The Binghamton Senators had a frustrating, yet an annihilating first quarter that they would soon like to forget as the team sits at the very bottom of the Eastern Conference (and near that overall in the league) with a 5-12-2-0 record.
The club has shown signs of being really good, as they had a fire lit under their bellies after the second period in last Saturday's loss, which resulted in them scoring five times in the third, but also been horrendous at times, including a game total of only six shots the night before. In the end, you just don't know what team you're gonna get on a given night. Before it's too late, it has to stop immediately if the Sens are ever going to put some wins together this season.
The Senators aren't the most talented group, but do have character, and that could go a long ways in an otherwise disgruntled locker room these days as losing isn't fun for anyone.
Here are my quarter grades covering the first 19 games of the season in numerical order with a minimum of 10 games played. This is the chart that I used (which is a familiarity here in the States when grading school papers and such) in the past. No stats are mentioned, just some simple observations that come to me when typing this.
#3 Fredrik Claesson B+
It's been an odd stretch of time for the usually stable defenseman as perhaps pairing up with a rookie has dragged him down a notch or two. Either way, he's still one of the more reliable men on the blueline while upping his offensive game a bit. In the past, he's always been on the receiving end of straight A's, but not so much in this first quarter.
#5 Mark Fraser
One player you don't want to see pissed off as he gets rattled easily costing additional time in the box, but one you can count on when defending his teammates. Really a scrambling, all over the place type of performance and not so sure what he brings to the locker room.
#7 Chris Carlisle
Known for his defensive work but also has played up front a handful of games on the offense with limited success. Good puck mover but hard to keep jumping around as the team tries to define his role.
#14 Patrick Mullen
Good offensive player but terrible in giving up turnovers and guarding the cage. His game will never change as you get what he has to offer, terrible defense with moderate success offensively. Plays small because, well he is, but great guy off the ice.
#21 Michael Kostka B-
Just returned from his brief stint for the big team, as he will help stable the defense being at times one of the better d-men but gives up the occasional turnover you don't want to see. Has good puck skills but lacks any contact which is odd for a player of his stature.
#24 Ben Harpur
Suppose he's being forced to play here as he should be down at another level so he can work on his overall game. Just seems over his head at times in his adjustment to the pros. But hey, that's why he's here, well perhaps shouldn't be. Bad passes, puck possession and decision making make up his game.
#28 Guillaume Lepine
Likes to throw down the mitts at anytime and does it well, but the veteran is somewhat a liability when coming to defending the net. Really rooting for this guy but it's killing me as he's slow in reacting and tries to prove he belongs with his fists.
#9 Matt Puempel
Still throttle to the metal as the offensive sniper hasn't let up but has been snake bitten in the first quarter. Saw some time with the big club and recently returned playing like he never left. It's really comforting seeing #9 on the ice, but you have to wonder what's the plan in moving forward with him. Always liked what he brings as that sniper type, but without a set up man, he fails somewhat.
#10 Buddy Robinson
Not much progress for the big man as he was asked to ride the pine in favor for a defenseman more then once. Still is heavy on the PK, but it appears his window is closing for any sort of call-up. Just another big guy skating up and down the length of the ice.
#11 Travis Ewanyk
You want to like what he brings but doesn't really do much that stands out as he looks to be another average forward with moderate speed and grit. Another average vet to be added to the line-up but hasn't impressed.
#12 Eric O'Dell
Brings a solid veteran presence and gives you everything he's got while putting up numbers. Good hustle and hockey sense along with more than enough speed but has been out recently with an injury.
#13 Nick Paul C-
Got some work to do and there might be some potential as he searches for his first professional goal. He's been green and it shows as the big forward needs work on faceoffs while getting burned really bad this past weekend which resulted in a terrible goal. It's not really fair for him to be graded so early, but there it lies. Also been a healthy scratch.
#15 Cole Schneider
One of the club's best offensive weapons that is otherwise ignored by the big club. Part could be his lack of grit and getting dirty but he's been a steady point producer for some time now and it's time for him to get rewarded soon by being called-up. He's been another one that's fun to watch.
#17 Max McCormick
The best hustling player in the franchise's history that gives you 110% all the time. Recently was so amped up during a game, he dropped the gloves and started swinging at not only one, but two opposing players in a crowd hovering around the net. Gotta love this kid as he has a future in the big show someday soon, guaranteed.
#19 Danny Hobbs
First full season in the league and another so-so type of player that doesn't really stand out, but does an adequate job as a roster fill-in. Been a few years now that I can recall with him at the lower level, as it's good to see the dedication he has with the organization.
#22 David Dziurzynski B-
Been surprisingly good around the net and producing points which has not been his forte in the past. Still grinds it out and has played an important role on the PK , even when two men down. Good guy in the locker room and a fan favorite left over from the Calder Cup winning season.
#23 Tobias Lindberg
One of most gifted players on the team while possessing the puck, also needs some maturing along the way as he's been a healthy scratch more than once. Does that suggest what could be an attitude problem that is following the path of another Swedish player who was recently run out of town? (Seriously, what is up with the Swedes these days thinking some are more deserving than others?) Anyways, the potential is real.
#43 Ryan Dzingel
Same player like last season that has speed but doesn't have a plan in what to do with it when driving into the zone with the puck. He goes all out but can't finish. Would like to see him as a play-maker but don't believe it's in the cards for him. Though has a good shot and crashes the net rather effectively.
#45 Zack Stortini
Team's Captain and most likely is a player you want in the locker room, but drags the game down as the slow footed veteran likes to create chaos after the whistle in the crease. Has been around the league for some time now and carries with it some weight and a not so nice reputation. Still sitting in front of the net during the power play is like watching a tree grow, just wavering around in the wind ever so slowly.
#33 Chris Driedger
Easily the best goaltender on the team and has a bright future as long as he stays focused with his conditioning. Really has matured and he's been a treat watching him develop. Currently with the big club is a concern as he hasn't see any live action that hopefully doesn't trickle down when he returns, but couldn't be happier as he is the one that deserves it the most.
Incomplete; Mike Sdao, Scott Greenham, Matt O'Connor, Alex Guptill, Nick Tuzzolino, Alex Wideman and Darian Dziurzynski.
*Cover Pic Courtesy of Alicia Strauch.