Chirps from Center Ice

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

Killing Me Softly — Pens LOSE 4-2

ALB          vs.          HER

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All you need to know about this game, a 4-2 Penguins loss, is the following:

The Penguins allowed the Albany Devils to score three times on the power play tonight and it cost them. That was where the game was won and lost this evening. It was pretty equal at even strength in a tight checking, defensive battle. The Devils were just the better team on special teams tonight.

Let’s take a quick look around the AHL East at the other action before we get to the rest of the recap, shall we?

– The Hershey Bears couldn’t beat Phantoms goaltender Anthony Stolarz, even with 32 shots at him, including half in the first period (for a 16-1 shot advantage) and it cost them as they lost 2-0.
— The Binghamton Senators can’t play defense, up 4-1 at one point to the Springfield Falcons and lost 6-5. The fact that the B-Sens can’t play any defense at all cost them tonight.

So the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins were extremely lucky to lay an egg tonight but still not have it cost them that badly in the division, as no matter what happens tomorrow, the Pens will still lead the East Division by Christmas.

It was 2-0 Albany after forty minutes of insomnia busting hockey before Conor Sheary connected in the third period on a power play goal that beat starting Devils goaltender Scott Clemmensen low to draw Wilkes-Barre within one with a lot of time to play.

But an Adam Payerl slash at 14:42 would put the Devils on the power play yet again and Brandon Burlon wasted no time in scoring the third Albany power play of the night that made it 3-1.

Fifteen seconds later, a soft floater off of the stick of Derrick Pouliot from the blue line beat Clemmensen to draw the Penguins to one again.

But time was the enemy of the Penguins and with starting goaltender Matt Murray pulled, ex-Penguin Paul Thompson buried the empty netter from center ice to squelch any comeback hopes.

John Hynes is in a tough spot. The Penguins sleepwalked through most of this game, but with half of his usual staff in Pittsburgh, how do you send a message? Clark Seymour and Sahir Gill were the healthy scratches tonight. Nick Drazenovic returned from injury and centered a line with Tom Kuhnhackl and Jayson Megna.

Jeff Zatkoff was reassigned from Pittsburgh this morning by the way. Eric Hartzell hasn’t been officially sent back to the ECHL yet, as he wasn’t with the Nailers tonight as they hosted Greenville, in a game that Wheeling lost 1-0.

There was a bunch of stuff that went on Friday afternoon that I never got around to blogging about. In no set order,

On Thursday, it was announced that Bill Guerin will serve as one of the honorary captains of the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic in Utica. Guerin served as a player development coach here in Wilkes-Barre and now is an Assistant GM in Pittsburgh.

On Friday, it was announced that Tom Kostopoulos will serve as the honorary captain for the Eastern Conference All-Stars in Utica in late January. A dubious distinction for the veteran Kostopoulos, as the playing captains are selected by the AHL President, Dave Andrews.

Nice story here on Defenseman Derrick Pouliot.

In other East Division action, the Norfolk Admirals were defeated 5-2 by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The two teams rematch tomorrow.

Penguin still lead the East with 35 points. Hershey trails by four, Lehigh Valley by five, Binghamton by eight and Norfolk by thirteen.

Conference is Manchester leading with 40, Syracuse with 39, Wilkes-Barre with 35 then Springfield with 39, Hartford with 33, Providence with 32 and Albany and Hershey with 31 each.

SendToNews highlights are packaged here. Unless your name is Tracey or Amy, nothing to see from a Wilkes-Barre perspective.

Pens are in Binghamton tomorrow night. I’ll be there. With two teams coming off stinkers the night prior, should be interesting.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: vs. Albany 12/19

vs. 

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Home Game: 16

AHL Game: 416

Who: Albany Devils

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Sunday at home vs. Hershey, the Pens won 3-2 in overtime. The Pens scored two goals in :38 and then Adam Payerl scored the game winner in overtime. For Albany, the Devils hosted the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in Atlantic City and won in overtime 4-3. Tim Sestito netted the game winner for the Devils.

