Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: The AHL

Yes, I’d Like to Return This…

So the stays of J-S Dea and Harrison Ruopp in Wilkes-Barre were short lived. They were returned to Wheeling Thursday.

Jonathan reported Wednesday that Bobby Farnham practiced in a limited role and has not been ruled out for games Saturday in Hartford and Sunday in Bridgeport. So the extra forward Saturday will probably come down to Farnham, Adam Payerl or Josh Archibald.

On Archibald, he performed better in Wheeling so he gets to stay. I still have no idea why Ruopp was recalled. If anyone knows, please leave me a comment.

On a potential suspension for Dylan McIlrath on Farnham Sunday, the AHL was mum this week so he’s not going to be suspended. While I respectfully disagree with the lack of action on behalf of the AHL, we have to move on.

If you live in Pittsburgh and get MyPittsburgh TV WPMY22, you will be able to watch the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins on television. This was announced on Thursday. The games will be 3/14 vs. Hershey, 3/21 vs. Binghamton, 4/4 vs. Lehigh Valley and 4/18 vs. Norfolk. Press release with channel information here.

Pens are off Friday, I am planning on taking in the rematch between between Hershey and Binghamton from the Southern Tier on AHL Live. This is the final game in hand that the Bears, who have a five point lead in the East Division in the Penguins, play.

Unless something jumps off the page Friday, expect the next blog update Saturday at 3 p.m. for the Gameday setup vs. Hartford.

AHL Power Rankings: Week 20

There are about eight weeks left in the regular season. There are teams on the up and up and teams plummeting downward. There are teams that have been contenders all season long and teams that haven’t been relevant since the start of the season.

As you pick though this weeks offering of the Week 20 Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings, you will see what I mean. Teams like the Grand Rapids Griffins trending up and in a three way tie for first in the Midwest Division and teams like the Bridgeport Sound Tigers that started out with so much promise, but are dead last in the Eastern Conference.

No team among the leaders last week went without a regulation loss in the top five this week, so I figured instead of throwing the top eight into a blender to keep one and two the same and then adjust accordingly from three on back. Pop through the jump if you didn’t link in direct to see where your favorite team ended up this week…

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AHL Power Rankings: Week 19

Special President’s Day start time to the Week 19 AHL Power Rankings here at 11 a.m. on Monday. Here are a few things to look for…

There is a new number one this week.

There is a team the Politburo describes as, “quietly underrated.”

See if you can find the description of the team that is interjecting themselves into the most exciting divisional race to watch in the AHL.

A question for some fans of some teams that read this blog. I’m really interested in your replies.

Something or nothing for a team in the East Division.

An apology to a team the Politburo messed up on last week.

Plus much more. Click through the jump if you didn’t link in direct.

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AHL Power Rankings: Week 18

It is mid-February. Where did January go? If you are in the Northeast, you probably think that it is still January with all the snow that is out there, but in the AHL, we are about ten weeks away from the end of the season and there are some teams that are solidly in, some teams that are teetering on the brink of destruction and glory and some teams that are so checked out that they are already making plans for a long offseason.

But there is still time to make a run. You may delay, but time will not. Better hurry!

There is a new number one this week. Last weeks number one didn’t slip too far, click through the jump to see where your favorite team ended up.

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Scoreboard Watching…

The Penguins have been off since Tuesday’s 4-0 win against Springfield. They have played the most games among the top teams in the Eastern Conference (47) so they are letting everyone catch up with them. Here’s what happened as we head to Saturday….

– Wednesday night –

Some games of interest starting on Wednesday. All benefitted the Penguins.

ALB      1
button_14mch200      4

The Devils were a point off the Penguins with a game in hand Wednesday. They burned that game in hand in Manchester and lost 4-1. The Monarchs got a got from Brad Richards who recently cleared waivers and was assigned to the Monarchs.

button_hfd200     2
SYR     3

Hartford and Syracuse are two teams with three games in hand on Wilkes-Barre coming into Wednesday. The Crunch were hurt by injuries coming into the game, had three more players get hurt but manage a 3-2 win against the Hartford Wolf Pack.

WOR     4
button_lv200     3

Two more teams with three games in hand played in Allentown Wednesday. The Sharks beat the Phantoms 4-3. Even if the Phantoms won all three of their games in hand they still would be behind the Penguins but it was a game worth watching with the way that the Phantoms dealt with the Pens Saturday night.

There was also some ECHL action of interest Wednesday.

WHL     1
REA     2

The Nailers received reinforcements in the form of J-S Dea, Josh Archibald and Eric Hartzell Wednesday afternoon.. Hartznell started in goal for the Nailers Wednesday in Reading and opposed ECHL Goaltender of the Week Connor Knapp and lost 2-1 in controversial fashion as a goal with 15.9 seconds left in the third period was disallowed. There is no replay in the ECHL and the call was overturned, somehow. The Royals won their eighth game in a row.

So that was Wednesday.

– Friday Night –

POR     8
STJ     1

Portland blitzkrieged St. John’s tonight on The Rock and won 8-1. Every skater registered at least a point except for Cory Trivino. Even goaltender Mike McKenna notched an assist, his fourth of the season. That Pirates win bumps the Penguins down to ____ and draws the Pirates even with the Penguins in games played.

ALB     1
button_spr200     4

Those pesky Devils lost to Springfield tonight 4-1. Really a golden opportunity lost for Albany to insulate themselves as playoff contenders in mid February. Instead they are on the outside looking in after the dust settles tonight.

