Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Postgamer

Rock Bottom — Pens LOSE 5-0 (STJ Wins Series 4-2)

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Here’s a synopsis of the series that occurred early in this game:

At 4:42 of the first period, IceCaps forward Kael Mouillierat high sticks defenseman Simon Despres and draws blood. It’s a 4:00 power play for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins and an early chance to do some real damage on the man advantage.

Instead, the Penguins don’t manage much of an offensive stay in the zone, come in offsides a lot and looked jumbled, as they have all series long. The St. John’s IceCaps kill it.

The rest, is history.

Eric O’Dell would score on a power play late in the first when Brian Dumoulin turns over a puck in front of starting goaltender Peter Mannino. Simon Despres gets called for holding that leads to the IceCaps power play goal.

In the second period, the Penguins cycle and buzz around and St. John’s goaltender Michael Hutchinson faces a barrage of shots from Tom Kostopoulos and Barry Goers but withstand it.

The very next shift, Adam Lowry is left alone on the near post as a puck is wheeled around Mannino’s net and it’s 2-0 St. John’s.

Wilkes-Barre doesn’t manage much of an offensive threat the rest of the period. Hutchinson made a big save on Mike Carman somewhere in between. He later would stop a late rush by the Penguins in the final minute.

Any chances of a Wilkes-Barre comeback were squelched early.

A blast from the top of the blue line, Blair Riley tips it in for a 3-0 IceCaps lead.

Zach Redmond scores through a screen seconds after a St. John’s power play for a 4-0 IceCaps lead.

The rout was on.

John Hynes would pull Peter Mannino with about nine minutes left. Andrew Ebbett was absolutely denied by Hutchinson back door.

Through confusion, Wilkes-Barre would take a few too many men calls.

Late, IceCaps captain Jason Jaffray scores from his own blue line into a Wilkes-Barre open net in the final minute for a 5-0 victory as the St. John’s IceCaps defeat the Penguins in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals and advance to the Calder Cup Finals. .

For the first time in over ten years, an East Division team will not represent the Eastern Conference in the Calder Cup Finals.

It will be the St. John’s IceCaps, who really have been the best team in the Conference all season long. Manchester and Springfield won their divisions but were both bounced in the first round. Binghamton won the East Division, but there are five great teams in that division that constantly beat the snot out of each other from October to April. Albany was surprise this season but relied more on defense and never could get the goals needed to win playoff games. Providence is a young, raw team that is a move or two away from being a powerhouse. Norfolk’s dreams went up in smoke when G John Gibson went up to Anaheim.

Untimely injuries to Chuck Kobasew and Andrew Ebbett with the inability to score a single power play goal in six games against the St. John’s IceCaps were the ultimate undoing for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins this postseason.

So here we are again, another playoff year with nothing to show for it.

If you are a fan that demands Calder Cups year after year, then yes. You have every right to be upset.

I like to look at the bigger picture. It helps me keep my sanity. The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are a powerhouse AHL franchise. Twelve consecutive playoff appearances and back to back Conference Finals appearances are extremely hard for any rational person to argue against.

There’s likely to be a lot of roster turnover this offseason. Simon Despres, Andrew Ebbett, Brian Gibbons, Zach Sill, Chuck Kobasew and others look to be moving on.

But refresh. Conor Sheary, Matt Rust, Josh Archibald, Matt Murray and others are this teams immediate future.

Add those to the offseason acquisitions that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins will undoubtedly make this summer and it’s looking good for next season. If you are a free agent this summer with an eye on the AHL, Coal Street in Wilkes-Barre is where you will want to play, in the best division with one of the best teams out there.

A lot of people that I have to thank that make this easy and fun for a guy that works in a box and pushes paper for an actual living 9-5 Monday thru Friday. Here goes….

Personally, I’d like to thank Brian Coe and the whole Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins front office for another successful season.