Last Meeting: November 21 in Albany, the Penguins won 5-1. Josh Archibald, Scott Wilson and Jayson Megna each had a goal and an assist.

Record: For WBS: 16-9-1-2 (35 pts., 1st place East Division) — For ALB: 12-9-1-4 (29 pts., 4th place Northeast Division)

Why you should care: Devils always give the Penguins fits. Can the Penguins continue their great record on Fridays?

Referee(s): Pierre Lambert

Linesmen: Francis Trempe / Luke Murray

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @AlbanyDevils

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /albanydevils

Instagram: wbspenguins / albanydevils

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie and @TLTomVenesky@Pete_Dougherty and @Bill_Cain_

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / For ALB: Josh Heller @Josh_Heller

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep / @trace_1114

Radio: For WBS: WILK NewsRadio / For Albany: 104.5 The Team

Television: AHL Live

Promotion(s): None

Other Game to Watch: Springfield is in Binghamton tonight. The Penguins travel to Binghamton tomorrow.

Next Five Games: @ BNG 12/20, @ BNG 12/26, BRI 12/27, NOR 12/28, HER 12/31

Mumps in the Road

You think that you have heard the last of mumps, but today it was revealed that Marc-Andre Fleury, Robert Bortuzzo and Olli Maatta weren’t feeling well today and were being tested for mumps.

As a result, Pittsburgh recalled Jeff Zatkoff. In a reactionary move, Coal Street recalled Eric Hartzell. Matt Murray, for the time being, is the man in net.

GM Jim Rutherford said today that the results on the tests for Fleury, et. al would be known in three days. They are quarantined. So forget about Zatkoff coming back this weekend.

There is no need for recall for Bortuzzo or Maatta, who were already down with injuries.

Wilkes-Barre has seen this fish before with Zatkoff going down with injury once this season in October against Albany. Matt Murray is more than capable of handling the number one job here with Eric Hartzell as his capable backup.

The Penguins host Albany Friday and travel to Binghamton Saturday.

AHL Power Rankings: Week 10

A Monarchy this week here in Week 10 of the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings.

Despite an Atlantic Division team leading this week, the Northeast Division is the Power Conference. There are four teams in the division that are in the top eight in the Eastern Conference. The Springfield Falcons were dethroned by Manchester this weekend, but don’t let that fool you. Also, there is a team in that division not mentioned here who I call the AHL’s best team. You shouldn’t have to scroll down too far to see who.

You should know the drill now. Hop through the jump if you haven’t linked in from someplace else to see where everyone ended up this week.

Read more of this post

Overtime? It Payerl’s Off! — Pens WIN 3-2 (OT)

HER        vs.        WBS

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The newspaper guys would love this one.

The Penguins, seemingly on their way to a five point weekend and a five point East Division lead over the rival Hershey Bears, are 2.7 seconds away from doing just that when Chris Brown walks into the Hershey offensive zone with time dripping off the clock, winds and fires and the puck somehow eludes starting goaltender Jeff Zatkoff. The Bears stun the Penguins and force overtime.

Enter Adam Payerl. A player who hasn’t scored a goal all season long and when the organization is healthy, has found himself a scratch more times than not. An overtime three on one leads to a four on one. A Conor Sheary shot off of Hershey starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer is saved, but Sheary follows his own rebound, dishes to Payerl who buries the shot past Grubauer sending the Penguins home with the win and Payerl and to a lesser degree Zatkoff, vindicated.

Someone with a journalism degree could write it a little differently than that, but the overall picture is painted and any reader to this blog should get the point.

A 3-2 overtime thriller win for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins and a four point cushion over the Bears to second with a ragtag scratch lineup bereft of stars. Five points out of the weekend. How John Hynes and Alain Nasreddine have managed this with the lineup pillaged from injuries to Pittsburgh stifles me.

