Well, Sens and B-Sens fans, playoffs are a no-go for both teams this season. On Friday, Bingo didn't just lose their biggest game in four years; they got demolished 6-1 by the Norfolk Admirals. It was the pinnacle of what B-Sens beat writer Michael Sharp called "The collapse": In less than one month, Binghamton managed to lose a 12-point lead over the Philadelphia Phantoms in the standings and fall into fifth place, just out of the playoffs. They become the first team in the history of the AHL to have more than 90 points (they had 91) and still miss the playoffs.
Still, it's tough to fault the Binghamton Senators after the callups and injuries they had to go through all season. For just about the entire last half of the season, Ottawa had taken head coach Cory Clouston, goaltender Brian Elliott, defencemen Brendan Bell and Brian Lee, and forward Ryan Shannon right from the Binghamton lineup. That's five pretty big holes to fill.
It's disappointing, to say the least. Especially with the possibility of a B-Sens game in Ottawa coming up a few weeks ago. I guess there's always next year, for both teams. But hey, at least the Elmira Jackals (Ottawa's ECHL affiliate, of sorts) are in the playoffs.
Sportsnet has reported that Daniel Alfredsson has declined an invitation to play for Sweden in the World Championships this spring because of lingering injuries. It's too bad for Sweden, but maybe good for Alfie to rehab and recharge for next season with the Sens. According to the Ottawa Sun, Filip Kuba has also declined to play for his country (the Czech Republic).
On the other hand, Dany Heatley (Canada), Jarkko Ruutu (Finland), and Christoph Schubert (Germany) will all play in the Worlds, while Mike Fisher, Jason Spezza, Chris Phillips, and Brian Elliott (really?) are all reportedly waiting on possible invitations. The Ottawa Citizen reported that Binghamton Senator Kaspars Daugavins will be invited to play for Latvia.
No word on Anton Volchenkov (Russia) or Nick Foligno and Ryan Shannon (both USA).
Bruce Garrioch postulated that if Chris Neil, an impending unrestricted free agent, tests the market, then Toronto's Brian Burke would be likely to make a serious bid on him. Then again, this is Bruce "Malkin to the Kings" Garrioch making a hypothesis based on nothing but conjecture, so take it for what it's worth.
A statistics-laden article in the Ottawa Citizen from the weekend was pretty interesting, but I found a couple lines to be the most interesting:
- 14-23-4: Ottawa's record on the road.
- 22-12-7: Ottawa's record at home.
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa's 2008 first-round draft pick, has been with the Ottawa Senators for the last couple games, watching NHL hockey and gauging how well he'd compete in it. He's still not signed by the Senators, but that's likely one of the reasons GM Bryan Murray has him in Ottawa; he simply has to wait for Karlsson's existing contract with Frolunda to expire. The defensive prospect made some interesting comments in an interview for the Sens' official website:
Karlsson can't wait for the day when he'll have 20,000 fans in Hockey Country on his side. But he wants to be an impact player when that time comes.
"I'm going to play here someday for sure," he said. "It's just that I want to come over here and feel like I can do something for the team that's good.
"When I come over, I want to be ready to play 82 games and hopefully more in the playoffs ... and be the best I can be every game."
I'm not sure if that means he'd go back to Sweden rather than play in Binghamton of the AHL, but I guess we'll see how things pan out.
Oh, and speaking of Binghamton, does anyone remember Alexandre Giroux? He was drafted by the Senators in 1999 and later packaged up with Karel Rachunek in exchange for Greg de Vries in March 2004. And this season in the AHL, he led the league with 57 goals and was tied for the league-lead in points with 94. And he just won the league MVP award, too. (I think he might be an AHL lifer, though; 22 NHL games, almost 500 AHL games.)