Travis Yost asks the question: are the Sens better under Guy Boucher? He looks primarily at the defence corps where the trends are negative, pointing to reductions in Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot‘s performances and illustrating the well-understood failings of Cody Ceci and Dion Phaneuf. He concludes:
At the end of the day, I think you have to ask at the midway point whether or not this team is any better under Boucher. They certainly appear like a different team. But, when you start adding everything up, it’s as if Ottawa has just sacrificed offence at the altar of better defence. And that better defence part? It’s still up for debate.
The above prompted Nichols to comb through additional data and the only tangible improvement is on the PK, but he’s not sure that’s actually a system improvement or simply due to factors that will change over time.
Both sets of analysis point back to what I found looking at the impact of coaching about a year ago, where it’s extremely difficult to separate out the effect of coaching versus the quality of the roster itself. Good teams thrive despite poor coaching (Tortorella?), while bad teams will struggle with good coaching.
There was some Twitter hubbub over Don Brennan a few days back and while I think Brennan is of no importance he’s an excuse to talk about the state of the media in reference to sports (I haven’t discussed Brennan’s opinions since 2015 and not his hockey opinions since March of 2014–his stupidity can be entertaining, but there’s no point in addressing his opinions).
For those who don’t know: Postmedia has owned the former Sun properties since 2014. The company is run by the conservative Paul Godfrey, who also ran Sun Media from 1991-2000 (under MacLean-Hunter, Rogers Communication, it’s own authority, Quebcor, and briefly Metroland Media Group (the Toronto Star)). The company owns many papers, so I’ll only list those that may have some bearing on Senators media coverage:
–The National Post (former national paper founded in 1998 by ex-con and uber conservative Conrad Black; acquired via CanWest’s bankruptcy in 2010)
–Ottawa Citizen (acquired via CanWest as above)
–Ottawa Sun (acquired with the Sun Media chain in 2014)
–Kingston Whig-Standard (as above; part of the Osprey Media block of papers)
–Kingston This Week (as above)
–Belleville Intelligencer (as above)
–Pembroke Daily Observer (as above)
It’s fascinating to go through the various ownership changes of the different papers, but generally it’s a matter of increasingly shrinking staff and circulation. More to the point, Postmedia controls all the papers that provide the majority of Sens coverage, meaning staff writers like Brennan can have their opinions appear in any of them.
Wichita’s leading scorer Alexis Loiselle has left the team for the DEL’s (Germany) second division. How the paper thin Thunder will compensate for the loss is difficult to say. With starting goaltender Scott Greenham currently in Binghamton they’ve signed Kent Patterson from the ECHL scrapheap to serve as rookie Drew Owsley‘s backup. In other roster moves, Sens org favourite Nathan Moon was jettisoned to Toledo for no apparent return (perhaps cash or future considerations). The team is 2-2-2 since my last update (13-16-3 for the season).
I thought I’d take a look at the most successful undrafted FA signings from last year (in terms of their performance thus far). It’s a small sample size, but interesting nonetheless:
Nikita Zaitsev (D) (Tor) 41-1-15-16
Lured out of the KHL (CSKA Moscow) he’s third on his team in blueline scoring
Troy Stecher (D) (Van) 36-1-12-13
Top-scoring blueliner; undersized (5’10) blueliner signed after his junior season at North Dakota; he fits the bill of a classic undrafted success story from college by being a smaller player
Tim Heed (D) (SJ) AHL 29-9-23-32
Another undersized defenseman (5’11), the Sharks signed him after two excellent seasons with Skelleftea; he’s second in the league for points by a blueliner (fourth in points-per-game)
Kalle Kossila (W/C) (Ana) AHL 31-7-18-25
Undersized (5’11) forward was signed after his final year with St. Cloud State; he’s third on the team in scoring, tied for 8th in rookie scoring (t-12th in points-per-game)
David Rittich (G) (Cal) AHL 7-5-1 2.04 .929
Signed after a strong season with Mlada Boleslav in the Czech league, the big goaltender is inexplicably playing behind Jon Gillies despite superior numbers; he’s well ahead of all rookie numbers (I’m excluding Ken Appleby, whose numbers are close–he’s technically a rookie, but played a full season in the ECHL last year)
Former Sens draft pick Marcus Sorensen is having a decent AHL-season with San Jose (32-11-8-19); always projected as an energy-player it’s difficult to say just from the numbers whether the Sharks will hang on to him or if he’ll go back to Sweden.
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)