Was a great first year for Mike O’Brien as the Voice of the Penguins. Russ Hryvnak doing the stories and compiling stats on game nights. It’s easy as a math illiterate as myself to have capable stats guys that do the work for you and all I have to do is hit the Twitter retweet button.

I model myself after true professionals like Jonathan Bombulie and Tom Venesky who write for the local papers and cover this team from all angles.

My best to the St. John’s IceCaps, their fans and media in the Finals.

Jason Chaimovitch and his staff in Springfield that run the behind the scenes of the AHL’s social media presence. I know I can be a pain in the rear and a critic sometimes, but the amount of work that Chaimovitch and his crew put forth year after year from start to finish is to be commended. They make it easy for a blogger without actual media credentials.

I’m the last blogger in the East Division that files a game story for their blog tonight. But I can’t forget Alex and Michael in Syracuse that run Chairman How’s Glorious Army in Syracuse…. Ever since Don Reiber left Binghamton for a warmer Florida climate, there hasn’t been a full-time blog covering the B-Sens on the Southern Tier. Bob Howard has a radio show he’s been doing for ages and occasionally moonlights with some words for a blog, but Howard has his finger on the pulse of the B-Sens and the AHL in general….My rivals in Hershey, Matt and Kyle who run Sweetest Hockey on Earth….All the guys down in Norfolk, Shawn, the dude that runs Beneath the Scope, Scott….

…..I bet you if I asked all these people I just mentioned if they would switch places with me with the success that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have had, that they would all say yes. Then they would realize that they are separating themselves from the allegiances from their team and quickly retract their decision as any good blogger would.

Biggest thank you goes to you, the reader. The countless crop of those who read, interact and share my work. Checked the page views this blog has had in its existence. It’s close to 150,000 views. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Time to wrap this up.

Oh, three stars were 3) Josh Morrissey (assist, +1) 2) Eric O’Dell (goal, +1) and 1) Michael Hutchinson (34 save shutout)

We will have our day. I know it’s been said year after disappointing year here on the blog, but I hold on to the belief that one night late in June well past my bedtime, I will be writing about the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins first ever Calder Cup Championship. It will happen.

Blog wise, I’ll have my Year in Review sometime later in the week. I’ll put up the 2014 Offseason Moves Chart soon too and track all the offseason defections to Europe, Free Agency in less than a month, and newsy type things to keep myself sharp for a great 2014-15 season of American Hockey League action.

“The longer it takes, the sweeter it will taste.” — Just remember that when you go to bed tonight or go into work tomorrow or drive by the Mohegan Sun Arena this week. We will have our day.

Let’s Go Pens!

Zach Six — Pens WIN 4-2 (STJ leads 3-2)

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Zach Sill’s goal with 15.8 seconds left in the third period that broke a 2-2 deadlock was the culmination of hard work and determination that epitomizes Sill’s entire career.

What allowed Sill to break the 2-2 deadlock was something that will go down in Wilkes-Barre lore as something that I have gone ahead and labeled myself. I call it, “The Shift.”

With 8:56 to go in the third period and the Penguins trailing 2-1, the St. John’s IceCaps, after a long shift, ice the puck. Head Coach Keith McCambrige uses his timeout.

Coach John Hynes sends Brian Dumoulin and Simon Despres over the board on the blue line and Brian Gibbons, Chuck Kobasew and Andrew Ebbett up front.

IceCaps have Kris Fredheim, Andrew Gordon, John Albert, Kael Moulillierat and Jordan Hill on the ice.

The Penguins cycle the puck. They still cycle and cycle some more. The IceCaps try to clear and cannot. More cycling. Cycle, cycle. A shot maybe. A stick breaks. It’s belongs to an IceCap. More cycling. A couple saves from Andrew Hutchinson. More desperation clears for the IceCaps but the Penguins keep them hemmed in.

The crescendo was building. You could feel it. If we were going to win this series, it started here and now and we needed to score a goal here.

