Matt Carkner was not alone in his seat near the rafters watching his team get stymied by Henrik Lundqvist last night. Obviously, there were the other scratches the team has been carrying. Then, there were the Black Aces. Despite having a title befitting an elite group of mercenaries, they are really only mercenaries-in-training. Up from Binghamton after a disappointing year, these guys are going to get a shot at living the playoff life, only without playing in the actual playoffs. Somewhat of a take-your-prospects-to-practice opportunity. These players- Eric Gryba, Patrick Wiercioch, Stephane da Costa, Mark Borowiecki, David Dziurzynski, Mike Hoffman, Andre Petersson, Mika Zibanejad and Robin Lehner- will stick with the team and see what postseason play and preparation is like at the highest level. It's worth noting that, other than Petersson, Zibanejad and da Costa, the group is made up of Calder Cup winners. Certainly the Senators have an impressive group of aces up their sleeve...hehe. Obviously, the organization saw it more worthwhile to bring them up to Ottawa rather than send any of them down to Elmira of the ECHL, currently in the second round of the Kelly Cup playoffs.
The Jackals let one slip away last night, losing 5-4 in overtime to fall behind the Florida Everblades 2-1. The Everblades share their affiliation with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes. Silfverberg could be the next to join the group in Ottawa, depending on the outcome of Brynas' matchup today in game 5. They led the series 3-0 before dropping game four in overtime (do they bring brooms to games in Sweden?). It's worth noting that no team in SEL history has erased a 3-0 lead to win a series.
The group currently in Ottawa will all push for a roster spot come training camp, though the bulk of them will return to be an important part of Binghamton's team next year, and potentially for a few years to come. The Senators renewed that affiliation for three more seasons. Despite some negative attention Binghamton has gotten as a place to live, there's no underestimating the impact that the Calder Cup win had on the community last year. Having the team there is good for Binghamton and for the Senators. Proximity is important in a relationship like this- Edmonton, another rebuilding club, has their farm team in Oklahoma City, an almost comically distant affiliation. A flight from Oklahoma City to Edmonton takes three hours, spanning the width of four midwestern US states and two thousand kilometers. There's a temptation to look at a nearby locale such as Cornwall and wish Ottawa's team was there, but Ottawa really has little reason to change it up and look for a new ownership group. It works. Besides, the environment for prospect development in Binghamton has a straightforward remedy, however elusive it proved to be this year: winning.
The BSens wrapped up their season this weekend with an overtime loss against the Norfolk Admirals. The Admirals, for their part, finish the season on a 28-game winning streak after doubling up on the Adirondack Phantoms in the last game of their year. Though Binghamton missed out on a chance for postseason play, (by a mile-- they were eighteen points away from contention. Shame there's no upside to having a terrible season) there was still some good news as the year drew to a close.
Matt Puempel scored his first professional goal on the weekend. This is good news on two counts: 1) goal scoring is fun. 2) Puempel had been taken out of play the weekend before after receiving a check to the head. Puempel's injury history is long enough, and he's not yet finished his CHL career (his stint with Binghamton will prove to be short-lived, as Puempel still has a year to go of eligibility). Added to that, Puempel had played his first game with Binghamton after missing three months with a head injury- scary stuff. Keeping in the vein of checks to the head, Ben Blood has received a penalty for those... twice. In four games. My urge to use a pun here is almost out of control.
- Jean-Gabriel Pageau and the rest of Chicoutimi will face Shawinigan in a deciding game seven tonight. I've pulled out a Shawinigan Handshake joke a few times now, and nobody's bit. Tough crowd. Pageau played for the Olympiques before getting traded to Chicoutimi this season- Gatineau was swept in the first round.
- Mark Stone/Cory Clouston's Brandon Wheat Kings had their postseason run ended in sweeping fashion at the hands of the Edmonton Oil (also) Kings. Stone's CHL career is finished- the winger will now try and emulate his eye-popping statistics at the professional level.
- The 67's are setting a resilient example for the City of Ottawa that the Senators hopefully take after on Wednesday night. After trailing 3-1, Shane Prince and the 67's have come back to force a decisive game seven in what could be the last game at the Civic Centre for a few seasons to come.
- Stefan Noesen isn't going to be on the ice to help the Plymouth Whalers in their game seven against Kitchener tonight. The forward broke his finger over a week ago and has yet to return to game action.