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A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins
I figured since we passed out individual first quarter grades yesterday for the players on the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, we’d pass out first quarter grades for the entire East Division. Here goes nothing:
Adirondack Phantoms: (3-18-2-0, 8 points, 8th place) Team in mass turmoil. Best player on team thrown off team. Head Coach Greg Gilbert fired already. John Paddock replaced him. Band-aid on a bullet wound. Denis Hamel signed on with the team, netted the GWG in overtime versus Norfolk November 12 but the Phantoms haven’t won a game since. Now goaltender Johan Backlund is hurt and expected to miss a month, maybe more. You really have to feel sorry for what the players, coaches, front office and fans are going through in Glens Falls. Grade: F
Albany Devils: (9-11-0-0, 18 points, 6th place) Are 7-2 in one goal games, but 2-9 in two goal or more games. Most nights are not the best team on the ice and results show. Six game losing skid where they lost by an aggregate 30-13. Will most likely get left in the dust in the next 25 games by the rest of the East. Grade: C-
Binghamton Senators: (10-10-2-1, 23 points, 5th place) A Jekyll and Hyde team if there ever was one. Goaltender Barry Brust is 8-8 but is 2-0-1 vs. Wilkes-Barre, and just downright not fun to play against from a Penguins fan perspective because he has been so good. Will continue to play darkhorse and if they make it, may not be fun to play against come playoff time. Grade: B+
Charlotte Checkers: (13-8-1-2, 29 points, 2nd place) Started off 3-6-1-0 in their first ten games, then turned it around to 10-2-0-2 since, good for second in the division. Core starting to come together. Whether or not they are an elite team still remains to be seen. Grade A-
Hershey Bears: (12-9-0-1, 25 points, 4th place) Back to back defending champs slowed by offseason losses, call ups and injuries to top line guys. Rest of division seems to have caught and passed the Bears but they still remain a dangerous team. Have lost six games on home ice this year. Only lost six home ice games all last year. Still an extremely scary team to play, but need to start playing that way. Grade B
Norfolk Admirals: (12-6-3-1, 28 points, 3rd place) Own convincing wins over WBS, Bingo and Charlotte. Shootout and overtime losses to one of the Atlantic’s best in Portland hurt as does a shutout loss in Bridgeport, a game where the Sound Tigers dressed nine guys on PTOs. Scoring doesn’t appear to be an issue, they are the highest scoring team in the league. Grade: A
Syracuse Crunch: (7-10-1-3, 18 points, 7th place) Handed WBS it’s first loss but probably the biggest disappointment in the East right now. Anaheim affiliates are usually better than this. You can’t score if you don’t shoot, and the Crunch rank last in shots for with only 25 a game. If you let the other team shoot a lot, the law of averages will bite you, and Syracuse ranks last in shots against, letting opponents fire 34.86 shots per game at it’s netminders. Is also the 29th lowest scoring team in the league, only scoring 2.24 goals a game. Grade: D
Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins: (17-4-0-0, 34 points, 1st place) Penalty kill is an issue right now, ranking 20th overall in the league. But overall exceeding expectations at this point. We all knew this team was going to be good. But this good? $60,000 question is can this be sustained? Time will tell. Grade: A+
Feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comments section as always.