Finally, a pass to Kobasew, who darts a quick pass to a cutting Ebbett, who fakes like he is going to shoot and draws the IceCaps defense towards him, then a feather pass back to Kobasew who slams it home. Tie game.

That was 85 seconds of Penguins mastery in the offensive zone. The longest shift of the season and one that paid off. The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins win the game 4-2 and force Game 6, Tuesday in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Oh, on Ebbett and Kobasew. Those two re-appeared into the lineup and I guess it is safe to say that they made their presence felt, immediately.

I am hoping that Coal Street puts video of “The Shift” up on YouTube or somewhere.

Anyway, to the rest of the game.

The Penguins made two lineup changes. Kobasew and Ebbett for Tom Kuhnhackl and Carter Rowney. Kuhnhackl I think skated the extra in warmups. It was Peter Mannino vs. Michael Hutchinson in net. JC Lipon was scratched for the IceCaps, who skated 7 defensemen and 11 forwards with Josh Morrissey back in the lineup on defense for St. John’s.

The IceCaps open the scoring and connect on power play while on a 5-on-3 in the first period. Their third straight game of scoring on a two man advantage. Will O’Neill through bodies and it was 1-0 IceCaps.

Spencer Machacek knotted things up at a goal a piece in the second with a nifty shot over Hutchinson’s shoulder while the Penguins were in 2-on-1. He looked off his man and shot it top corner.

With Scott Harrington in the penalty box for a questionable tripping call, the IceCaps score on the power play to make it 2-1. It was a soft shot from the point that redirected past Mannino to give St. John’s a 2-1 lead.

The St. John’s IceCaps were undefeated when leading after two periods.

Not anymore.

Things got chippy in the third period. Brian Gibbons was kneed which led to a penalty on Jason Jaffray. The Penguins power play woes continued as they failed to score on the advantage. Then Gibbons was run over again, but this time no call from the officials. As he was skating off the ice, Gibbons punches a St. John’s player and is whistled for the obvious roughing penalty.

After the Sill score with 15.8 left, the IceCaps went with an extra attacker. The Penguins win the face-off and Chuck Kobasew scored an easy empty netter that led to bedlam. Will O’Neill cross checks Andrew Ebbett all the way to Newfoundland it seemed and a line brawl ensued. We will have to see if there will be any discipline from the League after that, as O’Neill was called for a match penalty for cross-checking and all match penalties are reviewed automatically, but I don’t think that there will be.

Three stars were Spencer Machacek (goal, +1) Chuck Kobasew (two goals, +2) and Zach Sill (goal, +1)

Honorable mentions go to Brian Dumoulin (+4) Simon Despres (two assist, +3) and Andrew Ebbett (two assists, +2)

Both teams share a charter tomorrow back to The Rock which should be interesting.

SendToNews highlights are here. It opens with, “The Shift” and rolls from there. Click through.

To think that the Penguins have won the series tonight would be foolish. They still need to gut out two wins on consecutive nights in St. John’s where the home team never loses two games in a  row. But these are your Cardiac Penguins, right? Nothing is ever easy.

One game at a time.

Let’s Go Pens!!!

Wilkes-Brink — Pens LOSE 2-1 (STJ leads 3-1)

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Here’s how I keep my sanity.

I don’t expect the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins to win every game.

I do expect the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins to be prepared and compete every game.

When the Penguins lose and aren’t prepared and don’t compete, I get really disappointed.

When the Penguins lose but are prepared and compete, I don’t get disappointed.

Tonight was one of those nights.

The St. John’s IceCaps take Game 4 tonight by a score of 2-1 and have a commanding 3-1 series lead in this best of seven and can close the series out Saturday in Wilkes-Barre.

None of the heroes named Andrew Ebbett or Chuck Kobasew came out of the tunnel for Wilkes-Barre for warmups. Bobby Farnham and Mike Carman were in for Pierre Leblond and Adam Payerl. For St. John’s, Kris Fredheim was in for Josh Morrissey as a late scratch. Peter Mannino opposed Michael Hutchinson.

