ELMIRA, N.Y. - As the ECHL affiliate of the NHL's Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils, and the AHL's Binghamton Senators and Albany Devils, the Jackals are tasked with developing prospects throughout the organizations. The Road To The Show presented by Liberty Travel provides details on how those prospects are progressing.
Ottawa Senators (NHL) – With less than 20 games remaining in the NHL regular season the urgency level is rising in Ottawa. The Senators have yet to take the leap forward into a playoff spot and time is becoming their enemy. Ottawa returned home on Monday after a four-game western Canada road swing and failed to earn the extra point in a 4-3 overtime loss to Nashville. To add insult to injury, the Senators added a couple key players to their injured list thanks to Shea Weber. Weber’s infamous slapshot caught goaltender Craig Anderson in the shoulder area and later struck rookie defenseman Cody Ceci in the head. Anderson would leave the game in the third period after a teammate ran into him, but his injury doesn’t seem serious. Robin Lehner entered in relief and stopped 12 of 13 shots but earned the loss. Ceci left the game immediately after sustaining his injury and will be evaluated further. Also, left winger Clarke MacArthur missed his second straight game with a right hand injury. On a positive note, newly acquired winger Ales Hemsky notched three assists for the second straight game and now has six assists in his first three games as a Senator. Jason Spezza also posted three points for the second consecutive game. Hemsky is playing on the top line alongside Spezza and Milan Michalek. The top line combined for nine points in a 5-3 win on March 8 at Winnipeg. Rookie Mike Hoffman recorded his first NHL goal and assist in the March 8 victory. Hoffman was recalled from Binghamton on March 5, where he posted 30 goals and 67 points in 51 games, and has been skating on the second line with Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan. Ottawa needs its new offensive pieces to help push the team into playoff contention. The Senators remain sixth in the Atlantic Division with a 28-25-12 record and a 4-4-2 mark in their last 10 games. They are nine points out of an automatic playoff position and sit five back of the second wild card slot.
Binghamton Senators (AHL) – It may not be time to panic just yet, but the Senators are on high alert with their current six-game losing streak. This is Binghamton’s second-longest losing skid of the season and it comes at a bad time with the playoffs on the horizon. The Senators went from third in the Eastern Conference and first in the East Division to seventh in the conference and third in their division in the matter of a week. At multiple points this season the Senators seemed unstoppable while boasting the league’s highest powered offense, but lately Binghamton’s power outage is raising some concern. With the loss of two of the top three point-getters on the team, Mike Hoffman and Andre Petersson, Binghamton is looking for supplementary scoring. One of the players rising to the occasion is rookie forward Matt Puempel. The Senators’ first round selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft is in his first full pro season after having cups of coffee with Binghamton in each of the last two seasons. This year Puempel has 22 goals and 34 points in 56 games. His 22 goals and 11 power-play tallies rank second on the team behind Hoffman and are first among team rookies. Another blossoming youngster is former Ottawa 67 standout Shane Prince. Prince was Ottawa’s second round selection in the same draft the team picked Mika Zibanejad, Stefan Noesen, Puempel, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Fredrik Claesson. Prince has 20 points in 26 games since the calendar flipped to 2014, which has increased his season totals to 17 goals and 35 points in 51 games. The 21-year-old is in his second pro season with Binghamton and has already matched his point total from last season in 14 fewer games. Binghamton will rely on its young production to push the team back into the division lead and third place in the conference. The Senators hold a 33-20-5 record and sit one point behind Norfolk and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the East Division lead.
New Jersey Devils (NHL) – Tuesday night’s contest between New Jersey and Philadelphia proved to be a blast from the past. Martin Brodeur stood on his head for the Devils and led them to victory with 30 saves on 31 shots. The 41-year-old surefire Hall of Famer backstopped New Jersey’s penalty killing unit and thwarted the Flyers on all nine shots they fired on six power play attempts. Brodeur wasn’t the only “over-the-hill” Devil to push the dagger into Philly. At age 42, Jaromir Jagr continues to defy the odds and produce at a high level. Jagr scored the game-winning goal and added an assist in Tuesday’s 2-1 win. Jagr now has 21 goals this season and 702 in his illustrious career. He sits just six goals behind Mike Gartner for sixth on the all-time list. Jagr’s 17th multi-point game of the season raised his career point total to 1,745, which is within 10 of Steve Yzerman for sixth on the all-time point list. Helping take some of the offensive burden off of Jagr’s back is 24-year-old Adam Henrique. Since returning from the Olympic break Henrique has been white-hot for the Devils. He posted nine goals over a six-game goal streak that was snapped Tuesday in Philly. Henrique vaulted himself into the team lead with 23 goals and moved into third in points with 38. It is no coincidence that New Jersey has won five of its seven games since returning to action. The Devils have moved within two points of the final automatic playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division and two points behind Philadelphia for the second wild card spot. New Jersey has a 29-24-13 record with a 6-3-1 mark over the last 10 games.
Albany Devils (AHL) – The Devils have not made the playoffs since moving back to Albany in 2010, but are looking to change that this season. Albany currently sits on the bubble in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with a 30-19-10 record. The Devils are eight points back of Springfield in the Northeast Division with 17 games remaining in the regular season, but sit just two points back of the fifth spot in the conference. With so many teams packed tightly in the standings the final push will dictate who will play in the postseason and who will break out the golf clubs. Albany will rely on its strong goaltending and defense as it has all season long. Third-year pro Keith Kinkaid has logged his career best numbers this year posting a 21-9-4 record with a 2.26 goals-against-average and a .914 save percentage. His backup, rookie Scott Wedgewood, has been a solid number two netminder. In his first full pro season Wedgewood has a 9-12-3 record with a 2.75 goals-against-average and a .888 save percentage. The dynamic duo of Kinkaid and Wedgewood is the primary reason why the Devils allow just 2.68 goals-against-per-game, which is eighth in the AHL. The team has provided the goaltenders with tremendous support, allowing just 26.08 shots-per-game, which ranks second in the league. On the offensive side Mike Sislo continues to sizzle with eight points in his last eight games. The third-year pro ranks second on the team with 19 goals and 34 points in 48 games. Sislo also leads the Devils with six power-play goals and is tied for the team lead with two short-handed tallies. The rookie trio of Kelly Zajac, Reid Boucher and Stefan Matteau continues to provide an offensive spark for the Devils. Zajac added two assists and Boucher scored twice this weekend, while Matteau scored the shootout winner on Friday at Portland.