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) – The Senators are still searching for their stride this season. They have been locked into the sixth place position in the Atlantic Division for nearly two straight months. Ottawa has really struggled to string together wins, which shows in its 11-13-4 record. The last time the Senators won consecutive games was Nov. 5-9. After finding ways to succeed last season despite suffering so many injuries many expected this year’s Senators to continue their ascension in the Eastern Conference. It is a perplexing situation considering Ottawa does not have a single injury listed currently. One of the reasons for the difficulty seems to be the team defense. Despite posting the second-best goals-against-per-game (2.08) in the NHL last season, the Senators are allowing over a goal-per-game more this year. Craig Anderson’s current 3.40 goals-against-average and .895 save percentage are inflated from last season’s 1.69 goals-against-average and .941 save percentage. Robin Lehner has split time with Anderson in net this year, but neither goalie can be the team’s scapegoat. The Senators are allowing the fourth-most shots-against-per-game (34.1) in the league. Ottawa also has been shorthanded 130 times this year, which is the most in the NHL. On the bright side, Erik Karlsson has returned to his Norris Trophy-winning form after missing most of last season with a lacerated left Achilles. He leads all NHL defenseman with 29 points in 31 games.
Binghamton Senators (AHL) – Binghamton has seen its hot month of November cool off with the entrance of December. After a scorching 9-2-0 start in November the Senators lost the last two games of the month. The losing skid has stretched into December and now stands at four straight defeats. This current winless streak is the longest of the season for Binghamton. The Senators still boast a strong 14-7-2 record, which is good for fifth in the Eastern Conference and one point out of the division lead. Binghamton currently sits two points behind Albany in the Eastern Conference standings after a tough 3-2 shootout loss on Saturday. The loss was a tough one for the Senators who out-shot the Devils 14-0 in the overtime period. Keith Kinkaid outdueled Andrew Hammond in a strong goaltending battle. Despite the recent struggles Binghamton is a young, resilient group that is molding together. The Senators have an average age of 23.1 years old, which is the youngest in the East Division. With Mike Hoffman in the NHL, two of the current top five scorers on the team are rookies. Cody Ceci, 19, leads all Binghamton defenseman and currently is tied for the lead among AHL rookie blueliners with 16 points. Matt Puempel, 20, is tied for the team lead with seven goals and three power-play markers.
New Jersey Devils (NHL) – The injury-plagued Devils are patiently waiting to get healthy bodies back from the IR. Ryan Carter and Adam Larsson joined Ryane Clowe, Stephen Gionta and Bryce Salvador on the IR last week but in the last two days there has been some positive news on the injury front. Ryane Clowe, who has played just six games in the first year of a five-year contract, has been cleared for full practice and contact. He has been out with a head injury since October 13. Marek Zidlicky is available to play tonight after missing Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury. The Devils defeated the New York Rangers on Saturday courtesy of a rocket in overtime off the stick of rookie defenseman Eric Gelinas. Tim Sestito also added his first two assists for the Devils this season since he earned the call-up on December 1. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Devils. New Jersey currently sits fifth in the Metropolitan Division with a 12-13-6 record. In three games with the big club Reid Boucher has one assist and a shootout goal. Boucher earned his first NHL point in his first NHL game last Wednesday versus Montreal.
Albany Devils (AHL) – Albany has carried over its recent success into the month of December. The Devils are riding a current four-game winning streak following a victory earlier today. They sit fourth in the Eastern Conference with a record of 15-7-2. They played at 11am today against Bridgeport and defeated the Sound Tigers 3-0 behind Keith Kinkaid’s 22-save shutout. Kinkaid now leads the AHL with three shutouts this season. He holds a 10-3-1 record with a 2.11 goals-against-average and a .918 save percentage. Artem Demkov has not missed a beat since he was loaned from the Elmira Jackals to the Albany Devils on December 3. Demkov, who led the Elmira Jackals with 10 goals and 12 points, has two points and a shootout winner in three games with Albany. His first AHL goal came last Wednesday in his first AHL game. His goal one minute into the third period sparked a three-game frame for the Devils who went on the win 6-4. Demkov added a power-play assist today on the game-winning goal scored by Reece Scarlett. Raman Hrabarenka has relished the increased workload since Jon Merrill was recalled by New Jersey. The Belarus native is currently riding a five-game point streak with two goals and four assists over that span. He has nine points in 13 games with Albany this season. Riley Boychuk and Harry Young continue to see more action with Albany due to New Jersey’s plethora of injured players. Both players earned fighting majors in today’s game against Bridgeport.