Chirps from Center Ice

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

AHL Power Rankings: Week 1

Back for Year Three with the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings. No new format change from last year, it worked so I kept with it.

We are in early days for AHL teams hitting the ice as far as St. John’s, Newfoundland to San Diego, California as the League turned 80 on Friday. Not necessarily time to hit the panic button one game or two games into the campaign, and these Rankings are likely to jumble around next week, and the week after that and beyond, but the groundwork has been laid to hammer out a Week 1 offering.

There is a surprise team at number one this week. Question now becomes how long they can stay there. Hop through the jump to see who it is and where your favorite team ended up.

Read more of this post

Gibson’d — Pens LOSE 4-1

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I always go back to the last game that the Penguins played in an AHL city to bring the graphics over for my post game recaps. The last time the Pens were in Bridgeport was a 7-0 thrashing by Wilkes-Barre back on March 1 of this year. A game that they could do nothing wrong, made the game look easy, locked down the Sound Tigers and Matt Murray picked up another one of his billion shutouts he had last season.

Not tonight.

Wilkes-Barre got blasted tonight by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers tonight 4-1. The game really wasn’t within reach by the Pens from the start and the Penguins played from behind all game. Bridgeport Sound Tigers goaltender Christopher Gibson looked spectacular, stopping 26 of 27 shots faced, but if you went back and looked at the game on an AHL Live archive or were at the game in person you would have saw that a good majority of the shots he saved were from the perimeter.

Gibson opposed Matt Murray, making his second start in as many days.

Lines were…

Scott Wilson – Kael Mouillierat – Conor Sheary
Dominik Simon – J-S Dea – Bryan Rust
Dominik Uher – Oskar Sundqvist – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – Matia Marcantuoni – Josh Archibald

Derrick Pouliot – Steve Oleksy
Reid McNeill – David Warsofsky
Niclas Andersen – Will O’Neill

Matt Murray – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: Harrison Ruopp took warmups but was scratched. Carter Rowney was out for Matia Marcantuoni on the fourth line. Other scratches were Barry Goers and the injury scratch was Tyler Biggs.

First Period: Strong start by both teams with the slight edge in play to the Penguins. The Penguins fourth line of Sestito, Marcantuoni and Archibald seemed to be generating all the chances. Then, with the Penguins on a power play, David Warsofsky couldn’t corral a puck at the blue line, it got past him, and Bracken Kearns broke in unabated and put the Sound Tigers on the board with a shorthanded goal…

The Penguins had a second power play that they looked better on, but the chances were all one and done.

Shots were 11-10 Bridgeport after one. To this point, the Penguins allowed opponents a sum total of 52 shots in one and a third games (Providence had 41 on Friday) so I asked the question on Twitter when the last time you saw a Penguins team give up so many shots in so few games. I may have to go back and look some time this week and see how many cumulative shots the Penguins allowed opponents in a three-in-three weekend last year. It is just highly uncommon.

Second Period: Goals 1:01 apart in this period. First, Will O’Neill on a power play for the Penguins that put Wilkes-Barre on the board…

But soon after, Mike Halmo dropped a pass to Alan Quine who found Jesse Graham all in transition that put the Sound Tigers back ahead 2-1.

Christopher Gibson was becoming the story for his team in net for the Sound Tigers, making calm save after calm save, seemingly seeing and stopping everything. A save on a Josh Archibald deflection through bodies and traffic, a calm stop during sustained pressure by Wilkes-Barre. Penguins had a late power play but couldn’t score on it and Dominik Simon and J-S Dea couldn’t connect on a two-on-one.

Third Period: Penguins were continuing to press with stars like Conor Sheary and Bryan Rust trying to do too much to no avail. A summary of the period and a precursor to the fact that the Pens were not going to get back in the game came about halfway through when Penguins captain Tom Kostopoulos received a cross ice pass and waited out the Bridgeport goaltender Gibson but Gibson didn’t move and made the save anyway.

Time started to become the enemy of the Penguins. Finally Joe Whitney was gift wrapped this goal from this awful turnover by Bryan Rust…

For good measure the Sound Tigers would score on an empty net with Taylor Beck doing the honors.

