The 2nd quarter was a huge improvement as the Binghamton Senators went 10-8-1-0 over a span of 19 games. That gives the team an overall 15-20-3-0 record, keeping them in last place in the North Division with a 11.9% of making it to the post season. Senators finished the quarter on a strong note, ending up 9-3-1-0 over their last 13 games, including winning five in a row during that stretch.
With the season now halfway over, the players have finally decided to come together and smooth out their differences in the locker room, which was absent in the opening quarter. A few additions have helped, along with a few minuses as well. Fredrik Claesson and Max McCormick are now with the big club, Patrick Mullen was traded, and Kyle Flanagan and Ryan Penny joined as solid fill-ins.
After the first quarter had ended with the team drowning in what were then endless losses, many passionate fans weren't so happy. Unfortunately, cynical opinions were directed at the coaching staff with Luke Richardson being the main focus of firing demands. That's not what I expected at all. He's done a tremendous job in his tenure here in Binghamton developing players for Ottawa. That's his job, with winning being a bonus.
Quite frankly, I was embarrassed. Sure winning games and reaching the playoffs is the goal, but don't dismiss what Richardson has meant to the organization (and the community) over the years and piss it all away just because of a locker room turnover that's taken additional time to gel.
I'm going out on a limb and predicting Luke Richardson and Steve Stirling will get this team to the post season because I believe in them. I strongly do.
Here are my grades covering the second quarter in numerical order as I made a few alterations making goaltenders now available. A new minimum of 10 8 games played, 5 for goaltenders. As usual, I'm shooting from the hip with very little usage of stats in the thought process. 1st quarter results are listed as a comparison first.
This is the chart that I use (which is a familiarity here in the States when grading school papers and such).
#3 Fredrik Claesson B+, A-
Finally got the call he so richly deserved as his last days with the club were his best. No need for further evaluation as he was delivered with a stamp that reads, Task Complete.
#5 Mark Fraser
Tough customer that doesn't take any crap. But his penalties are what's killing him as he marches to his own drum beat. Still, you need a player of his caliber when things go awry with any of the prospects. I really don't mind him being right around average, with his reputation carrying full weight when opposing players approach.
Keep thinking Danny New was back on the ice and wearing #7, and that's not such a bad thing. Good wheels and smart with the puck while logging big minutes on the backend playing hard to the net. (Looks like he'll be sticking with Rutkowski and Harpur recently sent to Evansville on Tuesday.)
#21 Michael Kostka B-, A-
Lone representative for the team at the ASG in Syracuse. Has shown his offense abilities, especially on the power play, that reminds one of Chris Wideman to an extent. Good puck mover with limited defensive lapses at times, but has improved in that department with fewer turnovers this quarter. Solid on the PK as well.
#24 Ben Harpur
Belongs at the lower level to learn what it takes to utilize that big body while making smart plays, as let's face it, he's been a disappointment. Too big a leap for him in the AHL. Played in 8 games before missing some time on the IR.
#28 Guillaume Lepine
Big improvement and turning out to be one of the better D-man on the team bringing toughness and a veteran presence. Paired up with Kostka on the first unit that has him rising making better decisions with the puck while clocking in major minutes. One of the best fighters on the club.
#8 Kyle Flanagan N/A, B-
This guy just comes and brings it, making the most of it with his hustle and eagerness to get at it. Been a regular since joining the team and makes things happen despite his size. Good grinding forward, a welcome addition.
#9 Matt Puempel
Has been overlooked as he brings a wicked stick as his weapon. Although at times his offensive production has been dormant, it came alive during the 2nd quarter. Can score at will with a lethal one-timer, but needs a set-up man in order for it to succeed. Still in the mix of potential prospects.
#10 Buddy Robinson
Really impressive quarter as he is one of the game's best penalty killers by far. Doesn't possess the greatest puck skills and don't believe he ever will, but great forechecker. Has seen him recently move up on the top line with limited success.
#11 Travis Ewanyk
You know there's a problem when you've been a healthy scratch for some time lately as he's one of the better grinders on the team, but have to wonder what's going on. Even when players get scratched for whatever reasons, it's never been as lengthy as this has been. (6 games and counting)
#12 Eric O'Dell
One of the best offensive threats on the team with a knack of crashing the net, and a force on the newly rejuvenated power play. Solid player that deserves a look at some point up top. Great on-ice awareness and knows the game well while executing. Team leader and veteran presence, two great assets to have.
#13 Nick Paul C-, C+
Big kid, but it'll take some seasoning as he adjusts to the pro level. Getting better in the dot but lacks the tenacity of being an everyday player so far. Skating remains questionable in his development, but deep down I believe he's gonna succeed with some hard work.
#15 Cole Schneider
In recent warm-ups, Cole slapped a puck directly at my face with the glass being the barrier, with the after result of both of us sharing grins. Good guy that Schneider. Gonna miss him if the organization lets him go as he's starting to show signs of complacency. Can't say I blame him though, with no suggestion of a call up, as he's been a favorite of mine since day one.
#16 Colin Greening C+, C
The $2.6 million dollar man is just a shell of his former self after being a part of the Calder Cup winning season of 2010-'11. This time, he doesn't have a set-up man like he did back then with Corey Locke doing the honors. Hate to see him struggle like this, but that's all he has to offer.
#17 Max McCormick
The one that had all the right tools to succeed as he moved up the ranks quicker than you would've projected. There's really nothing left for him to accomplish at the AHL level. Another player that will be missed, but happy for him playing up top. Been a fan of him since his beginning.
#19 Danny Hobbs
#22 David Dziurzynski B-, Inc. (Called up, 7G)
#23 Tobias Lindberg
Once shadowed as another Swedish player with an attitude, things have looked up without it being a distraction. Still a ways off in his pro adjustment, as he needs to adapt and realize he can't get away with the moves that brought him here. There's talent, but it's going to take some time before he's a steady point producer.
#39 Ryan Penny N/A, C+
Like his determination and no-nonsense approach, giving his all on a nightly basis. Sat riding the pine on a few occasions, but returned with some steady effort as he's one of those fringe players at some point down the line.
#43 Ryan Dzingel
Exceptionable speed and explosive acceleration as he's continuing his developing. The go to guy when you need someone to carry the puck into the offensive zone with your backs against the wall. Really has taken his game to the next level and is one to keep an eye on the rest of the way.
#45 Zack Stortini
The team's Captain was responsible for bringing the stick salute to the Southern Tier this quarter for the first time ever, as he's putting his heart and soul out there on every shift. Gotta give him some credit with trying to keep up with today's youth despite his aging speed. Still cashing in on the man advantage in front screening the opposing netminder.
#29 Matt O'Connor Inc., B-
Finally got to see the new and improved O'Connor over the previous quarter results as he settled into a groove before befalling to a recent knee injury. That probably means the whole process starts over, but it shouldn't be as prolonged as before the injury, as he's turned the corner on what the pro game is all about. Excited to see what he brings from here on out.
#33 Chris Driedger
Kinda disappointed with his play lately, as opposing teams have discovered a weak glove and have taken advantage of it. Would like to see him button down during close games and focus on making the right save, as he's shown in the past with better results. Still young and has time for improvement.
Inc. = Incomplete
*Cover Pic Courtesy of Alicia Strauch