A perfectly choreographed figure skating move gone terribly awry. - Claus Andersen
Owners of the best record in the AHL's East Division, Binghamton visited Adirondack and Hershey last week, before playing host to the Albany Devils for the B-Sens Do It For Daron "Power to the Purple" night.
After dropping two in Newfoundland last weekend, Binghamton were back in New York by Tuesday, visiting the Philadelphia Flyers' Adirondack Phantoms. Bingo owned the Phantoms last year during a miserable season and Binghamton was looking on Tuesday night to improve a 2-1 record so far this season. Both previous wins against Adirondack came during Bingo's nine-game winning streak back in November. The B-Sens headed to the penalty box en masse throughout the game, but it didn't hinder them much on their way to a 3-0 win. Corey Cowick, enjoying top-line duty on the depleted roster scored his seventh of the year. Danny New, who has been up and down between Binghamton and Elmira, chipped in for his first and bane of the Maple Leafs Brett Lebda added his first as a BInghamton Senator, capping a strong performance by scoring on the empty net. Robin Lehner was perfect for Binghamton, making some fantastic stops, while Brian Boucher was beaten twice, including once on the powerplay.
And that was where all the fun stopped. Binghamton cruised down to Pennsylvania for a Saturday matchup against the Hershey Bears. They were playing catch-up most of the game. Here's how it all shook down: trailing 1-0, tied, trailing 2-1, tied, trailing 3-2, trailing 4-2, trailing 4-3, game over. Derek Grant, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Brett Lebda (!) all scored for Binghamton, but it wasn't enough to overcome Hershey's potent four goals on 29 shots against.Indeed, though he scored his fourteenth of the year during the game, Derek Grant's tripping minor at 18:18 would prove costly for the B-Sens, who were unable to effectively rally in the waning moments.
Sunday was Binghamton's Power to the Purple night, as D.I.F.D. teamed up with a regional mental health association and had fans come out wearing purple in the game against the Albany Devils. This was mentioned in the comments last week, but it would be great to see something like this happen in Ottawa at some point this season. The B-Sens led 2-0 shortly into the third period on strength of goals scored by Corey Cowick and Hugh Jessiman. Albany would come back into the game with force after Jessiman gave Binghamton the two-goal gap on a penalty shot, peppering Robin Lehner with shots (he would face 46 in the game overall). Albany would tie the game before the period was out and the two teams would head to a shootout. Binghamton scored twice as Hugh Jessiman and Dustin Gazley found the back of the net, but Albany edged them out in the sixth round. Binghamton's weekend was disappointing overall, but they still lead the East Division, enjoying a three-point cushion on the Syracuse Crunch, with both teams having played 46 games. Moreover, in spite of the losses, the weekend showed off some strong and promising performances.
Here are Corey Cowick's stats over the last two seasons.
|Binghamton, AHL, 11/12||53
|Elmira, ECHL, 2011/12||22
|Binghamton, AHL, 12/13
What this excruciatingly simple data shows us is a clear improvement. It is indicative of increased responsibility and a rising stock within the organization. What it does not show us is how Cowick has more and more earned his place in the top-six of this roster as the season has gone on. I wrote about this the other week, but Cowick is round out the rougher edges of his game. He has gone from displaying a simple physicality to a two-way effectiveness and offensive output. He jumped back and forth between the AHL and ECHL over the previous two seasons, but has certainly cemented his role under Luke Richardson, giving the kind of output the coach needs when his top scorers go down to injury or up to the Ottawa Senators. Cowick is making the most of his opportunity to earn his keep within the Senators organization, playing on the penalty kill and wherever his coach needs him. Cowick probably doesn't project as much more than an energy and special teams player if he ever sees time in the NHL, but the fact that he has earned a right to be included in such a conversation is testament to the turnaround he has shown this season.
Dustin Gazley has been playing his first hockey in the AHL over the last five games, after two seasons in the ECHL, most of which were with Elmira. He scored in the shootout on Sunday and has added two assists through those first five games to go with the bevy of shots he directed on goal during Saturday's game. Gazley is playing in a top-line role for Luke Richardson. Gazley, an undrafted player who signed as a free agent in the ECHL after a four-year college career with Michigan State, has stood out in the ECHL with a record far better than a point-per-game. Good for him. However, it's telling that Gazley is the player being given this opportunity and getting some points, instead of some other players the Senators have in the system. Louie Caporusso has 44 points in 40 games with Elmira this year, but contributed little in a three-game tryout with Binghamton earlier in the year. Players like Dustin Gazley will get their chances and looks with the better team because they've earned them. So far, he's making the most of his opportunity.
Other Prospect News:
- Any news about Matt Puempel that has to do with playing and not rehabbing is good news, right? Puempel is producing on a line with Tobias Rieder (4th round pick of the Oilers) and recently traded Josh Leivo (3rd round pick by Toronto). Nate Saeger from Yahoo! wrote about the trio in an OHL roundup. Sounds like they're clicking pretty well. Puempel, for his part, has 24 goals in 38 games, but only 33 points because he's a puck hog. The only real question for Puempel is if he can keep from re-injuring that hip/shoulder/head and if his scoring touch transitions at a higher level of play. I, for one, can't wait.
- Speaking of Puempel, but definitely not news, his name can be added to the long list of mispronounced Senators in EA Sports games. "Pwemple." That's pretty awkward, though I remember reading plenty about him before the draft and thinking it was "Pewmple".
- Bingo plays tonight against the WBS Penguins. Ya. Those jerks. Again.