Three Stars: 3) Jesse Graham (goal, +3) 2) Christopher Gibson 26 saves on 27 shots and 1) Bracken Kearns (goal, assist, +3)

Bryan Rust and David Warsofsky were -3 each. Just a bad night overall. Pens have a week now to work on things and tighten things up.

Around the Division: Syracuse spoils Lehigh Valley’s home opener by a score of 4-3…St. John’s does the same with Hartford 3-1 and Hershey’s explosive offense wasted no time in spoiling Springfield’s home opener by a score of 5-1. Some guy by the name of Chris Bourque scored his 500th career AHL point in the game. Portland and Providence were off.

The Pirates still have yet to play a game, so the standings look is moot for now. The Pens will be .500. Better than Hartford, Springfield and Lehigh Valley.

Conference look is gong to be moot this year also because playoffs are division based. There is a crossover effect, but we can get into that as the season wears on.

I don’t think they are doing SendToNews highlights this year because I went to look and all I found were Western Hockey League highlights. So I guess you are out of luck if you want to see them.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off tonight, they open their regular season Friday in Hampton Roads against the Norfolk Admirals.

I’ll update my charts for the blog Sunday and throw a link up here then. I’ll also tweet out a weekly auto-tweet Tuesday as in years past this year.

Pens will probably bus back either tonight or Sunday with a week of practice to prepare for Lehigh Valley before turning around to come back to Bridgeport next Sunday.

My Week 1 AHL Power Rankings will hit the blog Monday at 4, like in years past, so look for that as the next blog post here then.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Bridgeport 10/10


@     bri14

Away Game: 2

AHL Game: 8

Who: Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Where: Webster Bank Arena

When: 7:00 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Last night in Providence, the Pens won 2-1 in overtime. Matt Murray made 40 saves and Scott Wilson netted both goals for the Penguins.  For Bridgeport, this is their first game of the 2015-16 campaign.

Record: For WBS: 1-0-0-0 (1st Place, Atlantic Division)  — For BRI: This is their first game of the season.

Why you should care: Penguins gave up way too many shots and took way too many penalties for Head Coach Mike Sullivan’s liking last night yet somehow still found a way to win. Expect Wilkes-Barre to button up the shots allowed and play a more disciplined game against a fresher Sound Tigers team looking to get their season off on the right foot.

Referee(s): Terry Koharski

Linesmen: Luke Galvin / Kevin Redding

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @TheSoundTigers

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /soundtigers

Instagram: wbspenguins / thesoundtigers

Beat Writers: @CVSethLakso and @TLTomVenesky / @fornabaioctp

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / For BRI: Paul Ryan @PaulRyanPaul

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep

Radio: For WBS: WILK NewsRadio / For BRI: I don’t think Sound Tigers games are on radio. Here’s the link to AHL Live where you could here the game if you want to.

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: Hershey and Lehigh Valley get their seasons going today as well. The Bears are in Springfield and the Phantoms play hosts to the Syracuse Crunch. Both of these teams are going to be neck and neck with the Penguins for best team in Pennsylvania all season long.

Next Five Games: LV 10/17 @ BRI 10/18, @ SPR 10/23, SPR 10/24, BNG 10/28

It’s Like Riding a Bike — Pens WIN 2-1 (OT)

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A total of 81 shots combined between these newly formed divisional rivals turned into a defensive battle and a goaltending war.

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins win this one 2-1 in overtime thanks to two goals by Scott Wilson and 40 saves by Matt Murray, who was only 1:49 away from yet another shutout but it wasn’t to be.

That was the view for me all night. Someone forgot to hook up a wire or turn on a camera. I pay a pretty penny for the league wide package. People tell me I am crazy. I think that they may be right…

Lines were…

Scott Wilson – Kael Mouillierat – Conor Sheary
Dominik Simon – J-S Dea – Bryan Rust
Dominik Uher – Oskar Sundqvist – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – Carter Rowney – Josh Archibald

Derrick Pouliot – Steve Oleksy
Reid McNeill – David Warsofsky
Niclas Andersen – Will O’Neill

Matt Murray – Tristan Jarry

Scratches were defensemen Harrison Ruopp and Barry Goers and forwards Matia Marcantuoni and Tyler Biggs. Biggs is recovering from a minor injury. Will O’Neill and Steve Oleksy wore the “A’s” for the Penguins tonight.