Scott Harrington was recalled to Pittsburgh at 5 p.m. today. The Penguins didn’t have a single healthy scratch this afternoon. Here’s what the lineup looked like:

Tom Kostopoulos – Carter Rowney -Adam Payerl
Conor Sheary – J-S Dea – Jayson Megna
Tom Kuhnhackl – Sahir Gill – Josh Archibald
Pierre Leblond – Matia Marcantuoni – Dom Uher

Reid McNeill – Taylor Chorney
Derrick Pouliot – Goers
Nick D’Agostino – Alex Boak

Jeff Zatkoff – Matt Murray

First Period: The goaltenders posts were the story of the period. Conor Sheary creates a turnover and rings one off the post. A while later, the Bears ding the post off a wacky shot from the blue line that rainbowed and clipped the top of Zatkoff’s net. Shots were 6-5 Penguins at the end of the first of a pretty even period.

Second Period: Bears get their first power play but don’t score but immediately thereafter went on another power play. You can’t do that if you are the Penguins. It cost them. Connor Carrick unloaded from the blue line and it went in.

The Penguins had a chance to tie it with a long period of 5-on-3 (1:53) but the Bears top penalty killing unit killed it all off.

Then, in a span of :38, the Penguins had the lead.

- J-S Dea cleaned up a rebound on a power play.
– Dominik Uher followed in similar fashion for the 2-1 lead.

Play opened up after that, but it went 2-1 into the….

Third Period: Penguins played that boring, don’t give up the lead, don’t make dumb mistakes style of hockey. The Bears hemmed Wilkes-Barre in a few sequences, but the time continued to drip down. With less than a minute and with Grubauer vacated, the Pens had a few shots at the empty net but didn’t capitalize. Brown came racing up the right wing and fired a shot that plum beat Zatkoff via the glove.

Overtime: A couple of chances both ways, but the Bears turn the puck over in their zone, Sheary and Payerl lead a two on one that developed into a three on one. Payerl overshot his pass to Sheary. Sheary needed to collect it, put a shot on net that Grubauer made a great save on that rebounded back to Sheary who passed to Payerl who ended it with a nice wrist shot on net.

Whew.

Three Stars: 3) J-S Dea (goal, even) 2) Dominik Uher (goal, +1) and 1) Adam Payerl (overtime game winning goal, assist, +1)

Around the Division: Albany finally wins a game in overtime, with a 4-3 win in Atlantic City against Lehigh Valley.

Standings: Penguins 35 – Hershey 31 — Binghamton 27 — Lehigh Valley 26 — Norfolk 22

Conference: 1) SPR (37) 2) MCH (36) 3) WBS (35) 4) SYR (35) 5) HFD (33) 6) HER (31) 7) PRO (30) 8) 8) ALB (29)

Wheeling Update: Nailers finally get a win against the Reading Royals by a score of 3-2. Eric Hartzell took home third star honors with 36 saves.

SendToNews Highlights: YouTube instead, cause it plays nice with WordPress…

Week 10 AHL Power Rankings hit the blog at 4 p.m. Monday. Check them out then. I’ll have whatever news or notes I can scrape throughout the week.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: vs. Hershey 12/14

vs. 

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Home Game: 15

AHL Game: 393

Who: Hershey Bears

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 4:05 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Last night in Allentown against the Phantoms, the Pens lost in a shootout 2-1. J-S Dea had the only goal for the Pens in the loss. For Hershey, reigning AHL Player of the Week Chirs Conner stayed hot with a goal and three assists as the Bears defeated the Binghamton Senators by a score of 5-2.

Last Meeting: Last Sunday in Hershey, the Pens won 3-2. Derrick Pouliot had two goals for the Pens in the win.

Record: For WBS: 15-9-1-2 (33 pts., 1st place East Division) — For HER: 14-10-1-1 (30 pts., 2nd place East Division)

Why you should care: If the Penguins can close out the weekend with against Hershey today, it would bloat the lead over the Bears to five points. A loss would mean a point separates the Penguins and Bears for the division lead.

