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Inside the Senate
 
POSTED ON Saturday, 23.02.2013 / 4:27 PM
By Chris Lund - OttawaSenators.com / Inside the Senate Blog



A focal point of discussions this season has surrounded the impressive depth of this team. No position may be deeper, however, than goaltender.

Craig Anderson has put up Vezina calibre numbers from the outset of the season. Ben Bishop is one of the most talented back-ups in the league. Robin Lehner is one of the top goaltending prospects in hockey, if not the most highly rated.

With Anderson now out for the immediate future with an ankle injury, the Sens will be forced to rely on his other talented battery mates. Here is what Bishop had to say on taking over the job for the time being.

On starting:

"I was lucky enough to have the same type of experience last year. Andy went down and I got to play seven games in a row, so I'm looking forward to the opportunity again. It's nice to have the experience this time."

On the team picking up the slack:

"When one guy has gone down another guy has stepped up. I don't think that's going to stop."

On playing division rivals:

"I got to play Toronto and Montreal last year and both of those are big rivals, last year we played Toronto here. It was a lot of fun. They're big games. You don't look too much into the rivalry you just look at it as another game that obviously have a lot more excitement in the crowd."

On replacing Craig Anderson:

"You just have to go out there and play your game. Obviously you watch Craig and pick up some things. He's the best goalie in the league right now so you try to watch and pick up some things from him. You don't try to be like him at all, you have to do your own thing and just go and play."

On what has changed from his first start of the season:

"The Tampa game they were scoring on screened shots, rebounds and empty netters, you can't do much about that. I don't think it was a bad start at all. I'm just happy to keep playing the way I've been playing."

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POSTED ON Saturday, 23.02.2013 / 2:32 PM
By Chris Lund - OttawaSenators.com / Inside the Senate Blog



Those who watch the Sens play night in and night out have no doubt been impressed with the work of Erik Condra.

The 26 year old has been a shining example of the brand of hockey this team wants to play each game. A smart player who competes in all three zones and creates havoc around the opposing crease, Condra has not only emerged as a solid two-way player, but one who is a catalyst for puck possession by forcing turnovers and handling himself well in corners.

The key to his game is understanding where to be on the ice and what to do when you get the puck.

"I think I just try to be smart about the game and know where to be defensively and it ends up leading to my offensive chances. A big part of it is just getting the puck out of your zone and once it's out of your zone you don't have to play defence as much."

Many will argue that the Sens were the better team the last time they played the Maple Leafs. They tested Toronto offensively and played sound defence despite integrating three new players into the lineup. One sided "puck luck" led to Toronto goals off of odd bounces, and kept the puck of the Leafs net.

If the Sens can pot a couple of goals, it stands to reason that they should fare better at home. The question is how they go about it.

"We just need to go from what we're doing right now. I think last game we had just lost a few guys and we were at a low point. We've got some young guys scoring now and we're looking to keep that going and it's goals by committee for the rest of us."

It goes without saying at this point that many around the league have written off the Sens, particularly after the latest injuries to Erik Karlsson and Craig Anderson. During a shortened season where there is no room for error, missing your top centre (Jason Spezza), defenceman and goaltender is a hat trick no team dreams of.

With the pressure off, in many ways, the Sens are channeling the low expectations of others motivation and wins.

"A little bit, yeah. I think that low point was in Pittsburgh after Karl (Erik Karlsson) went down but we regrouped and we know who we are. We have a lot of young guys but we're going to work hard and do all the right things to win games."

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POSTED ON Saturday, 23.02.2013 / 12:48 PM
By Chris Lund - OttawaSenators.com / Inside the Senate Blog



After Thursday's win over the New York Rangers, Head Coach Paul MacLean said that the game was Mika Zibanejad's first game where he truly showed the type of player he can be at this level.

Zibanejad's play was certainly an encouraging sign from a week where, just three days earlier, he was a healthy scratch in New Jersey. He bounced back with a strong performance against the Islanders on Tuesday and scored the game tying goal on Thursday.

"That was one of the best games I've played this season. I think I've been pretty good in the two games since I didn't play in New Jersey. Coming back, getting something going, obviously you want to prove that you can and play every game. But if felt good, I'm skating good and being active out there and helping, not just in the offensive zone but the defensive zone and, like I said, kept skating."

The day off in Jersey seems to have been a boost for Zibanejad. Not necessarily because it sent a message, but because added perspective has helped take the pressure off and simplify his thought process.

"Yeah, I think it was good for me. Obviously you don't want it to be like a wake up call, but at the same time it's just like a little note there that I should be myself and play my game and yesterday I did and, hopefully, it shows what I can do. Now I just have to keep working."

After the words of encouragement from his coach, the young Swede is just approaching each game as it happens and trying to play his best.

"Now obviously after that game I've kind of had it in the back of my mind obviously, but more after the scratch game there,  that I'm just trying to take it one game at a time and play as hard as I can. Just work as hard as I can and don't think ahead too much. Just enjoy every game I play and that's all I can do."