First Period: The Penguins were outshot 17-9 in the first period of their 2015-16 campaign, mainly because they took all of the penalties in the period. Three total. Matt Murray was sharp. When called upon, opposing goaltender Zane McIntyre was sharp as well. There was a fight, Steve Oleksy and Anthony Camara:

Murray had a save on a two on one with P-Bruins sniper Alex Khokhlachev barring down.

Second Period: Pens stopped taking penalties and started to control the pace a bit. Finally, Scott Wilson scored on a turnaround shot on a shot from the slot. Conor Sheary had the lone assist. Penguins started to generate pressure coming from all lines, but Zane McIntyre was college hockey’s top goaltender last season and kept his team in it. Despite me not being able to watch the game tonight because of the NeuLion difficulties, I still listened to Mike O’Brien and he was calling a lot of chances for the Penguins that were just smothered by McIntyre.

Teams traded power plays late but neither scored. Shots through two were 30-21 in favor for the Bruins.

Third Period: Penguins penalty killing along with the solid goaltending won them the game tonight. The Penguins took two additional penalties in this period but the special teams and Matt Murray kept the P-Bruins off of the board.

But the Bruins continued to press. Seemed like every other word out of Obie’s mouth on radio was, “Khokhlachev” as the Bruins sniper was being double or triple shifted. Finally, on setup by Khokhlachev, Frank Vatrano threw a shot at Murray’s net from the side wall from a bad angle that tied the game with 1:49 left. The game would need to be decided via…

Overtime: Scott Wilson’s group of he and Oskar Sundqvist with Will O’Neill was the second group to go over the wall in the 3-on-3 overtime and Wilson didn’t waste much time scoring 1:18 into the overtime period to secure the full two points for the Penguins.

Three Stars: 3) Zane McIntyre (38 saves on 40 shots) 2) Matt Murray (40 saves on 41 shots) and 1) Scott Wilson (two goals, +2, 6 shots)

Around the Division: Portland, Springfield, Bridgeport Hartford, Hershey and Lehigh Valley all start their 2015-16 campaigns Saturday.

I am not going to put the Standings or Conference standings up until everyone plays a game, so if you want this, check back tomorrow when everyone in the Atlantic plays a game.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers are in preseason and lost to the Cincinnati Cylcones 4-2 tonight in West Virginia. The Nailers open on the road in Norfolk next Friday.

SendToNews Highlights: See above, first picture.

Pens bus to Bridgeport for a 7 p.m. game against the divisional rival Sound Tigers. Gameday for this will hit the blog Saturday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!!

GAMEDAY: @ Providence 10/9

@     15PRO

Away Game: 1

AHL Game: 2

Who: Providence Bruins

Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center

When: 7:05 p.m.

Media Kit

Record: This is the first game for both teams.

Why you should care: The Penguins begin a new era under an entirely different coaching staff from last year. They return better than ever with a reloaded and retooled roster looking to start the season off on the right foot in Rhode Island against divisional foe Providence, who will be looking to do the same tonight at home for what is their opener also.

Referee(s): Alex Garon / Jon McIsaac

Linesmen: Ed Boyle / Alex Stagnone

Twitter: @WBSPenguins / @WBSGameDay / @AHLBruins

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /providencebruins

Instagram: wbspenguins / ahlbruins

Beat Writers: @CVSethLakso and @TLTomVenesky / @MarkDivver

Broadcasters: WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / PRO: Nick Gagalis @NickGagalis

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep 

Radio: For WBS: WILK NewsRadio / For Providence: WNRI 1380 AM

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: Light night for the AHL as most of the teams start their seasons Saturday night, but the Manitoba Moose are back and on the road in Toronto taking on the Marlies.

