A lot is going to be said online and in other areas about the recent play of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.
Forget about the fact that last week they shut out teams in four of five games and hadn’t allowed a single even strength goal in a remarkable 300+ minutes.
Forget about all that.
Focus on a two game set against in-state rivals where you are shut out in both games. 5-0 last night to Hershey and 3-0 today to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
That’s what fans do, right? Bloodthirsty, cup less fans in Wilkes-Barre that still pin losses on Ray Shero and Mike Johnston for messing with the team here in Wilkes-Barre while teams like Hershey, Norfolk, Binghamton and Grand Rapids have parades in June raising a Calder Cup banner.
No, not here. Forget about all that.
Look, you can blame new coach Clark Donatelli all you want, you can pin the blame on Brian Foster all you may in net, but if the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins can’t score a single goal in any given game, they have no chance of winning said game. Period. End of story.
Scoreless now in a span of 134:41. A penalty killing unit that went 2-for-4 last night in Hershey and 1-for-2 tonight. When the offense isn’t there and the special teams struggle, the team as a whole struggles.
Can anyone just say that Phantoms starting goaltender Jason LaBarbera played a hell of a game with an understaffed team crippled by injuries? (The Phantoms played a man short and are missing 10 players due to injury)
35 saves by LaBarbera tonight.
No changes for the Penguins lineup tonight.
First Period: Did everything right, outshot the Phantoms 9-3 until Andrew MacDonald finds himself alone in the high slot and wires a shot past Foster for a 1-0 Phantoms lead:
I am trying to decide amongst myself where the turning point of the game was. Here at the MacDonald goal, or later in the period when the Penguins had thirteen seconds of 5-on-3 power play.
Second Period: Again controlled play by Wilkes-Barre, then Kael Mouillierat takes a goaltender interference penalty and the Phantoms cash on a power play goal when Niclas Andersen partially screens Foster while skating backwards.
Third Period: Penguins needed to press while chasing a team up two goals on them and be careful in the process because their penalty killing hasn’t been the best. Every shot, it seemed, was right at LaBarbera and he saw it all the way.
Finally, ex-Penguin Colin McDonald skates down the right wing, catches Foster dipping into the butterfly a split second too soon and finds daylight upstairs and extends the Phantoms lead to 3-0 on an NHL caliber snipe.
Penguins couldn’t score on a power play, killed a penalty and could not get one by LaBarbera with an extra attacker with Foster pulled after a time out and that was all she wrote.
Three Stars: 3) Nick Cousins (two assists, +1) 2) Andrew MacDonald (goal, assist, +1) and 1) Jason LaBarbera (35 saves)
Strong games by J-S Dea and Bryan Rust who maximized each shift and really stood out.
Let’s look at some tweets that put this one in perspective…
Around the Division: Wasn’t a bad weekend for the Penguins insofar as it was an equally bad weekend for the Atlantic Division as a whole. Hershey lost to Binghamton at home tonight 5-3. The B-Sens have won three straight…Portland beat Springfield 5-3…Hartford shutout Rochester 1-0 and Bridgeport beat Providence 4-3.
Standings: Penguins (.741 percentage points) — (Hershey .613) — Bridgeport (.591) — Portland (.589) — Lehigh Valley (.484) — Providence (.452) — Hartford (.452) — Springfield (.433)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers are feeling the affects also, dropping a 7-4 decision to the Kalamazoo Wings. Cody Wydo and Riley Brace both had two goals.
Here’s the post game infographic…
Give Donatelli a chance to run a few practices. Bodies will be back soon. It isn’t as bad as you think, despite what you think.
My Week 12 AHL Power Rankings will hit the blog at a special time tomorrow, 1 p.m.
Let’s Go Pens!