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POSTED ON Friday, 22.02.2013 / 4:02 PM
By Chris Lund - OttawaSenators.com / Inside the Senate Blog



It's never an easy task to deke and go five-hole on Henrik Lundqvist to win a hockey game, so when Kaspars Daugavins did just that on Thursday night, the excitement was justified.

While it may have looked pretty on the ice or on TV, it didn't exactly go the way Daugavins had planned in his head. What looked like a changeup shot sliding through the Rangers netminder was actually a simple whiff.

"Definitely didn't go the way I wanted to but it worked out well, and actually had I got it to my forehand I would have had an empty net," said Daugavins. "So, either or it would have worked out."

The Daugavins praise among Sens fans extended well beyond the Capital Region as fans were thrilled to see one of the team's sparkplugs finally be rewarded for that hard work. In fact, those who pay close attention to the team's social media venues will know that there is consistent support pouring in from Kaspars' home country, Latvia.

With a population of a little over two million and just one NHLer to their credit, Daugavins' success means a lot to the country and their support means a lot to him.

"Latvia's a pretty small country and they love hockey. In Latvia hockey is the same as it is in Canada pretty much. I'm their only player in the NHL right now and I was playing during the lockout at home," said Daugavins. "It's huge. There's a lot of kids that look up to you and you try to do your best for someone who follows you and is trying to make the NHL after you."

It's fairly common in Canada to speak of the microscope players are under. With such a hockey crazed population and seven devoted fanbases, there isn't much room for players outside of the public eye. For many, the pressure is a lot to deal with.

And with that you have to wonder if perhaps being the sole citizen of a country to make the NHL comes with a microscope that's just a little bit more magnified.

"It was a little bit tougher playing back home during the lockout, especially with all the hockey fans there. They expected me to score every game and it was a little tough," said Daugavins. "Apart from that they know I'm a hard worker and I can chip in offensively and defensively. They know what I can do, they don't expect me to be Sidney Crosby, they just expect me to play good every night and hopefully I can play here for a few more years."

Latvian hockey fans may not expect Daugavins to be Sidney Crosby, but they both belong to a pretty exclusive club. Both players have gone five hole on Lundqvist in a shootout to win a game.

Even if they don't go in the way you planned, they all count the same.

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POSTED ON Friday, 22.02.2013 / 11:18 AM
By Chris Lund - OttawaSenators.com / Inside the Senate Blog



Erik Karlsson
spoke to the media today for the first time since his injury in Pittsburgh. He has been around the rink in recent days, but finally got a chance to sit down and speak about the incident that left him in crutches and his forthcoming recovery.

Here's a Twitter rundown of some of his thoughts:

Obviously much will be made about Karlsson's remarks regarding Matt Cooke. In sum, Karlsson didn't think that Cooke intentionally tried to cut him with his skate but did believe that he went into the corner with the intention of hitting him hard and the situation as a whole was preventable. He hasn't spoke to Cooke since the incident.

The good news here is that Karlsson seems upbeat and optimistic. Physically he's feeling better than he was and he seems confident that he'll be able to make a full recovery. Obviously there are many red flags that pop up when you have an injury of this nature to a player with Erik's skillset, but he is committed to making the full proper recovery as opposed to rushing back for the sake of making a return.

He can't do much on the leg currently, but as that heals they will adjust his rehab plan.

Karlsson was very honest about how difficult it has been to watch the team play without him, but he is trying to help off the ice by keeping guys loose the way he normally would. All in all, Sens fans should see this situation as a relatively positive one. Any time a player is in good spirits and engaged with the goings on a team faces, it is a good sign.

For those of you wondering how he spends his day now, the answer is watching golf on television.

The Sens will hit the ice at noon today for practice.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 21.02.2013 / 11:09 PM
By Chris Lund - OttawaSenators.com / Inside the Senate Blog



Those pesky Sens did it again tonight. Despite losing Craig Anderson and needing a shootout to complete the comeback they found a way to win the game.

There was obviously a sense of "here we go again" once Anderson was helped off the ice, but it appears to be a simple ankle sprain and he is day-to-day in the meantime (exhale). What this means is Ben Bishop is your prospective starter from here on out with Robin Lehner returning to the roster from Binghamton.

Coach MacLean was very positive after the game, and it's hard to blame him. This is a team that has been dealt bad hand after bad hand this season and still finds ways to win the pot at the end of the night. Bishop did allow two goals in relief, but both required extremely fortunate bounces for the Rangers. The team picked its game up as a whole once Andy went down and the victory, gritty as it was, was well deserved.

Here's a Twitter rundown of Coach MacLean's thoughts:

For those of you who are more audio inclined, you can listen to Coach MacLean's full post-game press conference here on this page.
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POSTED ON Thursday, 21.02.2013 / 12:25 PM
By Chris Lund - OttawaSenators.com / Inside the Senate Blog

Your daily roundup of what the Internet has to say about the Ottawa Senators...


Ken Warren
breaks down the numbers of the Sens injury riddled start to the season. 

The Senators Extra panel weighs in with their predictions for tonight's game.

Sylvain St-Laurent
looks at former Sens defenceman Matt Gilroy who is back in New York.

Don Brennan
writes that Dave Dziurzynski is making his mark.

