- We have to do something to change this. Tomorrow we take the first step. #digdeep http://t.co/PAyqRlifjf 1 hour ago
- 24 hours. #digdeep 2 hours ago
- Just scheduled the Gameday setup for Game 1 tomorrow, chock full of good stuff. If you missed it, my preview here: wp.me/sZJgR-14ccqf 4 hours ago
- RT @TheAHL: Prep for #BNGvsWBS with a series snapshot: bit.ly/1k9Zaur and by using #CalderCup! @BSens_Hockey @WBSPenguins http://t.… 5 hours ago
- WBS means business this year. RT @jsteph27: Playoff time #Digdeep http://t.co/ka80AFADhL 8 hours ago
- Public Square knows what's up. #digdeep http://t.co/ZfcNdQKpcP 8 hours ago
- RT @WBSPenguins: TRANSACTION: Jean-Sebastien Dea, Matia Marcantuoni and Clark Seymour have been released today by WBS. 9 hours ago
A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins
April 24, 2014Posted by on
Eleven times walking up to the window, eleven times walking away from the window empty handed. Such has been the case for the past eleven postseasons for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.
You can debate for days on what matters more, winning the championship of your league and becoming an obscure afterthought or being a constant in the postseason year after year after year.
For the Penguins and Binghamton Senators, neither is a stranger to the postseason. The B-Sens won it all in 2011 were a playoff team last year, facing these same Penguins. Binghamton was swept last year by the Penguins. Will it happen again? Read on.
The Penguins went 3-3-1-1 against the Senators this past season and winless at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena up in Southern New York. The B-Sens have home ice in this series so if the Penguins want to have success and get past their closest East Division rival, they must win at least one game on the Southern Tier.
The B-Sens were led in points this year by Mike Hoffman. Hoffman paced the B-Sens with 30 goals this season. However, Hoffman was recalled to Ottawa and hasn’t been seen since. Good news for the Penguins, right? Wrong. Binghamton isn’t led by just one, but by a pack. That pack mentality dooms opponents because if you make a mistake against this team, usually you are fishing that mistake out of the back of your net.
The Binghamton Senators led the AHL in scoring with 3.63 goals per game. The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins led the AHL in defense, limiting opponents to 2.43 goals per game.
It’s the unstoppable force vs. the immovable object.
Time to break it all down.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Series “C” (best-of-5)
3-Binghamton Senators vs. 6-W-B/Scranton Penguins
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 25 – W-B/Scranton at Binghamton, 7:05
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 26 – W-B/Scranton at Binghamton, 7:05
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 30 – Binghamton at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 4 – Fri., May 2 – Binghamton at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Mon., May 5 – W-B/Scranton at Binghamton, 7:05
* – if necessary
Penguins captain Tom Kostopoulos leads Wilkes-Barre with 47 points. The B-Sens have six players that have more points than Kostopoulos. This should tell the tale as to who has the advantage. Wilkes-Barre’s “X-Factor” is a one-two punch of playmaking center Andrew Ebbett and NHL veteran Chuck Kobasew. Kobasew set the AHL on fire by scoring 11 goals in 12 games after being outcast by Pittsburgh late in the year. Ebbett had a 12 game point streak at the end of the year. You get this duo rolling in the right direction and you are going to win a lot of playoff games.
Advantage: Binghamton. Relying on Kobasew and Ebbett to get hot as a game plan is a recipe for failure. There’s just too much firepower up front for the B-Sens.
The Penguins have again led the American Hockey League in defense, giving up the fewest goals allowed (185) in the 30 team league. The B-Sens gave up 232 goals and seemed to win games by way of firefights. That doesn’t happen often in the playoffs.
For the Penguins, it started out with Jeff Deslauriers and Eric Hartzell and ended with Peter Mannino. Hartzell won AHL Goaltender of the Month honors in January. Mannino was named in March. For Binghamton, it started with Nathan Lawson and Andrew Hammond and ended with Hammond playing 48 games. You think that with Hammond, in his first year in the League that he would be over matched, wide and starry eyed. Hammond won 25 games. He also lost 19 of them, probably due in large part to the fact that Binghamton was, again, involved in a 8 or 9 goals scored game. How Hammond holds up in his first postseason run could define this series.
