Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Just Rambling

Injuries 2.0

Just when you thought the Pittsburgh Penguins were finally healthy and bodies were going to, eventually, start filtering back to Wilkes-Barre.

Boom. Nick Drazenovic recalled Tuesday morning and Brian Gibbons and Joe Vitale placed on injured reserve retroactive. But wait, there’s more! James Neal is day to day (upper body) and might still play Wednesday vs. Washington but might not, so there’s a possibility that yet another body may be claimed from Wilkes-Barre.

Jonathan had a Tuesday update to complain about the Tom, Nick and Harry line being broken up to offer perspective on the Pens down the middle.

Coal Street released Barry Goers from his PTO and recalled Nick D’Agostino.

Anyway, I was thinking about all the injuries the Penguins have had in the past three seasons and how pillaged Wilkes-Barre has been as a result. That said, with all of the advanced analytics, charts, metrics, graphs and what have you out there on the internet and filling up your Twitter feed I was wondering if it was possible for someone to come up with a chart defining the injuries sustained by the Penguins in the past three to five years. In comparison, look at the injuries sustained by the other 29 teams and compare them. Example:

Player x broke his ankle pursuing a puck into the boards. His lower leg hits the boards and his leg turns awkwardly and he suffers a broken ankle. How many other NHL teams have had this similar injury?

Like how many times do you see a player block a shot with his hand errantly? How often does it happen to the Penguins in the past three years and the rest of the league?

I guess what I am trying to get at is there is no doubt that the Penguins seem to be ravaged by injuries year after year. There has to be some kind of explanation as to why.

Anyway, I am aiming at a Thursday release of my Second Quarter Grades provided I don’t break, strain, pull, tweak or concuss some upper or lower body injury in an undisclosed fashion. Heh.

Weekend Setup 12/19

I am off from my real job for these next two days so I got a large majority of my Christmas shopping done Thursday afternoon. I could not believe the amount of people out and about. My brother got me a $25 Panera gift card for my recent birthday and Panera, on a Thursday afternoon after the standard 12-1 lunch hour, was packed with people. Doesn’t anybody work anymore? Or are the standard 9-5 workdays a thing of the past and everyone has a .com, work-from-home business empire that they call their bread and butter? Baffles the mind…

Fontina Grilled Cheese with a baguette and a medium Mountain Dew, if you are scoring from home. Fontina Grilled Cheese from Panera is the bees knees.


Couple of things you know, then a few things you might not if you aren’t tuned into the M*A*S*H East Division like I am. Let’s get with the things that you may know…

Brian Gibbons was recalled in wake of Jayson Megna’s injury, yet the Penguins keep winning.

Jonathan’s Thursday update. In it, news that Eric Hartzell is starting tomorrow, Bobby Farnham on the 2nd power play unit and Reid McNeill’s unavailability. Jonathan had a Tuesday update that revealed that Dom Uher should be back this weekend, skating with a full shield.

— Wilkes-Barre will be donning Christmas jerseys this weekend. They had a big Twitter reveal on Tuesday, but it went totally over my head that the Holiday Nutcrackers they handed out Saturday actually had the jerseys painted on them. What slacking by me, I could have had an “exclusive” story on the Christmas jerseys before anyone else.

Outside of Wilkes-Barre, but staying in the East….

Hershey released Jamie Johnson from his standard playing contract and let him go back overseas to the Kontinental Hockey League. Johnson found himself a veteran scratch more than he saw himself of the ice, so it’s a move that was mutual, if I had to guess.

— Syracuse gets an offensive shot in the arm with the announcement this week that they have signed Jon DiSalvatore to an AHL deal. DiSalvatore had been playing in Munich, and much like Johnson in Hershey, wasn’t seeing as much ice as he wanted to so he was let out of his deal and returned here to play for a Syracuse team desperate for offense with much of their team in Tampa Bay on recall.

— Syracuse does get some help with the re-assignments of Matt Taormina and Dana Tyrell back from Tampa Bay.

— Ol’ buddy Chris Collins was released by Norfolk and goes back to his ECHL club in Bakersfield.

Sorry Binghamton, no news out of you this week.

Anyway, Worcester in in town already for the 7:05 Friday start tomorrow in Wilkes-Barre. Gameday for this will be here on the blog tomorrow at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

Waive Hello To More Nostalgia

Three things to get to this afternoon.

First, the Edmonton Oilers claimed Steve MacIntyre off of waivers. Since MacIntyre was once employed by the Oil Country, one assumed that they regret ever letting the Baddest Man in Hockey™* go. There have also been fisticuffs involving the Oilers preseason games I really haven’t been paying attention to, so the waiver claim makes sense.

