With the AHL 2011-2012 season set to kick-off this week, the reigning Calder Cup Champs, the Binghamton Senators are ready to defend their title at home as they open the season this Friday against the Hershey Bears. With a lot of change this past off-season, the line-up that raised the Cup has been greatly altered.
With so many new faces added to this year’s line-up, there’s a lot of questions heading into this season. SenShot’s B-Sens squad, KTM on the B-Sens, have put their minds together to answer a few of the burning questions that Sens Army want answers to. So with out furthr ado, take it away KTM.
With the departure of many key veteran forwards from last year’s championship squad, how do we expect the new offense to take shape? Which newcomer(s) do we expect to light it up this year?
Last seasons offense proved down the stretch that they were capable of scoring, especially during the late season push and in the playoffs. This year, that offense is going to have a different look, but the potential to have the same outcome.
With players such as Corey Locke, Jim O’Brien and David Dziurzynski returning, the offense should be able to return to last seasons form and put points on the board. Obviously, other players need to step up to fill in the roles of the departed Ryan Keller and Cody Bass. Mark Parrish, who was signed over the offseason, will have to step up and become a leader for the younger players. Last season, while with the Portland Pirates, Parrish put up 51 points in 56 games. This year will have to be much of the same, while showing the younger forwards the ropes.
Following last seasons numbers (69GP, 21G, 65A, 86P), Locke will be needed to put up those same numbers. After losing Keller (32 goals in 71 games), Locke will be needed to become the go to guy for the offense, and take the shots.
Last year’s defense group was Binghamton’s foundation to their success. With the turnover this season as many veterans left for greener pastures, how will this very young defensive unit perform? Which newcomer(s) do we expect to lead the D-corps this year?
Last seasons defense had its up and downs throughout the season, however proved itself in the playoffs, being a strong point during the run to the Calder Cup. This year’s defense will have a similar look, and will need to step up and show they were a major reason for last years success.
Eric Gryba is making a return to Binghamton following a season of 66 games with 3 goals and 4 assists. He is going to be needed to step up as a leader for the defense, along with Craig Schira (3G, 10A in 67 games). As of right now, the pairings are still up in the air. These two players, however will be needed to step up as leaders for their respective shifts.
With the plan to have Robin Lehner be the starter in Bingo the entire season, what do we expect for a encore after he led the B-Sens to the Calder Cup last season? And with the injury history of Ottawa starter Craig Anderson, it is expected that Lehner would be called up to Ottawa to fill in. If that happens, who will be the goalie for the defending cahmps?
Last year, Barry Brust carried the team into the playoffs. Following a bad game in the first round, Brust was pulled in favor of Robin Lehner. Lehner then proceeded to carry the team to the Calder Cup. This season, it appears that Lehner will be the starter for your B-Sens. The question is, can he play all season like he did in the playoffs?
Lehner should have more confidence going into this season. He has turned the fan base around with last years run, and as anyone knows, winning is always a large boost, and in hockey, winning the championship is the biggest boost of them all. He should be able to prove this year that not only can he lead a playoff run, he can also lead this team throughout the season just as long as he has his confidence and the fan base does not jump on him after a bad game.
Mike McKenna was signed during the offseason when it became apparent that Brust was not going to return. McKenna played for the Devils AHL club in Albany, and earned a 0.886 save percentage in his 39 games played. McKenna will be a great back up for Lehner, with the ability to fill in when needed, especially seeing how its a very strong possibilty that call-ups will occur due to injuries to the goalies (see Craig Anderson).
With a change in the AHL schedule to reduce the number of games played in the season and playoffs, how will this affect the B-Sens?
As we all know, the AHL has tweaked the schedule format for both the regular season and the playoffs, with less games. Teams will be playing 76 games now during the regular season, with the first round being reduced to a best of 5 series. What’s this mean for the B-Sens? Well, first look at the new divisional line up. This year, we will be competing in the East Division, along with the Syracuse Crunch, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Hershey Bears, and Norfolk Admirals, all very tough opponents. It’s going to take a season with very few mistakes, and plenty of wins and points to take the East Division.
Can the B-Sens repeat as defending champs this season?
As we all know, your Binghamton Senators are the defending Calder Cup champs. But can they repeat this year? They may have lost a few players, and they may have to deal with injuries both here in Bingo, and in Ottawa, however I believe with the players, and a proven coach, we can repeat. Our goaltending has improved in both skill and confidence (which in my opinion, go hand in hand). Our defense has some very strong players, that are not afraid to use their body. Our offense may have lost a few key players, but we have gained with our signings. We shall see though. After last season, the expectations are high for the Senators, and many of us believe they can do this again.
The B-Sens kick-off their season on Friday against the Bears. Check back here on SenShot for your B-Sens updates and reports from KTM on the B-Sens. “Til next time, GO B-SENS GO!!!
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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