Tonight’s marks the beginning of the Binghamton Senators‘ second round AHL Playoff series against the Portland Pirates. With the B-Sens going the distance in their first round series against the Manchester Monacrhs, winning four overtime games to win the series, Binghamton will hope not to play with fire this time around.
With their 4-3 series win, Binghamton matched an AHL record with their four overtime wins in a single series in a Calder Cup playoff. The result also marked the first time, in the 75 year history of the AHL, that games five, six, and seven of a playoff series were decided in OT. And to add to these records, Binghamton becomes only the 16th team in AHL history to comeback from a 3-1 series deficit to win the series.
Portland on the other hand, finished off their first round series with the Connecticut Whale in six games earlier on Saturday night winning the series 4-2. The Pirates, who are affiliated with the Buffalo Sabres, finished the regular season in first in the Atlantic Division with record of 47-24-9 and 103 points, the second most in the AHL.
Let’s take a look at both teams:
The B-Sens come into the series a little banged up. With four defencemen out with injuries, others had to step up and play big minutes. Veteran Andre Benoit, along with Geoff Kinrade, Craig Schira and Patrick Wiercioch have all stepped up their game and are playing huge for the team. In a recent interview, Assistant GM Tim Murray praised the play of youngsters Schira and Wiercioch as they have both replaced injured veterans David Hale and Derek Smith on the blueline.
As for the forward ranks, it should get a boost with the return of AHL MVP Corey Locke as he returns from injury and will see his first game of the playoffs. With Locke’s return, Binghamton should be able to roll out two very potent scoring lines as AHL Playoff scoring leader, Ryan Potulny will anchor the second line.
As for goaltending, Binghamton will ride the hot hand as Robin Lehner came in and helped the B-Sens win their first round series in dramatic fashion. Starting game five against Manchester, Lehner won the remaining three games of the series in overtime to clinch the birth into the second round. With a perfect playoff record, Lehner is well on his way to building his legend and making Sens fans in Ottawa a little excited for his future reign.
The Portland Pirates played a tight first round series against the Connecticut Whale as each game was decided by one goal (except for game six). The Pirates received bittersweet news as the Buffalo Sabres were eliminated from the NHL Playoffs last night. That’s bad news for the organization but good news for the Pirates as they will get some reinforcements from call-ups who were playing with the big club. Eligible players are Jhonas Enroth, Mark Mancari, Marc-Andre Gragnani, and Matt Ellis who were all with Buffalo until last night.
Portland does it by committee as their leading scorer, right winger Corey Tropp only has seven points, compared to Binghamton who’s leading scorer in Potulny that has 14 points. If Ellis plays, he should be able to provide a boost to Portland’s offense.
On the defensive side of the game, Portland only allowed 18 goals against in their first round series (averaging three goals against per game), compared to Bingo’s 26 goals against in their first round series (averaging a little more than three goals against per game). Portland has a more veteran D-unit compared to Bingo’s more inexperienced D-unit due to injuries.
On the goalie front, David Leggio has played all six playoff games for Portland and has a 2.93 GAA and a SV% of 0.897. These numbers aren’t spectacular, but if Jhonas Enroth does go down to Portland, expect better numbers from Portland’s last line of defence.
Keys To a Binghamton Win
Experience: the B-Sens had tons of adversity in the first round of the playoffs. Multiple overtime games, blown leads and injuries. They must use this experience and fight through anything in their way.
Goaltending: Robin Lehner’s numbers are better than Portland’s goalie, but if Enroth was to play in this series, Lehner will have to out shine his counterpart.
Goals, Goals, Goals: with Potulny on fire and leading the playoffs in points, others must match his level and put the puck in the net. Bobby Butler and Ryan Keller are carrying their load, but others such as Zach Smith and Jim O’Brien need to step up.
Here is the schedule for this round:
Atlantic Division Final
Portland Pirates vs. Binghamton Senators
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 27 – Binghamton at Portland, 7:00 pm
Game 2 – Thu., Apr. 28 – Binghamton at Portland, 7:00 pm
Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 30 – Portland at Binghamton, 7:05 pm
Game 4 – Mon., May 2 – Portland at Binghamton, 7:05 pm
*Game 5 – Tue., May 3 – Portland at Binghamton, 7:05 pm
*Game 6 – Fri., May 6 – Binghamton at Portland, 7:00 pm
*Game 7 – Sat., May 7 – Binghamton at Portland, 7:00 pm
*- if necessary
Enjoy the game tonight and GO B-SENS GO!!
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