Chirps from Center Ice

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

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

POR            vs.            WBS

 0                                                2

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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!

GAMEDAY: vs. Portland 11/19

vs. 2012_POR

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Home Game: 9

AHL Game: 231

Who: Portland Pirates

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Sunday in Hershey, the Penguins surged to a 2-0 lead over the Bears but lost 3-2. Jayson Megna had both goals for Wilkes-Barre in the loss. For Portland, they were in Providence on Sunday and lost 3-2 also. Brendan Shinnimin had a goal in the loss for the Pirates and was named third star of the game.

Record: For WBS: 9-7-1-0 (19 pts., 1st place East Division) — For POR: 8-8-0-0 (16 pts., 4th place Atlantic Division)

Why you should care: Wilkes-Barre comes into the new week at home against a Pirates team which has been struggling of late, winning two of their last five contests. The Penguins by their own admission beat themselves this past weekend with losses to Syracuse and Hershey. They will need a full 60 minute effort if they want to beat the Pirates tonight.

Referee(s): Nic Leduc / Stephen Reneau

Linesmen: Ryan Knapp / Jud Ritter

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @portlandpirates

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /PortlandPirates

Instagram: wbspenguins / piratesahl

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie / @TLTomVenesky // @Chris_MHJ

Broadcasters: WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / POR: Jeff Mannix @JeffMannix

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep 

Radio: For WBS: WILK NewsRadio / For Portland: News Talk 1310 WLOB

Television: AHL Live

Promotion(s): None

Other Game to Watch: Bears are in Allentown taking on the Phantoms.

Next Five Games: @ ALB 11/21, MCH 11/22, @ HER 11/26, STJ 11/29, LV 12/5

AHL Power Rankings: Week 6

For the Week 6 Chirps from Center Ice Power Rankings, it’s all about the bottom.

That’s where this weeks number one team, the Adirondack Flames, started back on Week 1. The bottom. The Flames had just botched a mascot reveal badly and employed Trevor Gillies who was suspended 12 games for smashing an opponents head in the ice on the opening weekend.

But the Flames have risen to the top of this weeks rankings thanks to a five game road winning streak.

The teams at the bottom of this weeks Power Rankings were harder to put in line than the teams at the top. Sometime you get weeks like that.

The biggest jump up this week belonged to the Grand Rapids Griffins, up 14 spots to 13th after snapping their six game losing streak with winning three including a pair over the defending champion Texas Stars.

The biggest nose dive this week belonged to the Portland Pirates, down 14 spots to 18th after setting a personal record of mediocrity you will have to read in their capsule.

You know the drill by now. If you didn’t link in direct, hop through the jump to see where your favorite team ended up.

Read more of this post

As the Wind Blows — Pens LOSE 3-2

WBS        @       HER

2                                         3

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Depending on your point of view, this one went exactly the way you would have expected.

The Penguins, playing their third game in less than three days, go up 2-0 on Hershey but ultimately lose 3-2. Hershey did not play last night and were the more rested team at home.

Or, maybe there is a trend. The Bears played poorly in Syracuse on Friday, going up 1-0 on the Crunch then fishing five goals out of their nets. The Pens were up 2-0 after two goals by Jayson Megna and looked like they were cruising, despite the fact that they were being badly outplayed in the first period. It could have been a crushing blow to the Bears, but Hershey continued to surge as the Penguins faded.

Can the Penguins protect a lead? I think it may be too early to pin a finger on it.

Jeff Zatkoff vs. Philipp Grubauer

Lines were…

Scott Wilson – Andrew Ebbett – Jayson Megna
Adam Payerl – JS Dea – Bryan Rust
Conor Sheary – Carter Rowney – Josh Archibald
Pierre Leblond – Dom Uher – Bobby Farnham

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

Jeff Zatkoff – Matt Murray

Adam Payerl was back in the lineup for Tom Kuhnhackl. Mike OBrien provided updates on the injured. Nick Drazenovic is still week to week with a lower body injury but could be upgraded to day to day this week by John Hynes. Anton Zlobin is week to week with a lower body injury, with no timetable on an upgrade.

First Period: Bears hemmed the Penguins in the zone for the better part of the first half of the period. The shots favored Hershey 7-1 at one point. Stan Galiev hit a post. The Penguins fourth line generated the most offense. Finally, Jayson Megna released this firecracker, which bounced off of Grubauer and off two posts and in. He picked a spot the size of a postage stamp. It was an impressive goal.

Second Period: Megna scored this goal on a breakaway when the teams were four-on-four. It was his third two-goal game in the month of November. J-S Dea took a delay of game penalty, one of his four minor penalties in the game, and the Bears scored to cut the deficit to one. You could feel the air slowly escaping the Wilkes-Barre balloon. Josh Archibald had an opportunity to re-establish the two goal lead but never actually shot the puck on the net, rather shooting about three feet wide of Grubauer.

