Chirps from Center Ice

A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

Sweeping St. John’s — Pens WIN 4-1

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I don’t want to say that the Penguins are back, yet. But this weekend is a step in a positive direction.

Wilkes-Barre is 7-1 in the regular season against the St. John’s IceCaps (where was this last June?) and dominated the weekend with a 4-1 win tonight.

Jeff Zatkoff vs. Peter Budaj

The lineup remained unchanged from last night.

First Period: Tom Grace used to coin the phrase, “it was OK if you like perfect.” That was the best way to describe the Wilkes-Barre / Penguin start of this game. They came out flying. Scott Wilson got his first goal of the game and his first professional goal and the first regulation lead for the Penguins in 2014-15. Wilson wheeled around a fallen Julian Melchiori and cut in and backhanded a shot past Budaj for a 1-0 Penguins lead.

Then, the Pens tacked on another when they cycled a puck down low. Tom Kostopoulos set up Jayson Megna in between the circles. Megna dished to an unmarked Nick Drazenovic who did not miss to give the Pens a 2-0 lead. It was two goals on four shots for Wilkes-Barre to this point.

The assault continued. I was listening to Brian Rogers tonight because of technical problems streaming the game from my iPad to my brothers Apple TV (sorry, Obie) and he said that Budaj was out there, “all alone” and it showed. The Pens did anything they wanted. They threw pucks on net, won face-offs, and looked great.

Second Period: The exact opposite of the first. St. John’s pressed the Pens into mistakes and the IceCaps capitalized. JC Lipon scores to make it 2-1 after the Penguins don’t clear. Head Coach John Hynes called time out afterwards to settle things down and slow the momentum, heading to the St. John’s side. Pens killed a late penalty and then needed to kill 1:59 of another one heading into the….

Third Period: The pendulum of momentum swung back to Wilkes-Barre’s side. It started with a nice 2-on-1 break shorthanded chance that Budaj stopped. Budaj was on point all night, really.

Tom Kuhnhackl crashed the net and Bryan Rust smacked home the rebound to extend the Pens lead back to two goals again.

Zack Torquato scored an empty netter with Budaj vacated.

Three Stars: 3) Brian Dumoulin (+3) 2) JC Lipon (goal, -1)  1) Nick Drazenovic (goal, +1)

Around the Division: Hershey wins in Springfield 4-1….Binghamton lost to Syracuse in Central New York 4-2…Lehigh Valley loses in their old stomping yard Glens Falls to the Adirondack Flames 4-2 and Manchester beats Norfolk 4-2.

Standings: Lehigh Valley 4 — Hershey 4 — Penguins 4 – Norfolk 4 — Binghamton 3

Conference: 1) WOR (6) 2) ALB (5) 3) LV (4) 4) SYR (5) 5) HFD 6) HER 7) MCH 8) WBS all have 4.

Wheeling Update: Nailers win their home opener 6-3. Eric Hartzell backed up. Carter Rowney had a goal and three assists and was named first star of the game.

SendToNews HIghlights: Are here.

Here is the postgame infographic from tonight’s game.

Pens fly out Sunday morning and head to Albany.

Let’s Go Pens!!!

GAMEDAY: @ St. John’s 10/18

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Away Game: 2

AHL Game: 50

Who: St. John’s IceCaps

Where: Mile One Centre

When: 6:00 p.m.*

Media Kit

Last Game / Last Meeting: Last night in St. John’s the Pens won 2-1. Reid McNeill scored in overtime to give the Penguins the win. Scott Kosmachuk scored for St. John’s.

Record: For WBS: 1-2-0-0 (2 pts., 5th place East Division) — For STJ: 1-1-2-0 (3 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division) — UPDATE!

Why you should care: The Penguins showed yesterday that they can in fact win hockey games. They now look for the sweep tonight in St. John’s to cap off a perfect weekend.

Referee(s): Terry Koharski

Linesmen: Justin Day / Jim Vail

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay // @IceCapsAHL

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /stjohnsicecaps

Instagram: wbspenguins / stjohnsicecaps

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie / @TLTomVenesky@telyrobinshort / @telybrendan

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / For STJ: Brian Rodgers

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep / @CharlesMDart

Radio: For WBS: WILK Newsradio / For St. John’s: Listen Live

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: Manchester is in Norfolk this weekend. The Admirals eliminated the Monarchs last Spring in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Next Five Games: @ ALB 10/21, SPR 10/24, @ HER 10/25, BNG 10/26, @ LV 10/29

* – game played in Newfoundland, Canada, which is 90 minutes ahead of Wilkes-Barre time.

Working Overtime and Winning — Pens WIN 2-1 (OT)

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I almost feel like saying to people what Aaron Rodgers said to Green Bay Packers fans a few weeks ago when the Packers were losing and not looking like the Packers.

Relax.

John Hynes didn’t forget to coach. Jeff Zatkoff didn’t forget to play goal. Philip Samuelsson didn’t forget how to play defense and Tom Kostopoulos didn’t forget how to skate.

