Chirps from Center Ice

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

Danny Kristo Traded – First Chip to Fall?

If you are a defenseman on the Pittsburgh Penguins, you have to look behind you constantly to watch out for the injury bug. Seems like every serviceable defenseman on the Penguins is out with something…

– Kris Letang – day-to-day with an upper body injury.
– Justin Schultz – concussion. Practiced Thursday but is still not cleared.
– Trevor Daley – announced today that he is out six weeks after having his left knee operated on.
– Olli Maatta – hand surgery. Out six weeks.

Brian Dumoulin and Ian Cole are the only regulars, for now, that haven’t had a hit put out on them from the injury bug. Dumoulin had his jaw broken earlier in the year.

Cameron Gaunce, Steve Oleksy and Chad Ruhwedel are players up in Pittsburgh that have played in Wilkes-Barre for a time. Oleksy and Ruhwedel have been the interchangeable seventh defensemen that, had all of the above defemsemen been healthy, one of two would still be in Pittsburgh.

So the Pittsburgh Penguins were in the market for a defensemen and Thursday they got one in the form of Ron Hainsey in a trade that saw Danny Kristo get shipped to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Hainsey will report to the NHL and Kristo will likely report to the Hurricanes AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers.

Danny Kristo came over in the trade which saw Reid McNeill get sent to the St. Louis Blues in a change of scenery for both players earlier this year. Kristo appeared in 32 games and had six goals and five assists. You could tell a few games into his tenure that the fit wasn’t there. Kristo was touted as a goal scorer, but only scored December 3 against St. John’s before going cold and not scoring again until January 7 against Binghamton. He had been a healthy scratch here and there and depending on the way you analyze things, was getting bumped in the lineup in favor of Patrick McGrath.

Kristo’s departure leaves the Penguins with 14 forwards, only 13 of those are available for the weekend as Thomas DiPauli was ruled out for this weekend.

Wilkes-Barre plays the Utica Comets Friday and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Saturday on the road this weekend.

Gameday for the matchup against the Utica Comets will hit the blog Friday at 3 p.m.

Wheeling Wrap 2/21

It’s Tuesday and time to look back at the week that was for the Wheeling Nailers.

The Nailers split a pair of 6-3 games with the Brampton Beast to start the week, beat the Kalamazoo Wings on Saturday and then lost to the Beast again Monday on Presidents’ Day.

Last Wednesday, the Nailers hosted the Brampton Beast and beat them 6-3. The Nailers chased Brampton starting goaltender Zachary Fucale after putting 8 shots on him which he only stopped 5 of. Wheeling only put up 24 shots on the Beast this night, but the real story was the play in net by Nailers goaltender Sean Maguire. Maguire stopped 40 of 43 shots by the Beast. Oh, and on the offensive side, Cody Wydo had a hat trick, Christan Hilbrich had three assists and Michael Webster potted two.

In the rematch Friday, the Beast would win 6-3. Brampton this time would get the better of Sean Maguire. David Pacan got two past Maguire and chipped in with an assist. Jordan Kwas scored twice for the Nailers and Garrett Meurs scored once and had a pair of assists.

Saturday, the Nailers played host to the Kalamazoo Wings and beat the Wings 5-4. Each team had 40+ shots on net. Ex-Penguin Tyler Biggs scored for Kalamazoo. Garrett Meurs and Nick Sorkin both had a goal and added two assists. Jordan Kwas had three assists. Wheeling struck three times on the power play.Doug Carr picked up the win for the Nailers, stopping 36.

On a Monday Presidents’ Day matinee in Canada, the Nailers lost to the Brampton Beast in their third meeting with the Beast in the week by a score of 3-2. Zachary Fucale had a much better showing in net for the Beast, picking up first star honors by stopping 26 of 28 shots. Kevin Schulze chipped in with two assists on Nick Sorkin and Cody Wydo’s goals.

The Nailers still remain in fifth place in the North Division with a record of 27-19-5-0 good for 59 points. Wheeling trails fourth place Adirondack by 5 points. Everyone in the North has 51 games played except for division leader Manchester who has 52.

Wheeling heads into the week with three games this weekend. They head into Toledo for a pair of games with the Walleye before wrapping up the weekend with a Sunday matchup in Fort Wayne.

AHL Power Rankings: Week 19

After what seems like an eternity, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are no longer the top team in the Weekly Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings.

At least not in Week 19.

That team is the San Jose Barracuda who have quietly plugged along for the past few months. Winners now of eleven straight games and the top team in the Pacific. Even if the Penguins won a few games this week, the Politburo would have been hard pressed to ignore all the work being done in San Jose to put the Barracuda on this run.