Penguins came out hitting everything that moved in an IceCaps jersey. St. John’s was without a shot for the first ten minutes of the period.

If you are a fan of special teams, tonight was the night for you. The St. John’s IceCaps was 2/9 on the power play, and the Penguins continue the 0-for-the-series tonight as they were 0/6.

The Penguins never were able to capitalize on their man advantage. Take away the fact that Ebbett and Kobasew are sidelined, the Penguins just could not have any puck luck on the power play this evening.

Shots in the first were an even 5 a side. In the second, it was a different tale.

The IceCaps take 19 shots to Wilkes-Barre’s 2. One of those for the IceCaps went in, a Will O’Neill had shot from the point that got through Mannino while the Penguins were on a 5-on-3 disadvantage.

The Penguins finally get one by Hutchinson in the third period, a Dumoulin slap shot from the point that deflects off of Brenden Kichton’s skate and in. Tie game.

A minute later, Brendan Mikkelson takes a roughing penalty. St. John’s power play. Josh Lunden would corral a puck behind the Wilkes-Barre net and stuff it past Mannino for a 2-1 lead for the IceCaps.

Mannino would deny Josh Albert on a breakaway. The Penguins then sought to tie the game to force overtime, but never were able to establish enough time in the offensive zone to get Mannino off in time to get going. Finally, after an IceCaps hand pass, Mannino was off, but there was a scant 38.1 seconds left and the Penguins never got the equalizer.

The three stars were: 3) Michael Hutchinson (17 saves on 18 shots) 2) Peter Mannino (29 saves on 31 shots) and 1) Josh Lunden (game winning goal)

SendToNews Highlights are here.

I smell something. Let’s see….a team that cannot score on a power play, down 3-1 in a series. Hmmm…where have I seen this before…. oh, right! The New York Rangers were in this very same position that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are in now, and are headed to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Again, this is how I keep my sanity.

Game 5 is Saturday in Wilkes-Barre. I have no idea what I could have Friday for the blog. I may just run the charts that I have been infatuated with recently and link off of Jonathan’s Friday update if there is one.

Let’s Go Pens!

Hutchin0ne – Pens LOSE 5-0 — (STJ leads 2-1)

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A lineup devoid of Chuck Kobasew (12 points in 12 playoff games) Andrew Ebbett (power play point man) and Nick Drazenovic (power play point man) and you are left with this debacle tonight, a 5-0 whitewashing by the St. John’s IceCaps who take a 2-1 series lead in this best of seven series.

It was frustrating. You could feel it when you watched players pour onto the ice for warmups and you didn’t see Drazenovic (who we knew yesterday was ruled out) Kobasew and Ebbett (still listed as day to day) step out onto the ice for warmups. You could then see it on the players faces when they were down 2-0, 3-0, and beyond.

There was a sequence late in the second period that goes like this…

Already down 4-0 with less than five seconds to play in the period, Harry Zolnierczyk (I think) ices a puck. It was a blatant icing, as he fired the puck the length of the ice at the top of the rings in his own zone.

4.4 seconds left. Faceoff to goaltender Peter Mannino’s left.

With .1 second on the clock, Mannino doesn’t get all of a Zach Redmond shot from the point and it trickles past him for a 5-0 St. John’s lead. Review upheld the call, and they officially put one second back on the clock.

Prior to the setup for the icing, the Arena played “Breakdown” by Tantric. I don’t know if that band is still even together these days, but the song was popular when I was in college, some 13 years ago.

Anyway, a “Breakdown” by the Penguins and a 5-0 shutout on home ice. That kind of night.

No time to wallow in your sorrows. Game 4 comes at you tomorrow night at 7:05.

Peter Mannino vs. Michael Hutchinson.

