutal giveaway in his own zone, but Driedger bails him out
-Nice D from Penny
-Great point-blank save by Driedger
Claesson is kicked out of the game after a second fighting major
Schneider scores, but the goal is wiped out because Fraser was pointlessly wrestling with a Crunch player behind the play
Third
3. Robinson picked up a holding-the-puck call putting the BSens down 5-on-3 and not long after a great save by Driedger (back to 5-on-4) the Crunch score off a soft wrist shot from the point
-Alone in front Dzingel can’t bury it
Greening takes a needless penalty in the offensive zone
Lepine takes a dumb, selfish penalty behind the play
4. On the PP the Crunch score on a nice tip

This was a prototypical Binghamton game–struggling with offense, defense, and discipline.  Other than Dzingel and O’Dell the forwards generated virtually nothing.  Fraser continues to be Fraser is continues to be exasperating.  The BSens hadn’t scored a powerplay goal since Lindberg‘s injury six games ago, incidentally.

On Saturday night the BSens beat Leigh Valley 2-1.  Initially the only lineup changes were Matt O’Connor starting and Tobias Lindberg magically healthy (overcoming the Richardson Flu?) as Max McCormick was out with injury.  However, Richardson juggled all four lines and I liked most of the changes (Stortini on the fourth in particular, although the lumbering enforcer is still inexplicably on the powerplay–which hasn’t scored now in seven games now).  The play-by-play:
-An exhausted Schneider can’t keep up with his check who rushes all alone in front, but baubles the puck and can’t put a shot on goal
Harpur passes to the wrong team, but fortunately Leigh Valley throws a weak wrister at the net
-On the BSens broadcast there was a funny (but accurate) comment about the defense: “we know Binghamton’s defense so we know he [O’Connor] will be tested”
Flanagan takes a dumb tripping penalty in the neutral zone; Harpur went off with an injury at the time (after falling in the corner earlier)
-Binghamton can’t score with a 5-on-3 advantage (best chance was for Puempel down low)
O’Dell makes a great defensive play by lifting the stick right in front
Mullen is out of position leaving a Leigh forward wide open in front and O’Connor makes a great save
Second
-Nice defensive play in front of his own net by Mullen intercepting a pass
Claesson makes a brutal pass behind his intended target, but fortunately nothing comes of it
-Good chance for Paul from the bottom of the circle
-Nice cross-ice pass by Lindberg for a Schneider one-timer, but his shot is deflected high
Greening is all alone in front but can’t cash in
1. Mullen breaks up the rush and Dzingel picks up the loose puck and scores (inexplicably O’Dell was given an assist and Mullen was not)
Paul with a great tip in front
-Wonky shot by Lepine deflects a couple of times and almost sneaks in
Puempel appears to be hurt after being run into the boards (he returned in the third)
Flanagan takes another dumb penalty (this time in the offensive zone)
-BSens have back-to-back odd-man rushes shorthanded but can’t get a shot on either of them
Kostka throws the puck away on the PK, but nothing comes of it
Third
Kostka passes to the wrong team in front but Paul deflects the shot wide
Lepine gives it away, but the BSens recover the puck
Fraser is turned into a pylon and O’Connor has to make a great save
Robinson with a chance all alone in front
-Great play by Mullen to break up a 3-on-1
-Fantastic save by O’Connor on a one-timer
2. O’Dell gets turned inside out and then can’t take the stick or the man as the rebound gets banged in
3. Fraser‘s weak wrist shot is deflected into the slot by Lindberg and Paul makes no mistake for his first AHL-goal
-BSens broadcast talked about Lindberg and Paul being scratched back in October for “apparent lack of effort”, which is ridiculous

You could see the difference in having three competent forward lines made for Binghamton, as they had much better possession during the game.  O’Connor rarely had to be spectacular (although the defensive gaffes in front of him continue to be mindbogglingly regular), but I’m starting to believe he’s turned the corner (at last).

EvansvilleIceMenCHL

Evansville beat Indy 2-1 on Friday, with Scott Greenham picking up the win.  A look at the goals:
1. Greenham is beaten by a rocket far side just inside the top of the circle
2. Fawcett steals the puck and Wideman fires in a one-timer
3. A pair of plays at the blueline keep the puck in and off the second turnover Sims bangs in a rebound

It was a solid effort by the IceMen all around.  The game saw the end of Troy Rutkowski‘s hot streak (3-2-4-6), although he was instrumental in the game winning goal.

