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A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins
So this week, the AHL saw two teams punch their tickets to the Calder Cup Playoffs. Neither team is the number one team in this edition of the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings.
I’m not going to give it away, so you will have to pop through the jump to see who it is. And it is probably a team that will surprise you, but shouldn’t.
Anyway, there are teams that are shuffling in and shuffling out as playoff contenders. Some teams are in free fall mode. Some teams are ascending to glory. When you click through the jump below, you will see who, or perhaps as a fan of that team you already know what I am talking about.
I will shutup now and let you read on….
Earlier in the day today, the Phantoms recalled Jason Akeson (20-23-43) Mark Alt (1-6-7) and Olivier Lauridsen (3-3-6) were recalled by the Philadelphia Flyers for their afternoon game today. The trio of players were returned to the Phantoms in time for the game against the Penguins tonight. Only Akeson played of the three that did.
The Phantoms have lost four straight and are having all of the key elements of their team being taken away from them, were in for a doozy against Matt Murray and the high flying Penguins.
Or at least it seemed that way….
Wilkes-Barre lays an absolute egg tonight and loses 4-1. Despite outshooting the Phantoms 19-1 in the third period, couldn’t mount enough of a comeback and Rob Zepp and the Phantoms shut the door and take away the two points.
The Penguins need to play the same intense way that they play against the Hershey Bears when it comes to a team that they play 12 times a year, just like Hershey.
Matt Murray vs. Rob Zepp
The only lineup change from last night for Wilkes-Barre was Josh Archibald out and Pierre Leblond in. Adam Payerl bumped up to the second line from the fourth and Pierre Leblond took Payerl’s spot on the fourth line.
First Period: The Phantoms jumped the Penguins from the start. After a Dominik Uher and Brett Hextall fight at five seconds in, Lehigh Valley never looked back.
Scott Laughton scored on a power play with enforcer Zack Stortini in front causing a disturbance. 1:15 later, Jesper Pettersson scored from the high slot that made it 2-0.
With the Penguins in deep trouble and getting trucked by the Phantoms, John Hynes called his time out.
Things settled from there, including a Penguins power play that produced a few chances, but Wilkes-Barre would not score at all in this period.
Second Period: Needing a comeback, the Penguins just went through the motions and the Phantoms scored another goal, this time Steve Delisle on a shot that Murray just missed.
It was a while before the Penguins registered their first shot on goal in the period on Zepp. They finally got three on a late power play but were unable to score. Wilkes-Barre was outshot 10-3 in the period.
Third Period: Penguins pour on the pressure, get this goal from Andrew Ebbett….
VIDEO: Andrew Ebbett goal at Lehigh Valley http://t.co/YjssZwXfEc—
Jason Iacona (@nafsnep) March 29, 2015
…but nothing else. They had a power play late, but didn’t score on it and are now just 1 for 19 in their last 20 attempts.
Three Stars: 3) Jesper Pettersson (goal, +1) 2) Rob Zepp (33 saves on 34 shots) and 1) Scott Laughton (two goals, assist, +2)
Miscellaneous: First regulation loss for Matt Murray since a 5-0 loss to these Phantoms on January 31. Murray had been 11-0-1 prior to tonight’s game. And how about this gem from the VP of Communications for the AHL, Jason Chaimovitch…
Jason Chaimovitch (@JChaimo) March 29, 2015
Standings: Hershey 89 — Penguins 83 – Lehigh Valley 67 — Binghamton 64 — Norfolk 55
Conference: 1) MCH (92) 2) HER (89) 3) SYR (88) 4) WBS (83) 5) HFD (81) 6) PRO (81) 7) POR (80) 8) WOR (78)
Hartford and Providence both won their games tonight and are just two back of the Penguins for the four seed. All three teams mentioned in that last sentence are off Sunday. The Penguins and Wolf Pack have a game in hand on the Bruins.
Wheeling Update: The Nailers hosted the Reading Royals tonight. Box here.
SendToNews Highlights: Aren’t up yet. Not much to look at that you haven’t already seen in this blog recap.
The Week 25 AHL Power Rankings hit the blog at 4 Monday. Check them out then.
Let’s Go Pens!!!
Away Game: 34
AHL Game: 996
Who: Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Where: PPL Center
When: 7:05 p.m.
