In Dennis Bonvie's return to a wild BCVMA, the Binghamton Senators routed the Hershey Bears, 7-4. This team is not even missing Josh Langfeld right now. Tomorrow, Denis Hamel and Chris Kelly will have played four games in four nights, but they keep coming hard. They're getting ready for another long playoff run.
Best players on the ice tonight, in my opinion: Brooks Laich, Charlie Stephens, Brad Tapper, Serge Payer and Jan Platil. Laich continues his improvement because he is very willing to work hard and pay the price. The skill has been there, but the grinding and gutting it out wasn't there in the beginning, probably due to the onset of mono before it was detected. He's well on his way. Stephens has helped turn this team around. What a horse. I didn't want to say this until I saw him play for a few games and you probably think I'm kidding, but he is nearly as good as Langfeld and he's only 22. I expect he and Kelly to see significant time in Ottawa next season. Tapper was skating like never before tonight. He scored two quick goals and could not be contained until he was checked from behind into the boards by the Bears' Shane Willis. He could be seriously injured. He went off the ice very gingerly. Payer was finally able to get going after battling some injuries. His play on the forecheck and penalty kill are excellent and were missed. He wasn't afraid to dish it out at all tonight. Platil handed out some bone-crushing checks tonight and gave Bonvie quite a rude welcome back. Sometimes I feel like only watching Platil out there. He's sometimes mesmerizing with his chippy play and huge hits.
Worst players on the ice tonight, in my opinion: Ray Emery, Steve Bancroft and Alexandre Giroux. See the post below regarding Emery. Bancroft was pathetic at certain points of this game. Very hesitant with the puck. Bad passes. Not a good night. When the going gets particularly rough, Giroux has a tendency to shy away. He has the reputation of not being a big-game player. This was one of those nights. I think he was also scared of Bonvie at times for whatever reason.
Jody Hull (abdomen), Josh Langfeld (recalled) and Greg Watson (healthy scratch) did not play.
The organizationís top prospect was horrible tonight. He let in some seriously questionable goals, but to his credit, the game was pretty much already over at that point. But the most worrisome thing had nothing to do with goals. I believe, for the first time in a year and a half, a visiting player was unafraid of Emery and proved itóSheldon Keefe. Keefe was crashing the net and getting his stick on Emery every chance he could. He was even pushing Emery at times, bordering on goaltender interference.
Now I am a big defender of Emery and his aggressiveness. I love it. I love his competitive fire and his unequalled intensity. But tonight, in my eyes, he was out of control. One time after Keefe got a stick on him, Emery gave him a vicious slash to the legs (breaking his stick) that resulted in matching slashing penalties to each. Hamel dropped the gloves and pinned Keefe against the boards and while he did so, Emery charged out of his net to go after Keefe until he was held back by the linesman and his own teammates.
Later in the game, after Emery gave up a weak goal (and these goals were possibly the result of Emery losing his focus and temper), Bonvie gave Emery some taps on the head that were unnecessary. However, Razor could have just let that go, but he didnít. Again, he charged out of the net, this time to chase Bonvie. Thankfully, Julien Vauclair intercepted Emery. I guess I have underestimated Vauclairís strength because he held Emery back even though Emery was really trying to wiggle away. Then of course, Emery looked toward the Hershey goalie. Bonvie wisely went over to his goalie and motioned for him to stay in the net (either because it would be pointless to get in a fight or because Bonvie knew Emery would destroy the guy).
The point is, Emery cannot do this anymore, especially in the NHL. He absolutely needs to gain better control of himself. Iím not saying to stop being aggressive. You guys love that about him and so do I. DO NOT get me wrong, what he does most of the time is fine, but there are times, like tonight, where he just totally loses it. And whatís the result? Goals allowed? A game misconduct? A suspension? Itís not worth it.
If an agitator like Keefe can throw Emery off his game, what will guys like Tyson Nash, Steve Avery and Matthew Barnaby do? Theyíll know Emery is a loose cannon and purposely try to set him off (if theyíre brave enough). Chances are, Emery will take the bait and matters into his own hands.
Again, I want to stress that I love his competitiveness. Iím stressing this because I know some of you will reply and say thatís exactly what you want to see. Trust me, itís not. Not going overboard. It can cause trouble for him and the team.
I donít know how you get a guy to curb his intensity just slightly. You donít want to take it away completely, and in fact, canít. But this is something Ottawa is probably going to work on with him. He cannot lose his temper like he has on certain occasions. Tonight, he seriously looked like an amateur out there and Iím a little bit embarrassed for him.
Ray Emery is a champion of champions. But sometimes he can look pretty foolish. I donít want to see him look foolish again.
Great observations and points BSF. I very much agree that if Emery wants to be a top goalie he can't let an agitator get under his skin. Perhaps, this will be something he can sort out as he continues to mature?
If Stephens keeps playing like that (6 goals and 12 points in only 6 games thus far in Bingo), I'd say he has a chance of getting a call up in the next few weeks.
And your points on Emery's temperment are well taken. He won't get away with that in the NHL, as agitators will sweep in on him like bees on honey.
Stephens has to be primed for a call-up at this point. It's not like we're talking about some small and slow career minor leaguer. This is a big, fast forward who is only 22. Honestly, the guy looks like he may not only be a great acquisition at the AHL level, but I'm wondering if he earns a roster spot next year.
Wow. 12 points in 6 games for Stephens. He was once the #1 overall pick in the OHL draft, so he is at one point in time he was considered to have talent. A rather nice pickup by Muckler. Who is he playing with?