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Penguins vs. CheckersOctober 7th, 2017
50 days to go.
A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins
The Penguins hit the halfway pole after Tuesday’s win in Norfolk and the Second Quarter Grades are due. Due to me getting a late start on them, Pittsburgh’s training camp, the All-Stars being announced and the recent news of Brian Strait being claimed off of waivers by the New York Islanders this afternoon, here they finally are!
Different from seasons past, I am grading off of second quarter production only. Some guys that got A’s in the first quarter are getting D’s. I figure doing it this way paints a finer picture as to what a player did in the second quarter vs. looking at things overall.
At the one quarter pole, the Penguins were 11-7, good for third in the division and fifth in the conference with 22 points. They struggled in the second quarter, going 7-10-2-1 good for 17 points and are fourth in the division and ninth in the conference with an overall record of 18-17-2-1 and 39 points. They currently have a modest three game winning streak.
Below is my humble take once again. Remember, the points production, games played and +/- for the second quarter only are listed in parenthesis. To compare this quarters grades from last, click here for the First Quarter Grades. Here goes:
Beau Bennett – (2-9-11, +2, 12 GP) – Was hurt for a spell and his absence was felt, especially on the power play. Is always in the right place, almost like the game is scripted for him. Had a chance to show Pittsburgh brass what he could do in camp this week. Will be the lone Penguin in Providence at the All-Star Classic at the end of the month. Grade: A+
Philippe Dupuis – (0-4-4, -8, 16 GP) – His minus-8 is the worst +/- on the team for the second quarter. I projected a big second quarter out of Dupuis and all I got was a bust of a quarter. I think that he is in Hynes’ doghouse, too. Grade D
Bobby Farnham – (1-1-2, -2, 18 GP) – Gives 100% on every play. He agitates. Sometimes he goes over the top. Is a better fighter when provoked then when staged. Scored a goal this quarter, which is one more goal scored than Philippe Dupuis during this time period. Grade: C+
Benn Ferriero – (3-2-5, even, 14 GP) – I projected a big second quarter from Ferriero and he, like others, flopped. Had he had a big quarter, I think he would have earned a look in Pittsburgh. He had a mediocre quarter and his grade is reflective of that. Grade: C
Brian Gibbons – (2-5-7, -7, 19 GP) – Everyone is in the same boat this quarter because of the losing and lack of offense. Gibbons is in this boat as someone who you either noticed in the lineup or you didn’t. Grade: C
Riley Holzapfel – (5-9-14, even, 20 GP) – Led the team in points for the quarter. The inconsistent Penguins were lead by the consistent Holzapfel. Could he be a replacement player and go to Providence at All-Stars at the end of the month? Grade: A+
Steve MacIntyre – (0-0-0, -2, 10 GP) – His two punch KO of Portland’s Joel Rechlicz in December may rank as one of the highlights for the struggling Pens in the quarter. There is no greater protector in hockey. Grade: B
Jayson Megna – (3-1-4, -7, 15 GP) – Megna’s first full quarter. Must be doing something right because he has earned an invite to Pittsburgh’s training camp, which came as a shock to me. Look at those numbers again and ask yourself if those would be good enough numbers to give an undrafted kid a look at in NHL camp. Grade: C
Warren Peters – (3-2-5, -3, 20 GP) – Has appeared in every Penguins game this season. Outside of that, pretty average quarter for Peters. He’s in the same boat as Gibbons, Ferriero, Dupuis, et. al. Grade: C-
Zach Sill – (0-1-1, -2, 17 GP) – Sill’s first full quarter, as he was sidelined after the second game of the season. Some nights I barely notice him. For Sill that’s a detriment, because he’s not asked to score. Grade: C
Trevor Smith – (6-6-12, +2, 20) – One of the bright spots for the Penguins in the quarter. I don’t think we have seen the best out of Smith yet. Grade: A
Eric Tangradi – (1-7-8, -3, 16 GP) – We have seen the last of Tangradi now that the lockout is over. He will need to take what he has learned here and make the most of it in Pittsburgh. Grade: B-
