Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Pittsburgh

Have No Fehr, It’s Sunny Tomorrow

With Eric Fehr down with what Mike Sullivan told Pittsburgh media a, “significant lower body injury” which will sideline the Penguins center for at least a month, the Pittsburgh Penguins recalled rookie center Oskar Sundqvist Thursday from Wilkes-Barre / Scranton.

Sundqvist is 5-11-16 in 39 games with the Penguins this season. He has a goals for percentage of 46.81% and an even strength goals for percentage of 50%. He’s a penalty killer and a center, which fills the role left when Fehr went down with injury.

Wilkes-Barre hasn’t made a recall from Wheeling as of this writing, but Clark Donatelli told media today he’s going to recall two players. Dominik Uher, Dominik Simon and Sahir Gill all did not practice today so if I was a betting man, I’d call up Anton Zlobin and probably Patrick McGrath. All of Wheeling’s other top scorers are either already recalled to the AHL or not on AHL deals meaning that the Penguins would need to sign the player in order for him to play here.

Or the Penguins can go beyond Wheeling and sign another ECHL contracted player from another team. I’d expect the news on a recall to come Friday morning.

Here is Seth’s post on the Sundqvist recall.

Gameday setup for Pens at Falcons hits the blog Friday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

All Star Catchup 2/1

Had to do a double take there on the date. Is it really February 1st already?

Anyway, a couple things to note on here a few hours from the AHL All-Star Classic in Syracuse. 

The West beat the East 19-14 in the skills competition last night. Tied 9-9 in the second to last event, the West won the breakaway relay by a score of 10-5. Penguins defenseman Will O’Neill participated in three events. 

This morning, Dave Andrews met with the media here and held his annual State of the AHL. I’m still working on raw audio and thought about different ways to summarize everything here on the blog but found Sean Shapiro from Wrong Side of the Red Line in Austin, TX already did a fantastic job in summarizing the event. 

Essentially Andrews hit on a few different things. First was balancing the schedule. California teams play 68 games and everyone else plays 76. You are going to see that again next year and probably the foreseeable future unless you convince teams to play less games which the independently owned teams in Hershey and Chicago won’t go for. 

Second was the two referee system. It’s coming. The biggest problem now is that the League doesn’t have enough qualified guys to work a game. 

Third is the way that playoffs are dictated financially. Basically the ticket deals that your team gives you during the season is taken away if your team qualifies for playoffs. That’s not on the team, that’s the AHL telling them what to do. That’s going away. 

There were other small things like on ice time. All teams track it but the NHL teams don’t want it made public because of confidentiality on how a certain prospect is being used. I don’t know why they would try to hide that, honestly. Games are easily available online and anyone with a stopwatch and a piece of paper can manufacture how much time a certain player is getting. 

Also, the dry scrape is sticking around. Lots of fans don’t like it because it kills momentum, but some buildings are more suited to do it the way the NHL buildings do it and others aren’t. So to make it fair for everyone they dry scrape the ice. 

Same divisions and parent clubs for next year too. I think that may be the first time in a while that nothing would change from one year to the other. 

There was some Pittsburgh news that had an affect on Wilkes-Barre today. 

First, the news that Conor Sheary and Scott Wilson are back with Pittsburgh after the parent Penguins come off of NHL All-Star break. That was to be expected. Chris Kunitz did not participate in practice today, so recalling both makes sense. The Pens play the Ottawa Senators Tuesday.

The other news today was that Tom Sestito was signed by the Penguins to an NHL contract. He will be on waivers until noon Tuesday and if no one claims him, he will be assigned to Wilkes-Barre. 

More later after the games tonight. The Atlantic Division plays the Central Division in the second game of the night, the Pacific Division in the fourth and the North in the sixth and final game of the night before the championship game. Game is local on My Network TV or on Root Sports Pittsburgh tonight at 7.

Meet the Parent

With the recall of Derrick Pouliot to Pittsburgh leaving Wilkes-Barre thin on the blue line, Coal Street was proactive this morning and signed Ryan Parent to a professional tryout agreement Wednesday.

Parent appeared in two postseason games for the Penguins last year, attended training camp, but hasn’t played any meaningful hockey since last Spring.

Couple things with this signing.