Another streaky team in the Eastern Conference follows the Barracuda at the two spot. Apologies to anyone who checks in from in Grand Rapids, the Griffins drop to third because of these streaking teams.

Hop through the jump if you didn’t link in direct to see where your favorite team ended up this week.

Read more of this post

Mid-Winter Sweeps — Pens LOSE 3-2

   button_adk200       @       WBS

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Well, let’s just forget about that weekend.

Three games. Three losses. Zero leads. A 3-2 loss in Providence this afternoon.

Trust the process. The Penguins are in the midst of a losing streak for the first time of the season. It’s the middle of February.  March starts next Wednesday. Head Coach Clark Donatelli and company will use this week of practice and the Penguins will come back back and better than ever this Friday in Utica.

Just trust the process.

Tristan Jarry vs. Zane McIntyre

Lines were…

Danny Kristo – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Jarrett Burton – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Dominik Simon – Teddy Blueger – J-S Dea
Tom Sestito – Ryan Haggerty – Patrick McGrath

Derrick Pouliot – Barry Goers
Brett Stern – David Warsofsky
Tim Erixon – Ethan Prow

Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith

Lineup Notes: Three changes for the Penguins. Brett Stern was in for Stuart Percy on defense, Sahir Gill and Christian Hilbrich were out for Ryan Haggerty and Danny Kristo. Kristo was placed on the top line.

First Period: Tommy Cross avenged the Kevin Porter hit on Rob O’Gara the last time these two teams met just :16 into the game with a fight with Porter.

Danton Heinen opened the scoring for the Bruins at 12:21 on a shot from Ben Marshall that put the Bruins on the board first…

The tweet says Marshall’s goal, but that was later changed. You can’t edit tweets.

Penguins would head to a power play and Dominik Simon would snipe one home to tie the game at one for Wilkes-Barre….

Nice find by Ethan Prow to hit Dominik Simon high in the slot. Simon did the rest.

Bruins started to push back on the Penguins to conclude the period and caught up and then passed Wilkes-Barre on the shot board. The Bruins weren’t able to score on a 4:00 double minor power play caused by a Derrick Pouliot high stick.

Second Period: Penguins were still held to one shot for a while to begin the middle frame. Then David Warsofsky’s stick breaks on a breakout that sent the Bruins up ice. Sean Kuraly then scored to make it 2-1 for the Bruins….

At the end of the period the physical play picked up. Tyler Randall and Patrick McGrath fought…

First time in a while I have seen McGrath get beat like that. He really couldn’t leverage and was a passenger.

Penguins would find themselves on a power play to conclude the period and then Sundqvist was slashed at the whistle which would give the Penguins over a minute of two man advantage leading into the…

Third Period: Derrick Pouliot would score on not the first two man advantage to open the period, but another penalty called by referees Mike Campbell and Jarrod Ragusin on this snipe of a shot that made it 2-2…

Relentless pressure by the Penguins looking for the third goal but the Bruins defense and Zane McIntrye kept the Penguins off the board.

Both McIntyre and his counterpart Tristan Jarry traded some ten bell saves. First was Jarry making a ridiculous stop on Anton Blidh after a linesman inadvertently took out David Warsofsky, and later was McIntyre with the two pad stack on a shot by Jarrett Burton off of a nice feed by Josh Archibald.

Jordan Szwarz one timed a Wayne Simpson pass past Jarry  to give the P-Bruins the lead with 4:04 left to play…

The Penguins with Jarry vacated and on another 6 on 4 power play, late were never able to find the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Dominik Simon (goal, -1) 2) Danton Heinen (goal, assist, +2) and 1) Jordan Szwarz (game winning goal, +1)

Around the Division: Lehigh Valley crushes Utica 7-4. T.J. Brennan had a hat trick in that one…Bridgeport continues to roll, 5-1 over Hershey. The Bears playoff chances are fading quickly…Springfield sweeps the weekend, beating Hartford 4-2. Future AHL Hall of Famer Mike McKenna picked up his 200th AHL win.

Standings: Penguins (.713 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.673) — Bridgeport (.667) — Providence (.651) — Hershey (.594) — Springfield (.471) — Hartford (.413)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off. They host the Brampton Beast Monday afternoon at 2.

If Providence puts out a highlight package I will run the edit in this spot.

The Week 19 AHL Power Rankings will hit the blog Monday at special President’s Day time at noon and the Wheeling Wrap will follow Tuesday at noon as well.

