Chirps from Center Ice

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

Penguins / Sound Tigers Tweet Feed

wbs14_200          @         stj15_200

Not near a radio? Don’t have a Twitter but still want to follow along with tonight’s game? Look no further. See below for tonight’s game tweets. You don’t even have to refresh. When the game is over, stay tuned right here for the postgame recap.

GAMEDAY: @ St. John’s 12/4

@     stj15_200

Away Game: 11

AHL Game: 309

Who: St. John’s IceCaps

Where: Mile One Centre

When: 4:00 p.m. Newfoundland time, 2:30 p.m. Wilkes-Barre time.

Media Kit

Last Game / Last Meeting: Last night in St. John’s, the Penguins won 6-2. Kevin Porter had a goal and two assists, Tom Kostopoulos had three assists as the Penguins struck three times on the power play to win. Sven Andrighetto assisted on both IceCaps goals.

Record: For WBS: 14-4-2-0 (30 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division) — For STJ: 11-11-1-0 (23 pts., 4th place North Division)

Why you should care: Rematch on The Rock for these two teams. You should see some shuffling at forward and on defense for the Penguins and expect Casey DeSmith to get the nod today for Wilkes-Barre. The IceCaps started strong in the first period then faded after the Pens struck on the power play late. St. John’s is hard to beat twice at home.

Referee(s): Troy Murray / Andrew Wilk

Linesmen: Sheldon Keough / Brian Lambert

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay // @IceCapsAHL

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /stjohnsicecaps

Instagram: wbspenguins / stjohnsicecaps

Beat Writers: @CVSethLakso / @TLTomVenesky // @telyrobinshort / @telybrendan

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS  and @_NickHart / For STJ: Brian Rodgers

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep 

Radio: For WBS: WILK Newsradio / For St. John’s: Listen Live

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: Lehigh Valley travels to Bridgeport to take on the Sound Tigers who are on a tear as of recent and are a very strong, underrated team.

Next Five Games: HER 12/9, HER 12/10, @ BRI 12/11, @ HFD 12/14, RCH 12/16

In St. John’s, You Must Have a Porter — Pens WIN 6-2

   WBS       @       button_15stj200

 6                                       2

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have a roster in a bit of flux right now. So in times of need, you need to rely on the veteran players that remain.

Those players today were Kevin Porter and Tom Kostopoulos.

A goal and two assists by Porter and three assists for Kostopoulos, and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins win this game 6-2 up on The Rock this afternoon / evening.

Tristan Jarry opposed Charles Lindgren.

News of the day before the game started was the re-assignment of Tom Sestito to Wilkes-Barre and the announcement that Thomas DiPauli had back surgery and is out for the next 10-12 weeks.

Couple things on that news. First, props to Coal Street for disclosing the injury details and the length of time that DiPauli will be out for. Assuming he had the surgery this week, DiPauli’s timetable will be the end of March, barring a setback. Second, it looks like with Chris Kunitz coming off of injured reserve that Jake Guentzel, despite being a scratch in the last Pittsburgh game, will be up for longer than we thought.

Lines were…

Dominik Simon – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Garrett Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Danny Kristo – J-S Dea – Reid Gardiner
Sahir Gill – Jarrett Burton – Ryan Haggerty

Stuart Percy – Chad Ruhwedel
Cameron Gaunce – Ethan Prow
David Warsofsky – Tim Erixon

Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith

Lineup Notes: Danny Kristo and Sahir Gill jumped back into the lineup for the injured Thomas DiPauli and the healthy Patrick McGrath. Stuart Percy and Tim Erixon were in on the blue line for Barry Goers and Lukas Bengtsson.

First Period: St. John’s dominated the period with a lot of zone time and a bevy of shots, but Tristan Jarry turned them all aside. A bit of puck luck for Jarry as two separate IceCaps players fanned on wide open nets. But then the Penguins got a late power play and it was Danny Kristo scoring his first goal of the season and first with the Penguins on this nice screen by Oskar Sundqvist parked in front…

On that play, Chad Ruhwedel picked up his 100th AHL point.

