Senators News: December 20th; Binghamton 4, Wilkes-Barre 3

-Binghamton overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat Wilkes-Barre 4-3 last night, in a game I was not able to watch.  Jakob Silfverberg began the comeback, with Shane Prince scoring twice (including the winner) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau tying the game with the first goal of his professional career.  Robin Lehner made 36 saves for the victory; here are the highlights.

Tim Murray talked about Stefan Noesen missing the WJC:

I have talked to his representatives about it. I have not talked to the kid personally. It’s too bad for him and I think it could have been handled a couple of different ways, but it wasn’t and it’s not me handling it, so he’ll get over it and it won’t have any bearing on what he is as a pro. Obviously, he’s disappointed, but we’ll move on.

Then he talked about Mikael Wikstrand:

I don’t think with a seventh round pick that you can have any expectations. All your hope is that he can get bigger, stronger, and better. He came over to development camp and he looked like a player. I went to Lake Placid in the summertime to watch him at their unofficial World Junior tryouts against the US team and the Finns, and I have to be honest, he didn’t play very well there. So no, we have no expectations (for him). As the season got going over there and all of the reports coming back were just outstanding as far as: his ability with the puck; his offensive ability and he’s kind of a shootout specialist there also, so that’s a different thing then… we certainly weren’t drafting a Swedish defenceman for that so yeah, it has been a pleasant surprise. In saying that, our guys that saw him a lot and liked him, there was a reason why they liked him – they saw a raw player with very good offensive ability and the ability to move the puck and kind of fits into what the new NHL looks like today. If he continues to improve, we’ve just put another asset or prospect into the system.

That’s the funny thing about Wikstrand; he was drafted as a safe, reliable defenseman, but this season his offense is what’s making waves.  It’s hard to say how that production will translate at higher levels, but it’s an unexpected bonus for the player and the organisation.

About Patrick Wiercioch:

With the way that he’s playing right now, he’s right there. If we had a training camp and he comes up, it wouldn’t be this year based on play but maybe this year based on need (there may be room). We’ve got a couple of injuries with Jared (Cowen) and that, so I think he’s real close. I think he’ll be a better player in the National Hockey League. I think he’s a cerebral player and he sees the ice really well. He gets up in the play and he does some things that we like as an organization; that Paul (MacLean) likes as a coach. I always say about young guys to start, you put them on a team and they don’t help you lose and then they get better and better, and then they help you win. And I think that he is, at least, in that first category in that he plays a lot and he doesn’t help you lose. And I think it just moves on from there. He’s not going to make many mistakes in the National Hockey League with the way that he plays. With his length, he gets that stick out in front of him defensively… The way I talk about a defenceman, (an offensive player) has to beat the stick first. They beat the stick, then they have to beat the body. (Wiercioch’s) stick is so long, it’s going to be a tough go for a forward. He’s not a hard-hard guy, but he can play hard and he can finish checks. But he can go down to the back post and sneak in from the blue line. He has got a lot of different aspects to his game that you can like. Going back to what Jason (York) said about training camp, I think that’s the only positive about the lockout: you’ve got Patty Wiercioch, Robin Lehner, (Andre) Benoit and guys who didn’t get cut (from NHL camp) and go back and are disappointed with their tails between their legs for the first month of the season. It was just right out of the gate, just get going here and play hard and well so that whenever we do start, whichever guy that I am talking about, they’ll be up there on the big team, so that’s the only positive here.

Murray also mentioned Eric Gryba as a potential call-up (along with Benoit, Borowiecki, and Wiercioch.  He confirmed that health was a primary reason why Mika Zibanejad was held out of the WJC.  Finally about Jakob Silfverberg:

He certainly opened his eyes the first couple of games. We had line brawls and chippy play and I think he understands that now. He is getting better every game, for sure. He’s not going to score every game but he is playing on the wing with Da Costa and Hoffman on the other wing, when that line gets going and breaks loose, they’re certainly capable of putting up big numbers any given night. It’s been a process with him and it’s completely different hockey than what he’s played his whole life and his whole career, and again, there’s another… we talk about the positives of the lockout and that, that he can go down (to the AHL) and get accustomed to the North American game without it hurting the big team. And again, he’s getting better every game.

-Elmira lost 5-4 to Trenton last night, with Cheverie taking the loss and only Louie Caporusso getting a point among B-Sen signees.

-The NHL cancelled games through January 14th, which is no surprise given the state of the negotiations, but moves the league ever close to losing yet another season.

-For those interested, Kyle Turris offered up his mea culpa about his Finnish experience.

Stu Hackel talks about the 2012 highlights for the NHL and I agree with the first round of the playoffs, the return of the Jets, and the rise of Erik Karlsson, disagree about the Kings Cup win (LA played boring hockey and there was no drama in any of their series), and the return of Ken Hitchcock.  His other picks didn’t register either way.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)