After prevailing over the Grand Rapids Griffins with a late third period comeback on Friday evening, Toronto travelled back through the night for today’s 5 p.m. puck drop against the Binghamton Senators at Ricoh Coliseum.
Currently at the foot of the Eastern Conference, Binghamton sprung a surprise by defeating an in-form Amerks team by a 5-2 score line last night, despite conceding a goal inside the opening three minutes. It broke a four-game slump for the Senators, who previous to that slide were enjoying their best run of the season (9-2-1-0).
Keeping the puck out of their net has been the Senators biggest issue this season. Their goals against average is pushing towards 3.5 per game, not helped by a fluctuating goaltending situation.
Goaltender Chris Driedger recorded just his second win in January last evening, making 32 saves. Fellow rookie goaltender Matt O’Connor played his first game in a month in the team’s previous outing and gave up five goals in defeat to Lehigh Valley.
Scott Greenham was recalled from the ECHL, and despite a terrible first start where he allowed five goals in 30 minutes, he won three of his next four starts. The problem is he hasn’t played in two weeks and his fitness must be in doubt.
Ryan Dzingel and Cole Schneider continue to lead Binghamton’s offense with 34 points apiece, and both registered on the scoresheet last night. Eric O’Dell continues to be a proven scorer in the AHL and must be afforded maximum respect. He has recorded eleven points in January including a five-game streak.
Michael Kostka is, unsurprisingly, the team’s leading points producer from the blue line. He enters today’s game having registered five points in his last three outings.
Binghamton handed Toronto’s youngsters an AHL education early in the season as they walloped the Marlies 5-1. It was a lesson learnt, as Toronto has gone on to beat Binghamton in their next three encounters while tearing the league to shreds.
William Nylander has enjoyed his time against this opposition, but he won’t be playing as the Marlies coaching staff ease him back into action. His tally of five points versus the B-Sens is matched somewhat surprisingly by Zach Hyman, who has two goals against Binghamton, one of which one was a shorthanded marker.
Brennan, Arcobello and Leivo also have scored twice against Ottawa’s affiliate this season, with the former pair both in excellent offensive form right now.
Garret Sparks was sent back to Toronto early on Friday to ensure he would be fresh for this game, with Ray Emery is likely to once again back-up.
Despite exerting dominance in the last three meetings with Binghamton, the Marlies have managed just two goals in 19 powerplays against a penalty kill that’s been ranked in the bottom third all season.
The B-Sens should not be underestimated on the man advantage, as they convert approximately 20% of the time. Half of O’Dell’s 16 goals this season have been scored on the powerplay.
Toronto’s success when playing Binghamton has come through sticking to their game plan and gradually grinding the Senators down. The Marlies have struck just twice in the first period in the four games thus far, but have tallied eight times in the middle frame.
Currently on a five-game win streak, Toronto enter this game full of confidence and in top offensive form having scored 24 goals in those victories.