A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins
February 28, 2017Posted by on
We are just under 24 hours from the NHL Trade Deadline and there have been some moves made and some moves setting up future moves which I would like to discuss in some capacity.
Focusing only in the AHL’s Atlantic Division, here’s what happened so far…
Pittsburgh / Wilkes-Barre
Eric Fehr is on waivers. $2,000,000 salary is all yours if you claim him by noon Wednesday. If not, Pittsburgh can assign him to Wilkes-Barre and save $950,000 in cap money and frees up a roster spot with Pittsburgh.
Here’s what I think: Fehr goes unclaimed and isn’t immediately assigned to Wilkes-Barre. Depending on what moves GM Jim Rutherford tries to swing in either trying to move Marc-Andre Fleury or trading for another defensemen, Fehr goes unclaimed, stays in Pittsburgh with the option of being moved to Wilkes-Barre if the need arises. Do I think we ever see Fehr in Wilkes-Barre? It’s a possibility. I hope so, the pun possibilities for this blog would increase exponentially.
You needed to be on waivers today in order to be assigned to the AHL Wednesday for the playoff run. The only every day name Wilkes-Barre fans are familiar with which was not waived was Chad Ruhwedel. Consider him up for good with Pittsburgh as the seventh defenseman.
Steve Oleksy and Cameron Gaunce are still technically waiver exempt. They should be papered down along with Carter Rowney, who should be assigned for real this week with the news that Conor Sheary participated in full at practice Tuesday as well as Jake Guentzel. Guentzel getting papered down is risk free, and keeps him developing playoff skills if Pittsburgh should get knocked out of the playoffs before Wilkes-Barre.
Washington / Hershey
Late Monday, Washington swung a trade with St. Louis for the services of unrestricted free agent defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. There were picks involved which I didn’t pay attention to. The other bodies involved were Zach Sanford, who was 4-1-5 against Wilkes-Barre this season, Brad Malone, who was a veteran scratch from time to time for the Bears and goaltender Pheonix Copley.
If you remember Copley, that’s because he was with Washington / Hershey last year. I think they moved him in a trade for someone and got him back.
Here’s what I think: Copley will get the lion share of starts for the Bears for the stretch run as told by Bears Head Coach Troy Mann to Kyle Mace Tuesday. Copley is a giant step up over whatever the hell Hershey tried in goal this season with a combination of Vitek Vanecek, Joe Cannata and Parker Milner. Milner and Vanecek are better served as backups and Cannata, who won 20 games with Utica last year, just never got comfortable with Hershey this year. Consider it Copley’s crease now for the 11 time Champs. Hershey has a long way to go and a short time to get there if they want to make the playoffs and they are going all in with the hope that Copley will be the bus that gets them there.
NY Rangers / Hartford Wolf Pack
The Rangers made a trade with the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday that saw Wolf Pack captain Mat Bodie get traded for Daniel Catenacci. Catenacci is a center with 13 points in 50 games for a bad Rochester team. So it’s a lateral move for Catenacci from one bad team to another.
Here’s what I think: Hartford is in last place in the Atlantic and it looks like they will finish there.
Trade Deadline is at 3 Wilkes-Barre time tomorrow. Depending on moves made which are notable I’ll have another blog post here Wednesday night breaking it all down.
February 28, 2017Posted by on
It’s noon Tuesday and time to look back at the week that was for the ECHL affiliate in Wheeling.
The Nailers started the week with two games in Toledo, Ohio and only took one point with them out of the Central Division leaders.
On Friday, nothing went right for the Nailers and they were obliterated by the Walleye 7-0. Let’s just move on from this one.
On Saturday it was a closer affair with Toledo and won that ended in overtime for the Walleye by a score of 4-3. Fast forward to the end of the game, the Nailers had a goal in overtime called back on account of goaltender interference. As fate would have it, the next play would see the Walleye beat Doug Carr, who would end the night with 24 saves on 28 shots. Both Cody Wydo and Adam Krause had a goal and an assist in the contest.
