The Binghamton Senators were eliminated in four games to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins mirroring the three game sweep last year to the same team and on the same date. This year appeared to be different in having a few players back from Ottawa compared to them up last year, but it wasn’t in the cards. As much as it was a tight scoring series with the exception of Game 4, with the previous three games all being settled in overtime, it could have very easily been the Senators advancing instead but you need to get some kind of bounce, lucky or not, and Binghamton just didn’t get any and when they did, it would get called back as witnessed in Game 1. Heck even their beat writer picked Binghamton to win in five but that’s how the playoffs work sometimes. Moreover, Penguins showed more grittiness with their veterans coming through in the clutch. Let’s see what went wrong.
A picture is worth a thousand words, as conveyed by Mark Stone.
First going to the fans via twitter and let’s get some of their reactions as I put out a tweet asking what they thought went wrong in the playoffs and here are some of their responses;
— Alicia Strauch (@AliciaS20) May 3, 2014
Steady Freddy wasn’t as steady as Fredrik Claesson, a +37 in the regular season, -2 in playoffs. Chris Wideman’s -6 led all players followed by Cody Ceci and Shane Prince at -5 each. Throw away the stats and the offense wasn’t where it should have been with missed passes and shots not hitting the net, costly penalties in Game 3 and 4, and blown coverage on the defense.
@Ski931 they looked tired in the playoffs. plus we need VETERAN PLAYERS, who have grit and experience and someone needs to pay them
— jr kennerup (@jrkennerup) May 3, 2014
Let’s take a look at three key players for WBS; 35-year-old Tom Kostopoulos has 630 NHL games and 16 in the NHL’s post season, 32-year-old Chuck Kobasew has 601 NHL regular season games plus 44 NHL playoff games, followed by 31-year-old Andrew Ebbett‘s 219 in the regular season and 19 in the NHL playoffs. Binghamton doesn’t have anyone close to those type of numbers.
— Rj Avery (@Rjavery24) May 3, 2014
— David Fellows (@SensGuyDave) May 3, 2014
Yes penalties added up for the club as in Game 3 Terry Koharski whistled in 10 minutes for the Sens compared to only 4 minutes for the Pens. In Game 4 his son Jamie and Mark Lemelin combined for 26 minutes for the Sens with again a low 14 minutes for the Pens. That’s hard to overcome in the post season where officiating is normally more lax as ref’s have a tendency to put away the whistle and let things slide.
— Mike Stanford (@warz0r) May 3, 2014
That game would set the tone for the rest of the series losing 3-2 in overtime with Anton Zlobin’s low wrist shot beating Andrew Hammond as the Senators appeared to have won earlier in the extra frame when a Jean-Gabriel Pageau pass ricocheted off of Prince’s shin and in past Peter Mannino only to have referee T.J. Luxmore wave the goal off saying Prince kicked it in, which replays showed otherwise.
Veteran 30-year-old Mannino was solid as he ended up 2.02 GAA – 0.915 SV% letting in 9 while rookie 26-year-old Hammond had a 2.95 GAA – 0.891 SV% letting in 13 goals. Andrew was shaky in both Game 1 and 2 at home in letting in a couple of softies especially in Game 2 but bounced back in Game 3 only to have the defense fall apart in front of him in Game 4.
The dual of Kobasew and Ebbett and their combined 883 NHL games including playoffs was just too much for the Senators in the end as they combined for 5 goals and 7 assists while playing major minutes all series long. Wish the AHL kept track of that stat as I would love to see the actual time spent on the ice. Much more experienced veteran Pens team having to sit a veteran over the limit as Spencer Machacek was a healthy scratch the last two games. The oldest player for Binghamton is 27-year-old Patrick Mullen where as the Penguins have four players over 30 years old.
A total of nine goals was scored in four games as Stone and Stephane Da Costa were shut down in Game 3 and 4. Pageau only one point the entire series. Matt Puempel not playing was tough in losing a valuable 30 goal scorer as he didn’t see any action since getting injured in Game 1. The offense scored at will in the regular season but couldn’t mount any collective pressure on a consistent basis in the post season. The team looked like they finally got it together in Game 2’s comeback scoring three goals after being down by two, but fell apart on the road and out of sync.
Uncharacteristically bad as they seemed overwhelmed in parts of Game 2 and all of Game 4. Was perhaps overtaxed with all those penalty’s in Game 4 and being shorthanded most of the time. The club lacked constant forechecking as with a little more effort, they could have stolen one in Game 3. Was expecting Ceci and Alex Grant to really dominate, but it just didn’t happen. Claesson was just average at best but disappointed in Wideman as his offense disappeared. Thought Mullen had a pretty decent series though.
Captain Mark Borowiecki shared his thoughts after the Game 4 loss (and series) to the Press & Sun-Bulletin;
“I think we just didn’t really play playoff hockey. You watch that Wilkes-Barre team, they know playoff hockey. I’m not sure we had quite enough guys who understand what it takes to play playoff hockey, and if you don’t have everyone on board it’s just not going to work.”
“I feel like I was just doing this in the exact same spot as last year, and it’s never fun,” Borowiecki said. “I think we lost our composure a little bit, and I don’t think we had enough guys playing like men. You can tell (W-B/Scranton) just willed that win and we didn’t respond well enough.”
A few positives to take out of the season as overall it was a moderate success in capturing the city’s first East Division Championship in 9 years and third overall in the 12 year franchise. The emergence of both Puempel and Cole Schneider. Taking in the development of Hammond. Playoff hockey and winning record for second consecutive season. Getting a glimpse of the future in Ryan Dzingel and Garrett Thompson as they both showed promise playing well down the stretch. Great home record in the newly refurbished Arena with a new HD Overhead in the works and we get a new banner to display.
Chris Driedger and Hammond will be the one-two tandem in goal, with perhaps Curtis Lazar waiting in the wings if he doesn’t make Ottawa right out of the gate next season, B-Sens will most likely see the first rounder late spring of 2015 and for the playoffs. Lots of questions remain on who’s going where or re-signing as RFA’s consist of Da Costa, Schneider, Wideman, David Dziurzynski, Corey Cowick, Derek Grant, Wacey Hamilton, Ben Blood and Mike Sdao. While UFA’s are A. Grant, Mullen, Daniel New, Scott Greenham and Danny Hobbs. Nathan Lawson and Jim O’Brien not likely coming back along with Tyler Eckford. (But who knows as I’ve been wrong about JOB before.)
Cover picture and insert courtesy of Alicia Strauch.