Chirps from Center Ice

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

First Quarter Grades

The Penguins hit the quarter pole of the 2014-15 season with a 5-1 win in Albany on Friday night. To make it easier on me to pass out grades, I have included the stats that went with the 3-2 loss to Manchester Saturday night bringing the total games played by the Penguins to 20 instead of 19. I’ll adjust in future quarters.

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins sit at the top of the East Division with a 11-8-1-0 record, good for 23 points. With a lineup full of first and second year guys and not hit by the injury or call-up bug that badly, I don’t think I could come across anyone upset with the start that the Penguins have had.

One thing you will see me refer to from time to time in player capsules is GF%, which is part of my season long examination of goals scored both for and against the Penguins, in all situations. You can link over to that here, but know that the numbers I refer to are only good to before Wednesday night’s game in Hershey.

If you are new to the blog, here’s how the grades work. Anyone who skated in a game for the Penguins gets a grade. Pretty straightforward, right? Let’s get started, after you jump through if you didn’t link in direct.

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AHL Power Rankings: Week 7

In the Week 7 Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings, some teams are thankful.

If you are Adirondack, San Antonio or Rockford, you are thankful for a quick start and margin for error.

If you are Charlotte, Norfolk or Toronto, you don’t have much to be thankful for. You have no margin for error and are chasing teams in late November.

I couldn’t come up with anything else for this terrible lede, so be thankful that I am going to tell you that the St. John’s IceCaps are the biggest gainer this week, up 17 spots. Left for dead by the Politboro last week, St. John’s wins four straight this week to jump right back in the discussion in the Atlantic Division. The biggest drop this week belongs to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, down 12 spots. There were five teams that did not move up or down from last week, so you will have to jump through if you didn’t link in direct to see who.

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Nipped By a Monarch — Pens LOSE 3-2

button_lv200       vs.       WBS

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The Monarchs beat the Penguins by a score of 3-2 tonight in a tightly contested, 50 minute affair.

Wait, what? Aren’t hockey games 60 minutes? Well, yes, dear reader, they are in fact 60 minutes. The Penguins just forgot to put it in drive the first 10 minutes of the game and fell behind 2-0. They scrapped and clawed their way back to a tie score in the second period, but :31 later the Monarchs scored the go ahead goal to lead for good. Wilkes-Barre got close, but not close enough to a point to where there were any more goals scored.

Full credit goes to the Manchester Monarchs for hanging in and either protecting the lead or not allowing the Penguins to score the tying goal. They lead the Eastern Conference for a reason and anyone who attended the game tonight saw why.

Jeff Zatkoff vs. J-F Berube

Lines were…

Scott Wilson – Andrew Ebbett – Bryan Rust
Tom Kuhnhackl – JS Dea – Tom Kostopoulos
Conor Sheary – Carter Rowney – Josh Archibald
Pierre Leblond – Dominik Uher – Bobby Farnham

Brian Dumoulin – Taylor Chorney
Scott Harrington – Philip Samuelsson
Reid McNeill – Derrick Pouliot

Zatkoff – Matt Murray

Dea was back in the lineup for Jayson Megna, who was recalled to Pittsburgh earlier today.

First Period: Manchester used speed and muscle to push the Penguins around. They did so on a power play for a 1-0 lead and then made it 2-0 on a two on one. A key penalty kill halfway through was the first positive thing that happened for the Penguins in the period. I felt at the time that if Manchester did score, things would spiral out of hand.

J-S Dea scored on a five on three for the Pens and Manchester nearly scored shorthanded on the left over penalty kill.

Second Period: Conor Sheary with a great individual effort dancing around Manchester defenders made it a tie game at two on the power play. But :31 later, Jordan Weal scored on a rebound that Zatkoff left to make it 3-2 Manchester. You didn’t know it at the time, but it would end up as a deflating goal which stood as the game winner.

Jeff Zatkoff had two saves that will end up on his highlight reel. Manchester just killed a penalty. As the player was exiting the box, a two on one developed. Zatkoff got over and made a tremendous toe save that kept the game a one goal deficit for the Penguins.

Third Period: Zatkoff made his second big save of the game on another cross ice pass that he got a pad on, although the replay showed that Nick Shore of Manchester kind of shot it right into his pad.

Time just ran out on the Penguins in the period. Manchester did a good job of bending but not breaking. The shots in the period were an even 10-10. The Penguins with a late power play and an extra attacker with Zatkoff pulled, never found the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) JS Dea (goal) 2) Conor Sheary (goal, -1) and 1) Jordan Weal (goal)

Around the Division: Binghamton throttles Albany 7-0…Hershey nips Worcester 1-0 in another stellar performance by G Philipp Grubauer…St. John’s beats Lehigh Valley in overtime 2-1 and Portland destroys Norfolk 7-1.