Lineup Changes: Apparently Tom Kuhnhackl, Peter Merth and Dustin Stevenson were added to the WBS lineup at some point because Kuhnhackl was in and Merth and Stevenson were announced as healthy scratches. I missed that press release if Wilkes-Barre issued it, somehow. Carter Rowney and Pierre Leblond were also inserted into the lineup for Mike Carman and Josh Archibald (healthy) and Dominik Uher (injured) For St. John’s, they dressed the same lineup. It was tweeted by Brendan McCarthy that Jerome Samson was out with food poisoning else he would have dressed for the IceCaps. Samson missed Game 2.

First Period: The Penguins went 0-for-6 on the power play tonight and now are 0-for-the-series on the man up. Coach John Hynes was experimenting with a four forward and one defenseman setup and it just wasn’t working. Rookie Conor Sheary was acting as the “defenseman” on the back end and he was turning over pucks that led to chances the other way for St. John’s.

IceCaps score on a power play. Patrice Cormier the recipient of two-touch passing by Andrew Gordon and Josh Morrissey. Then, the IceCaps score again. Turnover behind Mannino, Jason Jaffray makes it 2-0.

Penguins get a 5-on-3 power play for 1:05. Obvious turning point of the game, right? They get no goal out of it. I don’t even think they registered a shot.

Second Period: More confusion behind the Wilkes-Barre net and Eric O’Dell makes it 3-0. Then, the Penguins take two consecutive penalties. Initial call was a Zach Sill trip. Tom Kostopoulos, who looked like he had a burr under his saddle all night, takes a silly after the whistle penalty and it’s a full 2:00 power play for the IceCaps. After some nice clears by the Pens, Kael Mouillierat picks a corner and it’s 4-0 IceCaps.

Seemed like the Penguins couldn’t establish a good offensive setup, and when they did it was rushed and saved by Hutchinson.

Wilkes-Barre fails to capitalize on two power plays late and then the late score by Redmond as referenced in my open.

Third Period: Rookie Matthew Murray replaced Peter Mannino and stopped all eight shots faced. Pens had to kill a 4:00 Zach Sill double minor. That was it. Murray, for what it’s worth, looked solid in net for the Pens in mop up.

Three Stars: 3) Eric O’Dell (goal, assist, +2) 2) Andrew Gordon (three assists, +1) and 1) Michael Hutchinson (30 save shutout)

Last year it was a buzz saw Syracuse team. The year before that was this very same IceCap team but the Category 5 hurricane known as the Norfolk Admirals waiting in the wings. Before that was the Hershey dynasty. Seems like the Penguins are facing the same issues, but from within, at the infirmary. Big names are missing and it is starting to show.

But it’s only a 2-1 IceCaps lead in the series. Button up a couple of things with what you have and come back Thursday a better team. If not, then it’s another exit. Players know this, coaches know it too.

SendToNews Highlight package is here, if you want to see it.

Game 4 tomorrow. Gameday setup hits the blog at 3 p.m.

Let’s Go Pens!

Mining Iron on The Rock — Pens LOSE 2-1 (Series Tied 1-1)

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Ping.

Ping.

Ping.

Ping.

Ping.

When IceCaps goaltender Michael Hutchinson goes to bed tonight a happy man, he will have those pining noises in his head.

Why? The Penguins lost this Game 2 tonight by a score of 2-1, but Wilkes-Barre must have hit about five posts in this game.

– Brendan Mikkelson on a 4×3 power play for Wilkes-Barre in the first.

– Spencer Machacek off a post bulling in after St. John’s made it 2-0 in the second period.

– Zolnierczyk feeds Megna cross ice and Megna hits the iron in the second.

– Brendan Mikkelson, again on the power play and again, off the post in the third.

– Penguins in a late flurry in front of Hutchinson, off the iron.

Puck luck. Sometimes you need it when you are vying for a title. The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are competing strongly for a Calder Cup but didn’t have any puck luck this night.

