I don’t know what to say.
I had a feeling, around December or January, when the call-up started happening and the Penguins maintained first place overall in the AHL and the Eastern Conference that this year was going to be different.
This was the year I thought. Our Cup to lose I said to a select few.
In the 30 team American Hockey League, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins were the best overall team in it during the regular season. They won the Atlantic Division, the Eastern Conference and the Kilpatrick trophy.
But none of that mattered in the postseason. Ask any favored team going into a playoff series. Golden State Warriors in basketball. The Atlanta Falcons in the third period of the Super Bowl past.
In the postseason, you aren’t playing the 30 team AHL schedule any longer, your focus is one opponent.
For the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, it was the Providence Bruins.
I went through the stats that one afternoon and looked at how dead even the two teams were in every facet. Goaltending, Offense and Defense, it was almost a dead heat.
I gave the advantage to the Penguins, as did many others, and erroneously selected them to advance in four games.
A masterful, herculean, down right impossible effort by Bruins goaltender Zane McIntyre Sunday afternoon, stopping 50 shots sent his way. Danton Heinen scores twice, once in the first on a power play after a too many men on the ice call, the third in the series called against the Penguins and then late in the third with seven minutes to play. J-S Dea pulled one back for the Penguins on a later power play but the Penguins fate had already been sealed. Penguins fall 2-1 in Game 5 and bow out of the playoffs in the first round. The are the first regular season champion since the 1995-96 Cornwall Aces to not advance in past the first round of the AHL playoffs.
They failed to score on a double minor right after the Heinen first period goal, already down one, and McIntyre settled into groove that stole one for the number four seeded Providence Bruins, who finally overcome the postseason nightmare which is the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. The ghosts of a 3-0 blown series lead a few years ago and a sweep last year die a cold death on the ice at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
I don’t think there is anything left here to recap. Penguins shot themselves in the foot with a too many men on the ice call that the Bruins capitalized on :09 later on, couldn’t convert a double minor high sticking call on Tom Kostopoulos immediately after, put a mountain of shots on Zane McIntyre and could not advance to the second round of the playoffs.
Seth had some nice quotes here which I think sum up the game and the series for me. Your mileage may vary.
To sum, the Penguins offense sputtered when it had a 2-1 series lead when the clock struck midnight Friday morning.
But to be fair, these teams were evenly matched and were built from goaltender on out.
And sometimes you get beat.
Three stars were all Providence, Jordan Szwarz was third with two assists, Danton Heinen was second with two goals and Zane McIntyre was first with 50 saves on 51 shots.
I will have a Year in Review piece on the blog thus week. I’ll probably go back and look at what I got wrong in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs and try to predict Round Two sometime later this week.
Things will be quiet here until the end of the playoffs after that unless there is breaking news like a guys signing overseas or someone signing on for next season. My offseason moves chart will probably go up at some point within say a month or so.
I will most likely have the AHL Free Agent Big Board again around July 1. I’ll crowdsource it again like I did last year. Apply today!
Thank you to the Penguins for another good season of content here on the blog. It’s easy when you are good and the Penguins were this season and that made for some goofy and awful puns and some overall good times during the regular season. Thank you to Brian Coe in the front office, the braintrust that makes all of this social media go. Voices of the Penguins Mike O’Brien and Nick Hart had another stellar year as a tandem. You will go to bed tonight bummed that the Penguins didn’t win the Calder Cup they were favored to win, but remember this, the team that beat the Penguins doesn’t have a broadcaster, and has little to no social media presence whatsoever.
Thank you to you, the reader, who reads this blog religiously either by stopping me on the concourse, finding me on Twitter or Facebook and saying how you enjoy the blog or by subscribing via e-mail. Growing a reader base doesn’t come overnight. It takes work, hard work, to grow a base of people who consider your stuff on par with the print media. For that I say thank you.
Thanks to Seth Lakso of the Citizens’ Voice and Tom Venesky of The Times-Leader for another stellar year of coverage of the team. Another thing to consider when you turn in for the evening and begin to start your summer, the newspaper business is a fading industry. Most towns don’t have a full time beat covering their minor league team. Ask any Texas, Hershey, Binghamton, Hartford, or Rochester fan off the top of my head what it’s like having to go to the internet to read a final score of that night’s game. Wilkes-Barre has two beats that religiously follow the team.
So that’s all she wrote.
One final video from the best in the business…
Thank you again. Enjoy your summer, and Let’s Go Pens!