The IceMen lost their re-match with Indy 3-1 (Greenham taking the loss).  No lineup changes.  The goals:
1. Rumble throws the puck away and then Greenham deflects the puck into his own net
2. Rumble loses sight of the puck and provides the perfect screen on Greenham
3. MacDonald bangs in a rebound (although this goal was credited to Fawcett for some reason)
4. On the PP Himelson passes to the wrong team right in front of his own net

Evansville had an enormous edge in play, but their weak defensecorps continues to plague them.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Ottawa lost 2-1 to Washington as Dave Cameron continues to lay out his future plans as an AHL or OHL coach by playing Mark Borowiecki at forward.  NKB offers an overview of the game.

Binghamton_Senators_svg

The other day Jeff Ulmer (who covers Binghamton) said this:

I don’t normally rely on stats in player evaluations

What does this mean, exactly?  What does he rely on?  The problem with being overly dependent on the “eye test”, which I assume he’s referring too, is that it’s completely subjective.  Jared Cowen looks good via the organisation’s eye test, so is that a viable option?  To me, evaluation has to be based on events–events that can objectively be seen and judged by anyone looking at the game (it did or didn’t happen).  If I want to write that so-and-so is playing well or playing poorly, there needs to be tangible reasons for that evaluation as opposed to me having “a feeling” etc.  Too often journalists (and bloggers) will simply say someone is good or bad without delving into specifics–I’m not saying that’s Jeff’s approach (unfortunately I don’t know where he was going with the above), but in general it’s not useful for analysis or assessment.

Last night Binghamton fell 3-2 to Toronto (the best team in the AHL).  With Guillaume Lepine healthy Chris Carlisle was inexplicably scratched (why it wasn’t Ben Harpur is anyone’s guess).  Matt O’Connor started, which was a surprise given how much Chris Driedger has outplayed him this season.  The play-by-play:
-Great shot block by Fraser
O’Connor passes to the wrong team and is lucky Toronto misses the net
-Dumb penalty from Fraser
Lepine turned into a pylon on the PK, but fortunately the Toronto forward missed the net
Fraser can’t make a three-foot pass, but Mullen bails him out with a great defensive play in front of the net
1. Claesson sweeps a rebound away, but Toronto recovers the puck and O’Connor is beaten short-side on a bad angle (an ugly goal)
Second
2. BSens lose a faceoff and off a juicy rebound O’Dell can’t get the stick of the Toronto player
Stortini throws a high hit (replay was pretty useless to decide if the hit was legal or not)
3. O’Connor is beat short-side/bad-angle again, but it hits the post and Flanagan is caught puck-watching so an untouched Marlie scores on an empty net
Third
Fraser takes a boarding penalty (a potentially dangerous hit)
-BSens about to get a PP and Mullen decides to start throwing punches for whatever reason; after the melee the PP is preserved, but it was still a selfish decision by the defenseman (the PP accomplished nothing)
Puempel on another PP has a great chance with the goaltender down and out, but he can’t get the puck through the crowd
-Pointless fisticuffs with two minutes to go (removing Stortini and Ewanyk from the game–see the result of their absence below)
4. McCormick backhands in a rebound
5. Kostka‘s point shot is tipped in by Schneider with virtually no time left

Toronto was a much better team throughout and Binghamton rarely had possession of the puck (it was frankly a boring game to watch as the Marlies easily smothered the Sens).  Prior to the game Richardson talked about how he thought being physical was the way to beat the Marlies, which while being completely wrong does explain his thought-process.

I wanted to give an example of Harpur‘s hockey IQ from the above game (not a bad one by his standards, but certainly not good).  Early on (before the first play-by-play moment above) he’s skating out of his zone under no pressure wanting to make change.  A fresh forward unit is in good position ahead of him, all of them open–Harpur can make a quick pass to a teammate or fire it hard around the boards; instead he skates slowly over the red line, freezing all the forwards (who have no idea what he’s going to do), and then makes a soft dump as he goes for a change.  This results in Toronto gaining possession and rushing up the ice, forcing the new defense pairing (and the forwards who are now standing still) into a desperate defensive posture.  Every player will make mistakes under pressure, but in its absence you have to make good decisions.

EvansvilleIceMenCHL

The IceMen released goaltender Keegan Asmundson (a disappointment all season).  The team added forward Mike Duco (who put up middling numbers in the ECHL last season with Indy, but started this year in the EIHL (UK)).  The team also added assistant coach David Leger, who seems to be replacing Johan Lundskog (so those rumours that he might be back after Christmas now seem unlikely).

