Binghamton Senators Season Overview

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Binghamton is far enough into the season for me to take a snapshot of how the year is going.  Clearly the team is tumbling over a precipice–awful special teams, questionable player usage, and a lack of talent have all contributed to a 4-9-1 start (worst in their division).  Their 41 GF is 3rd in their division and tied for 7th in the conference, while their 50 GA is 5th and tied for 11th respectively.  Let’s break it down player-by-player (I’ve been tracking player mistakes that have lead to goals and they are mentioned below–I couldn’t think of a good term for it, so for now I’ll call them Bad Goals, or BG); I’m not a huge fan of using grades, but it’s a simple way to reflect how I think they’ve played (A=above and beyond expectations, B=exceeds expectations, C=meets expectations, D=below expectations, F=god awful):

Cole Schneider 14-7-2-9 SOG 42 Grade: B
The winger has strong numbers despite mostly playing with the Paul as his center (who isn’t quite ready to set the world on fire); as a player who historically picks up a lot of assists, his numbers are indicative of limited support (since Puempel‘s call-up his wingers have been Greening and McCormick).  Most of his points have been a result of individual efforts or sudden breakdowns by the other team–virtually none are from strong offensive pressure

Eric O’Dell 14-6-3-9 SOG 31 BG 3 Grade: C
His numbers are solid, but a lot of it was front loaded and courtesy of cerebral plays by Lindberg; lately he’s been guilty of poor decisions with the puck and some temperamental (selfish) play taking idiotic penalties

David Dziurzynski 14-4-5-9 SOG 21 Grade A
Is way ahead of his normal production and at 25 it’s still possible (albeit unlikely) for him to break out offensively at this level (he’s helped by the fact that Richardson plays the third line a ton); that said, the fact that he’s scoring is a bonus, as he’s been a positive contributor to the team in general, helping carry the dead weight that is Stortini most of the season

Tobias Lindberg 13-3-6-9 SOG 22 Grade A
The rookie is by far the best new addition to Binghamton’s lineup, directly generating almost all of O’Dell‘s production; he was inexplicably scratched for a game by Richardson and karma repaid the coach with the worst beat down of the season; he’s a big part of the possession advantage the first line has in comparison to the rest of the roster (see below)–able to move and carry the puck; if there’s a criticism of him it’s that he prefers to pass than shoot, but that’s a small issue

Ryan Dzingel 14-3-6-9 SOG 47 Grade B
Leads the team in shots; he’s played with Lindberg in all but one game this season, but unlike O’Dell I don’t feel like he’s dependent on him for production; almost half of Dzingel‘s points come from one game (where he notched 4), so he’s been less consistent than the Swede, but less streaky than O’Dell

Colin Greening 14-3-5-8 SOG 30 BG 1 Grade C
At about his usual AHL productivity; he had a rocky start to the season (in terms of his play), but has improved; inexplicably Richardson experimented with him on the first line and that was an absolute disaster–he seems locked into a third line role now

Max McCormick 10-4-2-6 SOG 29 Grade B
He benefited tremendously from his NHL call-up (which I didn’t think was deserved, but had the desired effect), with five points in the six games since his return; he’s moved around in the lineup, but seems to have found a home on the second line; much like his linemate Schneider a lot of his production is a result of individual efforts or sudden breakdowns–there isn’t the offensive zone pressure you see with the first line

Patrick Mullen 14-1-5-6 SOG 18 BG 2 Grade C
A solid start for the veteran given that he’s been anchored the entire season with the the disaster that is Fraser; there’s nothing remarkable or awful in his play thus far

Nick Paul 13-0-6-6 SOG 17 Grade C
He’s still waiting for his first goal and I don’t think randomly scratching him did much for his confidence (4-0-1-1 since vs 9-0-5-5 before); he’s centered the second line with Schneider most of the season, playing like the rookie he is, with flashes here and there; one significant plus is that he’s been defensively responsible

Matt Puempel 6-3-2-5 SOG 20 Grade C
He was good enough in limited duty; a bit selfish at this level, he has enough talent to produce; certainly not the best player on the BSens when recalled

Zack Stortini 12-2-2-4 SOG 19 Grade F
He can’t skate, he can’t move the puck, he takes bad penalties, and yet he plays a ton including on the PP–clearly Richardson has a soft spot for his captain and can’t resist sending him out there to fumble around; among the team leaders in selfish/pointless penalties, he has cut it down a bit of late, but his example has had no impact on his teammates; I think he could be a useful fourth liner, but he’s only played there once as Richardson insists on using him on the third; final note, because of his terrible skating he’s guilty of taking shifts that are far too long

Fredrik Claesson 14-1-3-4 SOG 12 Grade B
A good start to the season for Freddy, despite his partners (three games with Tuzzolino, eight with Harpur, and three with Carlisle whom he meshes with best); forced to handle the puck more and cover for poor defense play, it’s been a strong start and all credit to him for doing this well given the circumstances

Michael Kostka 12-0-4-4 SOG 29 BG 2 Grade C
He’s been okay thus far–not as impressive as I hoped, showing a willful, selfish side that most of the team’s vets have displayed this season–dumb penalties etc; that said, he can make a pass and carry the puck and given how scarce that is for Binghamton’s blueliners he’s a key asset; he’s spent all but one game this season carrying the load for Lepine

Buddy Robinson 6-1-2-3 SOG 10 BG 1 Grade C
Missed the start of the season due to injury and then was scratched randomly for two games because…well no one really understands it; he should be playing on the third line (at least) given his talent, but he’s been stuck on the fourth the last couple of games because Richardson wants Stortini on the third–no one can shine with Ewanyk and Hobbs as linemates