Second Period: Wilkes-Barre would extend the lead by two with a pair of power play, yes, you read power play, goals.

They both came on a five on three :19 apart. First, Kevin Porter…

Porter dug the puck out of his skates, patiently waited for the players to fall like dominoes, and roof it over all of the humanity.

Then on the same power play, now five on four, Dominik Simon scored this nice backhanded goal as Lindgren just let a puck sit out in prime real estate…

The tweet that you just read from the Penguins was true, the Penguins were 3-for-4 on the power play today. This after going 1-for-28 coming in.

But there was a lot of time left to play in the period and referees Troy Murray and Andrew Will put the IceCaps on a five on three power play and Chris Terry hammered one in far post on a one timer to put the IceCaps on the board.

Wilkes-Barre / Scranton would re-establish the three goal lead on a nice deflection goal by Jean-Sebastien Dea in the final minute of the period…

Team leading seventh goal by Dea there and a great pass by Dominik Simon to set it all up. Jarry’s shutout streak ends at 95:28.

Third Period: Tim Erixon made it a four goal lead for the Penguins with his first goal of the season…

Dan Audette scored for the IceCaps that made it 5-2 when the Penguins blew a defensive assignment. Audette was parked right in front of the net and swept the puck past Jarry. After a referee review on account of a possible kick, the goal stood.

Josh Archibald scored a pretty goal as he flipped the puck over Lindgren that made it 6-2 Wilkes-Barre. Coal Street didn’t put a GIF out on that one, so just use your imagination.

Three Stars: 3) Sven Andrighetto (two assists, -1) 2) Kevin Porter (goal, two assists, even) and 1) Tristan Jarry (31 saves on 33 shots)

Notes: Oskar Sundqvist’s six game road point streak comes to an end as he was unable to find the scoresheet today.

Video highlights…

Around the Division: Every team in the Atlantic picked up at least a point tonight. Starting in Hershey, the Bears lose in overtime 3-2 to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Bears took three out of a possible four points out of the miniseries with the Phantoms this weekend…Bridgeport stays hot with a 4-0 shutout win over the sorry Binghamton Senators. It’s the first shutout of the season for the Sound Tigers….Springfield beats Providence 3-2 in overtime. The Thunderbirds came back from a 2-1 deficit to win…The Hartford Wolf Pack beat the Toronto Marlies in the 6ix 3-2 this afternoon.

Standings: Penguins (.750 percentage points) — Bridgeport (.714) — Lehigh Valley (.690) — Hershey (.690) — Providence (.548) — Springfield (.500) — Hartford (.425)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers sweep the Utah Grizzlies with a 4-1 win Saturday. Doug Carr stopped 27 of 28. I’ll have more on the Nailers week that was Tuesday in the Wheeling Wrap.

Penguins and IceCaps rematch again Sunday from St. John’s again at 2:30 Wilkes-Barre time. Gameday setup will hit the blog Sunday morning at 10:30.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ St. John’s 12/3

@     stj15_200

Away Game: 10

AHL Game: 298

Who: St. John’s IceCaps

Where: Mile One Centre

When: 4:00 p.m. Newfoundland time, 2:30 p.m. Wilkes-Barre time.

Media Kit

Last Game: Last Saturday at home against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Penguins picked up their first shutout of the season with a 1-0 win. Tristan Jarry stopped all 24 shots faced and J.S. Dea scored the only goal for the Penguins in the win. For St. John’s, the IceCaps hosted the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday and won 3-2 in a shootout. Markus Eisenschmid had a goal and an assist and Yann Danis stopped everything in the shootout round.

Record: For WBS: 13-4-2-0 (28 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division) — For STJ: 11-10-1-0 (23 pts., 4th place North Division)

Why you should care: Should be a good weekend tilt. IceCaps have been floundering around as a would be contender in the North Division. This is going to be a great test for them as well as the Penguins who should be well rested after not playing for an entire week.

