Chirps from Center Ice

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

The John Gibson Puzzle — Pens LOSE 2-1

NOR          vs.          WBS

2                                             1

Once upon a time, the Norfolk Admirals never won in Wilkes-Barre. They had lost several games in a row and every time they came to Wilkes-Barre, you could chalk up the “W” before you even left your house to go to the game.

Nowadays, entirely different story. The Admirals call the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza their second home. They have won 12 straight games in Wilkes-Barre after a 2-1 win again tonight.

John Gibson was so-so in goal. I say that because if the Penguins had anything resembling a power play, he’d need to be spectacular. The saves he made were on point, and he was lasered in all night. Gibson’s only blemish came from a Reid McNeill shot from the point that came when he didn’t have his stick. The Penguins simply weren’t able to solve Gibson at all.

The Penguins power play is now 0-for-24, dating back to January 18 in Portland. Many thanks to crack researcher Ian Heely for that tidbit.

Eric Hartzell vs. the aforementioned John Gibson

First Period: Anton Zlobin his high sticked and draws blood. Pens to a 4:00 power play. Offensive zone face-off to Brian Dumoulin who must have had his laces tied together by a Norfolk player as he falls down trying to corral a puck. Max Sauve skates in unabated and scores to put the Admirals on the board first.

Next, Devante Smith-Pelly leads a charge up ice. He centers to Charlie Sarault who I don’t think ever shot the puck, but rather just acted as a pylon as the puck caromed off of him and Hartzell has a hard time controlling it and it goes in for a 2-0 Norfolk lead.

So what happens when you have a physical team out physical a physical team with a line that is deadly, big bodied defensemen and a brick wall on skates in goal? You have the Norfolk Admirals. The Admirals know how to play and beat the Penguins better than anyone else in the division or on the schedule right now.

Second Period: Brian Dumoulin goes hard into the boards and stayed down. Helped off the ice by the trainer and Tom Kostopoulos not putting any weight on his left leg. He did not return. I don’t expect for there to be any updates on his condition in the immediate future. If there are, Jonathan Bombulie’s the guy to follow.

Anyway, the Pens get one back on the McNeill shot on a stickless Gibson. The ice was slowly tipping the way of the Penguins but John Gibson stood tall in net and the Penguins couldn’t establish any kind of pressure on the power play so the scored stayed where it was. The Admirals, for about the first fifteen minutes, only had one shot on goal.

Pens killed off a 1:58 of 5-on-3 late, rather easily.

Third Period: Teams trade power plays. Things looked a bit better for the Penguins but they couldn’t find the equalizer. The sense of urgency didn’t really look like it was on their faces late, because it seemed like they thought they had double the time remaining when looking at the clock. Oh, and that 5,000 piece puzzle of John Gibson in goal standing in front of them was hard to solve.

Three Stars: 3) Reid McNeill (goal, +1) 2) Max Sauve (goal, even) 1) John Gibson (25 saves on 26 shots)

Around the Division: Binghamton goes into Manchester and is pasted 5-1 by the Monarchs. Hershey wins their sixth straight in Glens Falls 5-3 over the Phantoms. Both clubs now racing to Philly for a 1 p.m. game in the Flyers living room. Syracuse loses 3-1 to Utica and after the game both Syracuse goaltenders were called up to Tampa Bay. Meanwhile G Riku Helenius was suspended by the team. The American Hockey blog has the story covered here.

Standings: Bingahamton 59 — Penguins 56 — Norfolk 54 — Hershey 52 — Syracuse 40

Conference: 1) MCH (65) 2) SPR (61) 3) BNG (59) 4) WBS (56) 5) ALB (54) 6) NOR (54) 7) STJ (53) 8) HER (52)

SendToNews Highlights: Are here. We should all be as good at our jobs as John Gibson is at his.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers win in a shootout 3-2 to the Kalamazoo Wings at home in a shootout. Peter Mannino was in goal and stopped 35 of 37.

Pens back at it again at home Saturday night vs. the Rochester Americans. Gameday setup hits the blog at 3, for the game at 7 on Dennis Bonvie Hall of Fame Statue Night.

Let’s Go Pens!!

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