Senators 4, Oilers 1
With a healthy lineup and a resurgent Pascal Leclaire, Ottawa will be out of excuses if they can't beat up the League's worst team. Like Dany Heatley's refusal to waive his NTC, here's hoping that an Ottawa victory leaves the Oilers faithful in tears.
As I mentioned earlier, Elliott will be in nets tonight. Also, Daniel Alfredsson and Peter Regin will return to the lineup. Thanks to the Ottawa Senators' Twitter, here are Ottawa's lines from practice this morning: Michalek-Spezza-Alfredsson; Regin-Fisher-Kovalev; Kelly-Cullen-Neil; Ruutu-Winchester-Shannon.
Other News and Notes (aka your glorified Google News Feed) with a Little Something, Something Thrown In
- Cory Clouston hasn't ruled out a Nick Foligno appearance during the latter stages of the team's current western road trip. For those, like me, who aren't thrilled with Ryan Shannon's production, this is fantastic news.
- "Getting drafted was definitely a thrill. I think every kid who loves the game dreams of playing in the NHL and winning the Stanley Cup. Getting drafted has made me that much more hungry to chase after my dream. I knew that there was a chance I would get picked and couldn't be happier that Ottawa selected me." ~ Michael Sdao, USHL chat transcript
- Anyone who has a vested interest in Anton Volchenkov's contract extension talks will want to stay tuned to this website for the next few days.
- Tim and I will likely be running a contest in the next week or two with a prize up for grabs. If anyone has a suggestion for a contest idea, email us.
VOORHEES, N.J. — Barring an epic collapse – which should never be considered out of the question — the Flyers will make the playoffs.
Situated as the No. 6 seed, they have a five-point lead on the ninth-seeded New York Rangers and have two games in hand on their rival, so unless they get infected by a case of Mets-itis, the Flyers will be playing hockey well into the month of April.
But will those April showers bring May playoffs? The answer depends on what team they play.
He's right. It has absolutely no bearing on how well the Flyers play.
We’ve talked about the Web site playoffstatus.com in this space before. It’s a useful tool when determining playoff odds in any of the four major sports. It uses mathematical formulas to determine the odds of a team making the playoffs or missing them entirely and then the probability of seeding.
According to that site, before games commenced Monday, the Flyers had a 96 percent chance of making the postseason. But where will they finish?
I'll go out on a limb and say there's a 96-percent chance that they finish somewhere between 1st and 8th in the East. I think I know where this is heading...
Again, following the math, they have less than a one-percent chance of finishing as one of the top three seeds and only a five percent chance of finishing No. 4. (Which means they’ll be starting the playoffs on the road again).
The most likely finish for the Flyers seems to be where they are right now – No. 6 (41 percent chance). Next most likely is the No. 5 seed (29 percent), followed by No. 7 (15 percent) and No. 8 (6 percent).
... I was right.
That means they are most likely to face the winner of the Northeast Division in the opening round of the playoffs.
For the Flyers, that’s probably their best chance at advancing, because while they would certainly give Washington or Pittsburgh a hard, well-played series, the Flyers aren’t on the same playing field with the Eastern powers.
If they make it to five, a matchup with New Jersey also would be tough. The difference between the teams is in goal.
And depth on the blueline. And New Jersey plays a tight, defensive style as a collective. And Jersey has two dynamic game-breaking talents in Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. Saying that the difference between these two teams is limited to goaltending is akin to saying that the only difference between the cities of Calgary and Toronto is the height of their respective towers.
While Michael Leighton deserves his chance at doing something special by the way he’s played since coming to Philadelphia, Marty Brodeur is the best goalie in the NHL. Ever.
Anthony SanFilippo writes like the Cheechoo Train song guy talks.
It’s fair to say the Flyers would be significant underdogs against any of those three possibilities in the opening round. That leaves two other potential first-round opponents, the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Senators.
For a writer who prides himself on numbers, SanFilippo does a great job overlooking the fact that New Jersey is only 5 points back of Pittsburgh while holding two games in hand. Or maybe he's just exhibiting some avoidance behaviour because Philadelphia isn't on Pittsburgh's playing field.