The Penguins started out 0-2 to start their season, but they are finally in the win column after a 2-1 overtime win in St. John’s, after Reid McNeill’s slap shot after a J-S Dea faceoff win sent the away team home winners and spoiled the IceCaps home opener, where they raised an Eastern Conference Championship banner tonight.

Jeff Zatkoff vs. Peter Budaj

Lines were….

Scott Wilson – Nick Drazenovic – Jayson Megna
Adam Payerl – Zack Torquato – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Kuhnhackl – JS Dea-Rust
Dom Uher – Matia Marcantuoni – Bobby Farnham

Brian Dumoulin – Taylor Chorney
Barry Goers – Philip Samuelsson
Reid McNeill – Alex Boak

Jeff Zatkoff – Matt Murray

Scratches were Anton Zlobin, Nick D’Agostino, Pierre Leblond. Injury scratches were Conor Sheary and Josh Archibald. Obie said that Sheary was not on the trip and likely could be seen next weekend.

First Period: Pens would get an early power play but couldn’t generate a good look. The Pens really looked light years better from the effort put forth from last week, hitting everything that moved and dominating everything in the period. Zatkoff was tested just once, but made the saves.

Zack Torquato, fresh up from Wheeling, was everywhere. He hit two posts, and had a great period/

Second Period: Pens continued the dominance, but the grip started to loosen a bit. Pens had some chances shorthanded, but later the IceCaps would score off a faceoff when a pass was centered from behind the net to Scott Kosmachuk to give the IceCaps a 1-0 lead.

Third Period: Pens looked like the late second period goal had no affect on them as they came out flying again. But goaltender Peter Budaj continued to close the door on any opportunity the Pens had on evening the game. Finally, Jayson Megna came flying down the far wing and snapped a shot past Budaj to tie the game at one goal apiece.

The Pens then had a power play and agains looked like world beaters but Budaj was up to the task once again.

A few chances for the Pens shorthanded, but it was onto….

Overtime: Both teams had a chance to end it respectively. Then a long delay as the net came off the moorings behind Budaj. The mooring didn’t stay set, so after a lengthy delay, J-S Dea lined up for a faceoff and won it to McNeill who zipped one past Budaj and in.

The two teams rematch tomorrow at 6 p.m. Wilkes-Barre time.

Three Stars: 3) Scott Kosmachuk (goal, +1) 2) Peter Budaj (28 saves on 30 shots) 1) Jayson Megna (goal, +1)

Around the Division: Lehigh Valley beats Adirondack in their home opener in overtime, 4-3….Binghamton beats Portland at home 3-2 and Norfolk beats Manchester 3-2. Hershey was off.

Standings: Norfolk and Leigh Valley have 4. Binghamton has 3. Hershey and the Pens have 2.

Conference: A bunch of teams have 4 points. No one has five. The Pens, despite the two points, sit at the bottom of the Conference in 15th.

SendToNews HIghlights: Are here.

Coal Street put together an awesome infographic which you can look at here. This is something I hope that they get good at and do, often.

Gameday for the rematch tomorrow will be up at 3 p.m.!

Let’s Go Pens!!!

GAMEDAY: @ St. John’s 10/17

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Away Game: 1

AHL Game: 38

Who: St. John’s IceCaps

Where: Mile One Centre

When: 6:00 p.m.*

Media Kit

Last Game: Sunday in Wilkes-Barre, the Pens lost 4-1 to the Manchester Monarchs. J-S Dea scored his first professional goal and the only goal for the Penguins in the loss. For the IceCaps, they were in Bridgeport on Sunday and lost 6-3. Eric O’Dell had two goals and an assist in the loss.

Record: For WBS: 0-2-0-0 (0 pts., 5th place East Division) — For STJ: 1-1-1-0 (3 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division)

Why you should care: Penguins take to the road in search of their first win of the 2014-15 season on the site where their 2013-14 season ended. Expect a better effort than what you saw this past weekend in Wilkes-Barre.

Referee(s): Terry Koharski

Linesmen: Joe Maynard / Jim Vail

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay // @IceCapsAHL

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /stjohnsicecaps

Instagram: wbspenguins / stjohnsicecaps

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie / @TLTomVenesky@telyrobinshort / @telybrendan

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / For STJ: Brian Rodgers

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep / @CharlesMDart

Radio: For WBS: WILK Newsradio / For St. John’s: Listen Live

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: The Lehigh Valley Phantoms home opener is tonight against the team that replaced them in Glens Falls, the Adirondack Flames.

Next Five Games: @ STJ 10/18, @ ALB 10/21, SPR 10/24, @ HER 10/25, BNG 10/26

* – game played in Newfoundland, Canada, which is 90 minutes ahead of Wilkes-Barre time.

Fun with Charts

Late last year I saw Joy Lindsay, the old beat writer for the Binghamton Senators, tweet a chart that went inside of the usual boxscore and covered a players stats when they were on the ice for a goal scored, in all situations. Even strength, power play, short handed, for, against, everything. Since there isn’t “advanced statistics” here in the AHL, Joy’s idea was the next best thing, in my opinion.