Penguins had a power play that generated more shorthanded chances for the Bears than to the benefit of the Penguins. The Bears would score on another power play later when Connor Carrick leveled the game at two.

Then this skirmish involving Bobby Farnham. Farnham appears to leave his feet and hits Carrick, then fights Dane Byers. Farnham wasn’t assessed anything on that sequence other than the fight with Byers and Carrick was uninjured, so it will be interesting to see what, if anything comes down the line from the League as far as supplementary discipline. My take: Carrick was fine, Farnham has a history, no penalty on the play, so no suspension. But you cannot leave your feet when you throw a hit and you sure as hell can’t leave your feet when you throw a check if you have a history, so who knows what will happen with Farnham.

Chandler Stephenson was tripped on a breakaway and scored to make it 3-2 Bears. The Bears are two-for-two on penalty shots this season, both against the Penguins.

Third Period: Jeff Zatkoff did everything he could to keep the Penguins in the game, including this double stop on Dustin Gazley and Caleb Herbert.

Penguins had a power play. Dea hit the post and it looked like the puck crossed the line, but referee Kendrick Nicholson was on top of it and washed it out immediately and there was no follow up review.

More Zatkoff saves on a Bears power play, but the Pens would kill that and later, with Zatkoff pulled, were unable to find the equalizing goal.

Three Stars: Jayson Megna (two goals, +2) 2) Connor Carrick (goal, assist, even) and 1) Philippe Cornet (goal, -1)

Around the Division: There wasn’t any action. They all watched us.

Standings: Penguins 19 – Hershey 17 — Lehigh Valley 13 — Norfolk 12 — Binghamton 12

Conference: 1) BRI (21) 2) MCH (20) 3) WBS (19) 4) SYR (19) 5) SPR (19) 6) HFD (18) 7) ALB (18) 8 )WOR (17)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off.

SendToNews Highlights: Are here.

The Pens still lead the division by two points but Hershey has a pair of games in hand. Wilkes-Barre could really have opened up a lead and taken the games in hand equation out of the picture with another perfect weekend, but come on, nothing is easy with this team.

But for breaking news, my Week 6 Power Rankings hit the blog at 4 p.m. Monday. Check those out then.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Hershey 11/16

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Away Game: 9

AHL Game: 219

Who: Hershey Bears

Where: Giant Center

When: 5:00 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Last night at home vs. the Crunch, the Pens lost 3-2. The Penguins were up 2-0 but Syracuse scored three unanswered goals and won the game…. For Hershey, they suffered a similar fate to the Crunch Friday. The Bears were up 1-0 and then the Crunch scored five unanswered goals and won 5-1.

Last Meeting: November 7 in Wilkes-Barre, the Pens won in overtime 3-2. Jayson Megna scored the game winning goal at 1:01 in overtime to win.

Record: For WBS: 9-6-1-0 (19 pts., 1st place East Division) — For HER: 7-6-1-0 (15 pts., 2nd place East Division)

Why you should care: The Bears come into this contest rested and ready for their biggest rival. Hershey can’t catch the Penguins for the Division lead today, but they can put a dent in it with a win and with the fact that the Bears have two games in hand on the Penguins coming into today.

Referee(s): Kendrick Nicholson / Evgeny Romasko

Linesmen: Matt McNulty / Jud Ritter

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @TheHersheyBears

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /TheHersheyBears

Instagram: wbspenguins / thehersheybears

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie / @TLTomVenesky // @timleone

Broadcasters: WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / HER: Scott Stuccio @ScottStuccio

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep / @ChocHockey

Radio: For WBS: WILK NewsRadio / For Hershey: 1460 The Ticket 

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: Let’s go with Springfield and Brideport. The Sound Tigers lead the Northeast but just four points over the last place Falcons. No, you read that right, the last place Falcons are just four points off the division lead in the ever competitive Northeast Division.

Next Five Games: POR 11/19, @ ALB 11/21, MCH 11/22, @ HER 11/26, STJ 11/29

Crunched — Pens LOSE 3-2

SYR        vs.        WBS

3                                             2

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They did it to Hershey last night, too.

After being down 1-0 to the Bears, the Crunch rattled off five straight to win 5-1. They came to Wilkes-Barre and found themselves down 2-0 at the end of the first and used the final 40 minutes to rally and beat the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins by the score of 3-2.

It was like water torture to an extent. You could see the lead dwindling away and the score was still 2-0 at the time. A Derrick Pouliot turnover at the midway point in the third put the Crunch ahead for good. Yanni Gourde scored two goals and Mike Angelidis the other.

Syracuse is a good team. The Penguins are too. You learn from this and become a better team for it.

