Hey readers! Your trusty blogger-in-chief here, to welcome another guest blogger who is filling in for me while I’m on vacay in Chicago. This is probably the most thorough and well-written post-gamer you will ever see here at Chasing Checkers, so don’t get too used to it!
The Binghamton Senators continue the dominance on the road tonight, winning their seventh straight Calder Cup playoff game and doing so in dominating fashion at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte by the score of 7-4 tonight. The record for road wins is nine, set by the 1998 Philadelphia Phantoms.
Mike Murphy (7-3, 1.79 GAA, 0.944 SV%) vs. Robin Lehner (7-2, 2.59 GAA, 0.926 SV%)
First Period: Off the hop, early offensive pressure by Binghamton as Charlotte could not clear a puck in their defensive zone and AHL MVP Corey Locke would open the scoring 1:37 in with a nifty right wing snipe. Then right after, as in the very next faceoff, Brad Herauf would crash the net and score on Lehner as Riley Nash would work to dig a puck off the far wall and on net. Not done yet, the next faceoff Kaspars Daugavjns would take a neat feed from Jim O’Brien right down the slot to make it 2-1. The defensive pairing of Bryan Rodney and Justin Faulk would be on the ice for both Binghamton goals and quickly broken up thereafter. Things would settle down a bit. Then, with Ryan Potulny in the box for hooking, Andre Benoit would come in on a 2 on 0 with Cody Bass to put the Sens up 3-1 shorthanded. Defensive breakdowns were killing the Checkers early. About two minutes later, Zac Dalpe then took a nice pass from Brett Sutter and slipped a shot thru the legs of Senators defenseman Jared Cowen and past Lehner to bring the score to 3-2. Then, right after that, Zach FitzGerald would take an interference penalty to put the B-Sens on the power play which was the AHL’s best in the regular season. Corey Locke would draw Mike Murphy out of his net and would dish off to Bobby Butler who cashed in on a wide open net to make it 4-2. Then, late, the Checkers would get a power play with Andre Benoit in the box for hooking. Charlotte wouldn’t take long to make it 4-3 after a Drayson Bowman point shot which Riley Nash would find the rebound and cash in on.
Everyone take a deep breath. Considering there were 20 goals in the series before with the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, seven goals in the first twenty minutes was a shock, even to a casual observer such as I. Shots were an even 12 at the end of one.
Second period: B-Sens goaltender Robin Lehner would not return for the second period as he would be replaced by backup Barry Brust. This period opened with penalties, and a lot of them. Brad Herauf interference to give the Sens a power play. The power play would get negated as Zack Smith would get an unsportsmanlike conduct after a routine crash off a net but referee Jamie Koharski had an active whistle. Some of his calls all night were a bit iffy to say the least. Then right after that Roman Wick would get whistled for a trip to put the Checkers on a 4×3. Then after that, Oskar Osala high stick, Sens PP. All penalties would get killed as late the BSens would have trouble gaining the zone on the man up. Halfway thru, SOG would be 7-1 in favor of the Checkers. But, it seemed right after the second half of the period, Cody Bass would feed Roman Wick to chase Murphy and put the Sens up 5-3. I had the feeling watching the game that if Murphy gave up another goal to make it 5-3, he would get relieved and I would be correct. Enter Justin Pogge, not seen since round one versus the Hershey Bears. A couple of near misses both ways and the score would be 5-3 Binghamton after 2.
Binghamton would bet outshot 17-3 in the second period and aggregate 29-15 for the game.
Third period: Zack Smith was in the box from the second period on a late hook, his third infraction of the game. The Sens would kill this penalty. Then both penalty boxes would welcome the Checkers Zach FitzGerald on a trip, then the Sens Corey Locke on interference for a brief period of 4-on-4 hockey for :27. Then Jim O’Brien would get whistled for a hook on Michel Jordan as he lugged a puck up the center of the ice to put the Checkers on a 5-on-3 for 1:28 Checkers coach Jeff Daniels called a timeout to draw up a play. Checkers would pressure like mad on the 2 man advantage and finally Chris Terry would fire a puck from the corner to Oskar Osala right in Brust’s doorstep and over his pad to put the Chckers back within one at 5-4. Then about four minutes later, Erik Condra would skate in short side and go high on Pogge to put the Sens back up two goals at 6-4. Then, the very next faceoff, Biinghamton would score again via Calder Cup scoring leader Ryan Potulny to make it 7-4. Up until the Condra goal, the Sens had only put 5 SOG on Charlotte netminding since the end of the first period. It looked like after this the air in the Checkers sails was gone. That would be how the final score would end up as the Binghamton Senators would take this game and home ice with it, 7-4. That was seven goals by the B-Sens on something like 19 shots on goal.
Three Stars: Riley Nash (goal, two assists, even) Bobby Butler (goal, +1) and Kaspars Daugavins (goal, two assists, +3)
Thoughts: It looked like Binghamton was the more prepared team this evening and Charlotte was still high off of their impressive Game 6 comeback from down 3-0 in Wilkes-Barre to win 4-3. Final shots on goal were 40-22 in favor of Charlotte. What an effort tonight by Barry Brust, stopping 27 out of 28 shots, only being beat when his team was down two men on a 5-on-3 situation. You can expect Robin Lehner to start tomorrow for Binghamton per the Sens beat writer Joy Lindsay. Tons of odd man rushes doomed the Checkers tonight. Rookie defenseman Justin Faulk was a -4 tonight. Granted, this was only his 10th pro game, but could the Checkers see the return of blueliner Bobby Sanguinetti tomorrow?
I’d like to thank Jenni for the opportunity to cover this game for her and wish Checkers fans good luck going forward. For all things WBS Penguins, make sure you check me out on Twitter, @nafsnep and my blog, Chirps from Center Ice.
Chasing Checkers: Wow. I’m still in shock over this game, and having a hard time comprehending what went on in my hometown tonight while I was about 1200 miles away, drinking Goose Island 312 and eating a Chicago deep dish pizza with my family, and best friend since the eighth grade. I wish hockey could have paused for me while I go on about my real life, but then again, maybe it’s best I wasn’t at TWCA for tonight’s game. Don’t worry though… it’s just game one! The Checkers can and will come back from this. Maybe after I actually watch the debacle I can make some sense of it. The good news is tomorrow is another day, with new opportunities.
Lets Go Checkers