The results are in for the 2017-’18 Binghamton Devils’ inaugural season in this, the first of four Quarter Grades Reports including player elevations from some of the fans that make up The Panel. The team finished with a record of 7-9-3-0 after the first 19 games and currently sit in last place in the seven team North Division and 26th (0.447%) overall out of 30 teams.
One step forward and two steps back was the Devils’ theme story in the First Quarter as they came out of the gate winning six of their first eight before going in a spiral losing the last ten games at 1-7-2 before Wednesday night’s 3-0 win over Lehigh Valley.
Injuries have played a minor role in the first quarter but fortunately for the BDevils, NJ is rich in depth up top without wrecking havoc here in Bingo, as there was just one player movement (goaltender Scott Wedgewood) between the two franchises, which is utterly unbelievable compared to prior teams in Binghamton, or for any club in that matter.
With each quarter results, there are nine members within ‘The Panel’ including myself in no particular order; @AliciaS20, @KeithAHopkins, @enker1700, @Bing_da_Bling, @RogieVachon30, @crazybazookajoe, @EmilyRose474, @Ski931 and @MoneyBucks_27.
Grades are calculated as a group and divided by the sum of its members. Season statistics will be shown collectively for each player for an ongoing comparison throughout the season. Individual votes are also shown from each member from ‘The Panel’ of their player evaluations. A 10 game minimum applies for an individual player for a grade per quarter, excluding goaltending.
A+....96% - 100%
A......93% - 95.99%
A-.....90% - 92.99%
B+....87% - 89.99%
B......83% - 86.99%
B-.....80% - 82.99%
C+....77% - 79.99%
C......73% - 76.99%
C-.....70% - 72.99%
D+....67% - 69.99%
D......60% - 66.99%
F.......0% - 59.99%
Defense - 80.28 / B-
We begin with the defense, as they collectively have allowed an average of 28.37 shots per game putting them in 8th place, but giving up 3.32 goals on average for a ranking of 24th. The PK is ranked 17th in the league at 82.6%.
#6 *Colton White - Inc.
(9 gms, 0g 2a) Has not met the 10 game minimum.
#7 Brian Strait - 84 / B
(17 gms, 1g 2a) Brian was brought in this year for veteran leadership and to be a stay at home defenseman. He has brought the second attribute in spades. The one guy you can count on on a very young and inexperienced D core. In sixteen games he has one goal and two assists but that is not his forte. Any points are just bonuses. @KeithAHopkins (85)
#8 Josh Jacobs - 86 / B
(18gms, 0g 8a) By far our best defenseman as evidenced by his +4 ranking while still being a top pairing defenseman. Always in the right place at the right time and has a decent offensive touch. Has a very bright future in this organization if allowed to develop correctly. @enker1700 (90)
#23 Jacob MacDonald - 85.33 / B
(18 gms, 7g 10a) Has emerged as an offense minded defenseman with a tendency to make crucial turnovers when under pressure in the defensive zone. Possesses a booming slap shot from the point and quarterbacks the top powerplay unit quite well. Is currently under AHL contract, but should be offered a two-way contract at some point the further along his development takes form. @Ski931 (82)
#28 *Yaroslav Dyblenko - 74.66 / C
(17 gms, 1g 4a) It’s been a struggle so far for the Russian in his first season on North American soil, as he’s battled with his adjustments to the type of style of game along with getting himself acquainted to the smaller ice surfaces. Recently scored his first goal with a bomb from the point through traffic. It’s going to take a full year in the AHL before an opportunity presents himself for him to move up the reigns at a higher level. @Ski931 (79)
#32 *Michael Kapla - 70.38 / C-
(13 gms, 1g 2a) Kapla has not overly impressed me but I also have not noticed any glaring mistakes. Credit where credit is due - the game he scored the goal in (vs. Rochester) was a great game for him. This is his rookie season after a good collegiate career, so I hope to see improvement as he gets more games under his belt this season. @AliciaS20 (73)
#50 Viktor Loov - 81.33 / B-
(18 gms, 3g 9a) Signed to be a veteran presence and has proven to be nothing more. Average to above average AHL defenseman that rarely makes mistakes, and rarely does anything flashy. However, uses his body better than anyone else on the team. @enker1700 (80)
Offense - 76.94 / C
The offense has struggled but one of the bright spots has been the PP, currently ranked 8th at 19.7%, while goals for are 2.79 per game and in 22nd place while shots for at a league low of 25.42 average.
