Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Pittsburgh

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.

Dropping the (Klink)Hammer


Above, you will find my reaction to the news that Pittsburgh traded defenseman Philip Samuelsson to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for forward Rob Klinkhammer this afternoon.

I’m sure I echo anyone who reads this blog and is a fan of the Penguins here in Wilkes-Barre.

But let’s face it, this move was inevitable. The Penguins had too many defensemen in the pipeline. Samuelsson was probably not going to see the blueline in Pittsburgh anytime soon, so the move was made in exchange for a player like Klinkhammer that can step in immediately and help out in Pittsburgh.

In case you are wondering, Klinkhammer hasn’t played in the AHL since 2011-12. He is a full time NHL-er.

In a reactionary move, Coal Street has recalled Alex Boak and Clark Seymour.

I would guess that we could see a body filter back to Wilkes-Barre at some point now that Klinkhammer is in the fold, but the Penguins play an afternoon game against Ottawa Saturday and who knows when Klinkhammer will get into town, get settled and acclimated to Mike Johnston’s system. I wouldn’t expect any movement back to Wilkes-Barre until the early part of next week, but who knows.

Other big news of the day that now seems like a footnote, Bryan Rust was recalled because Patric Hornqvist was injured in last night’s game vs. Vancouver.

We press on though. The Gameday setup vs. Lehigh Valley hits the blog at 3 p.m.

I Heard You Paint Houses

Normally, if anyone asks me what I do for a living, I causally tell them that, “I paint houses” which is a inference to the book about Frank Sheeran, who was a part of Bufalino Crime Family which originated from Pittston, PA, where I went to school as a young boy.

I don’t paint houses and I sure as hell don’t do what “painting houses” inferred to in the book, but I have been very busy this week with life in general, so I haven’t been able to update the blog at all this week as a result. Blogging doesn’t pay the bills, sadly.

Anyway, you may or may not have heard by now the influx of injuries and call-ups to Pittsburgh and injuries to the call-ups.

– Jayson Megna is called up essentially for Pascal Dupuis, who is out long term with a blood clot.
— Andrew Ebbett was called up for Marcel Goc, who hurt his foot.
— Brian Dumoulin was called up because Kris Letang is out with a groin injury and Robert Bortuzzo was under the weather during Tuesday’s morning skate before the game with New Jersey that night.
— Scott Wilson was called up because Sidney Crosby was also ill Tuesday but played in the game against the Devils.
— Anton Zlobin’s season is over after he has surgery to his shoulder.


– It was revealed that Chris Kunitz has a broken foot and is out at least a few weeks.
— Scott Wilson was injured in the second period of his NHL debut against New Jersey with a leg injury.
— Robert Bortuzzo was suspended two games for his late hit on Jaromir Jagr.

So Pittsburgh is down to 12 forwards and 6 defensemen. Wilkes-Barre has 11 forwards. Pittsburgh hosts Vancouver Thursday and Ottawa Saturday before traveling to Long Island to play the Islanders Monday. Wilkes-Barre hosts Lehigh Valley Friday, Hershey Saturday and travels to Giant Center Sunday.

Goc practiced today. His status Thursday against the Canucks is up in the air. If he can’t go, then another recall from Coal Street is going to be needed. I think either J-S Dea or Bryan Rust would be the safe bets there. I also think that another defenseman goes up to be the seventh defenseman. The logical choice is Scott Harrington. If it would turn out to be true, such terrible luck for Harrington as Dumoulin would probably dress over him and Harrington would, again, be stuck in the press box. Who knows.

Color me shocked that Pittsburgh actually divulged real information on injuries and laid out a possible timetable for recovery rather than using the painfully benign “upper / lower body” classification and “day-to-day / week-to-week” garbage we see all the time.

Anyway, I’ll be back in full force with pre and post game coverage of the slate of games this weekend.

Zatkoff? No. Zatk-ON

Interesting news out of Coal Street this afternoon. Eric Hartzell and Nick D’Agostino were re-assigned to the Wheeling Nailers.

For D’Agostino, it’s a chance to finally play. He has played just one game and has been the forgotten man in town.

For Hartzell, this signifies the imminent return of Jeff Zatkoff. Jonathan blogged Tuesday that Zatkoff practiced in full. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that the Hartzell demotion means that Zatkoff is ready to go again.

So a question. Who leads the team out first at approximately 6:20 p.m. Friday night against Lehigh Valley? My guess is Matt Murray. Murray has been playing steady as of late. He played really well against the Phantoms on October 29. So, when does Zatkoff get a game? I think it’s Saturday against Syracuse and then Murray starts the 5 o’clock Sunday game against Hershey and the Bears.

I could be wrong and I probably am. One thing is for certain, Jeff Zatkoff is healthy enough to play again. He was injured October 21 in Albany and was out approximately three weeks. Murray and Hartzell held the ship together quite nicely.

Oh, Beau Bennett was recalled to Pittsburgh Tuesday.