Referee(s): Troy Murray / Andrew Wilk

Linesmen: Darryl Butt / Jim Vail

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay // @IceCapsAHL

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /stjohnsicecaps

Instagram: wbspenguins / stjohnsicecaps

Beat Writers: @CVSethLakso / @TLTomVenesky // @telyrobinshort / @telybrendan

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS  and @_NickHart / For STJ: Brian Rodgers

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep 

Radio: For WBS: WILK Newsradio / For St. John’s: Listen Live

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: Hershey beat Lehigh Valley last night in Allentown 4-3. The Phantoms are looking for revenge tonight in Hershey when they take on the Bears.

Next Five Games: @ STJ 12/4, HER 12/9, HER 12/10, @ BRI 12/11, @ HFD 12/14

2016-17 First Quarter Grades

I decided this year to bring back the Quarterly Grades after a year long hiatus. Really, it’s because I need something to write about during a nearly week long layoff between Wilkes-Barre / Scranton games, so they are back for another year.

Here’s how it works. Anyone who played a game in these first 19 games, where the Penguins sit in first place in the Atlantic Division with a 13-4-2-0 record, good for 28 points or .737 percentage points, however you want to calculate it, gets a mention. Players with six or more games played get a grade.

Here you go, starting with the forwards, rolling in alphabetical order…

Forwards

Josh Archibald: 19 GP, 3-4-7, +6 — Look, I realize that the ‘GRK’ line has carried the offense and the defense has carried the mail in that category, but when the Penguins do lose, it’s because the opposing team shuts down the ‘GRK’ line and the defense lets a few in. Players like Archibald need to start filling in more offensively other than just 7 points in 19 games. If Archibald can start cashing on his chances, this Penguins team will be unbeatable. Grade: C

Jarrett Burton: 9 GP, 1-0-1, -1 — Burton finally found the scoresheet last Friday in Bridgeport, his only offensive contribution in nine games for the Penguins. You’d like to see more, but such is life for a fourth liner. Grade: C-

Jean-Sebastien Dea: 18 GP, 6-1-7, even — Was scratched last Friday in Bridgeport and took it to heart, coming out Saturday night at home against the Sound Tigers on a tear. Was the best player on the ice. Can’t grade a player based off of their last game played, but if Dea continues this, he will be among the likes of the Guentzel’s, Rowney’s and Porter’s as players in line for an NHL call-up. Grade: C

Thomas DiPauli: 8 GP, 1-0-1, +1 — Eight games played coming off of an injury suffered in training camp. DiPauli is still finding his legs and learning on the fly on how to play in the American Hockey League. He will get there. Grade: C

Reid Gardiner: 16 GP, 3-2-5, -4 — A castaway that signed after an impressive preseason after gaudy numbers in Junior. 5 points in 16 games is just fine for an undrafted player battling about six or seven players for playing time on the Penguins third or fourth line. Grade: B

Sahir Gill: 13 GP, 0-5-5, -3 — In a similar situation with Gardiner. That is, a player battling to become a consistent piece in the Wilkes-Barre lineup. Lower grade than Gardiner because of his AHL experience. Grade: C+

Jake Guentzel: 16 GP, 7-10-17, +14 — Best player on the team, was called up to Pittsburgh last week and his impact was immediate. When he is not scoring, he is setting things up to get a goal, or forecheck to get the puck out of the zone. Should be up for the duration full time, yet may be victimized by the salary cap and get sent down once Chris Kunitz / Patric Hornqvist heal up. Grade: A+

Ryan Haggerty: 11 GP, 1-2-3, -2 — In the bottom pairing with the likes of the Dea’s, Gill’s, Gardiner’s and Burton’s of the Wilkes-Barre offense. Haggerty has battled some injury, but would welcome some more playing time. Grade: C

Tom Kostopoulos: 19 GP, 6-6-12, +7 — Playing on a line with Guentzel and Rowney has reinvigorated Kostopoulos. 12 points through 19 games shows that this 18 year veteran has till got it. Grade: A

Patrick McGrath: 9 GP, 0-1-1, -2 — Plays that sandpaper style game that watchers of the game in decades past yearn for. Sadly, the game is evolving to a point to where knuckle throwers like McGrath are left behind. But nine games played and one assist shows that McGrath, in the right situation, belongs in the lineup. Grade: C+