HER     3
BNG     2

The Bears burned off one of their three games in hand in Binghamton tonight and made it count with a 3-2 win in Binghamton. Ex-Penguin Chris Conner had two goals. Hershey is 7-0-0-1 in their last eight games and are four points ahead of the Penguins with two games in hand.

WOR     0
NOR     3

A team that should be on your radar is the Worcester Sharks. The Sharks were a playoff team coming into tonight and have two games in hand on the Penguins. They burned off one of those games tonight in Norfolk but ran into John Gibson and the Admirals and lost 3-0. Gibson had a 36 save shutout.

TOL     1
WHL     4

I always like keeping tabs on Wheeling, and now with ECHL.TV I am able to. Anyway, I had the Nailers on the side monitor tonight as they took on North Division leader Toledo. They won 4-1. Eric Hartzell backed up tonight, J-S Dea and Josh Archibald had are down on assignment. Archibald picked up an assist. Both had three shots. Big win for Wheeling. Toledo only lost seven games in regulation coming into tonight.

-

Eastern Conference standings look like this on Friday:

1) SYR (64) 2) MCH (62) 3) HER (58) 4) SPR (58) 5) HFD (57) 6) POR (55) 7) WBS (54) 8) WOR (53)

Gameday for tomorrow night’s tilt vs. Hershey in Hershey hits the blog tomorrow at 3 p.m.

AHL Power Rankings: Week 17

So as the calendar flips to February, things are hotly contested in many of the divisions in the AHL.

In the North, you have the Adirondack Flames four points behind the Utica Comets, who have 56 points.

In the Midwest, division leading Rockford leads the way with 58 points and three back the Milwaukee Admirals are lurking.

In the West, the Oklahoma City Barons are running away with things, but the race for second is a hotly contested one. The San Antonio Rampage lead the Texas Stars by six points.

All those teams I mentioned? They play their pursuer or pursuee twice this week. Are you a contender or a pretender? While it may be too soon to say, this weekend may be the first step in finding out.

The Syracuse Crunch still lead the Week 17 Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings by the way. Click through the jump if you didn’t link in direct to see where everyone else ended up this week.

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Go West, Young Man

Today, the AHL announced and confirmed the worst kept secret in minor league hockey for years now. There will be a new Pacific Division that will represent the AHL clubs of the Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. In layman terms, here is what is going to happen in 2015-16.

— The Norfolk Admirals, affiliates of the Anaheim Ducks, are leaving town for San Diego, California.
— The Adirondack Flames, affiliates of the Calgary Flames, are leaving town for Stockton, California.
— The Oklahoma City Barons, affiliates of the Edmonton Oilers, are leaving town for Bakersfield, California.
— The Manchester Monarchs, affiliates of the Los Angeles Kings, are leaving town for Ontario, California.
— The Worcester Sharks, affiliates of the San Jose Sharks, are leaving town for San Jose, California.

It is expected that Norfolk, Adirondack and Manchester will have ECHL teams next season. There is no word on ECHL plans for Oklahoma City or Worcester yet. That league is scheduling a press conference Friday at 3 p.m.

From what I read, these NHL teams wanted a west coast pod for years now. They didn’t want a jet lagged player who just flew five hours across the continental United States the morning that their star players gets sick.

From what I believe, I don’t think that they necessarily care about attendance or if the teams are successful or not. When I think San Diego, I don’t think hockey. But AHL President Dave Andrews said at the AHL’s State of the League on Monday the following…

We’re going through a process we’ve never gone through before, which, if successful, will be difficult for a number of our markets, but at the same time, is probably critical to the health of our league from a stability point of view and maintaining a 30-team league.

The lynch-pin to that statement in my opinion was, “if successful.” It is still too soon to say that it will be. I think that what the AHL cares more about is pleasing their NHL partners and maintaining a healthy, 30 team league. The shine of having a brand new AHL team in San Diego, Stockton, Ontario and other places will be great for the first couple of years. But what happens say, five years in, if these teams start to struggle at the gate and struggle financially? What would it mean to the overall health of the AHL if close to 20% of the teams are struggling?

Wilkes-Barre wise, this westward movement will have little to no impact. You will probably see some realignment to the divisions again. I think that the five team divisions go away. You could see Wilkes-Barre in a division next year with usual suspects Hershey, Lehigh Valley and Binghamton and mix in any combination of Syracuse, Albany, Utica, Bridgeport, Rochester or even Toronto. You’re also going to see more of teams like Providence, Portland, Hartford and maybe Lake Erie, Hamilton or Charlotte on the schedule for next year.

Do the Penguins go the way of the Admirals, Sharks, Monarchs, Barons and Flames? I don’t think so. You are talking a four hour trip to Pittsburgh as opposed to a flight. Players from all over the AHL rave about Wilkes-Barre as a premier AHL destination. The Coal Street facility is a pristine asset to have in anchoring an AHL team like the Penguins to a city such as Wilkes-Barre. The Penguins lease with the Arena and affiliation with Pittsburgh expire in 2019, but I think it is safe to say that you can rest easy in knowing that something like this dark day in five AHL markets across the East will never happen in the Wyoming Valley.

While I have you, Pittsburgh sent Bryan Rust and Scott Wilson back to Wilkes-Barre Wednesday. Alex Boak was recalled from Wheeling Thursday.

Penguins play tomorrow in Springfield. Gameday for this hits the blog Friday at 3.

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