Chirps from Center Ice

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

Southern Tier Stunner — Pens WIN 3-0

WBS          @          button_bng200

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When I woke up to the news that the Pittsburgh Penguins had recalled Taylor Chorney and Derrick Pouliot from the Wilkes-Barre blue line, I thought that the Penguins were in trouble.

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The Binghamton Senators lead the AHL in goal scored with 3.41 goals scored a game. The Penguins were left with defensemen Reid McNeill, Alex Boak, Nick D’Agostino, Clark Seymour, Barry Goers and a guy they just signed to a PTO from Wheeling by the name of Paul Cianfrini who all have a combined number of NHL games as you or I have. Zero.

Suffice to say, Shimes didn’t have much to say tonight.

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins scored three goals in the first period and got 35 saves from Jeff Zatkoff and cruised to victory tonight by a score of 3-0. It was Zatkoff’s third shutout and ties him for second overall in the AHL in that department.

They also killed off all five Binghamton power plays that referee Geno Binda awarded them tonight, including a 5-on-3 penalty late in the game with less than two minutes to play.

I’m convinced that Head Coach John Hynes can win with a pile of sand and a bunch of frayed rope.

Everything happened tonight in the first period. The Penguins had just gone 0-for-2 on consecutive power plays when Alex Boak put the puck on net. It deflected off of a Binghamton defenseman’s stick in front and rainbowed over the body of goaltender Scott Greenham and in for a 1-0 Penguin lead.

About four minutes later, the Penguins scored twice in the span of less than a minute. Nick Drazenovic and Conor Sheary scored. Drazenovic snaked through Binghamton defenders and Sheary scored his on a three on two rush. Goals came from nearly the same spot.

In the second, the B-Sens made a push to get on the board a few times but Zatkoff held them out with some dazzling pad stops.

In the third, the Pens held the B-Sens at bay and didn’t really take too many chances with the puck. That’s a nice way to say that they played a boring period. The final two minutes were anything but boring with fights everywhere, including a line brawl that washed out leaving the Penguins having to kill a 5-on-3.

Three stars were, all Penguins, Conor Sheary (goal, +1) 2) Alex Boak (goal, assist, +2) and Jeff Zatkoff (35 save shutout)

Worth noting here that the only lineup changes the Penguins made were Clark Seymour and Paul Cianfrini for Taylor Chorney (who was scratched tonight for Pittsburgh) and Derrick Pouliot (who scored his first NHL goal on his first NHL shot) Sahir Gill was the only healthy scratch the Penguins made.

Around the Division: Hershey lost 2-1 in overtime to the Springfield Falcons….Lehigh Valley did the same in Hartford by the same score and Norfolk beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers by the, you guessed it, same score only not in overtime but in regulation.

Standings: Penguins 37 – Hershey 32 — Lehigh Valley 31 — Binghamton 27 — Norfolk 24

Conference: 1) MCH (42) 2) SYR (41) 3) WBS (37) 4) SPR (41) 5) HFD (35) 6) PRO (32) 7) HER (32) 8) ALB (31)

Wheeling Update: You know, your heart goes out to Nailers fans and the team itself. A shorthanded Wheeling side lost 5-3 to the Greenville Road Warriors. Zack Torquato had two assists in the setback.

SendToNews Highlights: Are packaged here.

Penguins are off until December 26 when they face-off against Binghamton again in Binghamton. My Week 11 AHL Power Rankings will hit the blog at 4 p.m. on Monday. Check those out then.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Binghamton 12/20

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Away Game: 14

AHL Game: 418

Who: Binghamton Senators

Where: Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena

When: 7:05 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Last night at home against Albany, the Pens lost 4-2. Conor Sheary and Derrick Pouliot scored in the losing effort. For Binghamton, the B-Sens lost 6-5 to the Springfield Falcons. Binghamton was up 4-1 at one point. Defenseman Danny New had a goal and an assist for Bingo in the loss.