The IceMen blew a 5-4 lead late in the third to lose 6-5 in OT to Atlanta. Sims, Dunn, and Duco were added at forward while Strandberg,  Anthoine, and Lukin sat.  The goals:
1. Himelson can’t keep up with his check who is therefore wide open
2. Leveille tips in Wideman‘s centering pass
3. On the PP Rutkowski, shortly after keeping the puck in the zone, fires home a one-timer
4. Off a face-off Greenham flubs a weak shot with his glove deflecting it into his own net
5. On the PP Duco tips in a point shot
6. Rumble deflects a centering feed into his own net
7. Guptill‘s centering pass goes in off an Atlanta defenseman
8. On the PK (5-on-3) the defenseman is allowed to walk down main street and beats Greenham with a low wrist shot
9. Dunn steals the puck and centers it to a wide open Sims who makes no mistake
10. With the goaltender pulled Greenham is beaten five-hole as he guesses pass instead of shot
11. In OT on the PK (after failing to score on a PP themselves) Atlanta scores on a pretty passing play

There were several weird goals on the evening, but the blame for this loss rests on the shoulders of Greenham who was not sharp–he really hasn’t been the same since coming off his early season injury.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

The response to my post that focused on the Mikael Wikstrand situation was interesting.  I didn’t know #freewikstrand was a thing on Twitter, although I shouldn’t be surprised (and no, I don’t think it has any impact on Bryan Murray).  The reaction in Sweden to what the organisation is doing is exactly what you’d expect.  The hostility towards the player hurts the Sens and they’ve put themselves in a corner–how can they let Wikstrand play without admitting their mistake?  I think Murray has too much pride to change now.

Speaking of Swedes, Sens goaltending prospect Marcus Hogberg signed an extension with Linkoping through the 2017-18 season.  This would not prevent the Sens from signing him and bringing him over earlier if they wished, incidentally.

STATS

Nichols takes a look at Matt Cane’s new method of visualizing shot-suppression by defensemen and there are no surprises as we find Mark BorowieckiJared Cowen, and Cody Ceci lagging behind.  Outside the Sens org, is there anyone left on the planet who buys the “defensive defenseman” tag for the first two?  Ceci should have spent more time in Binghamton when he turned pro–he was called up far too early last season and anointed as a top-four player.  For a team that often preaches patience, Ceci is one of many examples where that has not been the case.

Binghamton_Senators_svg

Binghamton lost 5-3 to Hershey on Saturday in a game AHL Live failed to broadcast (albeit the in-house feed was working as Hershey has posted highlights).  If AHL Live gives me the opportunity I’ll add more depth to what follows (it boggles my mind that ECHL Live is more reliable and better quality).  The goals:
1. Kostka is out-muscled in front as Schneider stands in no-mans land and the puck in banged in (Harpur was on vacation in the corner)
2. Hammond is beat on a rocket from the middle of the ice (too deep in his net)
3. The puck bounces in off Claesson‘s skate
4. Hammond is slow sliding to the post and is beat short-side
5. Greening walks through three Bears before scoring
6. O’Dell scores through a crowd from the high slot
7. Claesson makes a sweet pass to Robinson who makes no mistake
8. An empty-netter from center ice

Dzingle finished the night with three assists.  I wasn’t hard on Hammond in the previous loss, but he let in a couple of bad goals tonight and (on the surface) that’s the difference in the game.  I appreciate Harpur restoring my faith in the universe by being AFK for a goal-against (he also picked up a diving-penalty in the game).  The BSens continue their trend of losing games where they give up 4-plus goals (1-11-2) and a PP-goal (3-11-1).  The Bsens were shorthanded eight times, but we know from past experience that Richardson won’t bench any of the usual culprits (he took one himself, incidentally).

EvansvilleIceMenCHL

Evansville fell 6-4 to Cincinnati in their re-match, with Zenzola taking the loss.  Guptill returned to the lineup with Lukin sitting.  The goals:
1. Zenzola is beaten from the high slot
2. Rutkowski steals the puck and sets up Wideman right in front
3. Dunn turns it over and Humphries has no idea there’s a player behind him
4. Leveille goes top shelf from a back angle
5. Humphries doesn’t take his man in the slot
6. On the PP Rutkowski makes a great cross-ice pass to a wide open Moon
7. Sims can’t keep up with his check who is wide open to bang in the puck
8. 5-on-3 PP Fawcett rips one home from just inside the circle
9. Rutkowski loses the puck and his check as the latter taps home the puck
10. Zenzola is off his post and beaten short-side

It was a great game for Rutkowski despite his late game gaffe; the problem for the IceMen was bad goaltending and their problematic blueline.