First, the reason for the Pouliot Monday recall to begin with was the uncertainty of Kris Letting’s heath status and the fact that David Warsofsky was essentially back body dropped by a falling referee Tim Peel on Sunday. Warsofsky suffered a concussion as a result. This comes a day after Pittsburgh traded away Adam Clendening as a throw in for the services of Carl Hagelin, necessitating the need for a seventh defenseman, being Pouliot.

Hockey teams don’t release injury specifics like every other sport on the planet worth watching. It’s an archaic, stupid policy that hockey teams have clung to in the name of “tradition.” I can bloviate further, but it’s not worth it. The policy won’t change any time soon. Anyway, my point to all of this is that because teams don’t release specifics, you have to sort of read the, “tea leaves” and see what a separate move means as part of the whole.

My guess here is that the word on the Warsofsky concussion is not good and Derrick Pouliot is going to be up for a while, likely missing AHL All-Stars and beyond. There is no other reason to sign a veteran like Parent if either a) Warsofsky is going to be out a while and you need Pouliot to play seventh defensemen or b) someone, likely a defenseman, is getting moved at the trade deadline.

Pens leave for Portland for two huge games against the Portland Pirates Friday and Saturday before wrapping up the road trip Sunday in Providence.

Let’s Go Pens!

Sunday Shakeups 1/10

Coming off of the 4-2 win vs. Utica, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins fifth overall, there were some moves made Sunday morning.

First, defenseman Adam Clendening was recalled from his conditioning stint by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Clendening had six games of AHL action and recorded three assists.

Second, forward Matia Marcantuoni and defenseman Harrison Ruopp were recalled by Wilkes-Barre from Wheeling, presumably as extra bodies as the team heads to St. John’s today to take on the IceCaps Tuesday and Wednesday in Newfoundland.

Third and in the same transaction which recalled Marcantuoni and Ruopp, forwards John McCarron and Patrick McGrath were returned to the Wheeling Nailers. Goaltender Casey Desmith was released from his professional tryout agreement.

Wheeling hosts the Indy Fuel Sunday afternoon.

In Other News…

Besides the All-Star Roster news today, there was other activity on Coal Street today.

Forwards Kael Mouillierat, Tom Sestito and goaltender Tristan Jarry are all dangerously close to returning to the lineup. All practiced today. Head Coach Clark Donatelli told the media today that Tristan Jarry will probably get a game this weekend. The Penguins are in Allentown Friday and host Utica Saturday. My money is on Saturday.

Tom Sestito told Seth that he is, “90 percent.”

Kael Mouillierat got good news on his upper body injury and should be back as well.

Tom Kuhnhackl and Bryan Rust were recalled to Pittsburgh, who sent Conor Sheary and Scott Wilson back to Wilkes-Barre. You are getting back your second and third leading scorer and swapping them for a guy like Kuhnhackl who has earned his call-up and Rust who is still working back from his broken hand suffered back in October.

A lot of questions on why Derrick Pouliot was selected to All-Stars. After thinking about it and looking at his statistics, it’s justified. Here’s why:

  1. Teams are selected by division vs. conference. Among other Atlantic Division All-Star Defensemen Connor Carrick in Hershey, Ryan Graves in Hartford and Ryan Pulock on Bridgeport, he leads the group in points and is third overall among Atlantic Divison defensemen in points. The guys ahead of Pouliot, Alex Grant of Springfield and Andrew MacDonald of Lehigh Valley, weren’t named to the team. He’s also fifteenth overall in the AHL in points for defensemen.
  2. He’s been on the ice for 46 goals scored so far by the Penguins through January 5. By far and wide, the best defenseman on the team in that category.
  3. He’s still considered a prospect and this is an event that showcases the stars of tomorrow.

The Penguins are one of the best teams in the AHL, so you want to maximize and showcase the key components of that team. Sending a forward (Dominik Simon) a goaltender (Matt Murray) and Pouliot is logical considering that all three play major roles on the success of the Penguins, no matter how hard it is to watch Pouliot play defense sometimes. It is a developmental league for a reason. And also what people tend to forget is that Pouliot is only 21 years old.

Anyway, the Gamday setup for Lehigh Valley hits the blog Friday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

Saturday Quick Hits 1/2

Three things you simply must know heading into tonight’s game against the Springfield Falcons.

First, and most importantly, Matt Murray was reassigned by Pittsburgh back to Wilkes-Barre with Marc-Andre Fleury coming off of injured reserve and ready to play again. Murray’s assignment is an obvious huge boost to the Wilkes-Barre goaltending corps which consisted of Brian Foster and Casey DeSmith.

