It's that time of year, I know. It's tough to keep your focus on the goings-on in the system when there is so much happening elsewhere, what with the return of baseball and all. When Ottawa's 2010-2011 season ended without going into extra minutes, those familiar with the makeup of the Senators organization knew the best thing for the young players who had exhilarated the roster down the stretch was to keep playing hockey games. Thus, the Binghamton Senators' championship playoff drive helped to validate and distract from a playoff-free summer. This year, prospect development is no less important, even if it isn't as urgent.
The Elmira Jackals are setting some good organizational precedent in the postseason. The first round of the Kelly Cup playoffs (great name) is a best of five games. After trailing 2-0, Elmira bounced back and won the next two games handily. In the fifth and final game of the series, which was last night, Corey Cowick was the difference with his pair of goals in a 4-2 Elmira win. They beat the Reading Royals, affiliates of the Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs. Mike Radja and Jack Downing have also seen duty with Binghamton this season. Goalie Brian Stewart has played spot duty for Bingo, filling in admirably for Mike Brodeur, save for a heroic stint in the NHL.
Binghamton will wrap up their campaign a week from now, after Mika Zibanejad makes his likely debut (do you think he's googled it?) It remains to be seen if Matt Puempel will be joining him in the lineup- after missing nearly three months at the end of the Petes' OHL season, Puempel left the game on Saturday for precautionary reasons, according to Joy Lindsay. I haven't watched the replay of the game, but can place trust in the Binghamton training staff's decision. If Puempel has indeed re-injured his noggin, one can't help but question the wisdom in bringing him in for a handful of AHL games. Giving him a look at the professional level can show him what he needs to do to improve his game, but the most important thing he has to do is get healthy. Hopefully being yanked from Saturday's game was entirely precautionary and with that history in mind.
The ideal thing for hockey players to do is play hockey. For many of the Sens' CHL prospects, they've been doing so for the past eight months. Beginning with training and development camp, rookie camp, and carrying through to training camps in the NHL and with their CHL team, up through the regular season, and now into the playoffs... that's a lot of puck.
Prospects Playing Playoff Puck, Probably Pugnaciously:
- Mark Stone and the Brandon Wheat Kings are trailing the Edmonton Oil Kings by two games. The Wheat Kings have only scored four in the series, with Stone pitching in an assist on one.
- After breaking his finger in the previous game, Stefan Noesen decided to make his absence from the Whalers' lineup as cryptic as possible by retweeting the Whalers' twitter account's message of confusion over the missing Noesen. He then did not offer a follow-up explanation. Nonetheless, for Noesen to play any more playoff hockey, it's going to take the Whalers emerging from their second-round series against the Kitchener Rangers. That series is currently tied at one.
- The Barrie Colts spoiled Shane Prince and the 67's chance to take a 2-0 lead in that series with a double-overtime nail-biter.
- Jakub Culek had an assist as Rimouski tied their series against Blainville-Boisbriand.
- Jean-Gabriel Pageau had the overtime winner, as well as a goal and assist in Chicoutimi's 7-6 bonanza against Shawinigan. Whatever comes of this series (hopefully Pageau gets the chance to play on), I'm most looking forward to the fine players of Shawinigan taking part in the end-of-series handshake.
- No Ottawa connection, but in case you enjoy obvious statements: the Sea Dogs are unsurprisingly going to be a tough team to beat. They have scored nineteen goals over two games and are running completely roughshod over Baie-Comeau. The latter are no slouches either, having disposed of Victoriaville in a sweep in the first round.