Next Five Games: @ BRI 10/10, LV 10/17 @ BRI 10/18, @ SPR 10/23, SPR 10/24

Atlantic Division Preview

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Back we are for the fourth and final day of the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Previews in the Atlantic Division, home of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins and seven other really good teams. We are one day away from the AHL’s 80th season! If you missed any of the previews from the other three divisions, you can find them by either scrolling down on the main page or by clicking on the menu above you and selecting the division you missed.



Here is the Atlantic Division, or what will probably be named, “the Mega Powers Division” as this division is loaded. The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, Hershey Bears and Lehigh Valley Phantoms are the ghosts of the old East Division joined by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Hartford Wolf Pack and Springfield Falcons of the old Northeast Division joining up with original Atlantic Division members Providence Bruins and Portland Pirates. The only affiliation changes here are Portland with the Florida Panthers and Springfield with the Arizona Coyotes. The Penguins play everyone in this division at least six times, with home games noted in bold.

Let’s meet the teams…


NHL Affiliation: New York Islanders

Record: 28-40-7-1 – 64 pts., 5th place Northeast Division

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Brent Thompson

Arena: Webster Bank Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Missouri Mavericks

Offseason Moves: Joe Whitney, Justin Florek, Christopher Gibson, Matt Carkner

The case for: The New York Islanders are trending upwards. This trend should trickle down and the Sound Tigers should be your dark horse pick to contend this season.

The case against: Youth and inexperience may be too much to overcome for a Sound Tigers team to overcome this year.

Media Coverage: Michael Fornabaio for the Connecticut Post

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @TheSoundTigers

Facebook: /soundtigers

Instagram: soundtigers

Broadcaster: Phil Giubileo

vs. WBS: 10/10, 10/18, 2/6, 3/12, 3/13, 4/2


NHL Affiliation: New York Rangers

Record: 43-24-5-4 – 95 pts., 1st place Northeast Division

Playoffs: 3 seed – Swept by the Manchester Monarchs in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Head Coach: Ken Gernander

Arena: XL Center

ECHL Affiliation: Greenville Swamp Rabbits

Offseason Moves: Jayson Megna, Brian Gibbons, Luke Adam

The case for: Solid additions made by the Northeast Division winner that made it to the Conference Finals last year. Hartford is a playoff team this season, most likely.

The case against: The blueline isn’t going to strike fear in the hearts of anyone. Goaltenders need to be solid.

Media Coverage: Paul Doyle for the Hartford Courant and Mitch Beck, Independent

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @WolfPackAHL

Facebook: /HartfordWolfPack

Instagram: hartford_wolfpack

Broadcaster: Bob Crawford

vs. WBS: 10/30, 11/15, 12/5, 1/3, 1/27, 2/12


NHL Affiliation: Washington Capitals

Record: 46-22-5-3 – 100 pts., 1st place East Division

Playoffs: 2 seed – Lost in six games to the Hartford Wolf Pack in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Head Coach: Troy Mann

Arena: Giant Center

ECHL Affiliation: South Carolina Stingrays

Offseason Moves: Zach Sill, Taylor Chorney, Chris Bourque, Sean Collins, Paul Carey, Carter Camper

The case for: Hershey reloaded its firepower up front. You can expect the Bears to rout several teams this season.

The case against: Goaltending is a concern with aging vets Justin Peters and Dan Ellis primed to tend the nets, but it may not matter when you are beating your opponents by multiple goals every night.

Media Coverage: Tim Leone and Dave Sottile for the Harrisburg Patriot-News

Fan Blog: Chocolate Hockey

Twitter: @TheHersheyBears

Facebook: /TheHersheyBears

Instagram: thehersheybears

Broadcaster: Scott Stuccio

vs. WBS: 11/13, 11/28, 12/6, 12/26, 2/23, 3/5, 3/6, 3/19, 3/20, 4/9, 4/10, 4/17


NHL Affiliation: Philadelphia Flyers

Record: 33-35-7-1 – 74 pts., 4th place East Division

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Scott Gordon

Arena: PPL Center

ECHL Affiliation: Reading Royals

Offseason Moves: Chris Conner, Colin McDonald, Tim Brent, Jason LaBarbera, Geoff Walker

The case for: After a disappointing debut season in Allentown, Lehigh Valley returns for its sophomore campaign loaded for bear with seasoned veterans. This team can compete for the division crown, if not the conference.