The Senators are a good team, there’s no denying that, but are probably the best first-round possibility for the Flyers. That’s because they are a smoke and mirrors team, scoring fewer goals than the league average and allowing more than the league average.
Prior to the Olympic break, Ottawa had 174 goals. Two less less than the Flyers and good enough for ninth highest total in the NHL. And they did so while enduring significant injuries or lost games to Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, Nick Foligno and their best offensive defencemen, Filip Kuba and Erik Karlsson. The statistic isn't truly representative of this team's offensive potential.
They have a dreadful power play and a so-so penalty kill.
For the record, Ottawa has the 7th best penalty kill percentage in the League. SanFilippo would know this if he spent half his time researching playoff possibilities and less time researching potential playoff opponents.
Ottawa's lack of power play production can be attributable to two things: One, there hasn't been a viable threat to shoot from the blueline and two, Alexei Kovalev hasn't matched his power play production from his past two seasons in Montreal. (Ed. note: In 2007-08, Kovalev registered 47 power play points and in 2008-09, 32 points. This year, he has 13.) While we're still waiting for Kovalev to put up points with the man advantage, at least Bryan Murray attempted to remedy a weakness at the trade deadline by acquiring Matt Cullen to run the PP from the point.
Like the Flyers, their stars aren’t really stars. Daniel Alfredsson and Alex Kovalev are closer to 40 than 30, and they’re the team’s offensive studs.
Daniel Alfredsson should sue you for slander.
Mike Fisher is an underrated Selke Award candidate but Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek aren’t as good as advertised.
Mike Fisher's defensive reputation precedes him, but the true irony here is that he's not even the best defensive forward on the team. That distinction belongs to their not really star Daniel Alfredsson. Besides the point, I've seen Jason Spezza advertised. He's better than how he's portrayed in those Jubillee Jeweler commercials.
A true measure of a team's worth isn't how many of its players can be photographed with a porn star. No, one only has to look at statistics like, Ottawa has 10 of 12 forwards who are on pace to post double digit goal totals this season.
Defensively, Chris Philips is underrated, but the rest of that group is suspect at best. Filip Kuba has some offensive skill, but doesn’t instill fear to opposing forwards in the Sens’ end. Alexander Volchenkov is a solid stay-at-home rearguard, but when you count on Chris Campoli and Matt Carkner for big minutes … yikes!
I'm sure Bryan Murray's going to bring this paragraph to the attention of Jay Grossman when renegotiating Anton Volchenkov's contract extension. Well, Anthony ThhhanFilippo thinkthhhh that beyond Phillipthhh, the blueline ithhh thhhuthhhpect at bethhht.
I want to try my hand at writing and construing thoughts like a published journalist ... Ahem ... Defensively, Chris Pronger is good. He's slow and his gap control might be going the way of his front teeth, but he's still good. Hell, he's still talented enough to have Matt Carle benefit vicariously through his play. Timmo Kimonen is overpaid for his offensive skill and doesn't instill fear to opposing forwards in the Sens' end. Braydon Coburn is a solid stay-at-home rearguard, but when you count on Lukas Krajicek and Ryan Parent for big minutes ... yikes!
Then there’s the goaltending, which is equally as unproven in the postseason as Leighton. The tandem of Brian Elliot and Pascal Leclaire have been among the worst in the NHL team-wise, and don’t look to be world beaters the rest of the way.
Elliott was also a recent back-to-back winner of the NHL's first star of the week and I'm pretty sure that he won the Molson Cup for the month of February. He's kind of a big deal around here. Also, to their credit, neither of Elliott or Leclaire were acquired this season via waivers.
The Flyers would win this series rather easily, and it’s the one matchup in which they would have the advantage.
Let me get this straight. You think that the Senators, a well-coached team that has persevered through significant injuries, a team that will likely finish in the top four of the Eastern Conference, a team that re-upped at the trade deadline, and who by your own admission, are a good team whose success you can't figure out? And your desire is to play them in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs? Good luck. If you think that Ottawa is fretting playing against the most penalized team in the NHL, guess again.