Advantage: Penguins. Mannino hadn’t let in more than two goals since November but was torched by Binghamton this past Saturday. That’s probably not going to happen consistently in this series.
John Hynes and Luke Richardson are going to be behind NHL benches some day. No one gets more out of his players than Richardson. Hynes prepares his group for this moment from the first meetings in September. Advantage Penguins, slightly here. Binghamton was top five in the AHL in power play this year. The Penguins power play has been a joke all season. Wilkes-Barre has slightly better success on the penalty kill than the B-Sens, but Binghamton led the league with 16 shorthanded goals. The Penguins were second with 14. Playoffs are a different animal though, so it’s a push, for now. Special teams is an ever evolving beast so the first team to take advantage will probably have it for this brief five game series.
Social Media Coverage
For the Penguins…
For the B-Sens…
Penguins in five. In order for this to come to fruition, the Penguins must get at least a split this weekend on the Southern Tier. Limiting mistakes and what chances the opposition throws at you with steady defense and goaltending, something that the Penguins have had all season long, and the Penguins are on to the next round.
But they don’t play these games on cyberspace. They play then in brick and mortar buildings filled with rabid fans. Game 1 is tomorrow. The Gameday Setup hits the blog Friday at 3 p.m.
April 23, 2014Posted by on
Welcome back to the Calder Cup Playoff Previews. Yesterday we looked at the Western Conference. If you missed that, you can click here to go there direct.
Anyway, we are here in familiar territory with teams that the Penguins see on a pretty regular basis. In keeping with what I gave yesterday, I provide capsules on each team that made it this year.
Here we go…
Record: 40-23-5-8 // 93 pts., 2nd place Northeast Division (5 seed)
Power Play: 21st // 16.2%
Penalty Kill: 14th // 82.7%
Top 3 Scorers: Joe Whitney 22-31-53 / Kelly Zajac 12-32-44 / Mike Sislo 23-18-41
Overview: Devils hung around and were relevant all season. Defense is what got them here. Defense is what they are going to need in stopping St. John’s, who was the third highest scoring team in the AHL at 3.39 goals per game.
First Round Opponent: St. John’s IceCaps
Record vs. the IceCaps: Did not play.
Odds to win the Calder Cup: 20:1
Record: 44-24-3-5 // 96 pts., 1st place East Division (3 seed)
Power Play: 5th // 20.7%
Penalty Kill: 23rd // 80.6%
Top 3 Scorers: Mike Hoffman 30-37-67* / Stephane Da Costa 18-40-58 / Cole Schneider 20-34-54
Overview: Binghamton has been the best overall team in the East Division all season. This is a team that has excellent coaching, superb penalty killing (16 SHGF led the AHL) and is the highest scoring team in the AHL. You cannot make a mistake against this team.
First Round Opponent: Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins
Record vs. the Penguins: 5-3-0-0
Odds to win the Calder Cup: 8:1
* – Hoffman is on NHL recall
Record: 48-19-3-6 // 105 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division (1 seed)
Power Play: 19th // 16.3%
Penalty Kill: 19th // 81.5%
Top 3 Scorers: Jordan Weal 23-47-70 / Linden Vey 14-34-48* / Brian O’Neill 26-21-47
Overview: Monarchs dominated the Atlantic and the Eastern Conference for months. Not an overly flashy team, but consistent on all levels and the results of a 1 seed show. Despite this, some have Manchester as a longshot Cup favorite.
First Round Opponent: Norfolk Admirals
Record vs. the Admirals: 2-2-0-0
Odds to win the Calder Cup: 10:1
* – Vey is on NHL recall
Record: 40-26-3-7 // 90 pts., 3rd place East Division (8 seed)
Power Play: 22nd // 16%
Penalty Kill: 1st // 88.1%
Top 3 Scorers: Emerson Etem 24-30-54 / Andre Petersson 23-31-54 / Devante Smith-Pelly 27-16-43*
Overview: Admirals were up and down all season but never were a serious threat to the division title. Norfolk is here thanks to superb goaltending by John Gibson and in his absence, Brad Thiessen. Best penalty kill in the AHL too.