So, I have decided to run with Joy’s idea this season and maintain my own chart tracking every player that steps on the ice for the Penguins this season. These charts are going to be on a page, which you can click to at anytime on the top of the blog. It will be referred to weekly, as I update it. Should be fun to track this year. There’s nothing much to it now, but there will be as the season wears on.

You can click to the chart here. There will be a dedicated, “Charts” tab at the top of the blog all season long.

AHL Power Rankings: Week 1

The first weekend is in the books for the 2014-15 American Hockey League.

For some, the season has started out great.

For some, they left a little on the table.

For others, they are looking for the reset button.

If you are new to the blog and new to these rankings, this is just one man’s opinions on where these teams should be ranked, if AHL Power Rankings were a thing. These Rankings were a highly talked about item here on the blog last year, so if you think I am wrong with the rankings, leave me a comment.

A new season, a new look! I changed up the formatting for something I believe will be easier for me to build on Sundays and easier for you to read. A test audience in the summertime loved the new look, so jump through to get started…..

Read more of this post

King Me! — Pens LOSE 4-1

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Oh boy.

After a promising preseason, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins will wake up on Columbus Day tomorrow staring at an 0-2 record.

The numbers, and I will get into them this week as I roll out a feature I used late last season, will speak for themselves. Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, through two games, is 0-2, with a 4.51 GAA and a .735 SV%. 9 goals allowed on 34 total shots. That isn’t good.

But it’s not just on Zatkoff, and I hope to paint that picture as to why later this week when I construct and add up my chart I will roll out this week. I’m not teasing you to come back and I am, I just haven’t put it together yet and I want you to come back and look at it and see for yourself.

Anyway, this game, a 4-1 Penguin loss. It was Jeff Zatkoff vs. J-F Berube.

Lines were….

Anton Zlobin – Jayson Megna – Bryan Rust
Tom Kuhnhackl – Conor Sheary – Tom Kostopoulos
Dominik Uher – JS Dea – Adam Payerl
Pierre Leblond – Matia Marcantuoni – Bobby Farnham

Brian Dumoulin – Philip Samuelsson
Reid McNeill – Taylor Chorney
Nick D’Agostino – Barry Goers

Jeff Zatkoff – Matt Murray

In were Tom Kuhnhackl and Adam Payerl for Scott Wilson and Nick Drazenovic and Nick D’Agostino for Harrison Ruopp. The other scratches were Josh Archibald (shoulder) and Alex Boak.

First Period: :27 in, the Monarchs score. A seemingly harmless wrist shot from the blue line and in over Zatkoff’s shoulder and in. Penguins would get a few power plays and nearly scored on one, but Brian O’Neill would score for the Monarchs to push the Monarchs lead to two. Wilkes-Barre had a late power play that was a mess.

Second Period: JS Dea would get a goal for the Pens from the blue line, Adam Payerl was in the area and provided interference. The goal came on a delayed penalty call on the Monarchs.

The Penguins were finding the gas. They were creating opportunities. It looked like they were going to tie the game.

No. Vincent LoVerde found himself wide open in the slot, made a few moves and deked a puck past Zatkoff to re-establish the two goal lead.

You could feel all the air leave the building, because the Penguins would get no closer.

In fact, the Monarchs got father away. Zatkoff let in another questionable goal from the blue line and the Monarchs had a 4-1 lead.

Third Period: The Penguins did not allow the Monarchs a single shot on goal this period. The Penguins fired seven, all saved by Berube, including one while the Penguins were on a 5:00 power play when Kevin Raine crashed Adam Payerl into the boards. Payerl went to the locker room but came back and appeared fine.

This was especially impressive, because the Penguins played this period without the services of Reid McNeill, who left the game with some type of injury Coach John Hynes had no update on post game.

Three Stars: 3) Vincent LoVerde (goal, +3) 2) Kevin Raine (goal, assist, +2) 1) Brian O’Neill (goal, assist, +1)

Around the Division: No one else played.

Standings: Norfolk 2 — Lehigh Valley 2 — Binghamton 1 — Hershey 0 — Penguins 0

Conference: St. John’s has 3. Hartford, Lehigh Valley, Portland, Albany, Springfield, Manchester and Worcester have 2. It’s never too early to start counting points. Oh, the Penguins are dead last in the Conference.

Wheeling Update: Nailers are in their preseason, and lost a preseason game 5-3 to the Cincinnati Cylcones, 5-3. Eric Hartzell stopped 10 of 13, Clark Seymour was a -3.

SendToNews Highlights: I don’t think there is anything that any Penguins fan will want to see of the highlights, but for posterity sake, here they are.

My AHL Power Rankings hit the blog Monday at 4 p.m. New format this year, check them out then. Also, I’ll be debuting the chart this week at some point, probably Tuesday. I may be tweeting some things on it as I build it, so if you aren’t yet, follow me on Twitter, @nafsnep.

Let’s Go Pens!

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