The case against: In state rivals Hershey and Wilkes-Barre beefed up too and you are going to need to be better than one if not both teams in order to contend in this division. Will the Phantoms be able to pull it all together?

Media Coverage: Gary Blockus for The Morning Call

Fan Blog: The Horn and Bell

Twitter: @LVPhantoms

Facebook: /LehighValleyPhantoms

Instagram: lehighvalleyphantoms

Broadcaster: Bob Rotruck

vs. WBS: 10/17, 12/4, 12/11, 12/16, 12/27, 1/8, 1/29, 1/30, 3/4, 3/9, 4/8, 4/15


NHL Affiliation: Florida Panthers

Record: 39-28-7-2 – 87 pts., 4th place Atlantic Division playing as the affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes.

Playoffs: 8 seed – Lost in five games to the Manchester Monarchs in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Head Coach: Tom Rowe

Arena: Cross Insurance Arena

ECHL Affiliation: None

Offseason Moves: Brett Regner, Shane Harper, Rob Flick, Gregg McKegg, Sena Acolatse, Cameron Gaunce

The case for: This prospect base won the West Division as the San Antonio Rampage. It’s bolstered with solid AHL talent. You probably can pencil Portland in as a playoff team and if you want to, a division contender.

The case against: It’s different waters that the Pirates are navigating having old East Division heavyweights Wilkes-Barre and Hershey coming in as divisional mates and a very, very good Lehigh Valley team. I see all three of them as a playoff team. There is room at the table for only one more, possibly two with the crossover. Is Portland one of those two?

Media Coverage: Chris Roy for the Maine Hockey Journal

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @PortlandPirates

Facebook: /PortlandPirates

Instagram: piratesahl

Broadcaster: Jeff Mannix

vs. WBS: 1/22, 1/23, 2/13, 2/14, 2/26, 4/3


NHL Affiliation: Boston Bruins

Record: 41-26-7-2 – 91 pts., 2nd place Atlantic Division

Playoffs: 6 seed – Lost in five games to the Hartford Wolf Pack in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Head Coach: Bruce Cassidy

Arena: Dunkin’ Donuts Center

ECHL Affiliation: Atlanta Gladiators

Offseason Moves: Brandon DeFazio, Colin Miller

The case for: Your dark horse division winner should be the Providence Bruins. They have a good young blueline, great goaltending and are well coached.

The case against: Looks more like a rebuild year for the P-Bruins, and rebuild teams are not playoff contenders.

Media Coverage: Mark Divver for the Providence Journal

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @AHLBruins

Facebook: /providencebruins

Instagram: ahlbruins

Broadcaster: Nick Gagalis

vs. WBS: 10/9, 11/27, 1/24, 2/28, 3/26, 4/16


NHL Affiliation: Arizona Coyotes

Record: 38-28-8-2 – 86 pts., 3rd place Northeast Division playing as the affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Ron Rolston

Arena: MassMutual Center

ECHL Affiliation: Rapid City Rush

Offseason Moves: Dustin Jeffrey, Dylan Reese, Steven Delisle

The case for: Coyotes prospects come in as the affiliation switches from Columbus to Arizona. That Portland team last year surged at the end of the season and snuck past last years version of the Falcons team. It’s a core that is trending upwards.

The case against: I don’t see Springfield as a playoff team because of the youth that will be responsible to lead and the division that the Falcons play in. Night after night of Hartford, Providence, Wilkes-Barre and Hershey may spell doom for Springfield.

