I'm going to get into this more after Saturday's game, and take a deeper look at individual players through the "quarter mark" of the season with a thorough stats post. But with Lundin returning (err...making his debut) last night, and Karlsson playing a season low 16 seconds on the PK, this seemed as good a time as any to make my point.
For the remainder of the seaaon, it would probably be wise to play Karlsson as little on the penalty-kill as he did last year. I'm not saying he'll never be a decent player on the PK, but he isn't one right now:
(SA/60 is shots against per 60 minutes of 4v5, and CA/60 is chances against per 60 minutes shorthanded)
Whatever Karlsson's done to improve his even-strength defending clearly isn't working shorthanded. Granted this isn't a huge sample, but Erik looks to be inflating Methot's numbers, who is as capable a defender as the team has. With Lundin now in the rotation, MacLean will have two fairly capable shorthanded pairs at his disposable, which should free up Karlsson to play optimized minutes at evens and on the power-play.
This really isn't a big deal, as Graeme has pointed out before Karlsson really isn't made for shot-blocking anyway. The precedent has been set, you can win a Norris playing fewer than 40 seconds of PK a game. Karlsson isn't the prototypical "complete" defenseman...he's something better...from the future.
With the clock winding down and and the visiting Buffalo Sabres pressing with an extra attacker, Jakob Silfverberg was one of the players Paul MacLean called upon to preserve Ottawa’s one goal lead.
As Buffalo worked the puck back to the point and fired, Silfverberg was struck on his left hand. Although he eventually got back up, picked up his stick and finished his shift, once he got back to the bench, he immediately went to the dressing room.
Considering the number of injuries that have already plagued the Senators -- Jared Cowen, Jason Spezza, Sergei Gonchar, Guillaume Latendresse and even prospective AHL recall candidates like Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman – concern for Silfverberg’s health was palpable.
The last thing the organization needs is to see another top six forward go down.
The good news is that Silfverberg will not miss any time. Per Mendes, Silfverberg is expected to play tonight against the Hurricanes.
(Silfverberg) indicated the puck hit him on one of the knuckles on his left hand, but there was enough padding to help cushion the blow.
Yes, good thing there was just enough padding to cushion the blow on his hand and our psyche.
Lundin’s Imminent Return
The big news from yesterday was that defenceman Mike Lundin practiced with his teammates and after practice today, it has been confirmed that he will make his Senators debut tonight.
Lundin had missed Ottawa’s first ten games while recovering from surgery to one of his fingers. He suffered the injury while playing overseas in Europe.
Coupled with the expectation that Sergei Gonchar will make his return to the lineup tonight, the Senators are starting to get healthy at a position many considered to be their weakest position. At least in the interim, the Senators will carry eight defencemen on their roster in the interim but eventually, the team will have to move one of their defencemen on a two-way contract back to Bingo – the most likely candidate being Mark Borowiecki.
Considering how much has been made of Erik Karlsson’s average ice-time of late, the health of Gonchar and Lundin certainly shed light on comments made by Paul MacLean at practice yesterday:
“I guess there is (a risk) with the compacted schedule, but he’s a pretty young guy. There’s always a risk, whether you’re playing 15 (minutes) or 20 or 25 or 30, but he has the capability of handling the 30 minutes. A lot of times, the game, and how the team is playing, dictates it. Right now, we feel he’s at a level that he can keep playing. His fitness level is a big part of it."
“I think you will see Erik’s numbers come down to a more manageable number, down to 25 (minutes) or whatnot. When we play Wiercioch, Borowiecki and Benoit (in the same game), it’s reasonable to expect his numbers to be higher because he’s playing more special teams.”
It's a welcomed piece of news.
New Peter Joynt Track
By now I’d imagine that everyone who has attended a Senators game of late or is simply familiar with the Senators internet community has at some point come across Peter Joynt’s ‘CapCity’ video.
Well, Peter’s back with a new track that I believe he performed at this week’s graffiti-themed Ferguslea Sens Soiree.