Trust the process.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Providence 2/19

@     15PRO

Away Game: 26

AHL Game: 761

Who: Providence Bruins

Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center

When: 3:05 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Last night in Springfield, the Pens lost 2-1. David Warsofsky scored the only goal for the Pens. For Providence, last night the P-Bruins hosted the Hershey Bears in a rematch from Friday and were shutout 4-0.

Last Meeting: December 30 in Wilkes-Barre, the Pens lost 5-2. Wilkes-barre came into that meeting on a seven game win streak, but got smashed by Providence and Zane McIntyre capped off a perfect month in December, improving to 10-0 and Casey DeSmith was dealt his first regulation loss.

Record: For WBS: 37-13-3-0 (77 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division) — For PRO: 29-14-5-4 (67 pts., 4th place Atlantic Division)

Why you should care: Penguins wrap up their third game in under three days in Providence today and are set to take on goaltender Zane McIntyre who has not lost a game yet this season for the P-Bruins. He boasts a 12-0-1 record with a 1.72 GAA and a .941 SV%. The Penguins will need their best game of the weekend if they want the two points today.

Referee(s): Mike Campbell / Jarrod Ragusin

Linesmen: Kenneth Gates / Chris Leavitt

Twitter: @WBSPenguins / @WBSGameDay / @AHLBruins

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /providencebruins

Instagram: wbspenguins / ahlbruins

Beat Writers: @CVSethLakso and @TomVenesky / @MarkDivver

Broadcasters: WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS and @_NickHart / PRO: The P-Bruins announcers are per diem.

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep 

Radio: For WBS: WILK NewsRadio / For Providence: WNRI 1380 AM

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: Hershey travels to Bridgeport in an important game for the Bears who are chasing the Sound Tigers for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Atlantic.

Next Five Games: @ UTI 2/24, @ LV 2/25, @ HER 3/4, @ HFD 3/5, LV 3/8

Not a Berra Good Time — Pens LOSE 2-1

WBS          @          button_hfd200

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This was a game that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins had to win for a number of reasons.

  1. Quell the, “here we go again” crowd who love to bitch and moan when Pittsburgh recalls players because their own are injured as has been the case for the last few seasons.
  2. Springfield Thunderbirds haven’t won 20 games yet coming into tonight with just 18. Wilkes-Barre should have run circles around and won by four or more goals.
  3. When #2 didn’t come to fruition and it became a close game, almost with a playoff like intensity with the Penguins having been shutout the night before in Albany and the Thunderbirds getting up against the best team in the AHL, that’s where you start looking at where the breakdowns started.

Here are the reasons, at least in my view, why the Penguins lost tonight. Feel free to add your own or disagree.

  1. Reto Berra is a 6-4, 200 pound goaltender who is a lot better than his record would indicate. He plays very well against the Penguins, shutting them out this past October 1-0.
  2. Wilkes-Barre took six penalties in the game, three in the first and two in the second with one in the third.
  3. The Penguins celebrated like they won a playoff series when they finally scored on Berra in the third period. This had to have drawn the ire of the Thunderbirds as they would score about three minutes later.
  4. WordPress isn’t letting be do a 3a., so consider this that. You don’t celebrate like you won something when you score a goal against a sixth place team that has been a doormat for other teams in the AHL. It makes you look petty and a bigger fool when the opposing team scores on you three minutes later.

A 2-1 Thunderbirds win tonight. Second loss for the weekend for the Penguins who head to Providence to take on Zane McIntyre most likely Sunday afternoon. The P-Bruins, who were shut out by Hershey tonight, will be chomping at the bit to get back out there and out there with their magic bullet in McIntyre against the League’s best team.

Can’t have it both ways, guys. You want the best team and you have them with the Penguins. But you have to expect the other teams best when playing the best team.

Casey DeSmith opposed the aforementioned Reto Berra.

Lines were…

Tom Sestito – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Christian Hilbrich – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Derrick Simon – Teddy Blueger – J-S Dea
Jarrett Burton – Sahir Gill – Patrick McGrath

Derrick Pouliot – Barry Goers
Stuart Percy – David Warsofsky
Tim Erixon – Ethan Prow

Casey DeSmith – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: Pittsburgh re-assigned Josh Archibald to Wilkes-Barre earlier in the day and Coal Street signed Brett Stern to another PTO. Healthy scratches were Danny Kristo, Ryan Haggerty and the aforementioned Brett Stern. Christian Hilbrich got another game. Swap McGrath for Haggerty and Archibald for Kristo. When a guy from Wheeling was getting to play over you, that may be a message or it may be nothing.