Second, the Pens signed Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers to a PTO today. Yup, more nostalgia. You’ll recall Deslauriers in WIlkes-Barre during the split affiliation year with the Edmonton Oilers in 2006-07. More recently, Deslauriers was an Anaheim Ducks prospect. He’s put up pretty stale numbers in the past few years. Sub 90 save percentage and a goals against average in the 3.00 neighborhood or higher. Granted, some of the teams he played for weren’t anything to write home about.

I don’t know what it is with all of this nostalgia going on at Coal Street. Hell, if Peter Mannino is not ready for the start of the season and Pittsburgh doesn’t think Eric Hartzell is quite ready for AHL work, the goaltending tandem on October 5 up in Bridgeport will be Andy Chiodo and Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, likely captained by Tom Kostopoulos with Chris Conner running the power play.

To drive the nostalgia speculation even further, John Curry must have all calls from the 570 area code blocked on his phone or something. Last I checked Curry was still unsigned. I’ll tell you this, and this is just my un-hockey-educated opinion speaking, but I’d feel a lot more comfortable with having John Curry in town then I would anything representing a goaltender in Wilkes-Barre right now.

I’ve been seeing a lot of chatter on my different social media platforms about Brad Thiessen and the Pens, “letting him go.” I disagree with this. Hockey is a business. Thiessen fulfilled his contract with the Pittsburgh organization and looked elsewhere for employment. That destination was Finland. Thiessen, had he stuck around for another year and re-signed, would have been #4 on the organizational depth chart again behind Fleury-Vokoun-Zatkoff. Hindsight being what it is, don’t kick yourselves or others for Thiessen doing what’s best for himself and his family by seeking the best opportunity possible at the time.

Oh, finally, Bobby Farnham was re-assigned to Wilkes-Barre today.

Feel free to disagree / agree with my thoughts above and drive the discussion a bit in the comments section below.

* – trademark pending (not really)

2013 Free Agency: Day 2 Recap

If you were waiting to see who else the Penguins would add to the roster you waited.

And waited….

If you were waiting to see where unrestricted free agents Brad Thiessen or Warren Peters would sign, you waited.

And waited…

Outside of the Washington Capitals signing David Kolomatis, a right handed defenseman slated to see top pair work in Hershey in the Fall, Saturday was a pretty dull day, signings wise for the AHL’s East Division teams.

Patrick McNeill, who played six season for the Hershey Bears, has found a new home with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

So to fill in a few more paragraphs before I turn in this story, as I did earlier in the day while smoking a cigar in the backyard, let’s speculate as to where Brad Thiessen can land.

Look no further than the two closest geographical rivals, the Binghamton Senators and the Hershey Bears. Both have untested rookies backing up Philipp Grubauer in Hershey and Nathan Lawson in Binghamton.

I’m speculating. But Robin Lehner’s contract runs out next year in Ottawa. Sign Thiessen to a two-year deal. Let him split time with Lawson and be ready if Craig Anderson, who is 32 years old and made only 24 appearances last season due to injury, goes down again. Or, if Lehner wants to test free agency next season, have Thiessen graduate next year. Makes sense, right?

Or, Thiessen could just re-sign with Pittsburgh, and all will be right in this bloggers world.

I’ll keep at the “live blog” thing for at least a few more days. It’ll be up again Sunday morning. You can always add the Twitter list here though.

Hopefully Sunday brings more things to write about.

The Pack is Back Together

Just a few notes on the eve of Game 3…

— No idea who is starting in goal for Game 3 Wednesday for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. It’s a good problem to have really, when you have two Class A goaltenders to choose from. If I am Coach Hynes, I give the net to Brad Thiessen until Jeff Zatkoff gives me a reason to give it back to him. Providence scored 12 goals on Zatkoff. Say what you want about the situation, but the Penguins played a much calmer and overall better game in front of Thiessen in the second and third period. And oh, by the way, Thiessen didn’t allow a goal in 40 minutes played.

No suspension for Warren Peters for his hit on Zach Trotman in Game 2.

Dylan Reese will not be available for Game 3 tomorrow. He skated Tuesday but won’t tomorrow night at seven.

— Boston recalled D Torey Krug today. This leaves Providence with 5 defensemen. The issue that the Penguins have had in the series hasn’t been anything on the Providence blue line. It’s been Chris Bourque and the deadly Providence power play. The P-Bruins could have rolled out an ECHL blueline and still likely would have won Games 1 and 2.

Elsewhere outside of this series…

— The Hartford Wolf Pack are back. I don’t know why they switched from the Connecticut Whale to Wolf Pack midseason a few seasons ago. Seemed silly to me.

— The Vancouver Canucks, who bought the Peoria Rivermen franchise, will not skate a team full of prospects next season. That means that the Canucks prospects will be spread out all over the AHL next year and the league will retract back to 29 teams unless a last second Hail Mary is called.