Silver Seven
looks at some stats and factoids surrounding this year's Sens rookies.

The 6th Sens
wonders if Craig Anderson can sustain this level of play.

SenShot
considers the possibility that the Northeast is the best division in hockey.

SensChirp
previews tonight's rematch with the Rangers.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 20.02.2013 / 3:00 PM
By Chris Lund - OttawaSenators.com / Inside the Senate Blog



It's not going to be easy down the stretch for the Ottawa Senators, but if they are going to keep their names in the discussion down the stretch, the penalty killing will need to continue to be exceptional.

Through 17 games this season the Sens have been one of the top shorthanded units in hockey. They have been a man down 65 times and killed those penalties successfully 59 times for a 90.8 per cent efficiency rate, good for second in the NHL behind the Boston Bruins and their 94.1 per cent penalty kill rate.

The successful penalty kill has been a big reason why the Sens have been able to get away with such a low scoring output. They rank 25th in the NHL in goals for at 2.29 goals per game. Conversely, the Sens have been the most stingy team in the league on the back end, allowing just 1.82 goals per game.

Obviously a big part of the disparity between goals for and goals against has to do with the stellar goaltending the Sens have received. Craig Anderson has been (arguably) the best goaltender in the NHL this season. Similarly, after a shaky start to the season, Ben Bishop has rebounded nicely, allowing just two goals in his last two starts.

The old adage in hockey says that a goaltender must be your best penalty killer and the Sens have received that backstopping to this point in the season.

After last night's win over the Islanders, Head Coach Paul MacLean was quick to praise the work of his penalty killers. It was easy to see why. They held the Islanders to an 0-for-4 mark with the man advantage and had the likes of John Tavares and Matt Moulson visibly frustrated. The work of Erik Condra, Zack Smith, and others up front put the Islanders point men on their back heels, while the defensive unit as a whole cleared the space around Anderson effectively.

It was a textbook performance.

Whether or not this efficiency is sustainable is another issue in and of itself. Over the last five seasons, the Sens have never killed penalties at less than an 81 per cent rate which stacks up favourably against the NHL. Even if we drop this year's rate to the worst it has been in that span, the team only allows six more goals this season and slides to sixth in the NHL in goals against from first.

Still perfectly respectable.

The fact is penalty killing has never been a more valuable commodity. With a shortened season and teams constantly running hot and cold, there has never been more of a premium on scoring with the man advantage. Approximately 27 per cent of goals scored in the NHL this season have come on the power play.

While the Sens will obviously need to continue putting a big emphasis on crashing the net on the offensive end to manufacture offence and, ultimately, win games, the real key to how the 2013 season ends will lie in its ability to kill off the man advantage.

Murphy's Law dictates that Anderson and Bishop will eventually have nights where they won't be as sharp as they have been. Last night made it clear that goals will come and go. The power play will eventually round into form and give the Sens an offensive boost. Fans can take solace that the team's play has been of quality all season long, it's simply been a matter of the ends not always following the means.

Consistency in all facets of the game is of the utmost importance. But, as long as the team can continue to find a way to kill of eight or nine of every 10 penalties, they will continue to be in the thick of things.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 20.02.2013 / 2:05 PM
By Chris Lund - OttawaSenators.com / Inside the Senate Blog

It looks like the Ottawa Senators will take on the New York Rangers tomorrow with one big name missing as Rick Nash won't be accompanying the team on the trip to Ottawa.
Coach MacLean was asked at length (video above) about the addition of Nash to the Rangers lineup which knocked the Sens out of the playoffs one year ago. Coach said that Nash was going to be a handful amongst the other core players the Rangers have in their lineup.

With Nash out, the Sens will still have a very stiff test against a very talented team, but one less star to worry about will be a good thing for a defensive corps with plenty of new names still looking for consistency each shift.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 20.02.2013 / 10:52 AM
By Chris Lund - OttawaSenators.com / Inside the Senate Blog

Your daily roundup of what the Internet has to say about the Ottawa Senators...

Wayne Scanlan looks at how the Sens are finding ways to scrap for success.

Bruce Garrioch recaps the Sens win over the New York Islanders.

Marc Brassard writes that Andre Benoit is enjoying his first NHL goal after a long trip to get here.

Sylvain St-Laurent looks at Paul MacLean's endorsement of Zack Smith's shutdown play.

Don Brennan says it's appropriate that Jakob Silfverberg picked up the assist on Andre Benoit's goal.

Ken Warren writes that it was well worth the wait for the Sens first time goal scorers on Tuesday.

SensChirp recaps the Sens' Tuesday night win.

Silver Seven has a run down of some NHL family connections on the Sens and around the league.

Travis Yost provides his thoughts on what went well and what didn't for the Sens against the Isles.

The 6th Sens provide their scoring chance tracker from last night's win.

SensShot has some observations and a recap from the 3-1 win as well.

Ian McLaren has a Silver Linings Playbook for Sens fans.

And for your daily dose of of lighthearted material, here's Sens PA Announcer Stuntman Stu trying to figure out how you pronounce Dziurzynski. (Luckily he got it right when he needed to)

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