This week's Bites looks at what to do with goaltender Matt O'Connor - should he stay or should he go? - will Ryan Dzingel stick up top after an impressive performance against the Buffalo Sabres, and last weekend's BSens win against the Syracuse Crunch in Ottawa on DIFD night.
Ryan Dzingel shined on Tuesday night in his recent call-up for the Ottawa Senators in their shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres. He scored his first NHL goal in a goal mouth scramble digging at the loose puck, and finally depositing the rubber past Robin Lehner for his first NHL goal.
I was amazed how much his confidence has soared so rapidly while taking in the game at the comforts of my home. During his time in Binghamton, he would be the one to look to carry the puck into the offensive zone while utilizing his speed, but somehow always fell short in losing possession. During the last month or so, Zinger found his way to lure the opposing defensemen deeper, which opened up the passing lanes in creating a scoring chance.
This fortunate luck of creating some space has now evolved to the next level as evident in Tuesday's contest, especially with the overtime play with his pass to Eric Karlsson high in the slot. He's now demonstrated he belongs for a longer look, as Dave Cameron now has no rhyme or reason to sit him as a healthy scratch anytime soon. Well, at least here's hoping he shouldn't, but you never know with Cameron, ever.
Ottawa should learn on this experiment, as a good little story on how to be patient with a budding prospect. Take some time and nourish them, in the hands of those with experience on how, before they are ready to blossom at the top level.
On a side note: Nick Paul should be sent back promptly.
O'Connor & His Dilemma
Back in early Sept, I wrote an article about the new goalie situation with some concerns on only 10 games of experience in the AHL between our two starting goaltenders. I put it out there that perhaps one should begin the season playing at a different level, and a veteran should be brought up in his place.
The veteran being Scott Greenham, and the rookie, Matt O'Connor. Sounded like the perfect pitch heading into the new season before what has turned out to be another train wreck in Binghamton.
In a recent live interview during intermission on Saturday in Ottawa, Grady Whittenburg, the voice of the BSens, asked Rick Wamsley the question that everyone in Binghamton has been waiting for, and that is, "what about sending O'Connor down to the ECHL". Wamsley pondered a bit, before replying, "..not in the works, but not off the table".
That statement says the door is open and has always been open for a move to the ECHL. Hmmm..and I was under the impression that the move wasn't an option.
So then, why hasn't this have happened yet?
O'Connor's slow adjustment didn't eventually turn around until Wamsley visited Binghamton and worked with the 24-year-old, and it paid off with immediate dividends, as he won his first game in Dec with the IceCaps. O'C continued on with his newfound direction before injuring his knee in a game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and missed the next 13 games.
All that confidence soon evaporated with the big boys in town in for a recent home game. Bryan Murray, Randy Lee, Pierre Dorion, Daniel Alfredsson, Shean Donovan & Sean McCauley all came to soak in the misery from one of the luxury boxes during a 6-2 defeat to the Hershey Bears. O'Connor let in six goals on 16 shots in one period, for a record setting most against the home team, before eventually getting pulled in favor of Chris Driedger.
The team let him down in front on many occasions in that game, as NHL veteran Scott Gomez went one on one in front with O'Connor and schooled him quite easily for one of the tallies. Afterwards, the mock cheers began in full force with the home fans, reminiscent to the Robin Lehner era, with easy save jeers, and back to the drawing board we currently are with Matt. Which is really unfortunate.
Bottom line is Senators have that huge, arduous task of making the post season. Should O'Connor continue to wallow for the Senators, or should he get sent to Evansville for the remaining two months? If so, he works on his game while regaining some confidence along the way, and returns the following season knowing what's at hand, and not in the dark.
My say is to ship him immediately.
Big Win In Ottawa
Over the past weekend, the Binghamton Senators snapped their five game losing streak in a 2-0 shutout win over the Syracuse Crunch at CTC in Ottawa. The win would end Bingo's five game losing streak as Chris Driedger earned the shutout.
Ryan Flanagan scored the game winner, and Buddy Robinson added an empty netter, as the Senators and Crunch both celebrated on DIFD night. As I stated earlier, this was a first against a division rival, as in the past the Hamilton Bulldogs were the opposing team on numerous occasions, which was a slight variation with them being someone the Sens rarely saw.
Otherwise a good turnout by the Ottawa faithful, and a look at what has turned out to be a hopeful annual event between the two cities, as it was good to see the players perform and get some exposure with prospects in tow.