Chirps from Center Ice

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

Crown ‘Em — Pens WIN 2-1 and Clinch Atlantic Division Championship

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The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins progressively got weaker personnel wise this weekend with the Pittsburgh Penguins playing two meaningless games having their fate and playoff opponent already sealed up. Two players went up Saturday morning, a trio went up Sunday morning.

You would have been fine thinking that the Penguins would lose today in Providence. After all, all the Penguins needed was one point in the next four games and the Atlantic Division Championship was theirs.

That’s not how Clark Donatelli and his coaching staff attacks life though. He’s a coach, after all, and coaches men to succeed to the next level, which five of them have done right before his locker rooms very eyes in the last 48 hours.

A 2-1 win this afternoon in Providence who are still chasing down a playoff spot and dressed a semi-full lineup too and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are your…

– Atlantic Division Champions, first division win for the Penguins since 2010-11
– As a result, they also win the Eastern Conference Championship, meaning the path to the Calder Cup coming out of the East, goes through Wilkes-Barre.
– First team to 50 wins in the AHL this season and only the fifth team in AHL history four teams playing 76 games to win 50 games.

The one constant for the Penguins throughout the season has been defense. It’s a really deep blueline for the Penguins and one that has carried the Penguins this far. Also, the play as a backup by Casey DeSmith cannot go understated. DeSmith would be a starter for about half the other teams in the league and would still thrive and likely win as many games if not more for his team. When Tristan Jarry can’t play, Casey DeSmith steps right in and fills the void. That type of play is going to earn him an NHL contract in the near future.

He opposed Zane McIntyre this afternoon in Providence.

Lines were…

Garrett Wilson – Teddy Blueger – Tom Kostopoulos|
Zach Aston-Reese – Jarrett Burton – Ryan Haggerty
Nick Sorkin – Troy Josephs – Adam Krause
Cody Wydo – Christian Hilbrich – Patrick McGrath

David Warsofsky – Frank Corrado
Tim Erixon – Ethan Prow
Jeff Taylor – Brett Stern

Casey DeSmith – Sean Maguire

Lineup Notes: J-S Dea, Derrick Pouliot and Oskar Sundqvist were all recalled to Pittsburgh Sunday morning as the Penguins play their final game of the regular season against the New York Rangers. Word was that the game would feature a heavy contingent of Wilkes-Barre alums as Dea is expected to make his NHL debut and Tristan Jarry is expected to make his first NHL start in goal. Dylan Sink, who the Penguins signed yesterday, hasn’t yet reported to the team.

First Period: The Penguins jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead. Cody Wydo scored his first NHL goal here…

…and Jarrett Burton scored to double the lead and made it 2-0 Wilkes-Barre / Scranton…

Zach Aston-Reese picked up and assist on this goal giving him eight points in eight games.

Providence had a power play at the end of the period and ferociously tried to get a goal but DeSmith kept them out of the net.

Second Period: Bruins had a goal taken off of the board when referee Stephen Reneau had intent to blow the whistle as the puck crossed the line. Tough break for the Bruins there but we have all been on the wrong end of those calls before.

Third Period: Much like last night in Hartford, the Bruins would score early to cut the deficit to one, Jake DeBrusk scored a power play goal :40 in to make it a one goal game…

The action picked up and was end to end, clock continued to run. Penguins nearly scored off of an Alex Grant turnover. The Bruins, with McIntyre vacated for an extra man, were never able to find the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Jake DeBrusk (goal, even) 2) Jarrett Burton (goal, +1) and 1) Casey DeSmith (33 saves on 34 shots)

Around the Division: Everyone else in the Atlantic Division has to wait until the final week of the regular season to sew up a playoff berth thanks to Bridgeport beating Hartford 3-2. Hershey, Lehigh Valley and Springfield all had the afternoon off.

Standings: Penguins (.712 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.651) — Providence (.651) — Hershey (.628) — Bridgeport (.622) — Springfield (.473) — Hartford (.370)

Look for the Penguins, now with nothing left to play for other than the regular season championship, to rest some regulars with three home games coming up this week. You will probably see a caravan of Black Aces come up from Wheeling this week, Sean Maguire will probably start one of the three games if not more and guys like Jeff Taylor and Dylan Zink may see time on the top defensive pairings.

If the Bruins do a video highlight package and IU can work an edit in, I will do so here.

Power Rankings out at 4 Monday then the final Wheeling Wrap out noon Tuesday. Gameday setup vs. Lehigh Valley yours Wednesday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

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