Standings: Penguins 23 – Hershey 20 — Lehigh Valley 18 — Binghamton 16 — Norfolk 12

Conference: 1) MCH (25) 2) SYR (23) 3) WBS (23) 4) SPR (23) 5) BRI (22) 6) HER (20) 7) HFD (20) 8) PRO (19)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers lost 6-3 to the Elmira Jackals in New York. Zack Torquato and Nick D’Agostino had goals for the Nailers in the loss.

SendToNews Highlights: Are here.

Pens get some time off now and play again in Hershey on Wednesday. But the blog will be active. Monday I will have the Week 7 AHL Power Rankings. Tuesday I will have the First Quarter Grades and Wednesday is the game against Hershey. So check back then for all of this.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: vs. Manchester 11/22

vs. manch white

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Home Game: 10

AHL Game: 258

Who: Manchester Monarchs

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Last night in Albany, the Penguins won 5-1. Jayson Megna and Scott Wilson both recorded a goal and an assist each in the win. For Manchester, the Monarchs were in Binghamton last night and lost 4-3 in overtime. Nick Shore had two goals and Brian O’Neill had two assists.

Last Meeting: October 12 in Wilkes-Barre, the Penguins lost 4-1. Jean-Sebastien Dea had the only goal for the Penguins.

Record: For WBS: 11-7-1-0 (23 pts., 1st place East Division) — For MCH: 11-4-1-0 (23 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division)

Why you should care: These two teams are two of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference and both are unsurprisingly at top of the Conference. Both teams have won eight of their last ten games. So expect a very good game tonight in Wilkes-Barre.

Referee(s): T.J. Luxmore / Nic Leduc

Linesmen: Jud Ritter / Francis Trempe

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @MonarchsHockey

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /MonarchsHockey

Instagram: wbspenguins / monarchshockey

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie and @TLTomVenesky

Broadcasters: WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / MCH: Ken Cail @kenmonarchs

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep 

Radio: For WBS: WILK Newsradio / For MCH: WGIR 610 AM

Television: AHL Live

Promotion(s): Team Photo, courtesy of Bayard Printing

Other Game to Watch: Syracuse hosts Utica in the The Frozen Dome Classic tonight, which is being played in Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. Attendance in that game is expected to reach close to 30,000.

Next Five Games: @ HER 11/26, STJ 11/29, LV 12/5, HER 12/6, @ HER 12/7

Whitney is Allergic to Eggs — Pens WIN 5-1

WBS          @          ALB

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So with the Penguins up 4-0 in the game tonight, one that they would eventually win 5-1 over the Albany Devils, I had a great headline for the blog recap you are reading now in my head.

It was, “Deviled Eggs” – a play on would be back-to-back shutouts by tonight’s starting goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, (the eggs, representing zeroes) and and the opponent (the Albany Devils and the popular food item Deviled Eggs)

Then Joe Whitney scored at 6:59 of the third period for the Devils and busted up all of my plans. So that’s why the headline tonight reads as it does, in case you were wondering.

Anyway, to the game. One that the Penguins in large stretches just dominated. They scored two goals in the first period :18 apart and two in the second 2:41 apart to put away the Devils for good. There was no blown two goal lead on this night.

The aforementioned Jeff Zatkoff vs. Keith Kinkaid, making his first start for Albany since November 2.

The lineup tonight was the same as it was Wednesday. No call ups to Pittsburgh to note, which seems strange to me. D Harrison Ruopp’s name was on the AHL Transaction page this afternoon but there was no official press release by the Penguins nor any mention of it on the radio broadcast tonight.

First Period: Dominik Uher started things off with this goal that initially was waved off but after replay, referee Garrett Rank ruled a good goal. :18 later, Scott Wilson scored this goal on a rebound of his own stuff attempt to put the Penguins ahead 2-0.

The Penguins continued to dominate the Devils in all zones in the period.

Second Period: Josh Archibald with an elite deflection of this Philip Samuelsson blast made it 3-0 and later, Brian Dumoulin scored a weird one that Kinkaid must have never saw that made it 4-0. That ended Kinkaid’s night and Scott Wedgewood entered the game.

Penguins continued their domination. Bobby Farnham led a three on none but lost control of the puck. Farnham had a multi-point game for the first time this season and since February 25 of this year against Hershey.

Third Period: Jayson Megna stickhandled past a guy here and scored to make it 5-0. The yin and the yang was out for Megna as later he’d turnover a puck to Mike Sislo that Zatkoff was forced to make a save on.

Joe Whitney ruined the shutout bid for Zatkoff with a neat shimmy down the slot to put the Devils on the board. That goal breathed life into an otherwise lifeless Devils team but the Penguins held their ground and didn’t ever give up a second goal.

Three Stars: 3) Jayson Megna (goal, assist, +2) 2) Scott Wilson (goal, Assist, +2) and 1) Brian Dumoulin (goal, +3)

Reid McNeill (-1) Tom Kuhnhackl (even) Tom Kostopoulos (-1) Conor Sheary (-1) and Derrick Pouliot (-1) were the only players to not have at least a plus tonight for the Penguins. Dumoulin and Taylor Chorney were a +3 each. Chorney leads all defensemen in the AHL in the +/- category.

