Stephane Da Costa flew to California and back almost as fast as Ryan Smyth (also pictured). (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)
In the last week, Shane Prince, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Stefan Noesen combined for 28 points in 12 games. The last seven days included one-game highs of 6 (!!!) for Shane Prince, 5 for J-G Pageau and 3 for Noesen. It almost makes Mark Stone's 75 in 42 look like an underperformance. Ok- not quite.
Mark Borowiecki and Andre Petersson were two of Binghamton's top performers in recent weeks and earned their call-up to the big club. But how would the B-Sens fare without them? Borowiecki ate big minutes for the farm team, and made himself noticed on the ice with bruising hits and a willingness to drop the gloves when he deemed it appropriate. He chipped in on the scoresheet from time-to-time as well, recording 15 points in 42 games. Andre Petersson had a comparably slow start, but his adjustment to the North American game exploded in recent weeks. Playing on a line with Rob Klinkhammer (not too many are feeling much longing for that conditional seventh round pick, I'm thinking) and Corey Locke, Andre Petersson was riding a six-game point streak when he got the call-up. Coming into the weekend with a record of 16-24-2, how did Binghamton fare without two of their top guys? They won back-to-back games, naturally. Unfortunately, that boost leaves them with 38 points in the standings, one point shy of climbing out of 30th place in the AHL. Shame there's no AHL lottery draft.
Binghamton Senators 4, Hershey Bears 3
Robin Lehner was one of the best players on the ice for Binghamton knocking away 42 of the 45 that came his way- hardly a surprise that Mike McKenna would get the start come Sunday. Jim O'Brien noticeably led the charge for the B-Sens- not only did he record a couple of goals, but his second was on a shorthanded break to win the game, off a feed from Rob Klinkhammer.
Binghamton Senators 4, Adirondack Phantoms 3
Binghamton hasn't done a whole lot of winning this year, except for when they're playing the Adirondack Phantoms. I'm serious: Binghamton has won 18 games this season. One in three has come against the Flyers' affiliate. Over halfway through the season. Not a joke. Well, funny, but still- not a joke. In his 21st game in the AHL, Stephane Da Costa notched his tenth goal, while Pat Cannone scored his eleventh. When the B-Sens had a shot on goal, there was a reasonable chance it was off the stick of Rob Klinkhammer, David Dziurzynski or Jack Downing- the trio combined for 17 of the B-Sens' 40. Jim O'Brien scored two goals for the second game in a row- 4 of his 6 on the year have come on this one weekend in January.
On Robin Lehner:
- Journeyman Mike McKenna was brought to this team in the offseason fresh off a season in which he started a few games for the New Jersey Devils. He was touted as the reliable backup option to Robin Lehner's father's prodigal son. McKenna has been one of the two: reliable. But he has not been the backup. Owing in part to Lehner's suspension, and in other part to some inconsistent play from Lehner, McKenna has 26 games played to Lehner's 22. His numbers are also better. Still, I caution you not to stress about this- Lehner is learning and improving from this relationship, and benefiting with healthy contact. He shows flashes of brilliance on many nights. It's a pointed reminder- development isn't completely a tale of Mark Stone hat tricks and Ben Blood fights- these guys are growing. For good and for bad, if this is making him a better player, it's ultimately positive.
- Matt Puempel does not have good luck with injuries. A hip injury may have dropped his stock in the draft (I'm not complaining about that) and restrained him for some time. This year, he is suspended for a check to the head and, in his first game back, gets one himself. He has been out ever since- January 5th. This article from the Peterborough Examiner alludes to a vaguely optimistic Puempel, despite some serious recurring symptoms.