Another thing, St. John’s never loses two games at home on back to back nights. It rarely happens. You wanted a split walking out of Mohegan Sun Arena after a nail biting Game 7 win vs. the Providence Bruins and got it. I don’t think anyone could be unhappy with the result this weekend.

Peter Mannino vs Michael Hutchinson.

Lineup Notes: Chuck Kobasew was out with a lower body injury. Josh Archibald took his spot in the line up. No other lineup changes for the Penguins. For St. John’s, 27 goal scorer Jerome Samson was out of the lineup for St. John’s. Kris Fredheim was out also for the IceCaps. Josh Lunden and Jordan Hill were in for each, respectively.

Kobasew’s status is officially, “day to day, lower body injury, status to be determined.”

First Period: Brendan Mikkelson was tripped at the blue line and Kyle MacKinnon got a step and scored to put the IceCaps up 1-0.

Second Period: Penguins tried to score in a pile of bodies but Hutchinson, stickless, was able to keep the puck out of his net. Simon Despres made a sprawling save to keep the score at just 1-0 for the IceCaps.

But then the Pens fail on a clear and a long shot from the blue line by D Carl Klingberg handcuffs Mannino and it was 2-0 IceCaps.

Teams would trade consecutive breakaway chances but both goaltenders would make fine saves.

Third Period: Penguins get two power plays this period. You almost know that if the Penguins score on the power play that they will be successful and likely win the game. That didn’t happen tonight.

Anton Zlobin would score with 1:04 left to cut the deficit to one and things got interesting.

6-on-4 with Mannino out and the Pens on a power play, Brian Gibbons has a puck passed to him in the slot but never gets a good shot off, and the IceCaps take the game and even the series.

Three Stars: 3) Kyle MacKinnon (goal, +1) 2) Carl Klingberg (goal, +1) and 1) Michael Hutchinson (34 saves on 35 shots)

Game 2 goes Wednesday from Wilkes-Barre.

Reid McNeill, Andrew Ebbett and Nick Drazenovic did not make the trip, but the sense that I am picking up is that one of, if not all of, will be ready to go for Game 3. I will keep an eye out for any information out of St. John’s regarding Jerome Samson, as well as hope for the best regarding Chuck Kobasew. Josh Archibald didn’t look out of place for the Pens tonight, generating chances.

St. John’s YouTube highlights….

I’ll refresh the charts that I have been playing with this week and will maybe make a blog post out of one of them. Stay tuned.

Let’s Go Pens!

First Blood on The Rock — Pens WIN 3-2 (WBS leads 1-0)

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Worried that the Penguins spent it all trying to defend a 5-0 lead against a rushing Providence Bruins team in Game 7 Wednesday?

Worried that a rested St. John’s team would run a Penguins team that just got into Newfoundland 24 hours ago?

You don’t have to.

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Make it 12-2, after the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins win Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight in St. John’s by a score of 3-2.

Game 2 goes Sunday at 6 p.m. Wilkes-Barre time, in St. John’s.

Peter Mannino vs. Michael Hutchinson

Lineup Notes: Bombulie blogged yesterday that Reid McNeill, Andrew Ebbett and Nick Drazenovic are out for the first two games for the Penguins. From what Mike O’Brien said on the radio today on pre-game, it sounded to me that the trio will be ready for Game 3 in Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday. Mike Carman was in for Nick Drazenovic, Bobby Farnham was scratched again for the Penguins. For the IceCaps, Captain Jason Jaffray returned from injury as he missed Game 6 vs. Norfolk last round.

First Period: Brian Gibbons cuts down the ice and centers a pass to Chuck Kobasew who gets a stick on it to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

IcedCaps really poured it on after the Kobasew score. Ex-Bear Andrew Gordon scores when the Pens had problems tracking the puck from behind Mannino’s net. A couple of chances for both teams after that, Kobasew swings and misses on a knee-drop one timer then the IceCaps hit a post.

