-Binghamton plays Adirondack tonight, with the Phantoms sitting at 9-9-0 on the season. Adirondack is lead by Brayden Schenn with 22 points and backstopped by AHL veteran Scott Munroe. The B-Sens won their last meeting 5-2 back on the 17th.
-Elmira plays Wheeling tonight, with the Nailers a meagre 5-8-3 on the season. Wheeling is lead by Paul Crowder and Cody Wild (each with 11 points) and backstopped by Patrick Killeen.
-Tim Murray talked about Binghamton’s play this season:
Our goaltending has been outstanding, so you have the two guys there obviously who have been basically, really good every single game. So, they keep you in games. Our blue line has been basically been really good every single game. Our forwards are playing well and I mean, I keep hearing this negativity that we don’t score, but who cares? I don’t care. I mean, the idea is to win. They’ve all bought into the system and like I say, we’ve been playing some very hard, physical games and I think that can only help (the prospects) development and prepare them for the next level.
Yeah, great numbers and again, great attitude [from Robin Lehner]. He has really learned a lot in two years. The talent has always been there and I think, when these players get to the American (Hockey) League and the National Hockey League, the talent has got them so far. But it’s preparation, it’s execution and it is focus and these are things that young guys have to learn and some learn them quicker than others. He has come in with a great mindset this year. He knew that he had made some mistakes in the past and owned up to them, finally and I think it has made him a better goaltender and a better person.
He’s [Jakob Silfverberg] been playing with different linemates and he is certainly getting his power play time and killing some penalties. But he himself has stated that it has been a struggle at times in certain games. Against Toronto he (had a goal and an assist) on Thursday night and then (against) Syracuse, see the tape, right from puck drop, he is being hit, sticked, spit on, whatever… He is the focus of their game plan that night and he doesn’t get a point. But what he did was he took a lot of their attention and then other guys step up and we win a game against arguably, the best team in the league. Again, there has been a learning curve but he has taken it all in stride. I just think that you will see a lot of these guys, including him, in the second half, be more comfortable and start to produce on the scoreboard a little more than they are now.
Different people (are) stepping up every night, so he’s [Luke Richardson] done a great job. And even beyond that, if you go and watch (Binghamton) play, we play the game right. We don’t have a tough guy but we have team toughness. Different guys step up when they have to and we don’t fight for the staged fight. We play the game right. We check hard. We track the puck hard. We always have a man high. We pinch our D. We do a lot of good things that you want to see your NHL teams do. We play an aggressive brand of hockey and again, I’m not too worried about how many goals we score. I think that is going to bode well for the young guys coming up and I think there are quite a few guys down there that can step up. Whether it’s to have a long career or just play games, I think they are really learning a lot (from) Luke about what it takes to get to the next level and then how you stay at the next level.
They are just guys [like Mark Borowiecki] that you do not find. Huge heart. Whatever. Every kid tells you at the draft that they will do whatever it takes (to be an NHLer) and most of it is bull. This guy, it is that. It is whatever. He goes to the wall every night for you and for his teammates. He is the most courageous guy that I have ever been around. And it’s not just his play, it’s the way he practices. Nobody wants to practice against him in battle drills, well you’re going to, so you better practice a little harder. You better battle a little harder. He just makes everyone around him better. He certainly makes our scouting staff (look) better. A fifth round pick and a North American defenceman at that, that doesn’t usually happen after two rounds or so, that is going to play in the National Hockey League and is going to be hard to play against. He has his limitations for sure, but he is just a guy that nobody really wants to dump the puck in his corner anymore. Everything is a battle against this guy, and we love him.
That is a lot to absorb, but the sentiments are nothing new. The most interesting thing to my mind was Murray’s comment that it’s hard to snag good defensemen from North America after the first two rounds–that’s food for thought when looking at Tim’s approach to drafting.
-The Sens have decided to keep Mika Zibanejad in the AHL rather than releasing him for Sweden’s WJC roster. Given that he won gold last year this makes sense to me (Tim Murray, in the link above, said essentially the same thing). When asked about it Zibanejad said all the right things:
You’re putting me in a really tough spot right now. I guess I’m happy I don’t have to make that decision. I don’t know what I would do. I’m fully trusting (in the Senators) right now and I’m just respecting their decision. I know where I’m going to be at Christmas. It feels good. It’s always a big thing. Especially because the world juniors are getting bigger every year back home. It was always a goal and a dream for me to play world juniors, ever since my brother (Monir Kalgoum) played there (almost a decade ago). At the same time, I have a contract with Ottawa and I pay close attention to what they have to say and I agree. I think it’s good for me to stay here and get a full season in and not have to travel all the way to Russia and back just for two weeks or three weeks. I had a really good experience at the world juniors last year. You want to make both (sides) happy, but that’s not possible. Right now, I’m just going after what Ottawa wants me to do. I try to get just a little bit better every day and get used to everything around me. All the travel and the games, the three games in three days and everything, it takes time getting used to and I feel like I’m getting there. I think it’s been really good so far and I enjoy playing here. I knew this was one option, that Ottawa wouldn’t let me go. I always had that in the back of my mind. It doesn’t come as a shock. Now I get a good opportunity to focus on the team over here, making sure we’re winning games. I’m trying to help as much as I can. I guess now that it’s kind of clear what’s going to happen, it’s easier for me to focus, too.
-Not surprisingly, the NHL and NHLPA have booted their mediator. It’s clear the NHL believes that keeping a hardline position will allow them to “win” the negotiation.
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)