This week I dive right into the story line as of late in the Devils’ Organization and what the fallout means in Binghamton. The list includes the lack of a named Captain, followed by a semi-profile request I brought upon via Twitter Survey, but I begin with the goaltending situation with all the recent activity surrounding the Devils’ Organization and what it means.
Fact: Ken Appleby was chosen as the #1 goaltender before his departure to New Jersey.
Fact: Eddie Lack started in four straight games before suffering a lower body injury going into now, week two.
Fact: Mackenzie Blackwood has improved since his recent call-up from the ECHL.
When Lack returns from injury, I’m sure he’ll try to take off from where he left off from with his $2.75 million price tag intact that makes him a starter for the majority of games while he’s in Binghamton.
But unfortunately, it’s been a slow recovery for the 30 year-old, as his services could be a big help with the recent injury bug that’s happening in NJ to Keith Kinkaid and now, Cory Schneider.
Now it might be Blackwood’s turn to back up Appleby in NJ, as he just returned from the Adirondack Thunder where he went 1-1-0-0, 2.43 GAA 0.918 SV% in two appearances and was recently called back to fill in for the injured Lack.
Looking back, Blackwood started last weekend and won on Friday in Springfield before falling to Toronto the very next night. In both games, he let in three goals in 17:00 and was average at best, but not as bad before his demotion it would appear. Meanwhile, Colin Stevens of the ECHL Wheeling Nailers was signed to a PTO and served as back up and could possibly play a larger role coming up with or without Lack.
As of now, it looks like Appleby will be up with the big club for a lengthy visit after Kinkaid was placed on IR with a groin injury. That’ll leave Lack and Blackwood the tandem in Binghamton moving forward but with Schneider possibly out, that’s going to obviously change.
Whatever happens, NJ fans should have nothing to worry about in Appleby as he is the real deal. Quick and agile on his feet to support his big frame while possessing a quick glove between the pipes. I’ve become a big fan of his in the short time he was here and I am elated to be able to watch his development in his short time in Binghamton. Ben Bishop comes to mind as a quick comparison, but with better youth movement favoring him.
Captain (Or Perhaps Lack Of)
In what has been an odd occurrence in recent memory, there is no Captain named for the BDevils. Why is that? Surely, Coach Rick Kowalsky knows it is his responsibility to name one, or for the utmost of the team to at least vote on one.
I did a quick on-line search and found out that we are not alone as Binghamton is one of five clubs in the AHL that do not have a current Captain. Springfield, Rockford, Cleveland and San Diego are the others. I don’t know the answer as to why this is, but have been told the players know whom the leaders are on, as well as off the ice.
Coach Kowalsky has mentioned Bracken Kearns, Brian Strait and Kevin Rooney could all be possible picks to fill the role but for now, just like the entire first half of the season has dictated, the alternating A’s are a thing. Between Viktor Loov, Blake Pietila, Nick Lappin, Tim Kennedy, Rooney, Strait and Kearns, they all alternate from home games vs road ones.
It should be noted that Kearns was selected as one of the Captains in the upcoming All-Star Events to take place in Utica on January 28th and 29th. Just saying.
If you ask me, I don’t really give too much credence to the player donning a letter, or lack of a letter C on his jersey. The sport has changed so much back from the past, it’s an entirely different animal in my eyes. When old time hockey existed back in the day, you had your Captain and he led his troops to battle with wooden sticks, battle scars and knuckles taped as part of any fisticuffs that were surely planned to happen between two rivals.
Pregame preparations were in check and ready for action, especially at the minor league level.
Nowadays, skill and finesse prospects have evolved and taken over the sport. What remains is us old time fans that have so endeared in the past, are being weeded out compared to modern, more traditional standards.
But I’ve adapted to today’s concept to an extent, however I’ll admit, I still miss old time hockey led by, my Captain.
Fans Want To Know
I presented a Twitter survey with the following question and here are the results:
So let’s get to it. John Quenneville.
I ran an article in late August on Quenneville and what is to be expected coming into the season however, it was a bold attempt, I’ll admit on my part in not having seen him play in the past for Albany, but perhaps now I can do a follow up after half a season in the books in Binghamton.
JQ has recorded 10 goals and 11 assists in 29 games for the BDevils as he is in fourth place on the club with 21 points behind current leader defenseman Jacob MacDonald (30), and Nick Lappin along with Bracken Kearns stuck at 26 apiece.
His point total certainly falls short despite his expectations so far this season, as JQ has found himself consistently on the first line with Tim Kennedy at center and Nathan Bastian on the other side at right wing. However, The Panel review on JQ in the 1st Quarter were incomplete as he missed quite a few games with an shoulder injury after a hit that sent him into the boards.
The 2nd Quarter Grades results he scored a 87 from The Panel, second only to MacDonald with an 87.87. I broke it down on more simple terms with my evaluation so far with Pros vs Cons;
- Possesses a very quick and deadly shot
- Reads the ice extremely well with a high IQ focused on offensive assertiveness
- Willing to take chances that has paid off around the net with his abilities
- Tends to be soft at times
- Needs to be more stable on his feet anticipating a hit
- Doesn’t like to get dirty in the corners
JQ has been a fixture on the first power play unit and also time killing penalties. If you are looking for the go to guy with the game on the line, he is it. Moves the puck very well with great hands and vision. Takes a shot from all angles that will bite an opposing goalie if they’re not paying too close attention.
But some off season training wouldn’t hurt in adding some pounds down the road at some point for the 22 year-old forward.
I just don’t know how well that will translate for the big club both if and when he gets that opportunity, but it’s worth a shot at anytime soon to see how far he has progressed/digressed since last season in Albany.
There’s still time for JQ to some extent, but it’s rapidly dwindling with the young talent currently surrounding the front lines in NJ, as this might very well be his last shot within the organization before the season ends, as I don’t see him around for a second term in Binghamton with his 3-year, $2,527,500 entry-level contract signed in July of 2015 is up.