After Saturday’s 2-1 shootout win at home vs. Albany, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins officially entered the stretch run, that being the fourth quarter. They currently sit 30-24-2-1, with 63 points good for fourth in the division and seventh in the conference after 57 games. The Penguins enjoyed moderate success in the win column, relying heavily on their defense and special teams penalty killing to keep them in close games. Bolstered by two very good goaltenders, the Pens have been involved in a bevy of one goal games.
In keeping with Quarter One and Quarter Two, below is my take on the players who suited up for the Penguins during this quarter. Each player is assigned a grade based off of third quarter performance only. Here goes:
Bobby Farnham — (19 GP, 1-1-2, +2) — Is the teams agitator. You’ll never see him contribute offensively and on the off chance that he does, it’s a bonus. Tends to go over the top in taking penalties, almost to falling into the unnecessary. Grade: B-
Brian Gibbons — (19 GP, 2-4-6, -1) — Teams fastest player. Uses his speed to get nearly a breakaway a game. His third period numbers are about the same as his second period output. He’s durable. Would still like to see more offense, though. Grade: C+
Riley Holzapfel — (19 GP, 6-6-12, even) — He’s remained consistent in his offensive output. Usually when he is on the team is winning and when he’s off the team struggles. With how inert the offense has been, there really is no in between. Grade: A
Chad Kolarik — (17 GP, 4-7-11, -7) — Brought over from the Rangers organization in exchange for the Benn Ferriero bust. Immediate impact made, as the numbers show. When he plays with a snarl to his game, as shown in the games with Hershey and when he played against his former team, he’s unstoppable. Grade: A
Tom Kostopoulos — (17 GP, 3-4-7, +1) — When the day comes to erect a Mt. Rushmore of famous players that have rolled through Wilkes-Barre, Kostopoulos’ bust will be there. When he first got here, I figured he’d be too old or too slow to keep up with the youth in the AHL. As with all veterans, he’s adjusted, with points in his last four games. He makes players around him better. Grade: B+
Jayson Megna — (19 GP, 0-2-2, -1) — I’ll try to be as nice as I can here. Megna struggles on the ice. Watch him next time. Nearly every time he touches the puck it is a turn over. He hasn’t done a thing offensively, looks undersized even for AHL and some nights is the biggest liability out there. Belongs in Wheeling, or some other place. I could go on, but I’ve railed enough on him. I sincerely hope he picks it up, and soon. Grade: F
Adam Payerl — (19 GP, 1-5-6, even) — I had to double check to make sure that Payerl has actually appeared in all the games this quarter and it is true, he in fact has. Showing himself well by getting in the lineup night after night. Kicks around usually on the Kostopoulos line and has benefitted from the veteran’s experience. Will continue to improve. Grade: B
Warren Peters — (16 GP, 4-2-6, +2) — Was injured in the exhibition intra-squad scrimmage in Pittsburgh or otherwise would have played in every game here. Does what he is asked of and you really can’t be upset with his production this quarter. Grade: B-
Zach Sill — (19 GP, 2-2-4, +3) — Third / fourth line center who isn’t really asked to chip in offensively but when he does, it usually means the team is rolling to a win that night. On an NHL contract, so would love to see more out of him offensively so maybe one day he can showcase his talents on the big stage in Pittsburgh. Grade: B
Trevor Smith — (19 GP, 5-9-14, -1) — The highest point producer for the quarter. Other teams mark Smith and he still goes out and scores. Here’s a player that I would love to go on an offensive tear. I still maintain that we have not seen the best out of Smith yet. Grade: A
Dominik Uher — (15 GP, 1-0-1, -1) — Slowly becoming my favorite player. Not afraid to get his nose dirty. Not afraid to stick up for himself or a teammate. Won’t be asked to score a goal a game but has showed that he is developing into someone who is hard to play against. Grade: B