Lats Game: Last night in Binghamton, the Penguins won 3-1. Jayson Megna’s shorthanded goal in the first period held up as the game winner. For Lehigh Valley, the Phantoms lost Wednesday to the Syracuse Crunch by a score of 6-1. Blair Jones scored the only goal for the Phantoms in the loss.
Last Meeting: This past Sunday in Allentown, the Penguins won 3-0. Matt Murray had his AHL leading 10th shutout of the season, making 32 saves.
Record: For WBS: 38-21-3-4 (83 pts., 2nd place East Division) — For LV: 29-28-6-1 (65 pts., 3rd place East Division)
Why you should care: Penguins head to Allentown yet again for a matchup against a rested Phantoms team which did not play Friday. At this point for Lehigh Valley, you are playing for pride. The Phantoms will gleefully try and halt the short momentum the Penguins have gathered in these past two games since the two teams met Sunday.
Referee(s): Jamie Koharski
Linesmen: Tom George / Luke Murray
Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep
Television: AHL Live
Other Game to Watch: Last Stand for the East Division Weekend continues. Hershey hosting Manchester is really the only games that matters to Penguins fans. So far, so good, with the Penguins winning last night and the Monarchs taking the first game in regulation against the Bears. Pens need to win first tonight and hope the Monarchs to the same, preferably in regulation.
Next Five Games: HFD 4/1, WOR 4/3, LV 4/4, @ LV 4/8, @ POR 4/11
You never buy into the myth that a game is won or lost in the first five minutes of any given game. For the Penguins, it seemed that way. Here is why.
In the first five minutes of tonight’s game, the Binghamton Senators got in behind the Penguins defense and nearly scored. Noted Penguin killer Shane Prince hit the post of the net that Matt Murray was guarding.
The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins settled in, getting two goals in the first period, and Matt Murray made 25 of 26 saves en route to a 3-1 Penguins win tonight. Another solid performance by Murray, who lost his shutout bid in the third period with 4:22 remaining.
Murray is 11-0-1 in his last twelve starts, by the way.
Murray opposed Scott Greenham.
Scott Wilson – Andrew Ebbett – Tom Kostopoulos
Bryan Rust – Jasyon Megna – Josh Archibald
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dominik Uher
Bobby Farnham – Matia Marcantuoni – Adam Payerl
Brian Dumoulin – Taylor Chorney
Scott Harrington – Danny Syvret
Nick D’Agostino – Harrison Ruopp
Matt Murray – Jeff Zatkoff
Alex Boak took warmups but was the healthy scratch along with J-S Dea and Pierre Leblond. Bryan Rust was back in the lineup for the first time since February 21.
First Period: If Binghamton scores on those two partial breakaways that I spoke of in the open then it’s a much, much different ballgame. Thankfully they did not and Murray was able to make 11 saves in the period. Meanwhile, Tom Kostopoulos created a turnover, passed to Scott Wilson who put it on net which trickled in past Greenham with Kostopoulos providing interference to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
Then, with the Penguins about to go on the penalty kill, Andrew Ebbett wins a face-off and finds a streaking Jayson Megna exiting the zone. Megna turns on the jets and powers past the Binghamton defense and backhands one in past Greenham for a 2-0 lead. Only the third shorthanded goal scored by the Penguins this season.
Second Period: Penguins played a boring period. They were not about to let the explosive Binghamton offense start something that resembled a comeback. Matt Murray made some more saves, most memorable of the period a shoulder save that started a fight between Adam Payerl and Max McCormick.
Third Period: More saves by Murray, denying a quick developing two on one for Binghamton. Carter Rowney scores in a pile just as the Penguins power play expired to make it 3-0. At this time, it was all about whether or not Matt Murray would pick up his 11th shutout.
He wouldn’t. Freddy Claesson fired a shot that Max McCormick tipped in to put Binghamton on the board with 4:22 left. The B-Sens made it interesting late and Murray had to make some more key saves, but the home team would get no closer.
I do love this quote from Carter Rowney as told to Tom Venesky after the game…
Rowney on late BNG goal to ruin Murray SO bid: A couple of us on the ice almost felt like we lost the game just because we felt bad for him.—
TL Tom Venesky (@TLTomVenesky) March 28, 2015
Shows that while Murray may not pay much attention to shutouts and personal accolades, his teammates do.