How can we resist? And with no time wasted, here are some more possible explanations for Colton Orr's three finger salute into the super hockey unknown.
1. The number of times he has cried while watching "Twilight".
2. His degrees of separation from Air Bud, golden receiver.
3. The number of resumes he has already submitted to Jerry Springer in hopes of becoming a T.V. bouncer post NHL.
4. The number of players he had to ask before he finally found one who would tie his skates.
5. The number of times Tie Domi has told him to stop wearing his number.
6. The number of Bud Light Limes he could totally chug before you could have even one.
7. The number of times he has benched himself indefinitely on his fantasy hockey team.
8. The number of hours spent watching Nickelodeon before a game.
9. The number of Nazareth cover bands he has attempted to start up.
10. The number of times he practiced that move in front of a mirror to make sure he got it right.
OTTAWA - Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray announced today the club has signed defenceman Brian Lee to a two-year contract.
Lee, 22, has recorded two goals, one assist and eight penalty minutes in 18 games with the Senators this season, averaging 15:52 of time-on-ice per game. In 77 career National Hockey League games (all with the Senators) he has registered 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) while amassing 45 penalty minutes. In 31 AHL games with Binghamton this season, Lee has three goals, seven assists and 42 penalty minutes.
Prior to turning professional, Lee spent two seasons playing with the University of North Dakota, where he recorded six goals and 47 assists for 53 points in 82 career games. The defenceman represented the United States for three consecutive seasons at the world junior championship from 2005 to 2007.
A native of Moorhead, Minn., Lee was Ottawa’s first-round pick, ninth overall, in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. ~ via Ottawa Senators
Finally! Some news of questionable importance! Instead of reading about how fortunate an flu-riddled Senators squad was to have clinched a point against the Maple Leafs, I can now expect the usual onslaught of polarizing discussion that accompanies the name Brian Lee. (Or as HNIC's Jeff Marek likes to refer to him, Brain Lee.)
Brian Lee is an important part of Ottawa's future!
We could have drafted either of Marc Staal or Anze Kopitar!
Blah... blah... blah...
Like Jared Cowen signing his entry level contract, Lee's extension should be regarded as a formality. (Ed. note: The only exception to this would be if Lee was signed to a one-way contract.) Lee was set to become a restricted free agent on July 1st and he didn't exactly have a slew of leverage.
I wouldn't read too much into this one.
Your celebratory actions after your fight with Matt Carkner were unnecessary and over the top.
The Chris Neil Raise the Roof Celebration
PS - It wasn't even your home game asshole!
Remember when the Leafs/Senators games actually meant something to all of the involved parties? Me neither. When the biggest lead-in story to a hockey rivalry is three staged fights and three punches, you know the rivalry is troubled. Right now, it has the intensity of a Filip Kuba bodycheck. Things are so bad, that even though the game is over, all people are talking about is the faux-fight wrestling match that took place on Saturday night.
There is this misconception though. The media and bloggers keep perpetuating this belief that Orr's three-finger victory celebrating was to indicate the scorecard in the Carkner vs. Orr rivalry. Orr was already ahead in the head-to-head fights with an indisputable 2-1 record. Fortunately for Carkner, last night's tilt would have gone to the scorecards. If this were boxing, Carkner would have won because it's all about making money by setting up the rematch.
In retrospect, Orr should have knocked Carkner out. Orr was fresh off of the bench, Carkner was at the end of the shift. The circumstances were ideal for a KO. Instead, it goes to the cards and the fight's 2-2 and Orr can't duck the next fight by asking for blood testing the night before the next fight.
So with the boxing scorecards giving Carkner the nod, here's a list of things that Carkner could have been alluding to with his three-finger salute last night:
- He was reminding Leafs fans of how many General Managers the organization has endured since their last playoff appearance.
- Colton Orr counts how many years the Leafs have to wait for their next 1st round draft pick after a fight with Matt Carkner. ~ Tim, The 6th Sens Twitter
- “He was probably celebrating because he had three shifts in the game or something."~ Matt Carkner
- He was reminding Leafs fans of how many years were left on his contract.