Brian Dumoulin — (19 GP, 0-2-2, -6) — I am a bit troubled by these numbers from Dumoulin, especially since I tabbed him as my most improved player in the second quarter grades. You would have figured that with the lockout over, he would have shown better than this, especially in the plus / minus department. Grade: C
Alex Grant — (12 GP, 2-2-4, -2) — Grant is back from missing seven games with injury. Is a player that when he chips in offensively, the team is winning. Grade: B
Joey Mormina — (17 GP, 1-2-3, -2) — Was named team captain last week, a well deserved honor. For someone who was merely a utility player while the lockout was on, his season has almost come full circle. Grade: B
Joe Morrow — (19 GP, 2-2-4, +6) — I said last quarter that he was in the midst of a transition period. He’s shown himself well this period. I am expecting more good things from Morrow in the fourth quarter. Grade: B+
Dylan Reese — (15 GP, 1-2-3, -1) — Went up to Pittsburgh briefly. Since returning, is pointless and is a -2. NHL hangover? You want to see more out of Reese offensively. Grade: C+
Philip Samuelsson — (18 GP, 1-3-4, +7) — I have queried a few people on what they think of Samuelsson. Most don’t think too highly of him. The numbers and I disagree. He has the highest +/- on the team in the quarter and doesn’t string bad games together. Has to be in the discussion for teams best defenseman. Grade: A
Cody Wild — (8 GP, 0-0-0, +2) — I know Wild hasn’t got on the scoresheet yet, but offense really isn’t part of his repertoire, shutting down the other teams third or fourth line is. Grading on a curve here. Grade: B
Note: I sat down and worked out the quarter save percentage and goals against. Breakthroughs in mathematics! I’m proud of myself, you should be too.
Brad Thiessen — Appeared in nine games, posting a 5-3 record with a 0.913 SV% and a 2.37 GAA. Just when everyone thought Zatkoff was taking off as the teams #1 goaltender, Thiessen wins Goaltender of the Month in January. He and Zatkoff make for a top tier pairing in the AHL. Grade: A
Jeff Zatkoff — He appeared in thirteen games, went 7-4 with a 0.942 SV% and a 1.29 GAA. If the Penguins make the playoffs this season, Zatkoff is your team MVP. Insane numbers (or else my math is wrong) Grade: A+
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Players that have played only a few games in the third quarter, which you may or may not remember. No grades here, they all get “Incomplete.”
Chris Barton — (2 GP, 0-0-0, even) — Didn’t really make a splash while on recall from Wheeling, but having only played two games it is hard to even break the water.
Beau Bennett — (5 GP, 1-0-1, -3) — Recalled to Pittsburgh where he remains, sometimes on the third line, sometimes on the second line. Sometimes nine minutes a night or fewer. In my opinion the NHL does nothing for this first year pro who by all accounts should still be in the AHL putting up monster numbers.
Chris Collins — (5 GP, 0-0-0, -2) — Signed as a PTO a few weeks ago, returning after signing overseas last year and kicking around in North America. Hoping that he contributes and quickly.
Mark Eaton — (6 GP, 0-1-1, -5) — Signed as a tryout to get back in shape. As soon as he got in playing form, signed with Pittsburgh.
Steve MacIntyre — (6 GP, 0-0-0, +1) — Teams enforcer. Was injured somewhere after the February 9 game at Norfolk. Should be back soon.
Reid McNeill — (1 GP, 0-0-0, even) — had a very brief cup of coffee with the Pens. Is in the long term plans for the blueline.
Christiaan Minella — (4 GP, 0-0-0, +1) — Was up on brief recall from Wheeling, could turn out to be an everyday player for Wilkes-Barre in the future because he played hard while he was here. That’s all you can ask.
Paul Thompson — (4 GP, 2-2-4, -2) — This team misses Thompson so much it shows. Even missing all of the third quarter almost he is still fifth on the team in scoring.
I want you to disagree with me. Come on, tell me I am wrong. Comments are open. Let’s have at it!