First Round Opponent: Manchester Monarchs
Record vs. the Monarchs: 2-2-0-0
Odds to win the Calder Cup: 25:1
* – Smith-Pelly is on NHL recall
Record: 40-25-2-9 // 91 pts., 3rd place Atlantic Division (7 seed)
Power Play: 6th // 20.5%
Penalty Kill: 21st // 80.9%
Top 3 Scorers: Alexander Khokhlachev 21-36-57 / Seth Griffith 20-30-50 / Craig Cunningham 25-22-47
Overview: P-Bruins were led by rookies in Khokhlachev and Griffith all season long. Rookie G Malcolm Subban was in the top five amongst AHL goaltending leaders. Bruins are a dark horse whom are looking to atone the 0-3 blown series lead against Wilkes-Barre last year.
First Round Opponent: Springfield Falcons
Record vs. the Falcons: 4-5-0-1
Odds to win the Calder Cup: 20:1
Record: 47-23-1-5 // 100 pts., 1st place Northeast Division (2 seed)
Power Play: 12th // 18.8%
Penalty Kill: 2nd // 86.9%
Top 3 Scorers: Carter Camper 12-39-51 / Michael Chaput 19-26-45 / Sean Collins 16-25-41
Overview: Springfield couldn’t catch Manchester all season for tops in the East. Goalies Mike McKenna and Jeremy Smith split time in goal for the Falcons. Springfield is the fourth highest scoring team in the league, scoring 3.25 goals per game.
First Round Opponent: Providence Bruins
Record vs. the Bruins: 2-1-1-0
Odds to win the Calder Cup: 12:1
St. John’s IceCaps
Record: 46-23-2-5 // 99 pts., 2nd place Atlantic Division (4 seed)
Power Play: 13th // 18.1%
Penalty Kill: 9th // 83.5%
Top 3 Scorers: Jason Jaffray 18-41-59 / Jerome Samson 27-29-56 / Andrew Gordon 23-33-56
Overview: St. John’s is led by future hall of famers in Jaffray, Samson and Gordon. Third highest scoring team in the AHL. Goaltending has been a bit of a carousel for the IceCaps, with four goaltenders appearing in 10 or more games.
First Round Opponent: Albany Devils
Record vs. the Devils: Did not play.
Odds to win the Calder Cup: 14:1
Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins
Record: 42-26-3-5 // 92 pts., 2nd place East Division (6 seed)
Power Play: 28th // 13.7%
Penalty Kill: 13th // 83.1%
Top 3 Scorers: Tom Kostopoulos 22-25-47 / Nick Drazenovic 13-29-42 / Andrew Ebbett 13-27-40
Overview: Top defensive team in the League is back for the twelfth time in a row looking to ascend to the ultimate summit of a Calder Cup Championship. With things as wide open in the East with no clear cut number one team, Wilkes-Barre is as good as any other team if not better. Tepid power play needs to come alive. Team plays well with a lead vs. trailing.
First Round Opponent: Binghamton Senators
Record vs. the Senators: 3-3-1-1
Odds to win the Calder Cup: 12:1
So there you have it. I return tomorrow with my Series Preview for the Penguins and Senators and break it all down for you as well as offer my prediction.
April 22, 2014Posted by on
I don’t know about the weather where you are reading my blog from, but in Wilkes-Barre the last few days it has been sunny and springlike. Yes, Spring is here, and so are playoffs in the AHL!
Today we take a look at the Western Conference. Teams like Chicago, Texas, Grand Rapids and Milwaukee are teams that places like Wilkes-Barre, Binghamton and Providence never see in the regular season.
For teams that I only see from time to time on my AHL Live subscription, below is snapshot of each team participating, their stats, leaders, who they play first round and how they fared. I offer an overview and my odds for the team to win the Calder Cup in June.