Media Coverage: MassLive / The Republican

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @TheFalconsAHL

Facebook: /falconsahl

Instagram: thefalconsahl

Broadcaster: Andy Zilch

vs. WBS: 10/23, 10/24, 1/2, 2/5, 2/27, 3/29


NHL Affiliation: Pittsburgh Penguins

Record: 45-24-3-4 – 97 pts., 2nd place East Division

Playoffs: 4 seed – Lost in five games to the Manchester Monarchs in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Head Coach: Mike Sullivan

Arena: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

ECHL Affiliation: Wheeling Nailers

Offseason Moves: Kael Mouillerat, Kevin Porter, David Warsofsky, Will O’Neill, Steve Oleksy, Tyler Biggs

The case for: Loaded up for another run. These are not run of the mill additions made to an already stout Penguins lineup. This team will contend and can win the division, provided it can take down in-state rival Hershey and Lehigh Valley on a consistent basis.

The case against: Biggest problem that has crippled this Penguin franchise is playoffs. Despite having the sole longest streak in the AHL by any club, the Penguins have yet to reach the pinnacle. Is new leadership in Mike Sullivan enough to get them there?

Media Coverage: Tom Venesky for the Times Leader and Seth Lakso for The Citizens Voice

Fan Blog: If you are reading this, you know that there is nothing else that comes close.

Twitter: @WBSPenguins

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins

Instagram: wbspenguins

Broadcaster: Mike O’Brien

These were fun this year. Should be a heck of a season to follow. It all starts tomorrow on Opening Night across the League. The Penguins travel to Providence, Rhode Island taking on the division rival Bruins for a 7 p.m. start. The Gameday setup hits the blog Friday at 3 p.m.

North Division Preview

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Back for day three for the yearly Chirps from Center Ice AHL Previews. At any time you can catch up on what you missed from the Western Conference via the handy dropdown menu at the top of the page.

We return to more familiar territory back in the Eastern Conference in the North Division. The Penguins play everyone in this division at least twice, with home games represented in bold.



The North is no stranger to changes either. The name comes over as a Western Conference Division. It includes all five New York teams plus Toronto and St. John’s. Affiliation wise, the St. John’s IceCaps are no longer affiliated with the Winnipeg Jets, rather now the proud affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. All the other affiliations stayed the same.


NHL Affiliation: New Jersey Devils

Record: 37-28-5-6 – 85 pts., 4th place Northeast Division

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Rick Kowalsky

Arena: Times Union Center

ECHL Affiliation: None

Offseason Moves: Jim O’Brien, Yann Danis, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond

The case for: Devils organization has been completely revamped from the top. Some of that will trickle down to the Capital District. These are solid signings by the Devils. Albany will no longer be a doormat club. Expect a contender this year.

The case against: Albany might be the fourth best team…in New York.

Media Coverage: Pete Dougherty for the Albany Times-Union and Bill Cain for The Daily Gazette.

Fan Blog: Tracey Lake for Thoughts Inside the Box

Twitter: @AlbanyDevils

Facebook: /AlbanyDevils

Instagram: albanydevils

Broadcaster: Josh Heller

vs. WBS: 11/21, 12/12


NHL Affiliation: Ottawa Senators

Record: 34-34-7-1 – 76 pts., 3rd place East Division.

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Luke Richardson

Arena: Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Evansville IceMen

Offseason Moves: Mike Kostka, Eric O’Dell, Zack Stortini

The case for: Binghamton trends as hot one season, cold the next. Last season may have been the Arctic on the Southern Tier, so expect the B-Sens to contend just based off of the law of averages.

The case against: The change in division. Utica is a defending Conference Champion. Toronto plays big boy hockey, Syracuse was a playoff team and Albany is trending up. Bingo may just end up as a good team in a great division.

Media Coverage: Matt Weinstein for the Press & Sun-Bulletin

Fan Blog: None or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @BSens_Hockey

Facebook: /binghamtonsenators

Instagram: bsens_hockey

Broadcaster: Grady Whittenburg

vs. WBS: 10/28, 11/20, 11/25, 1/5, 3/23, 3/25


NHL Affiliation: Buffalo Sabres

Record: 29-41-5-1 – 64 pts., 5th place North Division

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Randy Cunneyworth

Arena: Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial

ECHL Affiliation: Elmira Jackals

Offseason Moves: Cal O’Reilly, Bobby Sanguinetti, Jason Akeson, Colby Robak

The case for: Seemed like a fresh coat of paint for Buffalo this offseason. Perhaps some of that trickles down to Rochester this season. Offseason adds of O’Reilly and Sanguinetti, two key cogs in the run Utica made last year, should help.