Sunday, the Nailers headed to Fort Wayne, Indiana and took on the Komets and lost 4-3. Sean Maguire went back in the net after getting throttled Friday by Toledo. He stopped just 16 of 2o0 and was pulled late into the second for Doug Carr, who stopped all 10 shots but the Nailers were unable to overcome the deficit and were not able to score after the change. Johnny Daniels, Garrett Meurs and Cody Wydo all scored for the Nailers in the loss. Meurs added an assist. Danny Fick chipped in two assists also in the losing effort.
Wheeling remains fifth in the six team North Division with a record of 27-21-6-0, good for 60 points.
The Nailers remain on the road this week and take on the Indy Fuel this Friday before returning back to Fort Wayne for a pair against the Komets Saturday and Sunday.
February 27, 2017Posted by on
We are 20 weeks into the AHL season and there is about 20 games left for most teams and for some, their chances at a postseason berth took a huge hit this past week. Cleveland, Binghamton, Tucson and Texas come to immediate mind.
The San Jose Barracuda are the best team in the AHL right now and are halfway to the Norfolk Admirals record of 28 straight wins. So of course they remain the number one team this week.
Click through the jump if you didn’t link in direct to see where your favorite team ended up this week.
February 26, 2017Posted by on
The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins will his the three quarter pole when they take on the Hershey Bears next Saturday before hitting the road again to Hartford, Connecticut next Sunday. Currently, there are 20 games left and the Penguins remain at the top of the Atlantic Division with strong play. For simplicity sake, I am cutting off the last game scheduled for next Saturday in Hershey which technically puts the Penguins 3/4’s of the way through to give you the Third Quarter Grades today.
Only players who played in eight or more games get a grade. I start with forwards and go alphabetically. Here goes….
Josh Archibald – 14 GP, 4-3-7, +5 – Archibald had a well deserved call up to Pittsburgh a few weeks ago and left an impression. With forwards healing up in the NHL Archibald may not get another call this season, but if he does the management knows that he’s more than capable of handling the skill level of the NHL. As long as he stays in the AHL he remains an asset. Grade: A
Teddy Blueger – 18 GP, 2-13-15, +10 – Only other player other than Tom Kostopoulos and Dominik Simon who has appeared in every game this quarter. Superb, breakout quarter for Blueger who is a plug in type player you can use anywhere. Grade: A+
J-S Dea – 17 GP, 5-6-11, +3 – Dea has probably next in line behind Archibald on player to be recalled to Pittsburgh. His production increased in the third quarter and he’s really coming into his own and becoming a dangerous player. Phantoms fans hate him as he burns them. The Penguins play Lehigh Valley the most of any other opponent this home stretch. Grade: A
Sahir Gill – 15 GP, 3-5-8, +4 – Gill has come into his own and accepted the challenge of being an everyday player for the Penguins because of forwards being called up to Pittsburgh. I am happy with the numbers put forth by Gill and he will only improve on these. He’s quietly been one of the Penguins more unheralded players. Grade: A
Ryan Haggerty – 16 GP, 4-2-6, -1 – Haggerty is a useful third or fourth liner. That’s all you really can ask for. Grade: B-
Tom Kostopoulos – 18 GP, 8-9-17, +1 – Was talking to a friend the other day and was speaking on why the Penguins were in the slide that they were in during the four game losing streak. One of the things I told them was that they Penguins were relying too heavily on a 38 year old to carry the load offensively. But that doesn’t seem to faze the veteran Kostopoulos who does not seem to want to slow down as he approaches 40 years old. Even at full strength up front, Kostopoulos can still run with the young guns. Grade: A+
Patrick McGrath – 9 GP, 0-0-0, +3 – Two more fights for McGrath and he is automatically suspended by the AHL because of their sissified rules on fighting. Anyone want to take a bet on when that is? As for a grade, McGrath didn’t record a point in the Quarter, but when he is on the ice he is an exciting player to watch because you never know what will happen when he’s on it. Grade: C+
Kevin Porter – 17 GP, 2-11-13, -2 – Porter’s presence is really helping the Penguins maintain first place in the division and one of the best teams in the AHL. He’s fifth in the team in points, fourth if you take Jake Guentzel’s name out of the mix and an extremely valuable player. Grade: A