Here goes nothing…
Record: 43-25-5-3 // 94 pts., 2nd place West Division (5 seed)
Power Play: 4th // 21.9%
Penalty Kill: 27th // 79.4%
Top 3 Scorers: Max Reinhart 21-42-63 / Ben Street 28-32-60 / Corey Locke 10-38-48
Overview: Gritty Heat led the West for a time before Texas went on its white hot run. Faltered then recovered and seems to be peaking at the right time. G Joni Ortio is in the Top 6 for goaltending leaders. Could upset Grand Rapids in a five game series.
First Round Opponent: Grand Rapids Griffins
Record vs. the Griffins: 1-2-0-1
Odds to win the Calder Cup: 25:1
Record: 41-21-5-5 // 100 pts., 1st place Midwest Division (2 seed)
Power Play: 30th // 12.6%
Penalty Kill: 4th // 85.6%
Top 3 Scorers: Ty Rattie 31-17-48 / Keith Aucoin 11-32-43 / Alexandre Bolduc 18-39-37
Overview: Up and down year for the Wolves, who were constructed on paper in the Fall to totally run away with things. Still managed to win the Midwest on the final weekend. The way the lineup is built with perennial hall of famers like Keith Aucoin and Goaltender of the Year Jake Allen in the lineup, the Wolves are looking like a tough out.
First Round Opponent: Rochester Americans
Record vs. the Americans: 1-1-0-0
Odds to win the Calder Cup: 10:1
Grand Rapids Griffins
Record: 46-26-2-5 // 99 pts., 2nd place Midwest Division (4 seed)
Power Play: 7th // 20.2%
Penalty Kill: 5th // 85.6%
Top 3 Scorers: Teemu Pulkkinen 31-28-59 / Adam Almquist 4-49-53 / Cory Emmerton 16-30-46
Overview: Defending Champion Griffins looking to repeat this year having missed out on Midwest crown on the final day of regular season to the Chicago Wolves. But don’t let that fool you. The Griffins have been a top five team all season long. They know what it takes to win a championship.
First Round Opponent: Abbotsford Heat
Record vs. the Heat: 3-1-0-0
Odds to win the Calder Cup: 5:1
Record: 39-24-6-7 // 91 pts., 3rd place Midwest Division (6 seed)
Power Play: 14th // 17.5%
Penalty Kill: 7th // 83.8%
Top 3 Scorers: Miikka Salomaki 20-30-50 / Taylor Beck 17-32-49 / Austin Watson 22-24-46
Overview: Admirals never really were a threat to overtake division rivals Chicago and Grand Rapids, but that didn’t stop them from making their 12th consecutive playoff appearance.
First Round Opponent: Toronto Marlies
Record vs. the Marlies: 2-0-0-0
Odds to win the Calder Cup: 30:1
Oklahoma City Barons
Record: 36-29-2-9 // 83 pts., 3rd place West Division (8 seed)
Power Play: 3rd // 22.1%
Penalty Kill: 28th // 78.9%
Top 3 Scorers: Roman Horak 23-32-55 / Anton Lander 18-34-52 / Brad Hunt 11-39-50
Overview: Barons surged past Charlotte, Rockford and Utica in the seasons closing weeks to claim the eighth and final playoff spot. The Barons are the only playoff team that has four or more wins against the Texas Stars this season.
First Round Opponent: Texas Stars
Record vs. the Stars: 4-6-2-0
Odds to win the Calder Cup: 50:1
Record: 37-28-6-5 // 85 pts., 2nd place North Division (7 seed)
Power Play: 10th // 19.8%
Penalty Kill: 12th // 83.1%
Top 3 Scorers: Phil Varone 18-43-61 / Luke Adam 29-20-49 / Nick Deslauriers 19-23-42
Overview: Amerks looked for a time like they weren’t going to make playoffs, having lost nine in a row in March but managed to turn things around with a five game win streak and got in as a 7 seed.