Paul Thompson – (6-3-9, +3, 17 GP) – When guys like Tangradi and Bennett are up in Pittsburgh, Thompson is going to be asked to carry the load. If he is involved in the offense (i.e. taking shots) then the Penguins are in good shape. If he’s disinterested, the Penguins suffer. It’s his time to step up and carry the load. Grade: B
Dominik Uher – (0-1-1. -3, 11 GP) – Is extremely good at drawing penalties. Will see more ice in the third quarter with the lockout ending. Grade: C+
Robert Bortuzzo – (1-1-2, -2 17 GP) – May have seen the last of Wilkes-Barre with the lockout ending. Like Tangradi, will need to take what he learned in the AHL and translate that to the NHL. Grade: B
Simon Despres – (2-0-2, -5, 9 GP) – We haven’t seen the last of Despres. Was hurt in the second quarter and missed games. Can be sent up and down between Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre as many times as desired. Unless he wow’s in Pittsburgh, will assuredly be back at some point to continue to improve, as it’s needed. Grade: C+
Brian Dumoulin – (4-5-9, -5, 19 GP) – I wasn’t impressed with Dumoulin at all in the first quarter. He is slowly, and I mean slowly, winning me over. The lockout ending is benefiting him and he is continuing to develop. My most improved player of the second quarter. Grade: B+
Alex Grant – (1-2-3, -1, 9 GP) – The lockout ending will benefit Grant because finally, he will see full time ice. I’m almost tempted to give him an “incomplete” this quarter, just because of how inconsistent he’s been in and out of the lineup. Grade: C
Joey Mormina – (1-0-1, +6, 11 GP) – Was in the same boat with Alex Grant as far as being scratched over the guys here because of the NHL lockout. Now that its over, this veteran will be relied heavily upon. Grade: C-
Joe Morrow – (0-5-5, -4, 16 GP) – He’s in a transition period right now. Last year, he was the last cut from Pittsburgh’s camp in his final year of junior eligibility. This year, he’s toiling about the minors in the locked out NHL. Now that the labor strife is over, we should really see what Morrow is made of and if he flourishes. Grade: C+
Dylan Reese – (1-4-5, +4, 17 GP) – Numbers are down this quarter, but he’s in the same boat with everybody as the team didn’t have a memorable second quarter. Grade: C
Philip Samuelsson – (1-3-4, -1, 18 GP) – Was the teams best overall defenseman this quarter. Pairing with Dumoulin actually helped both players in this case. Grade: B+
Brain Strait – (0-0-0, even, 12 GP) – In and out of the lineup due to injury. When he’s not there he leaves a big hole defensively. He and Steve MacIntyre are the only players on the team which have played 20 or more games that have yet to record a point. Was claimed by the Islanders off of waivers Friday. Grade: B
Blogger note: I am not smart enough to calculate GAA or SV% for the quarter for Thiessen or Zatkoff. If anyone wants to show me how, please do.
Brad Thiessen – (7-7-1, 2.64 GAA, 0.902 SV%) – I said in the first quarter grade for Thiessen that he would need to be stellar in order to regain number one status again. Well, he has started the last three games and won all three, including a shutout. For a team which has been doing more recent losing than winning, that’s enough to get him back to number one status. Grade: B
Jeff Zatkoff – (11-12, 2.21 GAA, 0.911 SV%) – After being named November Goaltender of the Month, the wheels fell off. He went 2-5, 3.13 GAA and 0.871 SV% in December. A forgettable month by this former AHL All-Star’s standards. Grade: C-
Get your scorecards here! Can’t tell a player without a scorecard!
Players with five or less games, unless otherwise noted. No grades, just blurbs.
Chris Barton and Paul Crowder – (both 0-0-0, -1, 2 GP) – Were called up when Pittsburgh’s camp started to replace Beau Bennett and Jayson Megna at the forward position. Neither set the world on fire, but neither looked out of place either. Will probably be re-assigned to Wheeling soon.
Tom Kuhnhackl – (0-0-0, +1, 2 GP) – Had season ended when he was injured in the December 2 St. John’s game and recently had season ending upper body surgery. Will be back next year.
Adam Payerl – ( 0-0-0, even 1 GP) – Just getting back from injury while with Wheeling. It remains to be seen whether or not he sticks in Wilkes-Barre or returns back to the ECHL.
That is everybody. No mentions of Carl Sneep or Keven Veilleux because they did not play in the quarter.
Feel free to agree / disagree with me in the comments. They are open for business.