- He was simply indicating how many times he has repeated grade six.
- His math was off, it's been more than 3 decades since the Leafs last won a Cup.
- Three would be a new career high in goals for Orr.
- He was providing the over/under threshold for the number of wins that the Leafs would get over the remainder of the schedule.
- He was only referring to the fact that he wanted to be the third guy on his team -- Komisarek & Phaneuf -- to hook up with Elisha Cuthbert.
- Unhappy with his ice-time, Orr was just sticking it to Ron Wilson and indicating the number of goals that Canada needed to beat the US.
I have one point I thought worth mentioning on the topic of 2nd round raft picks. I have seen the same argument before that few of these guys play a full season in the NHL. The usual conclusion is that 2nd round draft picks aren't worth a whole lot. I think this is the wrong way of looking at things. I think the only real conclusion we can draw from this is that most general managers are shitty drafters.
I think Murray is a good drafter (at least his current record looks promising). With that said, I think a 2nd round pick is worth more in the hands of Murray than the GM from Atlanta, Florida, Phoenix, etc. I just thought this was worth considering in regards to the two recent trades. ~ Tim, H.
That's a fair point and it's something that's often mentioned when discussing Bryan Murray's strength as a General Manager -- his ability to draft well. In the past, he's drafted Ruslan Bashkirov (2007), Patrick Wiercioch (2008), Robin Lehner and Jakub Silfverberg (2009) respectively with his second round picks. The latter three of which are generally highly regarded as future cogs of this team.
Why not play to his strengths?
Based off the move, I can only assume that he and his scouting staff are either down on this year's class of amateur prospects, or they feel that the Senators have a legitimate opportunity to advance in the postseason. I suppose there's also an opportunity for the organization to flip some depth players at the end of the season to recoup some draft picks.
I'm curious as to how the majority of The 6th Sens readership feels though, so I've put up a poll on the right hand side of the page and I'd appreciate some comments and discussion below.
There's this weird cyclical event that comes in four year spans. After each Olympic break, the Senators inadvertently stumble out of the gate. Unlike the 2006 Games in Turin, the team's struggles can't be pinned on Dominik Hasek's adductor injury but that hasn't stopped others from shitting on Pascal Leclaire. Here's a look at what some of the mainstream and bloggers takes on the Senators' goalie...
- You have to wonder what the early hook will do to an already fragile psyche. This is pretty clearly Brian Elliott's job to lose right now and I really doubt we'll see much of Leclaire the rest of the way. ~ Sens Chirp
- If anything, the loss to the Carolina Hurricanes has cured me of my season-long faith in Pascal Leclaire. ~ Jeremy Milks, Black Aces
- Leclaire gave his team absolutely no chance to win this game, and the Senators really needed big stops from their goaltenders when their effort level was taken into account. ~ Mark Parisi, Silver Seven Sens
- Pascal may be done...when you are a reaction goalie and get those "Happy Feet"...you're done! ~ Canucnik
- Clearly Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice made the right call in net. Clouston couldn’t say the same. ~ Ken Warren, Ottawa Citizen
- At the rate they’re going, the Senators are making GM Bryan Murray look foolish for being a buyer rather than a seller at the trade deadline. ~ Don Brennan, Bruins fanboy and a key cog of the All-Star writing trio for the Ottawa Sun
(Ed. note: Alright, so Doni B's comment really doesn't hit on Pascal Leclaire, but I couldn't help but include it. It's too ridiculous not to mention.)
A lot is being made of Ottawa's recent struggles and for good reason. Prior to the Olympic break, the team was killing it and had climbed to third place in the Eastern Conference because of an 11-game winning streak. At the time, I had a few concerns that the team was peaking a little too early, but I think that it's premature to start worrying about righting the ship just yet.
For starter's Brian Elliott has been fantastic for the past month and a half. According to Jim Hughson's blog, Elliott has posted these numbers since January 18th...
