Peter Budaj may have telling Craig Anderson how the Hamilton Bulldogs were sure to beat the Binghamton Senators. Or, they were stretching. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
On October 21, the Binghamton Senators were embarrassed. Outshot 53-14, Binghamton was handled in every aspect of the game by the Houston Admirals. They could not break out of their own zone. Despite the fact that they were collapsing down low just about every time the Admirals gained the zone (where they spent most of the game), the Binghamton players could not clear the puck from the slot. The game was a seriously humiliating affair, of which the 7-0 score was indicative. Still, the team pulled together and won their next three games. Alas, the ghost (a little dramatic) of Houston would come back to haunt them over the next two weeks.
The B-Sens have since dropped seven games in a row, descending them to a lowly 5-9-2, worst in the East Division. During that stretch, they have been outshot 222-183, never allowing less than 30, or more than 36 shots per game. Another notable aspect of the losing binge is that the first four games were one-goal games. In the last three, they've wandered a little farther from the wagon, losing by three-goal margins.
The most telling and disturbing problem: offense. Plain and simple, Binghamton cannot score. Over the last seven games, they have potted ten goals. This is a likely symptom of missing two of the team's top scorers (Kaspars Daugavins, Corey Locke), but it is also indicative of the failure of some other players to step up in their place. The most prominent scorers have been Mike Hoffman, Captain Mark Parrish and college free agent signee Pat Cannone. Nikita Filatov has six points in ten games, but three of them came in his first game in a Binghamton sweater. Other players have looked to be playing well, at a glance, but are not putting up points, and not getting shots on goal. Jim O'Brien, Derek Grant and David Dziurzynski are examples of the kind of players who have the tools, and need to produce. A stretch of play during Sunday's game at Scotiabank Place, for anyone who tuned in, laid bare the problem. During the second period of what was a brutally boring game, Binghamton cycled the puck effectively in the offensive zone. They beat Hamilton defenders with speed and strength, and moved the puck around the perimeter. Then, inevitably, they lost control and changed lines. That was it. The puck didn't find its way to the net. Two minutes of quality zone time translated into no shots on goal. Ah, but it isn't all negative. You can take my word on it, or, you can jump with me.
Hershey Bears 3, Binghamton Senators 0
You know it hasn't been a good night for your team when the best player on the ice logs two shots on goal. Mike McKenna entered the game in relief following the second period, in what was Binghamton's worst effort since the aforementioned drubbing against Houston. Binghamton has played Hershey four times this year, and have certainly had an inauspicious, if consistent start to the season series, losing all of them. Naturally, they were outshot in each outing.
Rochester Amerks 3, Binghamton Senators 1
This game made the Sunday afternoon loss in Ottawa even more disappointing. The game in Rochester saw the most livened Binghamton squad since the losing had begun. It was also only the second time in the last seven games in which Binghamton outshot their opponent, doing so 36-25. The B-Sens really poured it on in the third period, but couldn't find the net after Andre Petersson's first period tally.
Hamilton Bulldogs 5, Binghamton Senators 2
Save for some solid hits by Eric Gryba, and a fantastic move by Patrick Wiercioch (a distant second to Filip Kuba as the perennial "we can trade him" guy), this was a miserable game. Although, it did serve as a very fitting prelude to watching my team be embarrassed on Sunday Night Football (I'm going to take some understandable heat in the comment section for the football reference). For Ottawa fans tuning in to see their first Binghamton game of the year, there may have been slight anticipation for a third period comeback. It did not materialize. The final twenty were almost more listless than the opening forty.
Some Notes, Observations and Prospect Goodies:
There is not much positivity to be salvaged from a seven game skid, but I've laid out any points I can find in the following notes. On a way more optimistic note, the Senators released the weekly prospect update, which provided plenty of fodder for discussion.
- Mark Stone has supplanted Emerson Etem as the top scorer in the WHL. He will be playing in the Subway Series this week, and I really hope it was Cory Clouston who told him he was named to the team. I'm sure it wouldn't have been awkward at all.
- After a slow, injury-plagued start to the season, Stefan Noesen is having a whale of a time (I'm sorry I just wrote that), including a four-point night against Guelph. Fellow first rounder Matt Puempel's offense hasn't petered out (again, sorry), as he continues to put up points at over a point-per-game rate. Mika Zibanejad (I have no Djurgardens puns) hasn't played a game since I last wrote an update here.
- The Senators did not draft Michael Sdao for his point scoring prowess, but the 6'4 defenseman has put up four goals in seven games. In the past two seasons, he has combined for eight goals. Aberration? Probably. Cool? Definitely.
- Marcus Sorensen was playing for Skelleftea's junior club, but has since gone out on loan to Boras HC, a team in Sweden's second-to-best league. He had previously played with Mika Zibanejad in the Djurgardens organization.
- Two weeks ago, I launched a completely informal campaign to bring Louie Caporusso to Binghamton. Success. Through five games up from Elmira, he has yet to register a point.
- Darren Kramer has 15 points in 15 games- and 54 penalty minutes.
- Somebody made a point last week that Jakob Silfverberg has a little red injury cross next to his name on Eliteprospects.com. So far as I can tell, he has only missed one game and is expected to play this week. @steffeg is someone everybody should follow on twitter- he tweeted that Silfverberg has "been doing re-hab on a shoulder".
- If it's wild that Shane Prince has registered 24 points in 15 games, then it's crazier that he is ranked third on team scoring. Tyler Toffoli and Sean Monahan have been scoring at a torrid pace.
- Not a Senators prospect (in fact, not anyone's prospect), but Tanner Pearson of the Barrie Colts is leading the OHL in points this year (41 points in 19 games). For a kid who went undrafted this past summer, scoring at a better clip than Nail Yakupov (38 points in 20 games) is very impressive.
- Anybody in the Montreal area should come see Binghamton play the Bulldogs at the Bell Centre on Friday night. I'll be there. Hey, maybe they'll reward our presence with some shots on goal!