Last Meeting: November 8 in Binghamton, the Pens won 6-4. Bryan Rust had two goals in the win.

Record: For WBS: 16-10-1-2 (35 pts., 1st place East Division) — For BNG: 12-12-2-1 (27 pts., 4th place East Division)

Why you should care: Both teams coming off bad losses last night. Binghamton is slipping, having lost three straight and the Penguins are dealing with slight adversity looking awful on the penalty kill last night against Albany. It may be a game of who wants it more.

Referee(s): Geno Binda

Linesmen: Peter Feola / John Everett

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @BSens_Hockey

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /binghamtonsenators

Instagram: wbspenguins / bsens_hockey

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie / @TLTomVenesky // @PSBMatt

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / For BNG: Grady Whittenburg @BSensRadio

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep

Radio: For WBS: WILK NewsRadio / For Binghamton: Oldies 96.9

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: Springfield, the team that beat this Binghamton team last night in comeback fashion, is in Hershey tonight facing off against the Bears.

Next Five Games: @ BNG 12/26, BRI 12/27, NOR 12/28, HER 12/31, BNG 1/2

Killing Me Softly — Pens LOSE 4-2

ALB          vs.          HER

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All you need to know about this game, a 4-2 Penguins loss, is the following:

The Penguins allowed the Albany Devils to score three times on the power play tonight and it cost them. That was where the game was won and lost this evening. It was pretty equal at even strength in a tight checking, defensive battle. The Devils were just the better team on special teams tonight.

Let’s take a quick look around the AHL East at the other action before we get to the rest of the recap, shall we?

– The Hershey Bears couldn’t beat Phantoms goaltender Anthony Stolarz, even with 32 shots at him, including half in the first period (for a 16-1 shot advantage) and it cost them as they lost 2-0.
— The Binghamton Senators can’t play defense, up 4-1 at one point to the Springfield Falcons and lost 6-5. The fact that the B-Sens can’t play any defense at all cost them tonight.

So the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins were extremely lucky to lay an egg tonight but still not have it cost them that badly in the division, as no matter what happens tomorrow, the Pens will still lead the East Division by Christmas.

It was 2-0 Albany after forty minutes of insomnia busting hockey before Conor Sheary connected in the third period on a power play goal that beat starting Devils goaltender Scott Clemmensen low to draw Wilkes-Barre within one with a lot of time to play.

But an Adam Payerl slash at 14:42 would put the Devils on the power play yet again and Brandon Burlon wasted no time in scoring the third Albany power play of the night that made it 3-1.

Fifteen seconds later, a soft floater off of the stick of Derrick Pouliot from the blue line beat Clemmensen to draw the Penguins to one again.

But time was the enemy of the Penguins and with starting goaltender Matt Murray pulled, ex-Penguin Paul Thompson buried the empty netter from center ice to squelch any comeback hopes.

John Hynes is in a tough spot. The Penguins sleepwalked through most of this game, but with half of his usual staff in Pittsburgh, how do you send a message? Clark Seymour and Sahir Gill were the healthy scratches tonight. Nick Drazenovic returned from injury and centered a line with Tom Kuhnhackl and Jayson Megna.

Jeff Zatkoff was reassigned from Pittsburgh this morning by the way. Eric Hartzell hasn’t been officially sent back to the ECHL yet, as he wasn’t with the Nailers tonight as they hosted Greenville, in a game that Wheeling lost 1-0.

There was a bunch of stuff that went on Friday afternoon that I never got around to blogging about. In no set order,

On Thursday, it was announced that Bill Guerin will serve as one of the honorary captains of the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic in Utica. Guerin served as a player development coach here in Wilkes-Barre and now is an Assistant GM in Pittsburgh.

On Friday, it was announced that Tom Kostopoulos will serve as the honorary captain for the Eastern Conference All-Stars in Utica in late January. A dubious distinction for the veteran Kostopoulos, as the playing captains are selected by the AHL President, Dave Andrews.