Save pctg:: .927
Maybe it's time I start to invest a little more faith and confidence in a player who has historically progressed and gotten better at each level that that he's played at. Take a glance at Elliott's career numbers (courtesy of hockeydb.com)
|2003-04||U. of Wisconsin||NCAA||6||0||0||336||12||0||0||2.14||3||3||0||124||0.912|
|2004-05||U. of Wisconsin||NCAA||9||0||0||467||9||0||3||1.16||6||2||1||156||0.945|
|2005-06||U. of Wisconsin||NCAA||33||1||2||2008||52||0||8||1.55||25||5||3||783||0.938|
|2006-07||U. of Wisconsin||NCAA||36||1||0||2053||72||0||5||2.10||15||17||2||867||0.923|
And as James Gordon mentions in an article on the Ottawa Citizen's website, maybe part of the explanation for the Senators poor play up front has been the flu that is making its way through the Senators dressing room. Three players — Peter Regin, Ryan Shannon and Jarkko Ruutu — all missed practice Friday morning because they were ill. Centre Jesse Winchester also missed for personal reasons.
Thanks to Puck Prospectus' Tom Awad (via ESPN Insider), I now have some semblance for how valuable Andy Sutton's addition will be for the Ottawa Senators in the standings. Here's the breakdown from Awad.
Deal: Senators get Andy Sutton (2.7 GVT in 53 games) from New York Islanders for a 2nd round pick
Analysis: Sutton figures to give the Senators more snarl on the blue line because, at 6-foot-6, he is one of the most imposing blueliners in the league. In Long Island, Sutton was given many of the tough defensive assignments, often used when faceoffs were in the Islanders zone and playing against good opposing players. The one knock against him is a lack of offensive skill, but that's not why the Senators are acquiring him. A dependable defensemen like Sutton can help reduce quality scoring chances by the opposition.
Based on Sutton's 2.7 GVT, Awad projects that his addition will translate itself into one extra point in the standings for Ottawa. One point!
I was going to just throw together the usual spiel that's reserved for these podcasts, but I feel compelled to say something about the state of the Senators goaltending. Unlike some fans or bloggers, I'm not ready to throw Pascal Leclaire's career under the bus...yet.
After allowing 2 goals in the first period, Leclaire was given the hook by Cory Clouston after just seven minutes of play. Were the goals his fault? In my opinion no. Like Brian Elliott's start against the Rangers, I thought that this was another occurrence of the team playing poorly in front of the netminder.
But I'm not privy to the vantage points of the coaching staff. Maybe they didn't like what they saw. Ian Mendes Tweeted this Clouston was asked why he pulled Lecaire instead of calling a timeout to settle things down: "We made the right decision," he said.
Right decision or not. If the coach's confidence in Leclaire is this low, I can't help but wonder why the organization refused to send Leclaire to Binghamton on a conditioning assignment to rebuild his confidence and get him some ice-time.
At this point, Elliott deserves the number one starter's job and there's no point in keeping Leclaire on the bench. He needs to play. He needs to stop the puck. He needs the repetitions to eliminate the bad habits that he's developed by relying on his athleticism.
Anyways, I digress. The podcast. Ah, yes.
So last night, we recorded a podcast for the website. For awhile now, Tim's being pushing me to open up the phone line and field some calls from the readers. With the date of the NHL trade deadline coinciding with our studio time, Tim figured it was the opportune time to get some insightful commentary from our readers. To be honest, I was a bit reluctant to agree to the idea and it took some convincing but I do have to say, I was blown away by the calls that we had last night. It was good conversation and I hope that it prompts more of our readers to leave comments or send emails in the future.
I'd like to thank our readers -- Francois, Josh, Shawn and DHS -- for coming on the podcast last night and making it a success.
As always, you can subscribe/download/stream the episode or entire catalogue of episodes from Itunes. Or you can download the file by right-clicking and saving this file. Or you can simply stream the episode below. We hope you enjoy it.
Here's the tracklist for the podcast: Curtis Mayfield Move On Up; The Soft Pack Answer To Yourself; Samiam She Found You; The Professionals Kick Down the Door; Titus Andronicus Richard II; The Eels Gone Man; and The Nerves One Way Ticket.
Leclaire gets the hook.
"We made the right decision."
Elliott's the man?