Tom Sestito – 17 GP, 1-6-7, -1 – Sestito has become a useful player for the Penguins and a threat to score and throw fists. Sestito has phased out the pugilistic end of his play and is a solid contributor. It’s going to be hard to get him out of the lineup. Grade: B
Dominik Simon – 18 GP, 4-9-13, +2 – Goals are up this quarter for Simon who has a lethal scoring touch and can put it to use more often than not. I’d like to see him become even more of an offensive scoring threat. Grade: B
Oskar Sundqvist – 14 GP, 2-2-4, -5 – Anyone who is asking why Sundqvist isn’t in the NHL need look no further than these numbers he put up this quarter. Are these numbers ones that scream NHL everyday player? Not to me. Sundqvist’s day will come, but it’s clear that he needs more seasoning. Grade: C+
Garrett Wilson – 13 GP, 2-4-6, -2 – It’s no surprise than when Garrett Wilson went down with injury on a suspendible hit by Lehigh Valley Phantoms defenseman Sam Morin that the Penguins started to struggle to get goals and leads. Wilkes-Barre fell into an uncharacteristic four game losing streak. One player does not a team make, but Wilson’s presence on the lower lines opens up opportunities for players. When he heals up and gets back into the lineup for the Penguins it should be around playoff time. Grade: B+
Tim Erixon – 11 GP, 1-1-2, -5 – It’s been a disappointing quarter for Erixon. He is the type of player that should be in the lineup more often but when Wilkes-Barre is full at defense he’s a healthy scratch. He’s battled injuries, but that only goes so far. If you are hurt, get out of the lineup and heal up and don’t be a detriment to your team. With Pittsburgh / Wilkes-Barre being in the season where someone gets injured daily, Erixon, if healthy is going to need to step up huge in the fourth quarter if the Penguins wish to sustain the run they have been on. Grade: C
Cameron Gaunce – 9 GP, 0-5-5, +10 – Gaunce’s presence is sorely missed in Wilkes-Barre, plain and simple. He s the engine that makes the train run smoothly. If he gets back, other teams should watch out. Grade: A
Barry Goers – 11 GP, 1-1-2, +2 – Goers is a capable defenseman and scored a big overtime goal this past Saturday to beat the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and snap the Penguins four game losing streak. I’d put him in over both Erixon and Percy right now. Grade: B
Stuart Percy – 16 GP, 0-1-1, +2 – These numbers are not first round draft pick numbers. Durability is not an issue with Percy as he’s played in nearly every game for the Penguins this Quarter, he’s been the most disappointing defenseman on the Penguins certainly this quarter. Perhaps he gets packaged at the trade deadline for someone in a deal by Jim Rutherford. Grade: D
Derrick Pouliot – 16 GP, 4-2-6, E – In this microwave society, we want everything yesterday. Such is not the case with the development of Derrick Pouliot who many expected to be in Pittsburgh months ago. That hasn’t happened yet because of a number of reasons. Is Derrick Pouliot an NHL caliber defesneman that you can feel confident to put out there with the game on the line? If the answer is no then is he a defenseman you would rather see in the press box or playing in the minors honing his skills? The answer is the latter for the management of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Grade: B
Ethan Prow – 16 GP, 1-5-6, +2 – It’s been a trial by fire for Prow in his rookie season. Some nights you barely notice him (good) others your really notice him (bad) and that could mean a bad turnover that leads a to a goal for the opposing team. Presently, Prow’s status is up in the air as he is injured now having sustained the ailment last Saturday in Utica. Grade: B-
David Warsofsky – 17 GP, 5-5-10, +6 – The lone bright spot of the regular blue liners is Warsofsky, whom Wilkes-Barre owes much to because without his services, the Penguins could be mired in a battle for second, third or worse in the division. I get the sense that he may be insulated from call-up to Pittsburgh because the Penguins do not want to lose him to waivers like they did last year. Grade: A
Casey DeSmith – 5 GP, 3-2, 2.21 GAA, .919 SV% – Nearly identical numbers for DeSmith as the number one goaltender in Tristan Jarry. Grade reflects the backup role, but as you will see there isn’t much drop off. DeSmith will be a capable number one if there is a move that sees Marc-Andre Fleury depart at the trade deadline. Grade: B+
Tristan Jarry – 13 GP, 7-6, 2.60 GAA, .915 SV% – Jarry has established himself as the true number one goaltender in Wilkes-Barre. The numbers put him in the top ten among goaltenders in the AHL. Should the need for call up or injury arise, hoary has a capable backup in Casey DeSmith. Grade: A
As mentioned in the open, players with seven or fewer games payed get a mention here with no grade.