First Round Opponent: Chicago Wolves
Record vs. the Wolves: 1-1-0-0
Odds to win the Calder Cup: 45:1
Record: 48-18-3-7 // 106 pts., 1st place West Division (1 seed)
Power Play: 1st // 25.3%
Penalty Kill: 3rd // 86.4%
Top 3 Scorers: Travis Morin 32-56-88 / Curtis McKenzie 27-38-65 / Colton Sceviour 32-31-63
Overview: The Stars tore through the regular season and won the Macgregror Kilpatrick Trophy. They have the league MVP in Travis Morin, they have the best power play in the league converting at over 25% and are top three on the penalty kill. Texas is the second highest scoring team in the league, barely being edged by Binghamton back East. This team is a powerhouse and the odds on lock for the Calder Cup in June.
First Round Opponent: Oklahoma City Barons
Record vs. the Barons: 8-3-1-0
Odds to win the Calder Cup: 3:1
Record: 45-25-2-4 // 96 pts., 1st place North Division (3 seed)
Power Play: 9th // 19.9%
Penalty Kill: 11th // 83.2%
Top 3 Scorers: T.J. Brennan 25-47-72 / Spencer Abbott 17-52-69 / Greg McKegg 19-28-47
Overview: Marlies have been the class of the North Division for years now. Very balanced attack can roll line after line at opponents and wear them down. A Division winner can’t be considered a dark horse to win it all, can it?
First Round Opponent: Milwaukee Admirals
Record vs. the Admirals: 2-0-0-0
Odds to win the Calder Cup: 8:1
So there you have it. Not bad for an East Division blogger that never sees half these teams in person, eh?. Tomorrow we roll with the Eastern Conference Playoff Previews.
April 21, 2014Posted by on
Welcome to the fourth and final installment of the Chirps from Center Ice Fourth Quarter Grades!
Before we get to that though, let’s off some news that happened Sunday…
Jeff Deslauriers and Eric Hartzell won the Hap Holmes Award, which is given to the goaltenders with at least 25 games played on the team that allows the fewest goals in the regular season.
As crazy as the hockey world is, Hartzell and Deslauriers are afterthoughts now with the resurgence of Peter Mannino. In fact, in these grades, Hartzell and Deslauriers get “incompletes” for not meeting the 6 game threshold to get a grade. That’s how forgotten those two are.
It’s the third time in four seasons under Head Coach John Hynes that the Penguins have ranked first in goals against.
Elsewhere, when someone talked to you about Westward expansion in the AHL, you’d normally scoff at them. Not so fast my friend. It’s a building crescendo now as this report out of Cedar Park had words from AHL Commissioner David Andrews in it. It may be an interesting next couple of years in the AHL.
Alright, so back to the Grades. Anyone who skated in this Quarter gets talked about. If you didn’t play in at least six games, you get no grade and placed in the “Incomplete” category.
If you didn’t link in direct, hop through for the Grades…
April 20, 2014Posted by on
So another season is in the books in the American Hockey League. For a concept I cooked up on my couch in October, these 29 weeks of putting out Power Rankings have been a success.
You’ll notice this week that the Top 16 teams in this weeks Rankings are all playoff teams. You’ll also notice that all the division winners are in the Top 6. I felt it fitting that it be this way, with this being the final week of the Rankings.
I do plan on bringing these back for 2014-15 and appreciate everyone reading, commenting and spreading the word of these Rankings all throughout the internets.
No change at the top, as the Regular Season Champion Texas Stars reign supreme in this weeks Rankings. The Chicago Wolves, err, the Midwest Division Champion Chicago Wolves, are you biggest gainers this week, up 5 spots to 4th.
Biggest fall this week belong to the Hershey Bears, who will not be competing for the Calder Cup this Spring for the first time since 2005-06. The Bears were eliminated Friday.
You should know the drill by now. Click through the jump if you didn’t link in anywhere else direct.
April 19, 2014Posted by on
The Penguins dressed an all ATO lineup tonight and lost 2-0 to the Utica Comets. The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins will play the Binghamton Senators in Round 1 of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
I mean, that’s all you need to know, right? Pens conceded the East Division Championship to the Binghamton Senators last night, so it was all about who the Pens would play in the first round of the playoffs, right?
I’d consider that a cop out though, so read on for your recap.