Around the Division: Binghamton beat Manchester in overtime in a testy affair 4-3…Lehigh Valley shutout Worcester 4-0 and Norfolk lost to Portland 2-1. Hershey was off. The Bears have three games in hand on the Penguins, who have played the most games in the AHL.

Standings: Penguins 23 — Hershey 18 — Lehigh Valley 17 — Binghamton 14 — Norfolk 12

Conference: 1) MCH (23) 2) WBS (23) 3) BRI (21) 4) SYR (21) 5) SPR (21) 6) PRO (19) 7) HER (18) 8) ALB (18)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off tonight.

SendToNews Highlights: Are here.

Manchester comes to town and should actually be in before the Penguins get there sometime early Saturday morning. Gameday for the 7:05 affair will be on the blog at 3 p.m.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Albany 11/21

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Away Game: 10

AHL Game: 233

Who: Albany Devils

Where: Times Union Center

When: 7:00 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Wednesday at home against Portland, the Penguins won 2-0. Jeff Zatkoff had a 23 save shutout. For Albany, they played Portland in Portland and were shutout 2-0.

Last Meeting: October 21 in Albany, the Penguins were shutout 4-0. It was Keith Kinkaid with a 22 save shutout for the Devils.

Record: For WBS: 10-7-1-0 (21 pts., 1st place East Division) — For ALB: 7-4-1-3 (18 pts., 4th place Northeast Division)

Why you should care: The Penguins are looking for revenge against an Albany team that roughed them up pretty good exactly one month ago. It’s going to take another great effort for the Penguins to come home with the two points.

Referee(s): Garrett Rank

Linesmen: Mike Emanatian / Frank Murphy

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

Other Game to Watch: I like Syracuse and Adirondack. The Crunch and Flames are two of the AHL’s hottest teams.

Next Five Games: MCH 11/22, @ HER 11/26, STJ 11/29, LV 12/5, HER 12/6

Take a Long Walk Off a Short Pier — Pens WIN 2-0

POR            vs.            WBS

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Here’s your recap of tonight’s game, a 2-0 Penguins win, in a nutshell.

After blowing consecutive 2-0 leads Friday and Saturday to the Syracuse Crunch and Hershey Bears, tonight was a methodical, structured win for the Penguins.

It was also very boring. There were few penalties called, not many hits, and even the two fights in the game weren’t anything that you are talking about at the water cooler tomorrow morning.

But the Penguins aren’t into entertainment value. You could be the most exiting team in the AHL and miss playoffs year after year. It was a needed win for Wilkes-Barre after the weekends disappointing losses.

Here’s what happened:

- Nothing in the first period.

- Andrew Ebbett scored a back door slam dunk goal when the Pens were on a 5-on-3 in the second period.

- Nothing much in the third. Pirates had great looks but a forgotten man in this snooze fest was Jeff Zatkoff making many good saves, 23 in total, keeping his team in it.

- Tom Kuhnhackl buried an empty netter with Portland goaltender Mike McKenna pulled. McKenna played a great game himself.

Three stars were: Tom Kuhnhackl with a goal and a +1, Andrew Ebbett with a goal and a +1 and Jeff Zatkoff with a 23 save shutout.

That’s the game in a nutshell. I don’t know how Tom or Jonathan are going to make this look pretty in Thursday’s papers.

News of the day was Pascal Dupuis’ blood clot. He’s out six months. Blood clots aren’t anything to mess with. They can kill you. The question is who, if anyone, will be recalled from Wilkes-Barre as there are no extra forwards in Pittsburgh currently. Both Jayson Megna and Andrew Ebbett played tonight. J-S Dea was scratched, but that could be due to the fact that he had four penalties in Hershey Sunday as Tom Kostopoulos was back from his family matters. Who knows at this point.

Divisionally, Lehigh Valley beat Hershey in a shootout 3-2. News of the day for the Bears was that they are sending another player to the AHL Hall of Fame and it’s a name that Penguins players may be familiar with. It’s goaltender Freddy Cassivi. News about that can be found here.

So the Pens lead the East Division with 21 points. Hershey has 18. Lehigh Valley has 15 and Norfolk and Binghamton has 12 each.

Manchester, Bridgeport and Wilkes-Barre are your conference leaders as they are the best in their respective divisions. Manchester has 22 points, Bridgeport’s percentage is better than Wilkes-Barre so they have the second seed and then the Penguins are third. Syracuse (21) Springfield (19) and Albany, Hershey and Hartford (18 each) round out your top eight.

The Nailers won in a shootout earlier today over Elmira by a score of 3-2. Wheeling was down 2-0 with Eric Hartzell in goal and battled back to tie it at two a piece and win in a shootout. Hartnell stopped all four shooters he faced.

Here is your SendToNews package with highlights of the game.

But for a Thursday call up to Pittsburgh look for the next blog piece to be Friday’s setup in Albany at 3. I’ll have a word on who, if anyone, received the call to Pittsburgh to replace Dupuis covered in the game recap there.

Let’s Go Pens!

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