Second Period: Conor Sheary cuts in and gets a shot in on Hutchinson, then tracks his own rebound and whacks it in for a 2-1 Penguins lead. Penguins were outshooting the IceCaps 7-0 at one point. Later, Spencer Machacek tracks a puck on his own wall and centers it to Tom Kostopoulos cutting in and Kostopoulos scores to give the Penguins a 3-1 lead.

Third Period: Penguins took penalty after penalty after penalty, but managed to keep the IceCaps off the board on the power play.

Four on Four though was a different story. Andrew Gordon scores off of a face-off on the James Neal Play™ to cut the deficit to one for the IceCaps. This period was all St. John’s it seemed, a polar opposite of the second period where it seemed like the Penguins controlled the pace.

Adam Payerl shattered a pane of glass trying to bank a puck out and there was a seven minute delay. I tweeted at the time an open question as to who I thought the delay would favor, the trailing IceCaps or the leading Penguins?

Turns out, in the end, it benefitted the leading Penguins as with Hutchinson pulled the IceCaps never found the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Brian Gibbons (assist, +1) 2) Andrew Gordon (two goals, +2) 1) Tom Kostopoulos (game winning goal, even)

Ice Chips: Andrew Gordon, the ex-Hershey Bear, is 7-3-10 against the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins in his postseason career….Conor Sheary has a seven game point streak going.

SendToNews Highlights: IceCaps do it right, YouTube!

Game 2 goes Sunday evening at 6 p.m. local time. You’d love to bring home a 2-0 lead back to Wilkes-Barre if you are the Penguins. Expect the IceCaps to come out guns blazing tomorrow night. My Gameday setup will hit the blog at 2 p.m.

Let’s Go Pens!!!

Destination, St. John’s — Pens WIN 5-4 (Win Series 4-3)

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It was almost, “Destination Implosion” or, “Charlotte Redux”

After going up 5-0 on the first six shots in 7:16 of the second period, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins were rolling. They had just chased Bruins goaltender Niklas Svedberg and scored on on Malcolm Subban and it looked like there was nothing that could stop them. Nothing.

Then, David Warsofsky scores a shorthanded goal in the final minute and it was all of a sudden 5-1.

It’s cool, we got this. Penguins fans and media all across the American Hockey League were penciling in the Penguins names as the opponent for the St. John’s IceCaps.

These eyes have witnessed the Charlotte collapse in 2011. The Penguins were up 3-0 in the third period and lost 4-3 and were out of the playoffs just like that. I dubbed that loss, “The Collapse That Will Live in Infamy.” — you can read about it here. I will take that collapse with me to my grave.

It nearly happened again tonight.

:23 into the third period, Ryan Spooner rips a far wrister from Plymouth and it goes in. 5-2.

Providence started to push, push, push.

Out of a media timeout, Alex Khokhlachev scores. It’s 5-3.

Time out Hynes. Settle down guys. There’s still plenty of time left, but we pride ourselves on defense and goaltending. Play some.

Philip Samuelsson gets whistled for interference. Providence power play.

Hello, Khoko! It’s 5-4. Scramble in front. Khokhlachev had a wide open net. It’s 5-4.

10:05 left. Stunned. This cannot be happening. I do not believe my eyes.

Finally, it settles. But not before Mannino gets handcuffed on a shot and two Bruins whiff at shots ticketed for the net behind the Wilkes-Barre netminder.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

Zac Dalpe…Chris Terry… Brent Sutter… Chubby Checker……

Whistle during play. What is it? Bruins caught for too many men. Penguins power play. 4:02 left. Get one here and it’s put away forever.

Tom Kostopoulos, the lifeblood of this team, stoned point blank by Malcolm Subban. Bruins kill it. Then, Philip Samuelsson takes a slash.

Zac Dalpe….Chris Terry… Brent Sutter….

The Penguins needed the penalty kill of their 15 year franchise.

Last minute.

