Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Pittsburgh

Reinforcements, Reassignments, Replacements

Bunch of news happening in the last twelve hours since the St. John’s recap. Here it is….

I’m fine with Zatkoff resting up and coming back better than ever next week against Springfield, or whenever it is he comes back. Goaltenders aren’t the main attraction in an All-Star exhibition. No one plays defense, and the goaltenders are left out to dry most times. I remember reading something one time that said when a goaltender came back from an All-Star event that his timing was all off and his second half performance suffered. For a Penguins team that sits currently out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, would you rather an off Zatkoff or a sharp Zatkoff for the Springtime playoff push? I would take the latter. So maybe the injury is a blessing in disguise.

More tomorrow vs. Norfolk.

Friday Night Roundup

With Wilkes-Barre off tonight, I watched a bunch of AHL acton tonight. I even had Wheeling on ECHL.tv on a side screen. Anyway, here’s the important games that matter to the Penguins this weekend….

ALB    3
button_lv200    2

Albany scores three unanswered goals in the third period and stun the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 3-2 in Allentown. It was the Devils second straight win after trailing after two periods and just the Phantoms third regulation loss at home. The Phantoms burn one of their games in hand on the Penguins and Bears tonight. They now have three on Wilkes-Barre and one on Hershey.

Speaking of the Hershey Bears, they were off tonight and host the Devils tomorrow night. Lehigh Valley gets Binghamton tomorrow at home. The B-Sens throttled the Syracuse Crunch 5-0 at home tonight, buoyed by a first period blitzkrieg that saw the B-Sens score four goals.

button_14mch200    4
WOR    5

The Worcester Sharks have won five straight games after a 5-4 shootout win at home against the Manchester Monarchs. The Sharks have won two games against the Monarchs this week and host the Penguins tomorrow. The Sharks battled back from a 2-0 and 3-2 deficits against a Manchester team that has pretty much been the class of the Eastern Conference all season long.

BRI    2
PRO    3

The P-Bruins, the Penguins Sunday opponent, beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at home 3-2 in overtime. Providence snaps a five game losing streak. Providence travels to Manchester Saturday.

WHL    5
BRA    2

Eric Hartzell stops 32 of 34 and the Wheeling Nailers win their first ever game on Canadian soil with a 5-2 win over the Brampton Beast tonight. The teams rematch again tomorrow and Sunday in Ontario.

button_pit200     3
button_nyi200     6

You never see me mention Pittsburgh scores here, because there are literally a thousand Pittsbugh Penguins blogs out there, but since I had it on in the background of the computer tonight, it’s worth a mention that the Penguins lost to the Islanders 6-3. Kyle Okposo had four goals for the Islanders. Boxscore here. How nice it must be to have ice time stats and face off percentages. Maybe someday here in the AHL.

No change to the top of the East Division standings tonight. The Penguins lead with 44 points. Hershey has 43 and Lehigh Valley has 41.

Gameday for the Worcester setup hits the blog at 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

We’re Getting the Band Back Together

You may have forgotten the names Derrick Pouliot, Andrew Ebbett and Bryan Rust. If you have, how could you? They are the first, fifth and seventh leading point getters respectively on this Wilkes-Barre / Scranton team. How soon we forget!

Anyway, Pouliot was returned from Pittsburgh this week. Rust came down with Taylor Chorney the next day and Andrew Ebbett was placed on waivers yesterday and cleared at noon today. He hasn’t been assigned to Coal Street yet, but could be in the next 30 days or next 10 games.

Fallout from these moves saw on Friday Sahir Gill being sent back to Wheeling and Chorney and Scott Harrington swapping places.

EDIT: Scott Wilson was activated off of injured reserve and sent to Wilkes-Barre this afternoon. Wilson still leads the AHL Penguins with an 88% goals for percentage.

For a Penguins team on a bit of a slide with Bears in their mirror looming large (Hershey has two games in hand) and Phantoms in both teams mirrors looming larger (Lehigh Valley has four games in hand on Wilkes-Barre and two on the Bears) these reinforcements are a welcome addition.

The Penguins take on a Worcester Sharks team tomorrow that has won four straight coming into tonight, when they rematch against division leading Manchester who they beat for the first time Tuesday. Then Wilkes-Barre takes on the Providence Bruins on Sunday. Providence has been up and down this season and it appears that the Penguins are catching the Bruins down, as they are 0-3-1-1 in their last five games.

Hershey is off Friday too. They host Albany Saturday, who will have played their third game this week.

Lehigh Valley gets Albany at home Friday, Binghamton Saturday and travel to Hershey Sunday. The Phantoms will be playing six games in the next nine nights.

The East Division looks like this as we head into the weekend….

Team

Games Played

Record

Points

This Weekend

wbs14_200

39

20-15-1-3

44

@ WOR 1/17
@ PRO 1/18

her14_200

37

19-13-4-1

43

vs. ALB 1/17
vs. LV 1/18

lv14

35

18-12-4-1

41

vs. ALB 1/16
vs. BNG 1/17
@ HER 1/18

Should be interesting to see how everything shakes out Sunday at around 6 p.m. to say the least.

Gameday for Worcester will hit the blog Saturday at 3.

Bobbleheads, Reinforcements and Relocations

It’s cold out. Hope you are staying warm. One snowflake falls and creates snow, snow creates a snowball and a snowball rolls down the hill and starts an avalanche. Kind of like blogging. Individually, me writing about Bobby Farnham coming back into town or a Tux bobblehead isn’t warranted for a single blog post. But a conglomeration of the above? Let’s blog…

Coal Street announced three bobbleheads they are giving away later this season on Wednesday. They are….

Jayson Megna (available February 21)

Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (available March 14)

tux bobble

Tux! (available April 4)

 

Photos courtesy of the Pens Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, top to bottom.

Scott Harrington and Bobby Farnham were sent back from Pittsburgh over the last two days. In a corresponding move, Coal Street sent Patrick McGrath, Zack Torquato and Clark Seymour back to Wheeling.

Norfolk is probably going away next season. This report out of Virginia states that the team may be sold to Anaheim as the AHL Westward Expansion continues. Oklahoma City won’t be back next season, probably heading to Bakersfield, home of the ECHL Condors. Anaheim’s AHL affiliate could potentially end up in San Diego. There are rumors that Manchester (LA Kings affiliate) may end up in Ontario (LA Kings ECHL affiliate) and Worcester (San Jose affiliate) may be going away too.

Be thankful you have a team here in Wilkes-Barre that gives away bobbleheads. Come to a game if you haven’t yet. This team is in first place, there are ticket deals. They care about you and the teams success on the ice. What are you going to do, go outside?

Gameday setup for the rematch vs. Norfolk hits the blog Friday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

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.

Later…

— 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.

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