The Penguins dressed an all ATO lineup. Goaltender Matt Murray started in goal for the Penguins and Eric Hartzell backed up. Scott Wilson and Jean-Sebastian Dea made their pro debuts up front. Scratches for Wilkes-Barre were Brendan Mikkelson, Harry Zolnierczyk, Nick Drazenovic, Chuck Kobasew, Mike Carman, Bobby Farnham, Andrew Ebbett, Tom Kostopoulos, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, Matia Marcantuoni and Clark Seymour. Scott Harrington appeared in his 76th regular season game for the Penguins, the only player to claim that title this year.
The Penguins, to a man, did not look out of place playing against the eliminated Utica Comets. Joacim Eriksson started for the Comets and the Penguins played them straight up. A first period shot by Peter Andersson beat Matt Murray but Murray had no chance as he was heavily screened. Nice pace between the two teams. Dea really has a nose for the net and Murray plays bigger in net than any goaltender I have seen this season.
Penguins had several chances at the power play in this game but were unsuccessful. The power play was 0-for-7 for the night. If you are looking for a reason why the Penguins didn’t win the game tonight, look no further than that.
Pascal Pelletier scored a power play goal, amidst all the penalty killing that Utica had to do, to extend the lead for the Comets to 2-0. It was a blind pass by Alex Grenier that set up that goal by Pelletier. Murray had no chance.
Penguins fail to convert on two power plays late, and there is your ball game.
Three Stars: 3) Peter Andersson (goal, +1) 2) Pascal Pelletier (goal, even) 1) Joacim Eriksson (27 save shutout)
I have done the following for 75 post game write-ups so for completeness sake…
The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins close out the 2012-13 campaign with a 42-26-35 record, good for 92 points, second in the East Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference.
Conference: 1) MCH (105) 2) SPR (100) 3) BNG (96) 4) STJ (99) 5) ALB (93) 6) WBS (92) 7) PRO (91) 8) NOR (90)
Your Round 1 Calder Cup Eastern Conference Quarterfinal schedule is as follows:
Game 1: @ Binghamton 4/25
Game 2: @ Binghamton 4/26
Game 3: vs. Binghamton 4/30
Game 4: vs. Binghamton 5/2*
Game 5: @ Binghamton 5/5*
* – if necessary
Here’s the entire Round 1 schedule for the other 14 teams.
Wheeling Update: Ton Kuhnhackl with the overtime game winning goal as the Nailers win 3-2, take 2-0 series lead against the South Carolina Stingrays as the series shifts back to Wheeling.
SendToNews Highlights: Not up yet. I’ll look again and link if available.
Blog schedule here at Chirps from Center Ice look like this:
Sunday: Final AHL Power Rankings
Monday: Fourth Quarter Grades
Tuesday: Western Conference Playoff Preview
Wednesday: Eastern Conference Playoff Preview
Thursday: Penguins / B-Sens Series Preview
Friday: Gameday Setup, tweeting and blogging of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Stay tuned. It’s about to get real.
Let’s Go Pens!!
April 19, 2014Posted by on
Away Game: 38
AHL Game: 1138
Who: Utica Comets
Where: Utica Memorial Auditorium
When: 7:00 p.m.
Last Game: Last night in Binghamton, the Pens lost 5-4. After being down 5-0 at one point the rally fell short. Chuck Kobasew scored a goal and had an assist. For Utica, they hosted Toronto last night and won 3-2. Comets goaltender Joe Cannata stopped 37 of 39 shots.
Last Meeting: March 22 in Wilkes-Barre, the Pens lost 2-1. Chuck Kobasew scored the only goal for the Pens in the loss.
Record: For WBS: 42-25-3-5 (92 pts., 2nd place East Division) — For UTI: 34-32-5-4 (77 pts., 3rd place North Division)
Why you should care: The Division Championship has already been decided to Binghamton, but the Penguins are now playing for seeding. Many factors are in play. The most simplest one is a win cements the Pens at the five seed and a date with St. John’s in Round 1 of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Referee(s): Steve Patafie
Linesmen: Jim Harper / Andy Petrus
Television: AHL Live
Other Game to Watch: I am giving you two. Albany hosts Springfield and Providence is in Worcester. Both of these games can determine where the Pens end up in playoffs is Wilkes-Barre does not win tonight.