#9 Joseph Blandisi - 82.33 / B-
(19 gms, 3g 11a) Man, I want to like this guy as he has some good talent, but his effort is just lacking. He does provide that offensive flash but takes some dumb, dumb penalties that costs this team. And this team cannot afford any more challenges. @KeithAHopkins (78)
#10 *Austin Cangelosi - 72.66 / C-
(18 gms, 0g 3a) Despite drawing the 1st penalty of the season, it doesn't appear habitual as Cangelosi has stayed fairly disciplined. He shows effort, he wants to be a playmaker, but he isn't consistently generating them or capitalizing on his opportunities. He's agile, stays low, but is often out-skated and needs improvement with puck control. Could be a lack of pro experience. Could be a bigger team problem. @Bing_da_Bling (73)
#12 Tim Kennedy - Inc.
(9 gms, 0g 4a) Has been out on the IR and didn’t meet the 10 game requirement.
#13 Brandon Baddock - 72.22 / C-
(14 gms, 1g 1a) Not noticed too much on the ice. but lately has dropped the gloves in sticking up for his teammates, which is always a good sign of things to come for the second year pro in his first full season in the AHL. Does show signs of grit and toughness along the corners with some of his physical play to back him up. @Ski931 (71)
#15 Jan Mandat - 70.55 / C-
(13 gms, 0g 1a) I’m not a big fan of his play as he should be in the ECHL. Gets rubbed off the puck quite often and doesn’t generate enough contributions on the ice. Does show some speed at times and okay fore-checking, but other than that, it wasn’t a great showing in the first quarter. @Ski931 (69)
#17 John Quenneville - Inc.
(9 gms, 5g 3a) Missed 10 games due to a shoulder injury.
#18 *Blake Speers - 77.11 / C+
(19 gms, 2g 3a) How they’ve used the kid is a head scratcher to me. Seems to have good hands and a decent skater, should at least be Top 9 forward, but is buried on the fourth line. Doesn’t get PP time over a guy who belongs in the ECHL. Maybe they feel he needs to improve/learn the defensive side of the pro game first. What’s more puzzling is there hasn’t been a move up the depth chart despite the injuries up front. @RogieVachon30 (77)
#19 Blake Pietila - 83.55 / B
(17 gms, 5g 3a) Seems like a decent finisher. Lack of a play making center on roster doesn’t help. Uses his body well along the wall & responsible defensively. Would like to see him get regular 2nd unit PP time. He will be a serviceable NHL’er for NJD. I peg him for 20-25 goals. @RogieVachon30 (84)
#21 Kevin Rooney - 71.11 / C-
(19 gms, 4g 3a) Rooney is used on both the power play and penalty kill - 2 of his 3 goals were shorthanded! It is worth noting that despite this being only his 2nd professional season, Rooney has worn an A for the BingDevils a few times now. Overall, uses his size well and does his job - be it 3rd line grinder or special teams. Consistency and leadership are both things the team needs and I hope to see Rooney continue to mature into both of these, even if he may not be a high goal scorer for us. @AliciaS20 (73)
#22 *Brandon Gignac - 76.55 / C
(15 gms, 2g 1a) Brandon has played well enough to earn top line, yet has sunk back down to 3rd. His biggest strength is offensive conversion out of the zone. Reads the ice very well and is fast on his feet. But that brings us to his downfall; he can't find the scoresheet. He just has to not be afraid to make snap decisions and position himself better. Weak Q1, but being one of the youngest players on the team, time is on his side. I see him being a good playmaker with time. @crazybazookajoe (82)
#25 Nick Lappin - 90.88 / A-
(18 gms, 10g 5a) Unquestionably the best player on the team. He's as deserving of the C as Kearns is, especially having worn an A in nearly every game this season while coach tests the waters. Occasionally a victim of there being little scoring depth behind him outside of Quenneville and the aforementioned Kearns, but Nick's keeping the pace better than anyone. @crazybazookajoe (88)
#27 Ryan Kujawinski - Inc.
(1 gm, 0g 0a) Started out of the gate on the IR, played in one game and back to the IR he went.