— The aforementioned Peoria Rivermen are apparently taking the elevator down three levels to a league called the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) with a team from the Central Hockey League (CHL) named the Bloomington Blaze. I know minor league team movement doesn’t interest nearly as many people as it does interest me, but there is a lot of movement below the AHL in the ECHL possibly gaining two if not three teams and the SPHL expanding and the CHL drying up completely.

Back to this P-Bruins / Penguins series finally, and an op-ed piece from yours truly. We have come way too far in the last couple of seasons for this to be the end of things for a fourteenth season. The summit is not and should not be second round of playoffs and out year after year after year. I am not going to Game 3 tomorrow expecting to lose. I am not going to Game 4 Friday to attend a funeral. This series has to be won on the road. Flashback to July last year and the boatload of talent signed by Pittsburgh earmarked for Wilkes-Barre in the Fall. This team here in the middle of May is still that same team, only better with additions of Derek Nesbitt and Chad Kolarik. We are not out of this series yet. We can, and I expect to win this series in either six or seven games.

Gameday for Game 3 will be here Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m.

All in.

Saturday Brunch

Watching the snow fall out my window and took to Twitter and tore into some numbers into the Penguins losing streak. I want to set a benchmark when things get better / get worse, so here’s this offering for you:

In nine games since December 7, the Penguins are 2-6-1-1 and have been outscored 34-18.

Dylan Reese, Zach Sill, Dom Uher, Alex Grant, Steve MacIntyre have appeared in at least one of the last nine games and have no points. Sill, Uher and MacIntyre are not asked to score. Alex Grant floats in and out of the lineup but has been known for his power play abilities.

Simon Despres (1-0-1, 3 GP), Bobby Farnham (1-0-1, 8 GP), Joey Mormina (1-0-1, 4 GP), Robert Bortuzzo (1-0-1, 9 GP)  and Philippe Dupuis (0-1-1, 8 GP) all have one point in the nine games. Despres has just come off of an injury.

Brian Dumoulin (1-1-2, 8 GP), Warren Peters (1-1-2, 9 GP) and Jayson Megna (2-0-2, 6 GP) have two points. Philip Samuelsson (1-2-3, 7 GP), Brian Gibbons (0-3-3, 9 GP), Benn Ferriero (1-2-3, 9 GP) have three points in 9 games.

Joe Morrow (0-4-4, 8 GP), Paul Thompson (2-2-4, 8 GP) and Eric Tangradi (1-3-4, 9 GP) have 4 points. Riley Holzapfel (2-3-5, 9 GP), Beau Bennett (0-5-5, 5 GP) and Trevor Smith (3-2-5, 9 GP) have 5 points.

No one has six points.

In the “things that make you go wow” department: Philippe Dupuis and Bobby Farnham have the same amount of points. (Farhnam a goal, Dupuis an assist) — Eric Tangradi only has one goal. Brian Gibbons is cold again (0-3-3) — Beau Bennett has five points and has missed the last four games.

I’m not mathematically advanced enough to give Jeff Zatkoff or Brad Thiessen’s numbers, sorry.

I think the team really misses Beau Bennett. That’s hard for me to say because there is no way in my mind that a rookie could mean so much to his team. I mean, I guess it could (see: Conacher, Cory last year for Norfolk) but in recent memory, a Penguins rookie hasn’t made that much of a difference for a team that they miss him so much.

Regarding tonights game, it is still scheduled for tonight despite the snowfall.

Gameday setup for tonight’s game will be here at 3 p.m.

Let’s Go Pens!

Ink on Your Fingers

I hope the local portion of the Chirps from Center Ice reading contingent had the ability to purchase a Citizens’ Voice today. My print story pinch hitting for Jonathan Bombulie was in it. I was selfishly hoping for upper fold of the front of the sports page, but I will settle for Page B4. Here is the story in internet format. Not exactly James Ellery worthy, but you all seemed to enjoy it from what you gave me feed back wise on Twitter and Facebook, and for that I cannot thank you all enough.

Two things that didn’t make it past the editing table I wanted to share from last night:

— Joe Morrow was involved in his first pro fight with heavyweight Matt Clackson.

— Of the eight penalty shots awarded in the AHL this season, Brad Thiessen has been involved in two of them. He stopped Bridgeport’s Nino Niederrieter on October 20 and did not stop Garrett Mitchell last night.

It was an honor sitting on press row with the likes of the great Tim Leone who covers the Bears for The Patriot News and my fellow fan bloggers Sweetest Hockey on Earth. More of an honor pinch hitting for one of the best in this business.

We will return you to regular scheduled fan blogging this Wednesday when the Pens revisit Giant Center vs. the Bears. I’ll try to have something Monday or Tuesday in between here on the blog.


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