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In their pre-season debut, the Binghamton Senators skated to a 4-3 shootout victory over the Hershey Bears.
The Binghamton Senators made their pre-season debut on Wednesday night and skated away with a 4-3 shootout victory over the Hershey Bears when all was said and done. I'm not going to try to offer a thorough recap here, because the stream I was watching wasn't the greatest quality (for evidence, see above photo), and I wasn't watching it too closely. But for your enjoyment, here are the broad strokes, and some observations I made about certain players.
First up, the lines: Since this was a pre-season game, not all of Binghamton's stars were playing--especially on defence. Below are the line combinations, at least to start the game:
Things went well in the first period, when Tyler Eckford (from Ben Blood and Derek Grant) and Mika Zibanejad (from Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Jakob Silfverberg) scored back-to-back goals for the B-Sens. Although Hershey outshot Bingo 10-8 in the first, the B-Sens had a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
The second period was almost all B-Sens, but Philipp Grubauer was outstanding in the middle frame--he faced 19 shots in the second period, and stopped all but one of them. Barry Almeida scored one goal for Hershey, but late in the period Silfverberg (from Zibanejad) restored Bingo's two-goal lead while short-handed, and through 40 minutes the B-Sens were up 3-1.
Things turned 180 degrees in the third, where the Bears outshot the B-Sens 11-5. Adam Comrie and Joel Champagne scored for Hershey to even up the score. Nothing changed in the five-minute overtime period, so the two teams headed to a shootout--where Bingo was perfect. Each B-Sens shooter (Silfverberg, Mark Stone, and Pageau) scored while Robin Lehner stymied all three Hershey shooters he faced (it was apparently a five-shooter shootout) and Bingo finished with a win.
Onto some individual player reports, in no particular order...
Jakob Silfverberg: Looked great. His line was the best on the ice by a mile, and he had obvious chemistry with his linemates. His shootout goal was a laser-beam that beat Grubauer high glove-side, and most NHL goalies would have had a hard time stopping it. He finished the game with 2P (1G, 1A) plus the shootout goal.
Robin Lehner: Lehner was outstanding in the shootout, and I think that one-on-one situations are where he plays his best. But to be honest, he still looked to be dealing with some of the same problems he's faced in the past: Over-committing on plays, losing his positioning, and relying too much on his athleticism to make up for technical sloppiness. A lot of times his athleticism can compensate, but not always. It's the first pre-season game, though, so I don't want to make too much of a big deal out of it. And considering how strong Bingo's defence should be this season (more on that below), he'll get plenty of support en route to refining his game.
Mark Stone: Although Stone didn't stand out too much during regulation, I think we can safely put one thing too bed: All that nonsense about his skating. It's well behind him. He won't be the fastest player on the team, but you're not going to notice him as a laggard, either. He sees the game well, and his shootout goal was a beauty: He coaxed Grubauer to attempt a poke-check, and then just flipped the puck over his pad.
Tyler Eckford: I wasn't sure what to expect from Eckford when he was signed, but he demonstrated a veteran presence on the Bingo blue-line against Hershey. He scored a goal, as mentioned above, but was generally a solid, calming presence out there. He'll almost certainly take a spot in Bingo's top four defencemen alongside Jared Cowen, Andre Benoit, and Mark Borowiecki, which will give the B-Sens an extremely strong D-corps (and will push some good defencemen to Elmira of the ECHL, too, giving them a solid blue line as well).
Jean-Gabriel Pageau: Filled out the line with Zibanejad and Silfverberg, but he wasn't just a passenger out there; his size didn't look like a liability, and he made some nice plays. He did, however, seem to slow down a bit towards the end of the game, but that could have been for any number of reasons.
Mika Zibanejad: As Ryan Classic said, any Sens fans who were watching this game would certainly have gotten over any ambivalence they felt towards Zibanejad--he's obviously a player, and a good one. He stood out whenever he was on the ice, and his combination of size and speed made him a serious force. He didn't get a chance to shoot in the shootout, but still put up 2P (1G, 1A) in the game. Solid AHL pre-season debut.
Chris Wideman: Another guy making his AHL pre-season debut, but Wideman didn't look quite as strong as Zibanejad on the whole. There were moments where he displayed the poise befitting his age, but other times he looked left behind--for instance, on Hershey's third goal, where he blew his coverage of Champagne and the Bears forward made it count. Wideman's coming off an impressive CCHA career, but will be in tough to make the B-Sens given the competition on the back-end.
David Dziurzynski: Was a big, physical force tonight, which is what he'll need to be if he's going to stick around in Bingo this season. He plays on an edge, and crossed over that edge with an ugly knee-on-knee hit in the third period, but backed it up by winning a fight in the immediate aftermath. And that didn't scare him away from playing physically in the remainder of the game, which is good news--especially since the rest of his hits were as clean as they come.
Corey Cowick: Another physical guy who plays on the edge, and should get an opportunity to play in Binghamton's bottom six this season. Although there's an abundance of potential scoring talent in the Senators' system, coach Luke Richardson seems like a guy who'll want to build his team in the traditional manner: Scorers in the top six and physical guys in the bottom six. With Dziurzynski, Cowick, Lehner, and Hugh Jessiman in the lineup, opposing teams will not be looking forward to playing Binghamton.