Check out the video below and give him a follow on Twitter (@capcity).
I'm late on this but the Binghamton Senators have inked Brett Lebda to a professional tryout (PTO).
When reached for comment, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said, “Our depth is no longer the envy of the league.”
Kidding aside, I wouldn’t read too much into Lebda’s signing or analyze what it could mean. At this stage of his career, it probably means nothing. He’s a 31-year fringe player who gives the organization another warm body with NHL experience. He split the 2011/12 season between Columbus (30 games) and their AHL affiliate in Springfield.
The fact that there is some familiarity with Paul MacLean from their time together in Detroit, makes for a nice correlation but I don’t want to say the two things are causally related or pretend that it will work to the organization’s benefit moving forward.
Stephane Da Costa has been recalled by the Ottawa Senators.
For the second time in two seasons, it seems like Da Costa may be looked at as an internal candidate to fill that second line center role, after Regin failed to grasp it.
At practice today Zack Smith was elevated to the second line, with Regin demoted to the third. Da Costa was practicing between Condra and JOB, while also getting looks on the 2nd PP-unit.
Although a shoulder injury knocked Regin out of the lineup in 2011/12, ineffectual production – zero goals and zero points in nine games – for a goal starved Senators team serves as the basis for the Da Costa’s call-up.
Considering the ballyhooed hire of Adam Oates in Washington, maybe it’s not a surprise to see the Sens turn to his second-coming as their offensive saviour.
In 31 games under Luke Richardson, the Parisian phenom has 9 goals and 24 points.
Much like it was in Zibanejad’s case, the promotion serves to reward the player for his strong play. In his last ten games, he has three goals, eight points, 15 shots and is a +6. (Albeit, in his last five games, he has zero goals, two points, an even plus/minus and nine shots.)
Despite some impressive underlying numbers while playing against soft competition, Regin hasn't produced numbers since being moved from the ‘fourth line’ with Erik Condra and Jim O’Brien to the team’s second line. (though had Benoit's goal not been waved off, he would have had the primary assist)
I’ve always been a fan of Regin’s skating and hockey sense, but the lack of production is wanting. There is some room for hope however; although he has the second least amount of average ice-time per game, he has demonstrated an ability to make those around him better.
But at some point production needs to materialize.
"I hope he gives me that fight in our building (Sunday)," said Prust.
Told of this Friday, Neil was quick with a comeback.
"What, fake dropping the gloves and sucking me into an extra two minutes?" he said of the unsportsmanlike minor he was given with the major. "That's why I got the extra two. We'll see how the game plays out and go from there."
Neil doesn't feel he owes Prust anything.
"I fight when it's right for my team," he said. "Obviously, I know what I have to do and what I don't. I've been around long enough. Obviously, whenever a guy fakes dropping the gloves, that's when I drop my gloves and grab him. I got an extra two for it, because I think he's going to go. He said no the first time. We'll see how it goes."
So Jason Spezza, Ottawa’s first line center and the league’s fourth leading league scorer last season, is out indefinitely with a herniated disc?
Ignoring the immediate kneejerk reaction, and ensuing panic that will flow, this news is a ‘we just traded Pavol Demitra for Christer Olsson’ kind of terrible that takes time to properly absorb.
The good news for Spezza is that his surgical procedure that took place today reportedly went well; although no specific timeline has been placed on his return.
This indeterminate amount of time that Spezza will be out of the lineup will assuredly have some fans freaking out and for good reason – even if he misses a best-case scenario of six to eight weeks, we’re looking at Spezza missing approximately 28 regular season games over the next two months. With the seven games that have already been played, Spezza will be lucky enough to return to the lineup by the time we reach this season’s three-quarter mark.
Fans will instinctively dwell on the short-term implications and how the organization can survive in the interim. Much is being made of the internal options within the Senators organization and the depth that the Murray management team has accumulated and deservedly so. This organization’s depth is “the envy of the league” after all. We don’t have to worry about the Senators using Matt Gilroy at the forward position for example.