Kevin Porter: 17 GP, 4-5-9, +2 — Like Garrett Wilson, this veteran’s 9 points through 17 games leaves the fan wanting more. Team is tops in the Atlantic and near the top of the AHL overall, so it’s nitpicking when you have the ‘GRK’ line doing all the work. Grade: B

Carter Rowney: 18 GP, 5-8-13, +8 — At times he’s been slightly overshadowed by the likes of Guentzel, but he’s played on the top line in Wilkes-Barre with the aforementioned Guentzel and Tom Kostopoulos. His NHL time will come. Grade: A

Dominik Simon: 16 GP, 3-3-6, -1 — We think Dominik Simon is going through a sophomore slump after a great rookie year last season. 6 points in 16 games is terribly underwhelming. Grade: C-

Oskar Sundqvist: 17 GP, 6-9-15, +7 — I don’t think that having Sundqvist down here in Wilkes-Barre is necessarily a bad thing. In contrast, up in Pittsburgh, he would be a third or fourth liner and his talent wasted. He’s going to have to pay his AHL dues before a permanent call up to the NHL, and he is doing just that at this time. Grade: A

Garrett Wilson: 19 GP, 3-7-10, +7 — For someone who spent 20+ games in the NHL last year, 10 points through 19 games is a bit under achieving. At times, you barely notice him, and that can be a bad thing. Grade: B

Defensemen

Tim Erixon: 11 GP, 0-2-2, +2 — Erixon is probably still dealing with a nagging type injury or, the Pittsburgh brass wants more live looks at younger prospects in Prow and Bengtsson. Just 11 games played. Grade: C

Cameron Gaunce: 19 GP, 0-5-5, +12 — Among the leaders in the AHL in +/- at +12. Can chip in offensively here and there. Paired with Chad Ruhwedel. Grade: A

Barry Goers: 6 GP, 0-1-1, even — Goers’ six games played barely puts him over the rule where every player with at least 6 games played gets a grade. You know what you are getting with Goers, steady defense, nothing flashy, occasionally an error. Grade: C

Reid McNeill: 14 GP, 1-1-2, +2 — Was in a logjam defensively so was traded to the St. Louis Blues for Danny Kristo in a straight up AHL player trade. We wish him the best. Grade: Incomplete

Steve Oleksy: 10 GP, 1-3-4, +1 — Recalled to Pittsburgh and recorded his first point with the NHL Penguins Saturday, an assist. With how loaded the Wilkes-Barre blue line and collectively, team is, you don’t really miss his presence. Grade: B

Ethan Prow: 12 GP, 0-4-4, +2 — Wilkes-Barre has a reputation of breeding NHL caliber defensemen. Prow is on this assembly line. He’s given the coaching staff confidence in him enough to become a consistent player night in and night out. Watch him skate with the puck. His ceiling is sky high and it is going to be a treat to watch him to continue to develop. Grade: B+

Chad Ruhwedel: 19 GP, 2-7-9, even — Wilkes-Barre’s best offensive defenseman, with 9 points through 19 games. Paired with Cameron Gaunce for most of the quarter. With the defense near the top in the AHL, no valid complaints here. Grade: A

David Warsofsky: 10 GP, 2-4-6, +1 — Warsofsky found his way back to Wilkes-Barre after being claimed off of waivers by the New Jersey Devils last season and was reacquired in the offseason. After a brief NHL cup of coffee with Pittsburgh earlier this season, Warsofsky has battled a few injuries but remains a quality player for the Wilkes-Barre defense. Grade: B

Goaltenders

Casey DeSmith: 6 GP, 5-0-1, 1.65 GAA, .938 SV% — Has better numbers than his counterpart Tristan Jarry but is the solid number two backup. With how gaudy Jarry’s numbers are, DeSmith’s are even gaudier. Six games is a small sample size yes, but we will be keeping a close eye on whether DeSmith can sustain the numbers. Grade: A

Tristan Jarry: 13 GP, 8-4-1 1.99 GAA, .926 SV% — Has gotten double the starts as DeSmith with 13. For now, is the number one in Wilkes-Barre and has a solid backup in DeSmith. Among the league leaders in wins, goals against and save percentage. Grade: A+

Incomplete

Players with five or less games played go here. No grades, just blurbs. On Danny Kristo, only his two games are noted in his statistics.