First Period: Wilkes-Barre / Scranton only had 24 shots in last nights game against Albany. Well, in the first period alone in Springfield, the Penguins put up 14 on Reto Berra. Berra was singlehandedly the reason why the game wasn’t out of hand 10 minutes in. Springfield comes alive in the final five minutes in the period, a shot by Jayce Hawryluk on the power play hit the top of the bar behind DeSmith. Both myself at home watching on AHL Live and Nick and Obie on radio thought it was a goal. Play continued a good three minutes before referees Mike Campbell and Tim Mayer took a look and confirmed the no goal call that Mayer, the low referee, made.

So the Falcons dodge a Penguin bullet with Reto Berra for fifteen minutes and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins dodge a Springfield bullet via the crossbar behind Casey DeSmith.

Second Period: Penguins take ther third penalty in a row and Springfield finally cashes on it as Jared McCann gets a puck, baits Casey DeSmith out of his own net and puts the puck in it. Tim Erixon was a passenger on the play as he was caught in no mans land on the play not knowing whether he should go behind the net to get the puck or take the man. He should have took the man, but hindsight is 20-20.

Here is the goal. You be the judge…

Wilkes-Barre got close on their only power play in the period but could not crack Reto Berra. Springfield didn’t exactly play better than the Penguins as much as Wilkes-Barre taking a penalty every five minutes. Eventually a team at the AHL level will score on the man advantage via trial and error.

Third Period: David Warsofsky finally breaks the ice for the Penguins with this low shot on Berra :05 into a power play for the Penguins…

A little over three minutes later, the Thunderbirds reestablish their lead over Wilkes-Barre when Penguin killer Mackenzie Weegar puts a shot on DeSmith who makes the save but Juho Lammikko was right there for the rebound to put past DeSmith.

Penguins got a power play with a minute to play and with DeSmith vacated the Thunderbirds never touched the puck once but Wilkes-Barre never found the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Jared McCann (goal, +1) 2) Reto Berra (34 saves on 35 shots) and 1) Juho Lammikko (game winning goal, +1)

Around the Division: Bridgeport beat Albany 3-2 in the afternoon game. That’s six in a row and 14 of 15 for the Sound Tigers. Lehigh Valley exacts revenge on Hartford and beats the Wolf Pack 6-4 and so does Hershey against Providence I mentioned in the open. Final score there was 4-0 Bears.

Standings: Penguins (.726 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.667) — Bridgeport (.660) — Providence (.644) — Hershey (.606) — Springfield (.461) — Hartford (.422)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers beat the Kalamazoo Wings 5-4. Nick Sorkin had a pair of goals. Garrett Meurs had a goal and two assists.

If Springfield puts forth a highlight package, I will run an edit here.

Pens will bus to Providence overnight for the 3:05 start against the Bruins Sunday afternoon. Look for the Gameday setup to hit the blog Sunday morning at 11 a.m.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Springfield 2/18

@     spr16_200

Away Game: 26

AHL Game: 752

Who: Springfield Thunderbirds

Where: MassMutual Center

When: 7:05 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Last night in Albany, the Pens were shutout 4-0 by the Devils. For Springfield, the Thunderbirds hosted Utica and won 5-2. Mackenzie Weegar had a goal and an assist for first star honors.

Last Meeting: December 27 in Wilkes-Barre the Penguins won 5-3. Jake Guentzel had a hat trick, David Warsofsky had three assists. Mackenzie Weegar scored two goals for Springfield in the loss.

Record: For WBS: 37-12-3-0 (77 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division) — For SPR: 18-23-7-2 (45 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division)

Why you should care: Springfield has played the Penguins tough in their meetings with Wilkes-Barre this season. The Penguins can’t look past this game against the Thunderbirds at all and will be looking to bounce back after last nights disappointing loss in Albany.

Referee(s): Mike Campbell / Tim Mayer

Linesmen: Brent Colby / Derek Wahl

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay // @thunderbirdsahl

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /thunderbirdsahl

Instagram: wbspenguins / thunderbirdsahl

Beat Writers: @CVSethLakso and @TomVenesky

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / For SPR: Ryan Smith @RyanSmithHockey

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep

Radio: For WBS: WILK Newsradio / For Springfield: WHYN News Talk 560

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: Bridgeport visits Albany tonight. The Sound Tigers have been ascending through the Atlantic Division and stop off in the Capital District for a meeting with the Devils.

Next Five Games: @ PRO 2/19, @ UTI 2/24, @ LV 2/25, @ HER 3/4, @ HFD 3/5