Nice story here on Defenseman Derrick Pouliot.

In other East Division action, the Norfolk Admirals were defeated 5-2 by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The two teams rematch tomorrow.

Penguin still lead the East with 35 points. Hershey trails by four, Lehigh Valley by five, Binghamton by eight and Norfolk by thirteen.

Conference is Manchester leading with 40, Syracuse with 39, Wilkes-Barre with 35 then Springfield with 39, Hartford with 33, Providence with 32 and Albany and Hershey with 31 each.

SendToNews highlights are packaged here. Unless your name is Tracey or Amy, nothing to see from a Wilkes-Barre perspective.

Pens are in Binghamton tomorrow night. I’ll be there. With two teams coming off stinkers the night prior, should be interesting.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: vs. Albany 12/19

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Home Game: 16

AHL Game: 416

Who: Albany Devils

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Sunday at home vs. Hershey, the Pens won 3-2 in overtime. The Pens scored two goals in :38 and then Adam Payerl scored the game winner in overtime. For Albany, the Devils hosted the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in Atlantic City and won in overtime 4-3. Tim Sestito netted the game winner for the Devils.

Last Meeting: November 21 in Albany, the Penguins won 5-1. Josh Archibald, Scott Wilson and Jayson Megna each had a goal and an assist.

Record: For WBS: 16-9-1-2 (35 pts., 1st place East Division) — For ALB: 12-9-1-4 (29 pts., 4th place Northeast Division)

Why you should care: Devils always give the Penguins fits. Can the Penguins continue their great record on Fridays?

Referee(s): Pierre Lambert

Linesmen: Francis Trempe / Luke Murray

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

Promotion(s): None

Other Game to Watch: Springfield is in Binghamton tonight. The Penguins travel to Binghamton tomorrow.

Next Five Games: @ BNG 12/20, @ BNG 12/26, BRI 12/27, NOR 12/28, HER 12/31

Mumps in the Road

You think that you have heard the last of mumps, but today it was revealed that Marc-Andre Fleury, Robert Bortuzzo and Olli Maatta weren’t feeling well today and were being tested for mumps.

As a result, Pittsburgh recalled Jeff Zatkoff. In a reactionary move, Coal Street recalled Eric Hartzell. Matt Murray, for the time being, is the man in net.

GM Jim Rutherford said today that the results on the tests for Fleury, et. al would be known in three days. They are quarantined. So forget about Zatkoff coming back this weekend.

There is no need for recall for Bortuzzo or Maatta, who were already down with injuries.

Wilkes-Barre has seen this fish before with Zatkoff going down with injury once this season in October against Albany. Matt Murray is more than capable of handling the number one job here with Eric Hartzell as his capable backup.

The Penguins host Albany Friday and travel to Binghamton Saturday.

AHL Power Rankings: Week 10

A Monarchy this week here in Week 10 of the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings.

Despite an Atlantic Division team leading this week, the Northeast Division is the Power Conference. There are four teams in the division that are in the top eight in the Eastern Conference. The Springfield Falcons were dethroned by Manchester this weekend, but don’t let that fool you. Also, there is a team in that division not mentioned here who I call the AHL’s best team. You shouldn’t have to scroll down too far to see who.

You should know the drill now. Hop through the jump if you haven’t linked in from someplace else to see where everyone ended up this week.

Read more of this post

Overtime? It Payerl’s Off! — Pens WIN 3-2 (OT)

HER        vs.        WBS

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The newspaper guys would love this one.

The Penguins, seemingly on their way to a five point weekend and a five point East Division lead over the rival Hershey Bears, are 2.7 seconds away from doing just that when Chris Brown walks into the Hershey offensive zone with time dripping off the clock, winds and fires and the puck somehow eludes starting goaltender Jeff Zatkoff. The Bears stun the Penguins and force overtime.