Next blog entry will be Friday’s setup against the Phantoms at 3 p.m., but for more breaking news for me to speculate on.

Three Additions

Wilkes-Barre got some help in the form of the additions of Scott Harrington and Andrew Ebbett on Monday and the addition of Derrick Pouliot today.

Neither Harrington nor Ebbett appeared in a game with Pittsburgh since the season opened. Harrington was sent down to Wilkes-Barre once before but then immediately called back up but had not appeared in a game. Robert Bortuzzo is getting healthy enough to work his way into a lineup discussion, so the decision was made to send Harrington to Wilkes-Barre to get quality AHL minutes rather than wearing a suit and eating popcorn in the players suite at the NHL level.

For Ebbett, he will boost the lineup here in Wilkes-Barre and should help out on the power play. Wilkes-Barre is one of three teams which have yet to score a power play goal. (Toronto and Worcester the others)

Pouliot is an interesting but predictable move. He’s been with Wilkes-Barre since camp opened but was still on the Pittsburgh roster and is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. He’s apparently reached a point to where he could begin playing. That said, I think it may be until November until we see him on the ice. However, if you see corresponding moves from Wilkes-Barre sending guys to Wheeling, then it is entirely possible that Pouliot could be inserted into the lineup, as soon as this weekend. Time will tell.

Gameday for tonight’s game in Albany hits the blog at 3 p.m. today.

Let’s Go Pens!

All-Stars and Non

Interrupting the AHL Previews with a note on some news of the day…

Coal Street made cuts today.Tyler Murovich, Patrick McGrath, Jonathan Narbonne, Carter Rowey, Kevin Ryan and Clark Seymour were released. McGrath, Rowney and Seymour will go to Wheeling. The other guys were on ECHL deals elsewhere.

NHL rosters have to have 23 names on them by 5 p.m. Tuesday. Only Chris Kunitz (illness) and Kasperi Kapenen (went home to see family) did not practice today for Pittsburgh. Guys like Evgeni Malkin and Olli Maatta did practice and could be ready for the start of the season, so it’s still possible that we see a name or three find their way back to Wilkes-Barre later today or this week. Front runners in my opinion are Taylor Chorney and Zach Sill, but who knows. Every time I try to talk myself through who can or can’t get sent back here I only end up confusing myself further. Who comes, comes.

Edit: After I published this, Pittsburgh announced that Oskar Sundqvist was returned to his Swedish club, Scott Harrington was assigned here and Andrew Ebbett, Taylor Chorney and Zach Sill were sent to Wheeling of the ECHL. Release here. The ECHL moves are so the team can get under the salary cap. I’d expect Sill, Chorney and Ebbett to be recalled back to Pittsburgh Wednesday.

Springfield announced where they are having the All-Star Classic this year. It’s Utica, home of the Comets. They will return to the East vs. West format that they’ve used in the past. Last year it was a cast of AHL All-Stars vs. Farjestad in St. John’s, while the NHL was on the OIympic break. I think fans like the East v. West format. I know I do. Tickets go on sale November 1.

Big day for minor league hockey as the ECHL announced it has granted membership to the seven remaining Central Hockey League teams; Allen Americans, Brampton Beast, Missouri Mavericks, Quad City Mallards, Rapid City Rush, Tulsa Oilers and Wichita Thunder. Details here. It brings the number of ECHL clubs up to 29, with Las Vegas sitting out this season while they finalize details on a new home to play in 2015-16.

Look for the next non-AHL Preview blog piece to come in the form of the Gameday setup vs. Lehigh Valley Saturday at 3 p.m.

Remember, you can always keep up with me @nafsnep on Twitter.

First Weekend of Camp

The first weekend of training camp is in the books on Coal Street. Different from this year is the lack of long shot names to make the roster for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. It’s a camp comprised of guys that will likely be significant contributors to the Penguins success in 2014-15.

So you would expect the first weekend of camp to be intense. It was. This team made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in back-to-back years but none of that matters in late September when every AHL team is 0-0 and every single one has their eye on the Calder Cup, currently residing in Cedar Park, Texas.

Here are the the recaps from the Penguins website on Day 1 and Day 2. Here’s Jonathan’s take.

A note, Jayson Megna, Dominik Uher and Reid McNeill were re-assigned by Pittsburgh Saturday night.

All of those signings Pittsburgh made this offseason bumped a guy like Megna back to Wilkes-Barre. While surprising to some, Megna’s presence will certainly aid the Wilkes-Barre offense. It shouldn’t be a long stay for Megna, provided he continues to do all the things necessary that got him his first NHL game action last year.

Tonight is the last chance to vote Chirps from Center Ice NEPA Blog Con’s “Sports Blog of the Year” make sure you vote if you haven’t and vote some more if you have.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend. The first preseason pucks hit the ice across the AHL this week. Wilkes-Barre hosts Utica Wednesday.


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