Okay. So Stephane Da Costa is out, Jean-Gabriel Pageau is now up top along with Mark Stone. Jim O’Brien has taken residence in the stands and Nathan Lawson is still having some issues. That’s a lot to digest if you’re a B-Sens fan. I also chose to ignore Mike Hoffman’s name, for now. So let’s do a 180 and look at a positive thing, the schedule.
Last September when the AHL schedule came out, the first thing I noticed was all those red boxes filled in for the month of April indicating home games for Binghamton, and it was apparent to me that would be our ticket to the playoffs if we were able to still be in the hunt. Flash ahead six months later, and the Senators are indeed in the thick of a playoff race on top in the East Division with 86 points, with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins emerging as the deterrent as the two I-81 rivals are in a sprint together for the division title with the winner claiming bragging rights and home ice advantage in Round I of the 2014 Calder Cup playoffs.
Here is what the stretch run for Binghamton looks like with nine games on tap with seven against divisional opponents where they are 20-8-0-1 this season, and six being played on home ice including the last three.
This is where we need to take advantage starting with Saturday night’s tilt against Norfolk at the cozy confines of the Veterans Memorial Arena. In the opening round, the first two games (and if necessary the tie breaker) in the five game series will be played on home ice where the Sens are 20-7-1-4 and home is where you want to establish yourself as a tough place to play to earn two points for any visiting team. Right now, Senators would play the same team that beat them on Sunday, the sixth place Albany Devils if the season ended today. Also, Senators just came off a three on three this past weekend and have two more weekends of three in three hockey making it three consecutive weekends like this, which is just crazy.
Let’s jump ahead and focus on our opponents schedule. I’ve included three teams, Pens, Ads and Bears having some significance in one way or another with the outcome of the Sens final nine games. Take a look at their remaining games and the B-Sens series results.
- W/B-Scranton Penguins
4 home and 4 away (All games in April, home games in italics)
84 points, 5th in the conference
4th vs Bridgeport, 5th vs Albany, 6th @ Binghamton, 11th @ Syracuse, 12th vs Binghamton, 13th vs Toronto, 18th @ Binghamton and 19th @ Utica.
Penguins play the Senators three times with two in Binghamton but not too bad with very little travel as they play back to back three in three’s, but so don’t the Senators. Finish out the season on the road in Binghamton and Utica, where the Comets have given them fits all season long.
Sens have won three out of five played on the season including the last two.
- Norfolk Admirals
2 home 7 away
77 points, 8th in the conference
4th @ Adirondack, 5th @ Binghamton, 6th @ Hartford, 11th @ Providence, 12th @ Worcester, 13th @ Portland, 16th vs Hershey, 18th vs Hershey, 19th @ Binghamton.
Binghamton faces Norfolk twice on Sens home ice but tough schedule facing the Admirals with their first six games right out of the chute being played on the road and with only two home games left. Their last game of the season will see them travel overnight to Binghamton after their Friday night home game against Hershey prior to.
Sens have won five out of six winning the last five straight after being shutout in the first game.
- Hershey Bears
2 home 7 away
76 points, 9th in the conference
2nd @ Portland, 5th @ Worcester, 6th @ Bridgeport, 11th @ Binghamton, 12th @ Springfield, 13th vs Binghamton, 16th @ Norfolk, 18th @ Norfolk, 19th vs Adirondack.
Senators meet with Hershey twice in each other’s barn as the Bears has an identical schedule to Norfolk however concentrating in the New England area for the brunt of it. Tough road ahead for Hershey as it looks like the trip to Norfolk might decide their fate.
Sens and Bears have split the first eight game’s as each team has won four times.
After reviewing it’s apparent the battle for the remaining spot in the conference will most likely be between Norfolk and Hershey unless the Worcester Sharks and their 70 points makes a miraculous move and at the same time the other two teams split their remaining games. However, anything can and will happen as this is what makes ordinary people like you and me hockey fans at the end of the day.
Cover photo courtesy of Alicia Strauch.