Jarrett Burton – 7 GP, 1-1-2, -2 – Wheeling call-up and a bubble ECHL / AHL player. Will probably go back down when Carter Rowney gets back in town. Hasn’t been a liability out there, he’s just looking for a shot to stick on an AHL roster.
Christian Hilbrich – 3 GP, 0-0-0, E – Hilbrich is a monster, standing in at 6’7, 261 pounds. I was telling that same friend I was talking to in the Kostopoulos capsule that with Hilbrich, he needs to use his big size effectively. With the forward corps stripped down, Hilbrich’s greenhorn status is exposed more often versus being insulated in a lineup stacked with talent. If he puts it all together, then the Penguins will have one special player on their hands.
Steve Oleksy – 6 GP, 0-1-1, +3 – Oleksy was down for six games then called back up to Pittsburgh when defensemen started going down again. Perhaps he will come back. If it comes down to either he or Cameron Gaunce, Oleksy may be the one heading back west to Wilkes-Barre from Pittsburgh.
Carter Rowney – 6 GP, 3-2-5, -3 – Rowney doens’t classify for a grade here, but look for him to be reassigned back to Wilkes-Barre sooner rather than later as long as no setbacks are met to the forwards coming back from injury in Pittsburgh. The AHL Penguins will welcome his offensive acumen.
Brett Stern – 6 GP, 0-0-0, -1 – Wheeling defensive call-up. Has shown flashes of brilliance, but the sample size isn’t enough to offer a grade because he doesn’t meet the requires number of games played.
Comments are there if you want to leave input.
February 25, 2017Posted by on
Said this in the Gameday setup earlier Saturday…
The Penguins need a win of any kind to get off of this skid that they are on. Look for the Penguins if they are to win tonight in Allentown, to do so in a dirty way. Shootout win or something crazy with a late goal is what I would classify as a dirty win.
They got one. A 4-3 overtime game winner from the unlikeliest of sources. Barry Goers, playing in his 300th professional game, scores his first goal in the AHL since April 18, 2015 and the Penguins four game losing streak is over.
Tristan Jarry went back in the net and opposed Alex Lyon.
Tom Sestito – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Jarrett Burton – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Dominik Simon – Teddy Blueger – J-S Dea
Patrick McGrath – Sahir Gill – Ryan Haggerty
Derrick Pouliot – Tim Erixon
Brett Stern – David Warsofsky
Stuart Percy – Barry Goers
Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith
Lineup Notes: Ethan Prow is out with an upper body injury suffered yesterday in Utica. Interestingly, Head Coach Clark Donatelli told WBS media after the game that Prow is week to week with a lower body injury. So as with everything with hockey, give us your money and we won’t tell you anything when out comes to updates on players that you pay to see…Brett Stern took his place on the blue line. Patrick McGrath replaced Christian Hilbrich. Jarrett Burton moved to the second line replacing Hilbrich, Sestito moved back to the top line replacing Sahir Gill, who centered the fourth line.
First Period: Pens jumped out of the gate and nearly got a goal by Jarrett Burton but Alex Lyon made the save :08 in. Teams traded power plays with neither team doing anything memorable on them. Referee Jake Break gave Tim Sestito a 10:00 misconduct for either dissent or perhaps Brenk didn’t like the cut of Sestito’s jib.