The IceMen beat Fort Wayne 6-4 largely on the back of their powerplay.  Scott Greenham was in goal with Anthoine and Lukin dressing while the coach’s son Sims (injury) and Dunn came out.  The goals:
1. Fawcett fires a rocket on the PP (a mirror image of his goal against Cincinnati above)
2. Himelson gets caught in no-man’s land and a wide open Komet scores
3. A rocket from the hashmarks by former BSen Szydlowski
4. On the PP Fawcett scores on a give-and-go down low
5. Szydlowski scores on PP from the top of the circle with a rocket
6. Fawcett tips the puck in off the rush
7. Rumble is stripped of the puck and Himelson and Greenham are deked
8. Leveille keeps and shoots on a 2-on-1
9. On the PP Rumble scores from the point
10. Rutkowski hits the empty net

Fawcett‘s hat-trick lead the way and the team scored enough to make up for their troubling defensive coverage.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Ary M blew my mind today by coming up with the best tagline for the Ottawa’s management that I’ve seen: risk averse.  Here’s the full context:

Quite frankly, the Senators are risk-averse: it’s easier to reward players who a) look like they’re obviously expending effort and b) have been in your organization longer because you “know more” about them, regardless if your evaluation is wrong or not.

This is absolutely on-target and I’m going to staple that motto onto the org until things change.

wikstrand

The Nichols stenotape machine was back in action for Bryan Murray and two things struck me: Curtis Lazar (who, as Nichols points out, is the fourth-least productive forward at 5-on-5 in the NHL) and Mikael Wikstrand.  The former I’ve already discussed (Ary M above talks about him too), so here’s the Swede:

Whether he got hurt or pulled himself out after the first period of the first game, I’m not sure now in hindsight.

How paranoid does Murray have to be to think Wikstrand pulled the chute during a game?  This makes no sense on any level–if he wanted to fake an injury he’d do it before the game (“oh god I pulled my hamstring”).

He told them and it was all over Sweden that it was just a matter of time (before) Ottawa was going to give in and let him go back and play.

That he wanted to play in Sweden is readily apparent–from Farjestad’s press release and other statements in Swedish publications, there’s no question that he said it was his preference, but this wasn’t secretive so hardly speaks of conspiratorial intent.

he’s been able to manipulate (people) two or three times in his career already – the opportunity to do what he wanted to do in hockey

Without any context we can make nothing of this (the only player movement in his career was being traded from Frolunda to Farjestad).

I don’t ask my daughters to leave their jobs or their life in Denver, Colorado to come home and be around me. We can get you home in six or seven hours if anything should happen if you have to go home and see your brother or your family.

To compare a young man dealing with leukemia to his own struggles with cancer (as well as comparing the response of a man in his 70s to one in his early 20s) is beyond absurd.  Murray is very glib about the ability of someone playing professional hockey in North America to make cross-Atlantic flights to visit with family–there are few times in either an NHL or AHL season where time would permit that and Murray constantly comparing it to situations in North America (with shorter flight times and little to no jet lag) is absurd.  But the crux of all this is Murray’s hint at a conspiracy, so let’s explore it, shall we?

The premise: Wikstrand conspires to bilk the Sens out of his bonus money.  Is this plausible?  It has happened before (Lee Sweatt pulled the trick back in 2011, although he retired after getting the money to go to school), but does this apply?

The basics: a conspiracy is an agreement between persons to deceive, mislead, or defraud others of their legal rights or to gain an unfair advantage.  The only way a conspiracy can be imagined here would be Wikstrand with his agents and/or Farjestad.  I find the idea ridiculous and nothing in what’s happened shows any signs of sophistication:
-First, let’s address the money motive: yes, 160k is fantastic, but it’s not Colin Greening or Andrew MacDonald levels of robbery–while there’s no tracking of SHL salaries, estimates put the average at around 400k (Euro’s, which is slightly higher than the American dollars the Sens would pay him).  Wikstrand just isn’t desperate for money
Wikstrand was traded to Farjestad in April and told everyone in Sweden for the next five months that he’d like to play there–this is not hiding or disguising an intent and it includes having his agent talk to Ottawa about being loaned to Sweden–conspiracy requires secrecy and you can’t get more public than this
-Being suspended does not negate being paid his bonus, so he could have pulled the chute on the Sens in the summer rather than participate in training camp and embarrass himself by running away
Wikstrand hid his brother’s illness from everyone, despite it being the primary source of sympathy for what he wanted to do–if he was conspiring this would have been public at the beginning and given him leverage in negotiating with the organisation; lest we forget, Murray didn’t initially believe his brother was sick
-Running away from the team without telling anyone is the opposite of a well-thought out strategy–it’s an act of desperation–none of which speaks to a cynical desire for money