Referee(s): Kendrick Nicholson / Evgeny Romasko

Linesmen: Leo Boylan / Ryan Knapp

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @TheHersheyBears

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /TheHersheyBears

Instagram: wbspenguins / thehersheybears

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie / @TLTomVenesky // @timleone

Broadcasters: WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / HER: Scott Stuccio @ScottStuccio

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep / @ChocHockey

Radio: For WBS: WILK News Radio / For Hershey: 1460 The Ticket 

Television: AHL Live

Promotion(s): None

Other Game to Watch: Albany hosts Lehigh Valley in Atlantic City today.

Next Five Games: ALB 12/19, @ BNG 12/20, @ BNG 12/26, BRI 12/27, NOR 12/28

Seeing Stolarz — Pens LOSE 2-1 (SO)

WBS       @       button_lv200

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If the Penguins ever deserved to win a game, it was this one.

But rookie Phantoms goaltender Anthony Stolarz wasn’t going for it.

Anchored by a 44 save performance by the rookie Stolarz, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms win this game by a score of 2-1 against the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.

Matt Murray vs. Anthony Stolarz.

News of the day was that Bobby Farnham and Bryan Rust were recalled Saturday morning to Pittsburgh and Jayson Megna was sent back. That said, here is what the lines looked like tonight…

Tom Kostopoulos – Carter Rowney – Adam Payerl
Conor Sheary – JS Dea – Jayson Megna
Tom Kuhnhackl – Sahir Gill – Josh Archibald
Pierre Leblond – Matia Marcantuoni – Dom Uher

Scott Harrington – Taylor Chorney
Reid McNeill – Derrick Pouliot
Nick D’Agostino – Barry Goers

Matt Murray – Jeff Zatkoff

Alex Boak took part in warmups again but was scratched.

First Period: At 1:15, a Brett Hextall shot rebounded to Petr Straka that put the Phantoms on the board first for the 1-0 lead. Penguins lost D zone coverage that led to the goal. Wilkes-Barre settled in from there and got two power plays but didn’t capitalize. Stolarz had a nifty save sliding back over the opposite way that stopped a Barry Goers back door rebound attempt.

Second Period: The Penguins did everything they could to score in this period but Stolarz would remain stout in net and stopped all 12 Wilkes-Barre shots fired this period. It seemed all four lines were rolling, Matia Marcantuoni kept his legs moving on a puck behind the net, centered to Pierre Leblond in front but no dice. Tom Kostopoulos and Carter Rowney worked a two on one but Rowney never got a good enough shot off. It seemed like a methodical wear down of the Phantoms by the Penguins but Stolarz kept them out.

Third Period: Finally, the Pens broke through and got the tying goal. Jayson Megna threw a puck on net that J-S Dea whacked in through a pile of bodies to tie the game at one. That was enough to force…

Overtime: Megna and Dea had a bunch of chances to end the game in overtime, but never did so it was onto….

Shootout: Josh Archibald and Petr Straka cashed on their attempts, Conor Sheary and Jason Akeson missed theirs. Tom Kuhnhackl and Taylor Leier scored theirs. Jayson Megna missed his and Nick Cousins deked Murray down to score his and the Phantoms took the extra point home with them.

Three Stars: 3) Petr Straka (goal, +1) 2) Anthony Stolarz (44 saves on 45 shots) and 1) Nick Cousins (shootout game winning goal, -1)

Around the Division: No matter what happens in tomorrow’s game against Hershey, the Pens will stall lead the East Division by at least a point, maybe five. That is because the Bears beat the Binghamton Senators by a score of 5-2…. Norfolk beat Springfield 4-3.

Standings: Penguins 33 – Hershey 30 — Binghamton 27 — Lehigh Valley 25 — Norfolk 22

Conference: 1) SPR (37) 2) MCH (36) 3) WBS (33) 4) SYR (35) 5) HFD (31) 6) HER (30) 7) POR (28) 8) PRO (28)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers lost to the Reading Royals by a score of 2-1. Eric Hartzell took the loss, stopping 21 of 23 shots.

SendToNews Highlights: Phantoms will probably have them and when they do I will link in.

Pens wrap up the weekend with a 4 p.m. start against the Bears. Gameday for that will be up a high noon Sunday.

Let’s Go Pens!

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