Binghamton Season Review

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Another long and disappointing season is in the books for Binghamton and it’s time for my review (you can read last year’s here).  Let’s start with the basics: the team finished 31-38-7 (14th in the conference), falling out of serious contention at the beginning of the season then muddling along the rest of the way.  How does this compare to last season?  Let’s compare them side-by-side (2014-15/2015-16):
34-34-8/31-38-7 (-3 wins, -7 points, -3 places in the conference (14th))
242 GF/204 GF (-38, dropping from 1st in the conference to 9th)
358 GA/341 GA (+17, moving up two places in the conference to 13th)
PP 20.6/17.8 (-2.8, dropping seven places from 2nd)
PK 81.1/81.8 (+0.7, moving up four places from 24th)

What’s evident is that Luke Richardson can’t coach defense.  The team’s goal scoring is a reflection of talent rather than strategy, but it’s staggering how awful they’ve been defensively (including on special teams) for the past two seasons.  There are plenty of excuses to be made for this fact which I’ll address below.

The AHL regular season consists of 76 games, so the most convenient way to divide it up is in four 19-game intervals (notable streaks in brackets):
5-12-2 (Oct.10-Nov.28; 5 straight losses, front end of 5 straight losses)
10-8-1 (Dec.4-Jan.16; back end of 5 straight losses, 4 straight losses, 5 straight wins, front end of 5 straight losses)
First half: 15-20-3 (33 points)
7-11-1 (Jan.22-Mar.5; back end of 5 straight losses, 4 straight wins, 4 straight losses)
9-7-3 (Mar.8-Apr.17; 4 straight wins, 7 straight losses)
Second half: 16-18-4 (36 points)

This is a remarkable number of streaks, tallying 13 of the teams total wins (41%) along with 30 of their losses (66%).  What’s apparent is how things never improved–no matter what happened to the roster, Binghamton failed more often than not–saddled with a coaching staff and management group unable to foster any solutions.  A lot of excuses have been made for these results because of the roster, so we’ll look at that next.

The players below are listed by points-per-game (PPG), with a minimum of 15 games played (this applies to ECHL stats as well); rookies are in italics; players in blue were 25 and older at the start of the season; AHL season totals are in brackets for traded players (additions to the roster during the season are underlined):

Phil Varone 21-6-17-23 (1.09) [65-19-36-55 (0.84)]
Jason Akeson 21-5-17-22 (1.04) [73-13-39-52 (0.71)]
Matt Puempel 34-17-13-30 (0.88)
Ryan Dzingel 44-12-24-36 (0.81)
Cole Schneider 54-17-25-42 (0.77) [73-21-35-56 (0.76)]
Eric O’Dell 50-18-19-37 (0.74) [67-27-23-50 (0.74)]
Casey Bailey 30-7-14-21 (0.70) [68-11-28-39 (0.57)]
Tobias Lindberg 34-5-17-22 (0.64) [56-11-23-34 (0.60)]
Michael Kostka 50-5-24-29 (0.58)
Max McCormick 57-15-15-30 (0.52)
David Dziurzynski 43-8-12-20 (0.46)
Kyle Flanagan 44-6-14-20 (0.45)
Jerome Leduc 22-4-6-10 (0.45) [76-11-15-26 (0.34)]
Patrick Mullen 36-1-15-16 (0.44) [65-3-27-30 (0.46)]
Ryan Rupert 30-7-6-13 (0.43) [59-13-12-25 (0.42)]
Buddy Robinson 62-13-10-23 (0.37)
Nick Paul 45-6-11-17 (0.37)
Michael Keranen 21-4-3-7 (0.33) [66-12-18-30 (0.45)]
Colin Greening 41-7-6-13 (0.31)
Conor Allen 17-1-4-5 (0.29) [66-3-11-14 (0.21)]
Zack Stortini 66-8-8-16 (0.24)
Ryan Penny 24-2-3-5 (0.20) [ECHL 33-10-13-23 (0.69)]
Guillaume Lepine 69-4-9-13 (0.18)
Chris Carlisle 65-4-8-12 (0.18)
Fredrik Claesson 55-3-7-10 (0.18)
Danny Hobbs 50-3-4-7 (0.14)
Travis Ewanyk 68-5-4-9 (0.13)
Ben Harpur 47-2-4-6 (0.12)
Mark Fraser 60-2-5-7 (0.11)
Michael Sdao 17-0-2-2 (0.11) [29-0-6-6 (0.20)]
Nick Tuzzolino 27-1-0-1 (0.03)

Scott Greenham 3-1-0 2.19 .928 [ECHL 11-9-3 2.78 .920]
Chris Driedger 18-15-4 2.83 .912
Matt O’Connor 10-20-3 3.31 .895

ECHL Prospects (players on ELCs)
Troy Rutkowski 61-6-24-30 (0.49)
Vincent Dunn 55-13-14-27 (0.49)

