I hate when I foreshadow bad things….
The Albany Devils are locked up in a playoff battle for the eighth and final seed in the Calder Cup Playoffs with three other teams. The Penguins, without key defensemen and some scorers, didn’t match the intensity that the Devils had and fell flat and lost by a score of 4-0 tonight.
Call it a matchup problem. Call it half of the usual defense corps either hurt or on recall to Pittsburgh. Just don’t call it Matt Murray’s fault.
Matt Murray was not named AHL MVP today. That honor went to Manchester’s Brian O’Neill. I can’t explain why a player that was named as a Second Team AHL All-Star was nominated as the league MVP, but the Texas Stars media contingent put it into words nicely. Check that out if you are so inclined.
Anyway, back to matters at hand. The Hershey Bears won 3-2 tonight over the Binghamton Senators and the Bears are the East Division Champions. It really never was or shouldn’t have been in doubt that the Bears were going to win the Division, the Penguins just made it interesting and really controlled their fate the entire time.
Matt Murray opposed Scott Clemmensen, who by rights was great when he needed to be.
Conor Sheary – Andrew Ebbett – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dominik Uher
Josh Archibald – Jayson Megna – Kasperi Kapanen
Pierre Leblond – Matia Marcantuoni – Bobby Farnham
Nick D’Agostino – Barry Goers
Danny Syvret – Alex Boak
Steven Shamanski – Clark Seymour
Matt Murray – Jeff Zatkoff
Remember those days when Barry Goers was the seventh defenseman? Those were the days.
First Period: Historical matchup problems against the Albany Devils coupled with a first period that had absolutely no flow whatsoever played right into the hands of the Devils, who got two goals in the period. The first by Stefan Matteau, swooping in on a puck unmarked to give the Devils a 1-0 lead and again by Joe Whitney, who was the beneficiary of a bad turnover in the neutral zone by the Penguins that made it 2-0.
Second Period: Came and went with no scoring that had better flow. Penguins had some chances but Clemmensen was up to task.
Third Period: Albany quickly made it 3-0 off of a set face-off play. Soon after, a puck banked in off of Murray and it was 4-0 and the rout was on. Penguins called time out after that, looked better, but were held off of the board. Teams traded the only power plays awarded all game late in the third but did not score and that was it.
Three Stars: 3) Stefan Matteau (goal, +2) 2) Darcy Zajac (goal, assist, +2) and 1) Scott Clemmensen (22 save shutout)
Around the Division: You already know about the Bears winning and congrats to them on the East Division Championship. Remarkable turnaround from last season, missing playoffs. Norfolk beat Lehigh Valley in their last ever AHL home game by a score of 4-2. Both teams with long bus rides back to Pennsylvania. Norfolk to Wilkes-Barre, Phantoms to Hershey. I’m guessing Hershey, with the division in hand and the 2 seed locked up, will dress a bunch of new guys against the Phantoms.
Standings: Hershey 98 — Penguins 93 — Lehigh Valley 74 — Binghamton 74 — Norfolk 64
Conference: 1) MCH (107) 2) HER (98) 3) HFD (93) 4) WBS (93) 5) SYR (92) 6) PRO (89) 7) WOR (88) 8) SPR (84)
Syracuse lost in overtime to Adirondack tonight and Worcester beat Providence. Worst that Wilkes-Barre can finish now is fifth. They can lock up the four seed with a win tomorrow and a Syracuse loss for sure. After that, well….I wish I was good at math.
Wheeling Update: The Nailers are off, but they beat the Toledo Walleye Thursday for a 1-0 series lead in that best of seven. Game 2 goes Saturday.
SendToNews Highlights: Aren’t up yet. I wonder if the Penguins will even bother.
Pens back at it against Norfolk tomorrow at 7. Gameday for that up Saturday at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!!