Binghamton Senators begin the AHL Eastern Conference Final..."/> Binghamton Senators begin the AHL Eastern Conference Final..."/>

B-Sens Begin AHL Eastern Conference Finals Tonight Against Checkers

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The Binghamton Senators begin the AHL Eastern Conference Final tonight as they take on the Charlotte Checkers tonight at 7:05 pm. The B-Sens beat the Portland Pirates in their second round series last week as the Checkers beat the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to advance to the third round. With Binghamton winning the season series 4-3-1, both teams have a chance to advance to the Calder Cup finals which should make this series a tough task for both teams.

Here’s a look at both teams:

The Binghamton Senators received some luck as they got almost a week off between round two and three. This gave them a chance to rest up and give their  injured players time to heal. With a depleted blue line in round two, Bingo will get back two of their regulars this series. Punishing defenceman Eric Gryba should be ready to suit up for game one of the series along with offensive defenceman Patrick Wiercioch who should be back early in the series too.

Offensively, Binghamton will be led by five players that have been carrying the load for the team thus far. Round one playoff stud, Ryan Potulny leads the way with 19 points through two rounds. Captain Ryan Keller has stepped up huge in the playoffs as the veteran has chipped in 16 points. Kaspars Daugavins had a breakout second round as he has 11 points in the playoffs and is making a case to be in Ottawa next year. Zach Smith and Bobby Butler took a bit to find their way, but both are having  good playoffs with 10 and nine points respectively. Needing to step up are forwards Colin Greening and Jimmy O’Brien. So far in the playoffs, they have notched three and four points respectively. If these two find their scoring touch, watch out as the B-Sens would be able to roll three solid scoring lines.

Robin Lehner will start his second playoff series as he will look to continue his strong first professional playoff. With a record of 7-2 with a GAA of 2.59 and a SV% of 0.926 along with one shutout, Lehner has had only one bad game this playoff which was game five against Portland where he allowed four goals on 14 shots. Otherwise, the rookie has been stellar.

The Charlotte Checkers, who are the AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, have been doing it by committee this playoff year. The Checkers are led by forwards Zac Dalpe and Brett Sutter with 12 and 11 points respectively. With offense being sparse, the Checkers play a tight checking game (cool pun, eh!). With Dalpe leading the team with five goals, Charlotte will try to avoid getting into a barn burner with Binghamton.

Unlike Bingo’s defense, Charlotte’s defense is healthy and strong. It has allowed the fewest goals of the teams from the eastern conference in this year’s playoffs. They’re also the best penalty-killing team in the AHL. They will have a tough task going up against the high powered offense of the B-Sens as they sport the best powerplay in the AHL playoffs.

The Checkers will ride tender Mike Murphy for this series as he has carried the load thus far. With a record of 7-3 and a GAA of 1.79 and a SV% of 0.944 along with one shutout, Murphy will be tough to beat. If Murphy falters, look for Justin Pogge to come in to help out the Checkers. If that happens, Charlotte will be in trouble.

This series will be the toughest for the Binghamton Senators. Looking for some positives in the organization this year, Bingo has stunned the AHL with their playoff run. The mix of a few solid AHL vets and rookies with a lot to prove, Binghamton has banded together and have become a solid team battling for each. This series is too close to call and may go the distance. This best of seven series will feature a 2-3-2 format with the first two and last two games being played in Charlotte.

The complete schedule for the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals is as follows:

Game 1 – Thu., May 12 – Binghamton at Charlotte, 7:05 p.m.
Game 2 – Fri., May 13 – Binghamton at Charlotte, 7:05 p.m.
Game 3 – Tue., May 17 – Charlotte at Binghamton, 7:05 p.m.
Game 4 – Wed., May 18 – Charlotte at Binghamton, 7:05 p.m.
Game 5 – Sat., May 21 – Charlotte at Binghamton, 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 6 – Mon., May 23 – Binghamton at Charlotte, 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 7 – Tue., May 24 – Binghamton at Charlotte, 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)

SenShot has a little wager with the Cardiac Canes on the outcome of this series. Check out the bet here. Enjoy the game and check back here for a game recap of game one. GO B-SENS GO!!!

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