T.J. Brennan tangled with J-S Dea behind Lyon’s net and Brennan was firing cross checks at Dea. Ref Brenk placed both players in the penalty box and while four on four, Kevin Porter found Tom Sestito and the Penguins had their first lead in 257:08 and their first even strength goal in 203:13….
Kostopoulos’ 20th point in 20 games and his sixth 20 goal season in the AHL. Also, Kostopoulos is the 10th player in AHL history to score 20 goals in a season at age 38 years of age or older.
Second Period: Greg Carey scored :25 into a power play that gave him his league leading 17th power play goal that also tied it at one for the Phantoms.
Derrick Pouliot did not have a good period. He hit two posts and inadvertently put this puck into the net that was credited to Danick Martel which made it 2-1 Phantoms….
Jarrett Burton got the goal back for the Penguins after a pass from Oskar Sundqvist hit his skate and redirected in. Brenk took a look at that to rule out a kick and his call of goal was confirmed and it was a 2-2 game.
Third Period: J-S Dea, the Phantoms killer, scored to put the Penguins ahead 3-2 early in the third…
Teddy Blueger won a race to a puck, slipped it along the wall to Dominik Simon who centered to Dea who put it past Lyon. His 18th point (11-7) in 25 games against the Phantoms, the most offense Dea has put up against any opponent.
Lehigh Valley responds on a power play when a big shot from the point rebounded past Barry Goers to Corban Knight and past Jarry for a tie game at 3.
Neither team found another regulation goal so it was off to…
Overtime: End to end action. Phantoms hit a post and Jarry was in the snow angel a few times. Then Barry Goers ended it with 1:15 left to give the Penguins the two points and broke the road losing streak…
Dominik Simon shot it, the puck was dropped out of the glove by Lyon and Goers swept in and scored it to win it.
Three Stars: 3) J-S Dea (goal, even) 2) Greg Carey (goal, assist, even) and 1) Barry Goers (overtime game winning goal, +3)
Standings: Penguins (.705 percentage points) — Providence (.664) — Lehigh Valley (.657) — Bridgeport (.642) — Hershey (.609) — Springfield (.491) — Hartford (.398)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers lost in overtime to the Toledo Walleye 4-3. Cody Wydo had a goal and an assist good for third star honors. The Nailers travel to Fort Wayne Sunday afternoon.
If the Phantoms or Penguin put a highlight package up I’ll run an edit and put it here.
I’ll have the Third Quarter Grades up sometime Sunday with the AHL Power Rankings Monday at 4 and the Wheeling Wrap Tuesday ta noon blog wise. Check them out then.
Let’s Go Pens!
February 25, 2017Posted by on
Away Game: 28
AHL Game: 795
Who: Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Where: PPL Center
When: 7:05 p.m.
Last Game: Last night in Utica, the Pens lost 2-1. Tom Kostopoulos had the only goal for Wilkes-Barre in the loss, which was the Penguins fourth in a row. For Lehigh Valley, the Phantoms were in Springfield last night and lost 5-3. Radel Fazleev had a goal and an assist good for third star honors.
Last Meeting: February 14 in Wilkes-Barre, the Pens beat the Phantoms 5-1. Oskar Sundqvist scored twice for the Penguins and Tristan Jarry stopped 27 of 28 shots to pick up the win.
Record: For WBS: 37-15-3-0 (77 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division) — For LV: 34-17-2-0 (70 pts., 2nd place Atlantic Division)
Why you should care: The Penguins need a win of any kind to get off of this skid that they are on. Look for the Penguins if they are to win tonight in Allentown, to do so in a dirty way. Shootout win or something crazy with a late goal is what I would classify as a dirty win.
Referee(s): Jake Brenk
Linesmen: Matt McNulty / Jud Ritter
Television: AHL Live
Other Game to Watch: Providence rematches with Bridgeport. The P-Bruins snapped the Sound Tigers seven game winning streak last night at home.