Matt Murray vs. Kristers Gudlevskis

The Murray start is not surprising. Jeff Zatkoff is coming off of injury, and Murray has played well, so give him the start today while you maintain a healthy competition for who should be the number one guy in Wilkes-Barre.

Lineups were essentially unchanged from last night. Only Alex Boak took warmups and Adam Payerl did not. Scroll down to see who played where and on what line.

First Period: Pens jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead when Conor Sheary shot a puck over a felled Gudlevskis for a 1-0 Penguins lead then Scott Wilson set up Andrew Ebbett on the power play with a great pass to make it 2-0. The goals came 1:05 apart.

But then, it seemed, the Penguins either stopped playing or slipped into neutral.

Second Period: Syracuse was buzzing all period. The Penguins only managed a shot on goal for a good portion of the opening of the period.

Then the turning point in my opinion. Gudlevskis stops both Bryan Rust and J-S Dea point blank. The Crunch then go the other way and score when a shot from the blue line is sent in softly towards Murray who’ drops the rebound right to Gourde who scored to make it 2-1.

The Penguins would weather the rest of the Syracuse storm and get out of the period up 2-1 heading into the….

Third Period: Gourde again on the power play. Set up on the near dot for a one time dart that Murrya had no chance on for a tie game. Penguins would get a power play but couldn’t score then Pouliot tries a home run clear from the corner right to a Syracuse stick. The puck end up in the net soon after when Mike Angelidis put it there. Pens would get another power play late but couldn’t score and then, with Murray pulled, couldn’t even set up for a shot at Gudlevskis.

To this point, the Penguins were undefeated when scoring a power play goal. That streak ended.

Three Stars: 3) Mike Angelidis (game winning goal, +1) 2) Andrew Ebbett (goal, even) 1) Yanni Gourde (two goals, +2)

Around the Division: Hershey was off and the Bears have two games in hand on the Penguins….Binghamton loses in Norfolk 3-2 and Lehigh Valley beats Toronto 3-2.

Standings: Penguins 19 – Hershey 15 — Lehigh Valley 13 — Norfolk 12 — Binghamton 12

Conference: 1) BRI (21) 2) WBS (19) 3) MCH (18) 4) SYR (19) 5) ALB (18) 6) HFD (17) 7) WOR (17) 8) SPR (17)

Wow, all five Northeast Division teams are in the top eight and there is just one East Division team in the top eight. Yes, I know it only November and not Thanksgiving yet. But I like to pay attention to this stuff in November, because the points are the same now as they are in April.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers fall tonight in Indianapolis to the Indy Fuel by a score of 3-2. Eric Hartzell took the loss in net for the Nailers. Shavertown native Patrick McGrath scored his first ever ECHL goal tonight. Matia Marcantuoni and Zack Torquato both had assists.

SendToNews Highlights: Packaged here.

Pens travel to Hershey tomorrow for a 5 pm game. The Bears are rested. Expect Zatkoff tomorrow in net and probably a lineup tweak here or there. Gameday setup hits here at 1 p.m.

Let’s Go Pens!!

GAMEDAY: vs. Syracuse 11/15

vs. 

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Home Game: 8

AHL Game: 214

Who: Syracuse Crunch

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Last night vs. the Phantoms, the Pens won 3-1. Jeff Zatkoff stopped 21 of 22 shots. For Syracuse, the Crunch scored five unanswered goals to defeat the Hershey Bears 5-1. Mike Angelidis had a goal and an assist and was named the first star of the game.

Last Meeting: Just this past Sunday, the Pens won in overtime 5-4. J-S Dea scored the game winner and Beau Bennett had four assists.

Record: For WBS: 9-5-1-0 (19 pts., 1st place East Division) — For SYR: 7-4-2-0 (17 pts., 4th place Northeast Division)

Why you should care: This Crunch team is light years better than its record and place indicate at this juncture. For the Penguins to win they will need a complete game, most likely.

Referee(s): Ryan Fraser

Linesmen: Leo Boylan / Bob Fyrer

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @SyracuseCrunch

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /syracusecrunch

Instagram: wbspenguins / officialsyracusecrunch

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie / @TLTomVenesky // @syrhockey

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / For SYR: Dan D’Uva @Dan_DUva

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep / @Allovimo

Radio: For WBS: WILK NewsRadio / For Syracuse: ESPN Radio Central New York

Television: AHL Live

Promotion(s): Car Magnet

Other Game to Watch: Hartford and Bridgeport rematch tonight in Bridgeport. The Sound Tigers crushed the Wolf Pack 6-1 last night so you know Hartford is out for revenge.

Next Five Games: @ HER 11/16, POR 11/19, @ ALB 11/21, MCH 11/22, @ HER 11/26

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