Lukas Bengtsson: 5 GP, 0-1-1, -1 — Finally recovered from Lyme Disease and is slowly working his way back to playing form. With the history of injuries the Pittsburgh organization normally suffers around this time of year, Bengtsson can look forward to increased ice time. How he does in that situation remains to be seen at this time.

Adam Krause: 1 GP, 0-0-0, even — Played one game then was shipped to Wheeling of the ECHL, where he is flourishing. This is a better use of his talents than wasting away as a healthy scratch every night.

Danny Kristo: 2 GP, 0-0-0, -2 — Came over in the AHL trade for Reid McNeill and in two games, hasn’t found the scoresheet. In fact, he was a healthy scratch Saturday against Bridgeport. That’s not exactly a resounding sign of confidence for a player who came lauded for his 20+ goals scored in the past three seasons.

Stuart Percy: 5 GP, 0-2-2, +1 — Percy’s biggest knock is that he can’t stay healthy. I said that when he was acquired on Day 1 of NHL Free Agency and his five games played through 19 team games proves that theory.

Derrick Pouliot: 3 GP, 0-0-0, -1 — Played three games in late November on an NHL conditioning stint. No points and a -1. He’s all yours, Pittsburgh.

Comment if you think I got something wrong.

Wheeling Wrap 11/29

It’s noon Tuesday and time for another edition of the Wheeling Wrap, where I take a look back at the week that was for the Penguins ECHL affiliate in Wheeling, West Virginia.

With Thanksgiving a mere distant memory, people put turkey on their menus. For the Wheeling Nailers, it was rabbit. Swamp Rabbit. The Nailers played a pair of games against the New York Rangers / Hartford Wolf Pack affiliate Greenville Swamp Rabbits.

On Saturday, the Nailers were dealt a 3-2 overtime defeat at the hands (paws?) of the Swamp Rabbits. Josh Shalla and Jordan Kwas picked up goals for the Nailers but it was Joe Houk’s goal at 2:13 of overtime that gave Greenville the win. J.P. Anderson took the loss, stopping just 32 of 35 shots. Anderson was previously 4-0 in four straight starts with a 1.50 GAA and a .947 save percentage coming into the game and was the hot hand.

Sunday afternoon, the Nailers hosted the Swamp Rabbits for a rematch. They ended up getting swept by Greenville and lost 5-3. Doug Carr jumped back in net after sitting the last five contests and did not fare so well, stopping just 20 of 25 shots. Derek Army, Garrett Meurs and Jordan Kwas all netted goals in the losing effort for the Nailers.

Greenville never trailed at any point during the two game series.

The Nailers slip to fourth in the North Division with 20 points and a 9-5-2-0 record.

Wheeling travels to Reading later today, Wednesday, for a meeting with the Royals. Reading sits in third in the North Division with 20 points, so Wednesday’s matchup will be one for sole possession of third place. Wheeling then returns home to host the Utah Grizzlies of the Western Conference for a pair of games on Friday and Saturday. Utah is in last place in the Mountain Division with just 6 points.

AHL Power Rankings: Week 7

It’s Week 7 here at the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings and, as the calendar flips to December, there is a serious logjam at the top this week.

Take for example, the Hershey Bears, who have taken points in their last six games. But that only has Hershey in tenth in this weeks Rankings. Are there really nine teams better than the Bears? Maybe, but there were four teams that didn’t move at all in this weeks Rankings.

There is a new number one this week as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms loss on Saturday to the lowly Hartford Wolf Pack is enough to knock the Phantoms off the top spot. I am not going to give away the new number one team, you will just need to click through the jump if you didn’t link in direct to see who it is.

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