Travis Ewanyk 14-1-1-2 SOG 14 BG 1 Grade C
He should probably be in the ECHL, but on the whole he hasn’t been the disaster I was expecting–he needs to not take stupid penalties, but while he adds nothing to the roster he can (at best) not hurt the team

Danny Hobbs 14-1-1-2 SOG 23 BG 2 Grade F
The ECHL-forward has scored one less goal than he’s caused against and doesn’t really belong in the AHL (that said, I don’t think we’ll see him sent down); he’s played the entire season with Ewanyk

Guillaume Lepine 11-0-2-2 SOG 18 Grade C
Exactly what you’d expect–no hands, no real talent, but he has played pretty safe and avoided the dumb penalty plague; he’s not an AHL caliber player, but with Kostka to carry the load for him it hasn’t been awful–better than Harpur and Tuzzolino this season, but that’s faint praise

Alex Guptill 3-0-1-1 SOG 6 Grade F
He didn’t take bad penalties or make critical defensive errors, but he doesn’t do anything positive either, so the ECHL is a good place for him (sadly, he’s been worse in Evansville)

Chris Carlisle 8-1-0-1 SOG 8 Grade C
After two games in Evansville he was called up–it was a decision to bring him up because Binghamton has plenty of defensemen, but he’s stayed in the lineup (playing as a fourth line forward for three games); he hasn’t showboated in the AHL like he did in the ECHL and for the most part stayed within himself; Rutkowski would have been a better option to bring up, but it’s clear Richardson doesn’t care for him so Carlisle was the only other option with hands

Ben Harpur 9-0-1-1 SOG 8 BF 3 Grade F
He’s been as awful as predicted, turning the puck over and generally putting a strain on his defensive partners (mostly Claesson); on the positive side, as a non-physical player he hasn’t contributed much to the penalty parade; he makes bad decisions and can’t pass or carry the puck; time in Evansville might help

Mark Fraser 14-0-1-1 SOG 8 BG 5 Grade F
Unquestionably the most disappointing player on the team; while he can skate and hit, he has no hockey sense whatsoever and zero hands; by my count he’s directly caused five goals against (five!), along with leading the team in idiotic penalties; a completely useless player, unfortunately the organisation loves him so he’ll be plaguing the team for the whole season; he’s played with Mullen all season

Nick Tuzzolino 5-0-0-0 SOG 9 BG 1 Grade F
The ECHL-defensemen was awful in limited duty and Richardson praising him was ridiculous, but thankfully he’s no longer being dressed; he should be sent down to Evansville; when in action he was paired with either with Claesson or Harpur

Alex Wideman 4-0-0-0 SOG 0 BG 1 Grade F
I have no idea why he wasn’t immediately sent to the ECHL; he has good speed, but he doesn’t bring anything else and he accomplished nothing in limited playing time (how does a forward have no shots in four games?)  Even at the ECHL-level it’s not clear he has the hands to produce and if he’s not offensively productive he’s not adding anything; inexplicably he spent two of his games on the third line

Chris Driedger 4-4-0 2.89 .905 BG 4 Grade B
By far the better of the two goaltenders in Binghamton; while he has allowed some bad goals this year, he’s also played very well and confirmed that his play at the end of last season was no fluke

Matt O’Connor 0-5-1 4.14 .859 BG 9 Grade F
He’s been absolutely awful; 9 of the goals he’s allowed have been soft which is a ridiculous number; for a big man he’s small in his net and his confidence is clearly shaken; I think starting a few games in the ECHL would be good for him, but I don’t think the organisation will let that happen; it’s normal to preach patience with goaltenders and I think his problems are a mix of confidence and technique, both fixable, so we can still hope to see him play well

Some Notes on the Team’s Performance:
-Binghamton has lost every single game the Dzingel-O’Dell-Lindberg line has been split up (0-4-0), scoring just one goal in two of those games (overall outscored 20-10, so yes kids, they help defensively too)
-Since Matt Puempel was recalled the BSens are 1-6-1, although that includes the period above when the first line was split up
O’Connor has allowed four or more goals in his last four starts
-Despite an over abundance of “defensive defensemen” FraserClaesson, HarpurTuzzolino, and Lepine) the BSens PK has been awful (30th in the league at just 73%); despite these struggles, none of the players who take stupid penalties have been scratched

Coaching
What impact has Luke Richardson had on this team?  All I see are negatives: splitting his dynamic top line was not only disastrous, but he stuck with it long after that was apparent; He sat Lindberg for no reason whatsoever (it even raised the eyebrows of Pierre Dorion); his team takes a ridiculous number of penalties, but despite talking about cutting down on them he’s done nothing to punish players for continuing to do so; his special teams are terrible–the PP percentage is higher than it deserves and there’s no reason for Stortini to be trotted out there to fumble around on the ice; the PK is inexcusable; he doesn’t understand the talent he has: Alex Wideman isn’t an AHL player, but he inserted him into the lineup; Tuzzolino isn’t an AHL player, but not only played but was praised while in the lineup; even though he’s stuck with Fraser there’s no reason to play him top minutes; Robinson has both been scratched and played on the fourth line when he’s far better than other players who haven’t missed a game.  Need more be said?  He even offered up a turkey of an excuse for the team’s awful record by complaining about callups and suspensions rather than errors (particularly his own–the buck should stop with him).  You have a guy who doesn’t force his players to be responsible and doesn’t understand how to use his players–the jury is in and it’s time for Richardson to go (although I don’t believe that will happen).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

 

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5 Comments

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