The case against: Too much inexperience will counterbalance the offseason signings, and it looks like Rochester will be on the outside looking in again this season.

Media Coverage: Kevin Oklobzija for the Democrat and Chronicle

Fan Blog: Let’s Go Amerks

Twitter: @AmerksHockey

Facebook: /RochesterAmericans

Instagram: amerkshockey

Broadcaster: Don Stevens

vs. WBS: 11/14, 2/21


NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens

Record: 34-29-12-1 – 81 pts., 3rd place North Division playing as the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Sylvain Lefebvre

Arena: Mile One Centre

ECHL Affiliation: Brampton Beast

Offseason Moves: Eddie Pasquale, Joel Hanley

The case for: New affiliate with Montreal. The old Bulldogs seemed like a team that was just on the cusp of being a contender. Could this be the year on The Rock?

The case against: It’s a young team. Maybe a veteran scorer comes in midseason in a trade or something, but I don’t see a playoff team in St. John’s this season.

Media Coverage: Robin Short and Brendan McCarthy for the St. John’s Telegram

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @IceCapsAHL

Facebook: /stjohnsicecaps

Instagram: stjohnsicecaps

Broadcaster: Brian Rodgers (he is the only AHL broadcaster not on Twitter, and it’s a darn shame)

vs. WBS: 11/4, 11/6, 1/12, 1/13


NHL Affiliation: Tampa Bay Lightning

Record: 41-25-10-0 – 92 pts., 2nd place Northeast Division.

Playoffs: 5 seed – Swept by the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Head Coach: Rob Zettler

Arena: Onondaga County War Memorial Arena

ECHL Affiliation: None

Offseason Moves: Matt Taormina, Tye McGinn

The case for: Solid youth. Many second year guys may step up for the Crunch this season under the guidance of veteran leadership.

The case against: Goaltending is one. Whether the players have tuned out Rob Zettler is another.

Media Coverage: Lindsay Kramer for The Post Standard.

Fan Blog: Chairman How’s Glorious Army

Twitter: @SyracuseCrunch

Facebook: /syracusecrunch

Instagram: officialsyracusecrunch

Broadcaster: Dan D’Uva

vs. WBS: 12/9, 12/19, 12/31, 1/16


NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs

Record: 40-27-9-0 – 89 pts., 2nd place North Division.

Playoffs: 7 seed – Lost in five games to the Grand Rapids Griffins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Head Coach: Sheldon Keefe

Arena: Ricoh Coliseum

ECHL Affiliation: Orlando Solar Bears

Offseason Moves: Kasperi Kapanen, Rich Clune

The case for: Youth infused with a group that finished second in the North last year comes over to the Eastern Conference. This team will compete.

The case against: Competing is one thing, a playoff team being the other is another? Toronto may walk a fine line all season.

Media Coverage: Kyle Cicarella for The Canadian Press

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @TorontoMarlies

Facebook: /TorontoMarlies

Instagram: torontomarlies

Broadcaster: Todd Crocker

vs. WBS: 12/18, 2/19


NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks

Record: 47-20-7-2 – 103 pts., 1st place North Division.

Playoffs: 1 seed – Lost in five games to the Manchester Monarchs in the Calder Cup Finals.

Head Coach: Travis Green

Arena: Utica Memorial Auditorium

ECHL Affiliation: None

Offseason Moves: Blair Jones, Richard Bachman, Taylor Fedun, Adam Cracknell, John Kurtz

The case for: This is a young team coached by an up and coming mastermind in Travis Green that has solid goaltending with Richard Bachman. The Comets should contend in this division.

The case against: Inexperience and lack of leadership may doom this team.

Media Coverage: Ben Birnell for the Utica Observer-Dispatch

Fan Blog: Comets Army

Twitter: @UticaComets

Facebook: /UticaComets

Instagram: uticacomets

Broadcaster: Brendan Burke

vs. WBS: 1/9, 2/9

Back to wrap things up tomorrow with the Atlantic Division Preview.


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