The whole idea is absurd.  What you can say is that Wikstrand wanted to stay home and play near his brother–that’s simply fact–and he’s admitted he should have been public about why.  To me his other actions are in line with those of a young man conflicted about his professional obligations and his private ones.  However much we might want to chide Wikstrand on how he’s handled things, it doesn’t make Murray’s comments warranted.  All Murray has done since this happened is denude the value of an asset.  If you believe the guy is never going to play for you, fake sympathy and talk about how brave he is–derive some value from one of the only talented blueliners in the system.  Instead Murray has taken the role of a grumpy old man, carping and complaining and insulting the player until he has no value at all.

Binghamton_Senators_svg

Binghamton fell 4-3 to Springfield last night, blowing a 2-1 and 3-2 lead.  Eric O’Dell was clearly not himself in his return.  The team’s awful record when they score 3 or fewer goals continues (1-10-2), as does their record when giving up a PP goal against (3-10-1).  The play-by-play:

Kostka makes an ill-advised pinch and Carlisle is able to break up the 2-on-1
1. Hammond is beaten by a wrist shot short side (it’s a bad goal–I thought it might have been tipped, but it just caught him moving the wrong way)
Claesson is lucky to avoid injury as he’s run from behind and his helmet hits the dasher
-Nice stop by Hammond off a 3-on-2
Second
Puempel with a brutal giveaway in his own zone
Ewanyk stoned on a breakaway
2. Flanagan taps in a bounce pass/missed shot (depending how generous you are) by Fraser
-Great save by Hammond on a breakaway
3. Ewanyk‘s wraparound sneaks under the pads
4. Ewanyk takes a lazy high sticking penalty in the neutral zone and on the PP Springfield cashes in off a rebound with numbers in front (scorer was Claesson‘s check, but his dive to block a pass failed–McCormick could have collapsed down as well)
Third
Hammond stops a breakaway
5. Nice little give and go that results in McCormick scoring
6. McCormick makes a bad pass that results in a breakaway and Hammond‘s slide misses
7. Classic Fraser as he’s stripped of the puck and Hammond is beaten high off the iron from just above the dot
Kostka defends a 2-on-1 off a fanned pass by Carlisle
Kostka with a great stick-check right in front

While Andrew Hammond didn’t look like Henrik Lundqvist in the game, the loss isn’t on him–he stopped 2 of 3 breakaways and suffered through the usual gong show that is Binghamton’s porous defense.  One positive is that Ben Harpur did not contribute to the loss (which I think is a first for him this season).

EvansvilleIceMenCHL

Evansville lite up Cincinnati’s third-goaltender (Neil Conway) with six goals and coasted the last half of the game to a 7-3 win in Scott Greenham‘s return.  The third line drove the offence.  Alex Guptill didn’t play (unsure yet if he was a healthy scratch or injured [healthy]), while Vincent Dunn drew back into the lineup (there was also a Jack Downing sighting for Binghamton fans with good memories).  The goals:
1. Strandberg picks up the puck off a Greenham save and speeds down on a 2-on-1 with Dunn who finishes
2. On the PP Rumble‘s shot goes wide and Strandberg knocks it in off the bounce
3. Humphries doesn’t take the man in front who bangs in the rebound on the PP
4. Zay rips it in from just inside the dot
5. Zay has about four shots on goal before the wraparound finally goes in
6. Fawcett rips home a rebound
7. Rumble scores five-hole on the rush (a terrible goal given up by Conway)
8. With Humphries in the box a one-timer off a great cross-ice pass goes in
9. IceMen overload the wall, lose the battle and outnumbered 3-to-1 in front of the net Carlson can’t take all the sticks to prevent the puck from being banged in
10. Moon scores on the empty net

Notes: Michael Trebish was hurt blocking a shot; Lukin continues to be a bad luck charm for the PK as he was on the ice for both goals against (he’s nearly averaging a PP goal against per game played now).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)