Three Stars: 3) Scott Wilson (goal, even) 2) Jayson Megna (goal, +1) and 1) Matt Murray (25 saves on 26 shots)
The Penguins forechecking was ferocious tonight. I don’t know if the B-Sens are just in cruise control or what for the remainder of what is left of their season but the Penguins jumped on the B-Sens from about the face-off dots up to the blue line and caused many turnovers. One led to the first Penguins goal.
Around the Division: This is the last stand for the division. So far, so good. Hershey hosted the AHL leading Manchester Monarchs and were defeated 6-3. The Penguins need the Monarchs to win tomorrow, in regulation, and win in Allentown against the Phantoms which would pull them to within two points of the Bears. Elsewhere, Norfolk lost in overtime 4-3 to Albany and the Phantoms were idle.
Standings: Hershey 87 — Penguins 83 – Lehigh Valley 65 — Binghamton 64 — Norfolk 55
Conference: 1) MCH (92) 2) SYR (88) 3) HER (87) 4) WBS (83) 5) POR (80) 6) HFD (79) 7) PRO (79) 8) WOR (76)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers beat the Fort Wayne Komets by a score of 2-1. Eric Hartzell was in goal and stopped 35 of 36 and also picked up second star honors.
SendToNews Highlights: Are here.
Penguins travel to a rested Lehigh Valley Phantoms team that was idle tonight. Gameday for this will be up on the blog here at 3 p.m.
Let’s Go Pens!
Pretty dominating display here in Binghamton as the Penguins defeat the Binghamton Senators by a 3-1 score here in New York.
Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period with goals by Scott Wilson and a shorthanded effort by Jayson Megna.
They bottled up Binghamton in the second period and shut them down, not allowing any chances.
In the third it was more of the same. Carter Rowney added an insurance goal as a Penguin power play had just expired. Matt Murray’s bid for his 11th shutout of the season was spoiled by a Max McCormick redirect of a Freddy Claesson shot with 4:22 left.
Penguins inch closer to clinching a playoff spot. They also inch closer to the Hershey Bears, who were losing 6-3 last I looked.
Full recap will be up in a few hours. I have to make the trek back home.
Let’s Go Pens!!
Away Game: 33
AHL Game: 978
Who: Binghamton Senators
Where: Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena
When: 7:05 p.m.
Last Game: Sunday in Lehigh Valley, the Penguins won 3-0. It was Matt Murray’s records breaking tenth shutout with 32 saves. Tom Kostopoulos, Bobby Farnham and Scott Harrington also scored for the Penguins in the win. For Binghamton, the Senators were in Bridgeport Sunday and lost 7-1 to the Sound Tigers. Buddy Robinson scored the only goal in the blowout loss.
Last Meeting: Last Saturday in Wilkes-Barre, the Penguins lost 4-3. Taylor Chorney assisted on all three Penguins goals.
Record: For WBS: 37-21-3-4 (81 pts., 2nd place East Division) — For BNG: 28-29-7-1 (64 pts., 4th place East Division)
Why you should care: Penguins take on the B-Sens for the final time in Binghamton tonight. The B-Sens have given the Penguins fits of recent with their play. Wilkes-Barre will need to contain the B-Sens tonight and make them play more their style if they want to come back home with two points.
Referee(s): Darcy Burchell / Jamie Koharski
Linesmen: Andy Petrus / Francis Trempe-
Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep
Television: AHL Live
Other Game to Watch: If the Penguins have any realistic hopes of winning the East Division, they need Manchester to beat Hershey in Hershey in both games this weekend, preferably in regulation. The Monarchs have been the best team in the AHL all season long while the Bears have been one of the best teams in the AHL in 2015.
Next Five Games: @ LV 3/28, HFD 4/1, WOR 4/3, LV 4/4, @ LV 4/8
The Week 24 AHL Power Rankings have a familiar face at the top of the heap this week.
No, it isn’t a Griffin or a Bear. It’s a Monarch. The Manchester Monarchs have been consistently the best team in the AHL this season and are at the top of this weeks rankings.
You remember high school, don’t you? You remember the cool kids that had the world ahead of them and could do no wrong, right? Well, today, maybe that kid that was once cool isn’t so cool anymore and is on hard times. There is a team in this weeks Rankings that the Politboro makes that inference to.
It isn’t a Penguin, Bear, Griffin or Bruin. You will need to click through the jump to find out who. Read carefully!