Next Five Games: @ HER 3/4, @ HFD 3/5, LV 3/8, HFD 3/10, PRO 3/11
February 24, 2017Posted by on
This is not a good road trip for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.
In the four games now on the road for Wilkes-Barre, the Penguins have not led at all and are 0-4 after tonight’s 2-1 setback in Utica.
I still haven’t put my finger on what it is that’s been crippling the Penguins. Remember that the loss in Albany that set off this losing streak was a game that the Devils blocked a ton of shots. The Penguins ran into Reto Berra in Springfield who always plays the Penguins good and played run and gun in the third game in less than three days in Providence Sunday.
If you have a solution, please, leave me a comment here on this blog piece.
Tristan Jarry opposed Thatcher Demko.
Sahir Gill – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Christan Hilbrich – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Dominik Simon – Teddy Blueger – J-S Dea
Tom Sestito – Jarrett Burton – Ryan Haggerty
Derrick Pouliot – Barry Goers
Stuart Percy – David Warsofsky
Tim Erixon – Ethan Prow
Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith
Lineup Notes: Brett Stern and Patrick McGrath were the scratches. Obie listed Lukas Bengtsson as ill, with Garrett Wilson and Thomas DiPauli among the injury scratches.
First Period: Jarry and this counterpart Demko traded some big saves to open. Pens controlled offensive zone time in bursts but were unable to solve Demko for the period. Utica chipped the puck out, transitioned and found Jordan Subban who ripped one past Jarry to make it 1-0 Comets…
Pens had two cracks at the power play which came and went.
Second Period: The Utica Comets came into the game with the worst goal differential in the second period and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins came into the game boasting the best goal differential in the second period.
That’s a stat that didn’t matter at all in this period.
Shots at the end of the second were 15-13 favoring the Utica Comets, but if you watched this game you would have sworn that it was more like 28-0 Comets with the way that the Comets dominated the offensive zone percentage this period, moreso than the Penguins in the first period.
Ryan Haggerty got a step on a guy and couldn’t score on an excellent Demko save. Referee Furman South reviewed the call on replay and confirmed his initial call on the ice of no goal.
Utica had the Penguins on their heels. Nick Hart described on color commentary that the Comets were playing the Penguins with a playoff like intensity.
Darren Archibald works Stuart Percy to put the Comets yup a pair…
Ethan Prow, who had his left arm injured in the first period, finally exited to the locker room right after the Archibald goal.
Penguins just couldn’t get anything going in the period.
Third Period: Prow did not rejoin the team for the third period.
Tom Kostopoulos scored on a power play that put the Penguins on the board. I don’t have a GIF of this, sorry. Dominik Simon assisted on that Kostopoulos goal and has three goals and two assists over his last six games and I would argue that he was the lone bright spot for the Penguins of late.
Penguins get a late power play and pull Jarry for an extra attacker in the games final minutes but were unable to score at all in a theme that I am picking tip here in this four game losing streak.
Three Stars: 3) Tom Kostopoulos (goal, even) 2) Thatcher Demko (27 saves on 28 shots) and 1) Darren Archibald (goal, +1)
Around the Division: Springfield pays the Penguins a favor beating the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at home 5-3. The Phantoms will now bus back to Allentown for Saturday’s matchup against the Penguins….Providence ends the Bridgeport Sound Tigers winning streak by beating them 2-1 in regulation and Hershey thumps last place Hartford 6-1.
Standings: Penguins (.700 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.660) — Providence (.657) — Bridgeport (.654) — Hershey (.602) — Springfield (.481) — Hartford (.406)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers are currently trailing the Toledo Walleye 6-0. Box here.
If the Comets put up YouTube video of highlights of tonight’s game that I see I will run the edit here.
Pens will bus back to Wilkes-Barre, stay over night then catch a bus to Lehigh Valley Saturday afternoon for tomorrow night’s big matchup against the Phantoms at 7. Gameday drops here on the blog Saturday at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!