I was curious what the with-or-without you numbers were in terms of wins–which players had a noticeable drag on the lineup or gave it a boost.  With the team’s overall winning percentage serving as the baseline (0.40) and understanding this kind of breakdown favours or punishes players with fewer games played, here are the numbers (those in green are above the line, those in red are below):
Sdao 0.58
Lindberg, Keranen, Flanagan 0.47
Bailey, Rupert 0.46
Leduc 0.45
Puempel 0.44
Lepine 0.43
Kostka, Varone, Akeson, Hobbs 0.42
Greening 0.41
team 0.40
O’Dell, Paul, Carlisle, Claesson, Stortini 0.40
Schneider, Dzingel, McCormick, Harpur, Mullen 0.38
Penny, Tuzzolino 0.37
Ewanyk, Fraser 0.36
Robinson 0.35
Dziurzynski 0.32
Allen 0.29

The most obvious thing here is that players added late in the season are slightly above the average while those who did not play then are slightly below.  SdaoAllenLeduc,  Keranen, Varone, and Akeson did not play enough games to really establish their effect.  Anything within .03% of the team average is within the margin of error.  With that in mind Lindberg, Flanagan, BaileyRupert, and Puempel stand atop the list, while Dziurzynski, Robinson,  Ewanyk, and “top-defenseman” Fraser sit along the bottom.  How many wins or losses do these percentages translate too?  At the top it’s 3-5 more wins, while on the bottom it ranges from 3-6 losses.  In my opinion the difference relates to puck-possession (or lack thereof).

There is a lot to unpack with all the information that is on-hand, so let’s start with a few general observations:
-the team was awash with veterans, so making the excuse that the team’s results were due to a “youth” doesn’t wash
-Binghamton traded seven players to no noticeable effect on team performance (despite claims from others that there was improvement)
-however much some fans might want to make the excuse that a lot of the best prospects on the team were away in Ottawa, when they were in the AHL there was no tangible difference in team results
-the garbage-time production of Varone and Akeson (and Bailey) can’t be taken at face value (the tallies for the entire season seem right for their expected production)

Selected thoughts on individuals:
McCormick‘s numbers made a solid jump in his sophomore season (0.32 to 0.52), but much of that was due to Richardson jamming him down the throat of productive lines and the PP (places he doesn’t belong–I’d keep him on the third line and off the PP)
Robinson was jerked around all season and that impacted his totals (0.45 to 0.37); his worst struggles were at the end of the season with just 1 point in his final 12 games
Paul‘s production was awful; he never recovered from being irrationally scratched early in the season
Stortini was unable to replicate his career numbers from the previous season (0.32 to 0.24), despite getting enormous amounts of PP time (he finished with just 1 point in his final 16 games)
-Career ECHLer Lepine spent the entire season being carried by partner Kostka, so don’t let his numbers fool you
Claesson did not have a great season, with particular struggles on the PK
-While Penny is not the most talented prospect out there, it boggles the mind that he was passed over for the likes of Ewanyk and Hobbs
Driedger, while clearly the best of the tandem, he did have his struggles (particularly in January); he finished tied for 19th in the league in save percentage (third among AHL rookie goaltenders–while it’s not his rookie season as a prospect, it’s his first full season in the AHL); it’s a solid showing for him playing behind an atrocious defensecorps
O’Connor struggled mightily in his rookie campaign, and while he stabilized with the team firmly out of the playoff race (only 3 sub-.900 games in his last 15 starts), it remains to be seen if that’s a trend or what his ceiling really is (he finished 44th in the league in save percentage)

What can we conclude?  The lineup in Binghamton was never going to light the world on fire, but the coaching staff only achieved the baseline of its potential.  Lineup choices were unimaginative, young players were stifled, and older players of limited talent were given far too much leeway.  None of the rookies who remain in the organisation had good seasons and none of the player movement had any impact on results–all the significant problems rest on the shoulders of management and coaches, none of whom were willing to accept it (instead blaming the players).  Thankfully Luke Richardson has moved on and we can only hope that Randy Lee is removed from his GM position going forward.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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6 Comments

  1. […] Binghamton Season Review […]

  2. […] he’s big kids, lest you forget Matt O’Connor (1-5-0 2.86 .899): I wish I’d been wrong, I really do, but we’re seeing the same kind of performance from the big goaltender as last […]

  3. […] just how awful he was (so clear to everyone that I didn’t feel the need to address it my season review).  I felt he would have been better served playing in the ECHL to round out his game.  As a […]

  4. […] this season to last season the decline that began in the Luke Richardson-era has continued, with the team finishing a […]

  5. […] is an even weaker assemblage of talent (my full season review go here). Only the garbage time numbers from late acquisitions (Akeson, Varone, Bailey, and Leduc) exceeded […]

  6. […] long been calling for Randy Lee to be fired (eg), even though I understand that’s not going to happen. True to form he managed to find yet […]


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