#38 Bracken Kearns - 81.88 / B-
(19 gms, 3g 13a) Quietly leads the team in assists and points. Was brought in to be a veteran leader and has not disappointed. Has not stood out offensively, partially because of Lappin's torrent start, but has come in and done everything that has been asked of him. Should continue to wear an 'A' even after choosing a Captain. @enker1700 (80)
#42 *Nathan Bastian - 75.55 / C
(19 gms, 4g 3a) Hesitant beginning as he has had time to settle in in his first full season in the pros. Good speed and size for the 19 year-old as he’s emerged as my dark horse player on the club. I look for him to continue on in improving for the next quarter and beyond. @Ski931 (72)
#43 Ben Thomson - 69 / D+
(17 gms, 1g 0a) Not known for his point production, Thomson has played just about as expected. Known for his physical play, that’s what he has brought to the team this year. He tends to take penalties at inappropriate times which has resulted in some upset with fans and a lower than average rating by the Panel. @EmilyRose474 (70)
Goalies - 84.27 / B
Blackwood (62nd) and Appleby (55th) in rankings amongst all goaltenders in the AHL. The letter grade might appear on the high side right now in the first half of the quarter despite their recent inconsistencies.
#29 Mackenzie Blackwood - 83.55 / B
(13 gms, 3-5-3-1, 3.41 GAA 0.878 SV%) The young goalie has been able to step up in certain situations but has struggled to make up for a lagging team in front of him. He has the size and ability but needs to improve and tighten up in order for it to show. @EmilyRose474 (89)
#41 Ken Appleby - 85 / B
(7 gms, 3-4-0-0, 3.23 GAA 0.883 SV%) Can be a solid back-up and can steal a game or two when needed. Tall, agile in net but needs to watch for the ones that get by the five hole. Bright future is on the horizon for himself, but needs to buckle down and continue to learn the angles from a shooter’s advantage. Perhaps challenge the players, as he has a tendency to stay in net too long and often. @Ski931 (85)
Coaching Staff - 80.49 / B-
Rick Kowalsky & Sergei Brylin
The coaching staff has been adequate with what they have to deal with, a young, slightly inexperienced bunch of players that started out the season full of confidence that has recently appears fragile. The loss of JQ didn’t help matters for the offense with his fast start, but there have been inconsistency with the goaltenders and defense recently unlike the first half.
The team is in the middle of a six week run of three games in four days that has recently begged the question on the stamina of the players, as witnessed in last Saturday’s OT loss to Rochester after having a two goal lead late in the third period along with the previous night to the same club in a 10-3 loss. Perhaps some wind sprints during practice more often would help? @Ski931 (83)
So what exactly happened on why the early success didn’t continue towards the end of the First Quarter? My three theory's.
With an average age of 23.46 years old, the Devils are the sixth youngest in the league featuring seven rookies and eight second year pros. That we know. Let’s speculate with three theory's that have crossed my mind after the First Quarter.
Theory I: Binghamton is currently 3-6-2-0 at The Floyd, and and 4-3-1-0 on the road. Now, there were three sellouts on home ice and last Saturday drew 4000. Is the whole home ice issue something to consider on player’s stress level to perform unlike previous seasons, including Albany leading to a determent for the players?
Has the new atmosphere at home played an early role?
Theory II: As the BDevils got off to a hot start with them winning 6 out of their first 8, confidence and all around good feelings were at a premium spilling out of the locker-room banter onto the ice. I witnessed the smiles, high fives and the positive vibes that brought this team together in a new community. But, It was an emotional ride that all of a sudden crashed and burned. Was it too Emotional? They say in baseball, remain at an even keel no matter if it’s a win or a loss. Hockey is completely different.
So, is this team too fragile in the early going?
Theory III: I have mentioned the team looking tired during the latter stages of a game in several of my recaps and the lack of protecting a lead lately would help prove my thoughts otherwise despite some obvious circumstances like, simply having a bad night on the ice. But still, it has been brought up by others, including some members of The Panel, on the team looking “gassed” in the early stages of the third period.
Are the players doing enough in practice?
Your thoughts? Let me hear them. Let’s hope things improve with more consistency in the next 19 games of the Second Quarter for the Binghamton Devils.
Thanks for reading!
* = Rookie status
Inc. = Incomplete