Enter Adam Payerl. A player who hasn’t scored a goal all season long and when the organization is healthy, has found himself a scratch more times than not. An overtime three on one leads to a four on one. A Conor Sheary shot off of Hershey starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer is saved, but Sheary follows his own rebound, dishes to Payerl who buries the shot past Grubauer sending the Penguins home with the win and Payerl and to a lesser degree Zatkoff, vindicated.

Someone with a journalism degree could write it a little differently than that, but the overall picture is painted and any reader to this blog should get the point.

A 3-2 overtime thriller win for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins and a four point cushion over the Bears to second with a ragtag scratch lineup bereft of stars. Five points out of the weekend. How John Hynes and Alain Nasreddine have managed this with the lineup pillaged from injuries to Pittsburgh stifles me.

Scott Harrington was recalled to Pittsburgh at 5 p.m. today. The Penguins didn’t have a single healthy scratch this afternoon. Here’s what the lineup looked like:

Tom Kostopoulos – Carter Rowney -Adam Payerl
Conor Sheary – J-S Dea – Jayson Megna
Tom Kuhnhackl – Sahir Gill – Josh Archibald
Pierre Leblond – Matia Marcantuoni – Dom Uher

Reid McNeill – Taylor Chorney
Derrick Pouliot – Goers
Nick D’Agostino – Alex Boak

Jeff Zatkoff – Matt Murray

First Period: The goaltenders posts were the story of the period. Conor Sheary creates a turnover and rings one off the post. A while later, the Bears ding the post off a wacky shot from the blue line that rainbowed and clipped the top of Zatkoff’s net. Shots were 6-5 Penguins at the end of the first of a pretty even period.

Second Period: Bears get their first power play but don’t score but immediately thereafter went on another power play. You can’t do that if you are the Penguins. It cost them. Connor Carrick unloaded from the blue line and it went in.

The Penguins had a chance to tie it with a long period of 5-on-3 (1:53) but the Bears top penalty killing unit killed it all off.

Then, in a span of :38, the Penguins had the lead.

- J-S Dea cleaned up a rebound on a power play.
– Dominik Uher followed in similar fashion for the 2-1 lead.

Play opened up after that, but it went 2-1 into the….

Third Period: Penguins played that boring, don’t give up the lead, don’t make dumb mistakes style of hockey. The Bears hemmed Wilkes-Barre in a few sequences, but the time continued to drip down. With less than a minute and with Grubauer vacated, the Pens had a few shots at the empty net but didn’t capitalize. Brown came racing up the right wing and fired a shot that plum beat Zatkoff via the glove.

Overtime: A couple of chances both ways, but the Bears turn the puck over in their zone, Sheary and Payerl lead a two on one that developed into a three on one. Payerl overshot his pass to Sheary. Sheary needed to collect it, put a shot on net that Grubauer made a great save on that rebounded back to Sheary who passed to Payerl who ended it with a nice wrist shot on net.

Whew.

Three Stars: 3) J-S Dea (goal, even) 2) Dominik Uher (goal, +1) and 1) Adam Payerl (overtime game winning goal, assist, +1)

Around the Division: Albany finally wins a game in overtime, with a 4-3 win in Atlantic City against Lehigh Valley.

Standings: Penguins 35 – Hershey 31 — Binghamton 27 — Lehigh Valley 26 — Norfolk 22

Conference: 1) SPR (37) 2) MCH (36) 3) WBS (35) 4) SYR (35) 5) HFD (33) 6) HER (31) 7) PRO (30) 8) 8) ALB (29)

Wheeling Update: Nailers finally get a win against the Reading Royals by a score of 3-2. Eric Hartzell took home third star honors with 36 saves.

SendToNews Highlights: YouTube instead, cause it plays nice with WordPress…

Week 10 AHL Power Rankings hit the blog at 4 p.m. Monday. Check them out then. I’ll have whatever news or notes I can scrape throughout the week.

Let’s Go Pens!

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