Binghamton Senators head coach Luke Richardson hopped on air for his usual Tuesday appearance with TSN 1200's Ian Mendes and Shawn Simpson yesterday afternoon. Richardson offered up his thoughts and updates ahead of Bingo's game three matchup with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tonight.
Here's what he had to say...
On the first two games:
It really went along the same lines as what you've seen in the NHL this year. A lot of close games, a lot of hard battles, a lot of overtime games. Both teams are pretty highly skilled and, you can imagine, Wilkes-Barre plays just like Pittsburgh, which is frustrating for Ottawa fans as well as Binghamton fans. They're hard, they're skilled, it really pushes us to the limit but our guys really stepped up to the test. With any luck at all we had a Shane Prince goal called back, they said it was a kicking motion in overtime, and then they got the bounce that went in on the first night. Then we came back from a 3-1 deficit, it was a real unlucky bounce off the boards where the door stanchion is and it came right out into the slot instead of a rim, they got the third goal and it looked like we were right out of it. Then obviously Stéphane Da Costa and Mark Stone really stepped it up and got us back in the game with a power play goal and a goal on the first shift of the third period and then obviously Da Costa finished it off in overtime. It was really thrilling, both teams are really battling and it's going to be one of those great series. Unfortunately it's a five game series so things happen quick and we've got to keep on our toes.
On the jump in intensity from the season to the playoffs:
Absolutely, especially the physicality I would say and the speed in the first two games. We took a bit of a risk and went with Ryan Dzingel and Garrett Thompson in the first game and we sat out Corey Cowick, which is a very popular big, physical player and Darren Kramer, same thing, and obviously things didn't work out in the first game and it looked like Ryan was a little bit wide-eyed. The difference in speed from the last two games of the season to that first game of the playoffs was such a difference. We made the switch right away and I think it worked out for the best for us in the long run. Obviously a bit of a mistake from the coach's viewpoint but on the merit of the end of the season we thought they deserved a shot. You've got to make adjustments quickly in the playoffs and it's just a sign of the speed and intensity of the playoffs no matter if it's the NHL or the AHL.
On Mark Stone's role:
We've talked about him many times over the year on what type of player and person he is, he is 100 per cent hockey. The intensity level he has every shift is amazing to watch and see and he rises above for the big moments in the big games. He's so good in his hockey sense and his stick skills to strip pucks on the forecheck in the offensive zone. That's what led to the game-tying goal on Saturday night, a really good forecheck on the first shift in, we got it deep, Da Costa and Cole Schneider had a really good forecheck and Mark Stone stripped a guy at the blueline, turned, walked down the pipe and just slammed home a slap shot low blocker side. You just felt the game change and the way he celebrated it was like, "I knew it was going in." The confidence level breathes right through the bench, everybody felt better, everybody felt stronger, everybody knew we were going to win that game. That's what he brings to a team. He's got leadership qualities just in the way he plays, he's not a loud, he's not a rah-rah guy but he plays with his heart on his sleeve every shift.
On Da Costa:
He's really grown as a competitor I would say, even more than a hockey player, in the last year and a half. You saw his skill level up in Ottawa this year, he can play in the NHL, he's starting to compete at the NHL level. Down here he has asked for more responsibility, faceoffs in the D-zone when the game is on the line at 3-2 or, like in overtime the other night, he just rises to those occasions. He's got more confidence in himself now and, even after this tough injury, the other night he's targeted. He's wearing the bird cage to protect his nose and face, he has to right now and he's a target. Everybody knows Zolnierczyk in Ottawa after his hit on Lundin last year. Physical player, hard-nosed player, he goes after guys on the body and even after the first period, there was a second left on the clock, it was a faceoff that meant nothing and Zolnierczyk went in and gave Steph a shot in the back of the legs. He turned around and went right after him. I don't know if everybody knows Zack Sill, real hard-nosed guy, he's right in Steph's face. He's not backing down from anybody right now. It's great to see this guy evolve into a competitor to match the talent he has.
On Nathan Lawson's injury status:
He just actually had a doctor's appointment and unfortunately he's not even on skates right now. He won't be back until lengthy into the playoffs, if that. You know with a goalie with a lower body injury he probably won't be able to catch up to speed. Right now we're thinking he's lost for the playoffs, unfortunately for us. Unless a miracle happens and we go two, three, four rounds into the playoffs, there's a chance he could get on the ice. Right now we're just banking on Andrew Hammond carrying the load and he has done a great job of doing that for us. Not only in the playoffs but the second half of the year with either Nathan up in Ottawa or injured.
On the mentality of a five game series vs. a seven game series:
Basically all you do is fast-forward it. You fast-forward it like it's split in the first two games and you make it a five game series. Now we've split the first two games so we're down to the best of three. Really it is a race, it's a sprint right now and we want to make sure we get off to a good start. Maybe we take a little solace in going into their rink and playing a real good, smart road game and try to get off to a fast start to put a little pressure on them and see how they react. Just play a solid 60 minutes of battling and that's what we've done so far and, you know, hope for a good bounce here or there or a good call here or there for us in the right direction. Come out on top in that third game and that really puts a lot of pressure on the home team.
To hear Luke Richardson's full interview and get the DIFD Mental Health Tip of the Week, you can listen on TSN 1200's website here.
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