Bipolar Binghamton Senators Stave Off Elimination


Over the course of their first round playoff series with the Manchester Monarchs, the Binghamton Senators have flipped and flopped in-and-out of more identities than an episode of Showtime’s United States of Tara. They have been offensive juggernauts. They have been defensive dunces. They have been everything in between. They have been four and a half minutes away from elimination, yet they live to fight another day. The series now favours the Monarchs 3-2. Let’s take a closer look at our patient and his actions over games four and five.

Game #4: Manchester 6 – Binghamton 3

After rallying from behind on two separate occasions throughout the night, Bingo collapsed in the back half of the third period.  For the second straight game, the home team sent their fans home depressed and sad. The loss also placed Bingo firmly on the edge of the plank, one misstep away from obscurity and an end to their Calder Cup hopes.

Positive Signs

Ryan Potulny – acquired by GM Bryan Murray along with a second round pick in this year’s draft for Chris Campoli, Potulny has been Bingo’s most consistent and best overall  player in these playoffs. The Grand Forks native scored all three goals for the baby Sens in game four and was plus three by game’s end.

Comeback ability – The team was in a two goal hole early in the second period and came back to tie on goals 61 seconds apart. Bingo  Potulny again tied the game at three after the Monarchs had taken the lead on a controversial goal involving the net being dislodged.

Negative Signs

(Not so) special teams – As was the case in game one, the power play and penalty kill let the team down. Manchester was a perfect 2-2 on the PP while the home team went an ineffectual 0-4. Further to the point was the Monarch’s fourth goal. The tally was netted on a shorthanded, 2-on-1 break by Justin Azevedo only minutes after Bingo tied the game early in the third, it completely took the wind out of Binghamton’s sails.

Porous defence – At the game’s conclusion, Bingo had allowed a total of 16 goals over the first four games in the series. Not surprising that they only had one win over that span. But the inflated goals against may be the symptom of a painful problem. The club has played the entire series without defensive defencemen Eric Gryba and David Hale due to injury. The holes left by these two players are clearly causing fits for the coaching staff.

Kurt Kleinendorst and Barry Brust: The head coach’s reluctance to switch goaltending duties to Robin Lehner coming into the game, or at any point during the game, represent a wasted opportunity to spark the team into a positive direction. Brust was certainly not responsible for all of the 16 pucks that got passed him in the first four games, but he didn’t looked particularly sharp either.  Sometimes you have to park your allegiances if you want to give yourself a better chance to succeed.

Game #5: Manchester 4 – Binghamton 5 (OT)

For the third time in this series the game had to be decided in extra time. And for the second time it was Bingo who did the deciding, staving off elimination in the process. At 6:38 into the overtime period, Kaspars Daugavins fired a low shot passed Jeff Zatkoff, igniting a thunderous roar from the home crowd. The win breathed new life into the enigmatic team. The game also (finally) marked a change in goal as Lehner picked up his first ever playoff win, at the professional level, in his first ever playoff game.

Positive Signs

Robin Lehner: Lehner performed admirably in his debut. The goalie made 30 saves on 34 shots including some key stops to keep the game close in the third. Most importantly, Lehner picked up the win in a do-or-die scenario. Not bad, eh, Kleinendorst?

Ryan Potulny (again):  With two more goals, including the game-tier with minutes to go in regulation, Potulny now finds himself alone atop the AHL playoff goal scoring leaders. In just five game, Potulny has seven goals; the next closest player has four. Potulny has been nothing short of sensational.

Heart:  To tie it late and then win the game in overtime on the brink of elimination says a lot about the intestinal fortitude of this team. The kids are alright.

Negative Signs

Defence, defence, defence: Despite a solid performance by Lehner, the team continued its trend of giving up an average of four goals per game. There are a few guys eating up a lot of minutes on the back-end and it is making for a touch and go situation.

Winning the hard way: At the end of the day a win is a win, but thus far, the B-Sens have been unable to close out a regulation win. Considering their blue line woes and some guys being over-taxed, Bingo would do themselves a huge favour by winning game six in three periods.

Check out Daugavins’ OT heroics courtesy of BinghamtonSenators.

As Jared mentioned, game six is tonight at 7 PM as the scene shifts back to New Hampshire. Lehner is back in goal and will look to extend this series to the limit. So let us hope that Bingo took their meds and the team with heart and endless offensive prowess shows up. It would be an Earth Day miracle!


Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.

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