Binghamton Devils Report II: Feat. Hammond, Pietila, Yakovlev, and More

Defenseman Egor Yakovlev has been terrific for Binghamton. (John Munson | NJ Advance Media for

Team Report

The Binghamton Devils have struggled over the past few weeks as they went 3-5-2 over their past ten games. Over this stretch, they have been outshot by 48 and outscored by 10. Interestingly enough, the power play and penalty kill both performed better. Over this span, the power play clicked at 29%, and they killed off penalties at a rate of 86%. Even after these improvements, they still rank in the bottom third of the league in special teams.

After winning three-straight games midway through their recent stretch of games, the Devils followed it up by dropping three in a row. This recent losing streak, which came this past weekend, saw two games against a team who brought a seven-game losing streak into the game – the Laval Rockets – and one game against the mighty Rochester Americans. This recent string makes a postseason berth very unlikely. The Devils, who own 51 points, are almost ten points out of a playoff race 55 games into the season.

These struggles do not come as a surprise. The Binghamton Devils have to sign many players to professional tryouts because the NHL club has been so banged up. Skaters Eric Gryba, Kevin Rooney, Blake Pietila, and Ryan Murphy have all been in and out of the lineup due to that reason. This has made head coach Mark Dennehy’s job virtually impossible.

The Good

Colton White has been a good defensive presence for the Binghamton Devils. (JustSports Photography)

Blake Pietila

Forward Blake Pietila was one of the reasons why the Devils went on a three-game winning streak. He led the team with 11 points (4G, 7A) in his last seven games played, and his shot has really been on display. When you think about Pietila’s game, his shot isn’t the first thing to come to mind, but in this instance it was great. Unfortunately, his defensive game wasn’t as strong as his struggles in that department were visible. However, Pietila is now the Devils’ leading scorer with 33 points in 42 games played. Do not be surprised if you see him up in New Jersey before year’s end.

Colton White

Defenseman Colton White was arguably the Devils’ best defenseman over the recent stretch of games. His puck sense has been great, which was visible by his will to successfully break out of the defensive zone. He was also able to bring a bit of a scoring touch as he totaled six points over his last 11 games. The Devils coaching staff must have noticed White’s solid play as he was promoted to the top defensive pairing alongside Egor Yakovlev.

Egor Yakovlev

Over the recent string of games, Yakovlev has bounced between Binghamton and New Jersey. When he’s been down with the minor league club, he has impressed. In his last six games, he has tallied eight assists. Generating offense as a defenseman is always great, but it’s not necessarily the main objective. When evaluating Yakovlev’s defensive game, he also graded out well. He did have some breakdowns, but on numerous occasions, he was able to break up odd-man rushes and successfully clear the puck. The New Jersey Devils should make it an objective to get Yakovlev back up with the club and feed him minutes.

Eric Tangradi

The 30-year-old winger had himself a very nice stretch. Over his last ten games, he tallied five-points and 23 shots on goal. Tangradi also had the game-winning goal with just over a minute left in the Devils 3-2 win over Cleveland on Feb. 9. His good work with the younger duo of Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian on what has been the Devils best line is evident. The Binghamton Devils assistant captain is now up to 17-points in 28 games played.

Michael McLeod

Binghamton’s most talented center wasn’t as impressive as he was in the first string of games this season, but he still was great. McLeod tallied eight points and 20 shots in 10 games. He anchors the Devils’ best line alongside Tangradi and Bastian. His will to backcheck and use his speed to exit and enter the zone is incredible. When he finally gets the call-up, Devils fans will instantly fall in love with his work ethic.

Nathan Bastian

The last part of the trio that led the Devils is Nathan Bastian. Over the last 10 games, he has tallied five goals and a very impressive 30 shots on goal. Bastian’s offensive game has really grown so far this year, as he is third on the team with 15 goals. He also owns a team-leading +8 rating. Bastian’s defensive game certainly needs work, but either way, he looks like a promising future bottom-six forward for the Devils.

The Bad

Forward Nikita Popugaev was recently signed. (Zimbio)

Colby Sissons

Colby Sissons has been in and out of the lineup over the past string of games, as he’s primarily serving as the team’s seventh defenseman. Whenever he is on the ice, he just seems like he is a step behind everybody else. He has shown flashes of potential, as he recently has a goal and has made a few nice defensive plays. His play has not been great, but he should deserve ice time over Tariq Hammond. However, until he can show consistency, it seems he’ll continue to be the odd-man out.

Josh Jacobs

In the last Binghamton Devils report, Josh Jacobs was evaluated as the team’s best defenseman. Unfortunately for Jacobs, since that last report, he has been paired with Tariq Hammond. Ever since this duo was put together, Jacobs has seen his ice time and play decline. Over his past nine games, he owns a -6 rating and was most recently a scratch in Sunday’s contest. His stellar defensive skills are still on display on some occasions, but most of the time he has to bail out his defensive partner. Jacobs can only do so much and playing with a weak teammate has taken a toll on his play.

Nikita Popugaev

It is way too early to correctly evaluate the Russian forward, as he’s only made three appearances since signing an AHL contract. However, it has not been an overwhelming start. The 6’6” forward looks extremely slow on the ice and has already made a few costly turnovers around the crease. Through his first three games, he hasn’t tallied a point and only has two shots. As mentioned above, it is still extremely early so do not get worried just yet.

Tariq Hammond

To put it bluntly, Tariq Hammond has been awful and yet still finds a way to remain in the lineup. In his past eight games, he owns a -7 rating. His lack of speed is apparent, and on numerous occasions, opposing players just blow by him. This has happened as recently as Sunday’s game and the video is above. To go along with his lack of speed, his decision-making is questionable as he’s turned the puck over numerous times. As you read above, it would have probably been much worse if Josh Jacobs did not bail him out on a few occasions.

Upcoming Schedule

February: 22nd vs. Belleville, 23rd vs. Utica, 26th vs. Syracuse

March: 1st @ Charlotte, 2nd @ Charlotte, 8th vs. Springfield, 9th vs. Rochester, 10th @ Rochester, 13th @ Hartford, 16th @ Syracuse


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