The Binghamton Senators will start off a three game weekend tonight with a difficult encounter against the St. John’s IceCaps at the Arena with playoff implications for both clubs. Sens look to make it three consecutive wins coming off a critical road sweep in Norfolk last weekend as they hold a one point lead over the W/B-Scranton Penguins in the East with two games in hand. The division title would mean home ice advantage in Round I of the post season play where Binghamton is 19-7-1-4 on the season. The IceCaps have owned the Senators so far in winning all three contests, boasting a road record of 21-12-0-1, which is third best in the league.
(38-21-1-4) 81 pts
First in East Division
(41-21-1-3) 86 pts
Second in Atlantic Division
Injured Reserve: Defensemen Danny New and Ben Blood, both undisclosed. Forward Jim O’Brien, lower body.
Healthy: Defenseman Troy Rutkowski.
Binghamton lost another forward in the recent promotion of Mark Stone as Bobby Ryan had undergone season ending surgery for a sports hernia. Binghamton’s leading scorer Mike Hoffman looks to finish off his season in Ottawa and veteran goaltender Nathan Lawson won’t be returning until he is 100%, according to Ottawa’s brass. It’ll be interesting seeing how the goalie rotation plays out this weekend as the Sens have three games on tap in three days. I suspect Andrew Hammond will play two out of the three and back up Scott Greenham starting the other.
Shane Prince will get his shot on the first line in lieu of Stone’s absence and will be along side Stephane Da Costa and Matt Puempel. This will be interesting to witness in how Prince and Puempel perform together and what chemistry the two speedsters develop as both have similar styles of game. Puempel has a better shot but Prince is a little more polished and crafty with the puck. I wouldn’t mind having Jean-Gabriel Pageau as the centerman but that would be reaching, I think, as all three are under six-foot and would get bounced around the ice a bit. Maybe not.
St. John’s has cooled off some after losing to Syracuse on Wednesday 3-2, to end their four game winning streak and only their second defeat in their last 15 games. They are just six points behind Manchester in the Atlantic Division and with a game in hand as those two teams look to battle it out just like the Sens and Pens for the title. The IceCaps magic number is nine in earning a playoff spot and are fourth in the Eastern Conference with 86 points.
A couple of articles to check out as Senators Magic Number is 14 going into the weekend and why I think Mike Hoffman will clear waivers and end up helping the B-Sens, if indeed we make the playoffs. Another profile article featuring Matt Puempel also is up as I look back at his rookie season from a fan’s perspective.
Players To Watch For
St. John’s: Forwards Andrew Gordon (22g 28a 66gms) and Jason Jaffray (17g 32a 66gms), Defenseman Brenden Kichton (10g 35a 66gms).
Binghamton: Forward Stephane Da Costa (18g 38a 53gms) and Cole Schneider (19g 29a 58gms), Defenseman Alex Grant (7g 23a 60gms).
St. John’s has won all three contests this season with the final one being played tonight.
Current Playoff Picture
- Percentage of reaching the playoffs: 99.7%
- Overall position (out of 100%) : 8th in the league
- Won or loss after last game +/-: +0.6 (W over Norfolk).
Sens Tweet of the Day
— Andrew Hammond (@andrewhammond31) March 27, 2014
Cover photo courtesy of Alicia Strauch.