Couple things out of the gate about this five game winning streak that the best team in the American Hockey League is on right now…
So is it a question of this Penguins team being a good team or a hard to play against team? I think the answer is in both the questions. Teams that are good are hard to play against. Teams that are hard to play against are usually good.
A 4-2 Penguins win and a long overdue one against a Springfield Thunderbirds team that is a lot better than their record and place in the Atlantic Division would indicate. Springfield would probably be a playoff team anywhere else in the AHL, just not the Atlantic Division which is full of great teams.
Tristan Jarry opposed Mike McKenna
Dominik Simon – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Jake Guentzel – Teddy Blueger – Danny Kristo
Garrett Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Tom Sestito – J-S Dea – Reid Gardiner
Cameron Gaunce – Stuart Percy
David Warsofsky – Lukas Bengtsson
Tim Erixon – Barry Goers
Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith
Lineup Notes: Chad Ruhwedel was recalled to Pittsburgh earlier in the day with the injury to Trevor Daley. Pittsburgh chose Ruhwedel over someone like Warsofsky because Ruhwedel is right handed. Other notes included Gardiner for Ryan Haggerty on the fourth line, Blueger up centering Guentzel and Kristo. Tim Erixon was in for the recalled Ruhwedel and Barry Goers appeared in place of Ethan Prow.
First Period: Very even period in every facet really, with no scoring and the Penguins leading in shots 13-10. Springfield plays such a similar style to the Penguins in terms of blocking shots and getting tremendous goaltending from Mike McKenna. McKenna is going into the AHL Hall of Fame someday and would win a ton of games with the right team in front of him.
Second Period: What I said earlier about the teams being so similar happened in the following sequences.
A shot from the point by Springfield was initially stopped by Jarry but went in the net behind him off of Danny Kristo’s skate. An own goal by the Penguins that gave the Thunderbirds the lead.
About five minutes later, on the power play, Springfield would put a goal in their own net as well when David Warsofsky would get credit of a puck that would go in off of Ian McCoshen that would set off the annual teddy bear toss.
Score sheet says David Warsofsky got credit.
More similarities. Both teams got breakaways on the same shift but were stopped by the puck stoppers.
Penguins edge ahead for good on an Oskar Sundqvist goal. Tim Erixon put the puck on net and Sundqvist was there to push it across.
For good measure, the Penguins got another power play goal in the period when Sundqvist skated in close, threw a puck off the pads of McKenna in an impromptu set play where it leaves the puck wide open to Garrett Wilson to put across the line to open the Penguins lead to 3-1.
Third Period: Thinking to myself, “Jake Guentzel hasn’t scored yet” as Guentzel races by me at center ice, and scores to make it 4-1.
That is an NHL caliber type play from a player who belongs in the NHL.
Springfield would get one back late when Jarry stopped the initial three attempts flopping all over the crease but couldn’t stop the fourth one. With McKenna vacated for the extra man, Springfield would get no closer and the Penguins would hold on for their fifth straight win.
Three Stars: 3) Garrett Wilson (goal, +1) 2) David Warsofsky (goal, assist, +1) and 1) Oskar Sundqvist (goal, assist, +1)
Around the Division: Lehigh Valley cuts down the Providence Bruins 13 game point streak and is the first AHL team to 20 wins with a 7-1 blowout win over the Bruins. Syracuse beats Bridgeport in Central New York in a game that included a goalie fight 5-3…Hartford has won two games in a row since their loss Wednesday against the Penguins and beat Hershey 5-4.
Standings: Penguins (.759 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.732) — Hershey (.667) — Providence (.611) — Bridgeport (.593) — Springfield (.519) — Hartford (.407)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were unable to complete the comeback like last night against the Fort Wayne Komets again tonight in Indiana and lost 4-3. Garrett Meurs and Cody Wydo scored goals for Wheeling.
Content wise for the blog this week, I will have the Week 10 AHL Power Rankings here on Monday at 4. With there not being a ton of games next week with a lot of teams off now till after Christmas, Penguins included, I have decided to combine Weeks 11 and 12 so the next time you will see the AHL Power Rankings after Monday will be January 2. Also the Wheeling Wrap will be here Tuesday at noon.
Let’s Go Pens!