The question on the status of Tristan Jarry should be answered with the next move that the Penguins make. If it’s Brian Foster down to Wheeling, then my guess is that Jarry isn’t too far away from returning. If it’s DeSmith, it may be a bit longer.

Personally, I think it will be DeSmith just because, but Franky Palazzese has played in every game since the recalls of Foster and DeSmith for the Nailers, nearly 300 minutes worth. Wheeling hosts Brampton tonight and Norfolk tomorrow and ideally you’d like to see Palazzese start one of those two and get a break, but who knows.

Second, Patrick McGrath was recalled yesterday and Harrison Ruopp was reassigned back to Wheeling. The reason for this is simple. With Adam Clendening down on conditioning and Ruopp essentially your eighth defenseman, you call-up McGrath to make room for Ruopp since there are roster limits in the ECHL. McGrath is your thirteenth forward, depending on the health and status of Kael Mouillierat.

Finally, Jay Leach was named coach of the Atlantic Division All-Star team in Syracuse later this month. He gets this opportunity because the Penguins had the best percentage in the Atlantic Division on December 31. Leach joins Toronto’s Sheldon Keefe, Milwaukee’s Dean Evanson and Ontario’s Mike Stothers.

More in a bit, as the Springfield Falcons are in town tonight at 7. The Gameday setup hits the blog at 3.

Three Going Up…On A Tuesday

Let’s get right to the news of the day.

Goaltender Matt Murray and forwards Conor Sheary and Kevin Porter were recalled to the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday. The purpose of the Murray recall was because Marc-Andre Fleury went to the coaching staff after last nights 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals last night not feeling well. It wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon that it was announced that the Penguins goaltender does have a concussion and is out for the next two weeks.

Beau Bennett was hurt (again) last night on a hit along the boards by T.J. Oshie. Pittsburgh was already playing light with no extra forwards, so the recall of Sheary and Porter were imminent if not permanent for one, with the recent retirement of Pascal Dupuis.

With Steve Oleksy week to week with an upper body injury, Coal Street announced the recall of defenseman Harrison Ruopp on Tuesday morning. Ruopp is 2-24 and a -1 in 23 games for the Nailers. I would consider him the extra defenseman for now as Clark Seymour played well in his AHL season debut for the Penguins Saturday paired with Derrick Pouliot.

In reaction to the trio lost to recall by Pittsburgh, Coal Street recalled goaltender Brian Foster, forwards Ty Loney and Sahir Gill from the Wheeling Nailers. Brian Foster has won his last three starts and has given up two or fewer goals in all three starts. Gill is 3-15-18 and a +1 in 24 games while Loney is 5-7-12 in 18 games and an even +/- rating.

If Conor Sheary does dress tomorrow in Boston against the Bruins, it will be the Massachusetts native NHL debut. He’s a bit undersized, but leads the AHL Penguins in points and has a 71.74 GF%. He’s been on the ice for 33 goals scored and just 13 against. He’s excellent on the power play and uses his speed to get to areas where he can generate offense.

Matt Murray’s NHL call up is long overdue. He has nothing left to prove in the AHL and is just biding his time. I am hopeful that Sullivan and Company give him a shot to show how good he is. Also, when it was the tandem of Jeff Zatkoff and Matt Murray here last year in Wilkes-Barre, Murray outplayed Zatkoff and won nearly every goaltending award imaginable.

This is Tristan Jarry’s team now. There were some that had Jarry projected higher than Murray prospect-wise. Jarry is more than capable of stepping in and taking the job and running with it.

Seth said today that Tyler Biggs didn’t practice today because of a lower body injury. I don’t know how that could have happened, he hasn’t played since December 6 in Hershey.

Pittsburgh is in more dire straits than Wilkes-Barre or even Wheeling. Both minor league affiliates lead their respective divisions while their NHL counterpart sits on the outside looking in. Wednesday’s matchup with Boston is pivotal for the Pittsburgh Penguins as Boston is the first wild card team. The AHL Penguins and ECHL Nailers have enough of a cushion that personnel losses now won’t deal them as harsh as a blow as it could for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Interesting days and weeks ahead.

Gameday setup for Wednesday’s tilt in Allentown against the Phantoms hits the blog at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

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