Brian Gibbons eats an Alexander Khokhlachev high stick. 4:00 penalty for high sticking. Faceoff in the Providence zone with 14.1 seconds left.

Chubby is in the car, driving away. Zac Dalpe, Brent Sutter and Chris Terry slip quietly into the night again.

There would be no meltdown. The Penguins narrowly defeat the Providence Bruins by a score of 5-4 tonight. They will face the St. John’s IceCaps in the Eastern Conference Finals beginning Saturday in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Make no bones about it, the Penguins nearly lost this game and depending on what sect of fan base you talk to, may have deserved to have lost this game. But five goals to comeback from is nearly an insurmountable lead to comeback from at any level. The Providence Bruins nearly accomplished just that.

After a scoreless first period, where the Pengiuns outshot the Bruins 10-3, then exploded for five goals in the second period.

Anton Zlobin coasted down the right side and threw a shot on net that banked in off of Chris Casto’s skate for a 1-0 lead.

The Penguins would score on a power play when Nick Drazenovic set up Conor Sheary on the near post who stuffed it in to make it 2-0 Penguins.

Bruins would call a timeout. Adam Payerl would get interfered with then Anton Zlobin would take a hooking call. Jayson Megna would score to make it 3-0. Before anyone knew what happened, Brian Gibbons would score to make it 4-0 after he got away and slipped one under Svedberg’s pads.

Malcolm Subban would relieve Svedberg in net. The Penguins just scored four goals in 5:35.

Craig Cunningham would get called for goalie interference. Brendan Mikkelson would fire in a shot from the blue line that would go in to make it 5-0.

Harry Zolnierczyk was denied on a wraparound shot that Subban got a toe save on. Conor Sheary and Adam Payerl came in two on one that Subban made a glove save on. That was the last great effort that I remember in the game for the Penguins.

I tweeted this:

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Turns out I was right. But not too right this time like in Game 6 of this series.

Now the Penguins have two days to get ready to fly to St. John’s and take on an IceCaps team that is rested and has home ice advantage.

Here is the schedule:

Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M”
4-St. John’s IceCaps vs. 6-W-B/Scranton Penguins 

Game 1 – Sat., May 24 – W-B/Scranton at St. John’s, 6:00 
Game 2 – Sun., May 25 – W-B/Scranton at St. John’s, 6:00 
Game 3 – Wed., May 28 – St. John’s at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 
Game 4 – Thu., May 29 – St. John’s at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 
*Game 5 – Sat., May 31 – St. John’s at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 
*Game 6 – Tue., June 3 – W-B/Scranton at St. John’s, 6:00 
*Game 7 – Wed., June 4 – W-B/Scranton at St. John’s, 6:00 
    *if necessary… All times Eastern

Here is what the blog schedule will look like leading up to Game 1 Saturday in St. John’s…

Thursday: Chart refreshes for the Penguins and the IceCaps. As soon as I get those together I will tweet them then blog about them later.

Friday: Series Preview against St. John’s. The IceCaps are an experienced club. They have names like Jason Jaffray, Andrew Gordon and Jerome Samson. Michael Hutchinson is their goalie. The IceCaps don’t have a two headed goaltending monster like Providence had. It’s going to be a great series.

The other series is Texas and Toronto. I have Texas as the favorite to win it all in the West and the Marlies haven’t lost a playoff game yet, sweeping the Milwaukee Admirals in Round 1 and the Chicago Wolves in Round 2.

Coal Street will cut up the video highlights and I’ll edit accordingly Thursday. Here they are…

The Penguins got to the halfway point in their pursuit for their first ever Calder Cup on seven cylinders and a flat tire. With the dismissal of the Bruins, Griffins, Wolves and Admirals in Round Two, the American Hockey League will have a first time champion crowned again for the second season in a row with the Stars, Marlies, IceCaps and Penguins still alive. After two thrilling series, the Penguins are only at half way and the best is yet to come.

More Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and beyond.

Let’s Go Pens!!!!

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