Chirps from Center Ice

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

Outclassed — Pens LOSE 5-1


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Friend from out of town sent me the following text tonight which kind of in jest summarizes this game nicely.

“The Penguins celebrated 80s night like they were a VHS tape, unfortunately the Hershey Bears were the VCR and ate them.”

In what can only be classified as the worst game that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have played all season, a 5-1 loss to the last place Hershey Bears, the team on a whole was outclassed.

Head Coach Clark Donatelli to the media postgame:

I don’t like this quote. I don’t like this quote for many reasons and the first one that jumps into my mind is the deflection from the coaching staff and placing the sole responsibility of the loss tonight on the players. Sure, you can say that the coaches come up with a game plan and it’s up to the players to execute, but that quote doesn’t sit well with me.

Another nugget from tonight was Tom’s opinion on something tonight when the game was well out of hand in the third period.

I don’t agree with this either and let Tom know as such. It would be seen as a desperate Hail Mary which wouldn’t work. There are far more skilled teams in this League than there were 5, 10, 15 years ago. Sending a message to the players in a developmental league by pulling up guys from the ECHL who aren’t going to magically save your season by scoring goals or stopping the other team from doing so is only going to drive more of a wedge in between the players and coaches and make you fall further into the abyss of obscurity.

Look, this is what you can expect when you sell off prospects and draft picks that get you your prospects in the name of winning two Stanley Cups in the last three years. You get a hodgepodge of washed up forwards like Jimmy Hayes mixed in with promising prospects like Teddy Blueger and Adam Johnson to go with a defense led by Ethan Prow and a bunch of defensemen right now that are either hurt (Trotman and Summers) or learning on the fly (Matt Abt, Jeff Taylor) and making up for nightly errors of Will O’Neill, who was rightly scratched tonight.

Teddy Blueger, Ethan Prow and Tristan Jarry are your best prospects at each position. That’s it. You can make cases for J-S Dea and Garrett Wilson, but they are beyond the ‘prospect’ phase of their careers. On defense you have nothing besides Prow that looks anything close to an NHL ready defenseman. Anthony Peters is an AHL only goalie and John Muse is in the land of Dea and Wilson. Sam Lafferty, Adam Johnson, Anthony Angello are all too green right now and haven’t, quite frankly, established themselves enough as players ready to breakout and make the next step.

Taking all that in, it’s hard to win games. Firing Clark Donatelli because he’s not Mike Sullivan, John Hynes or Dan Bylsma before him isn’t going to turn the ship around.

Bill Guerin is the General Manager. He built this team. His fill-ins around Prow, Blueger and Jarry aren’t cutting it. Clark Donatelli just tries to work with what he is given on a nightly basis.

Anyway, here’s your game story.

The Penguins went down 2-0 two minutes into the game when Nathan Walker scored :16 in and then Grant Beese at 2:00 and the rout was on for the Bears. It was at that point, in hindsight, that I would have took starting goalie Anthony Peters out of the game and replaced him with backup John Muse.

But they didn’t.

The Penguins actually played quite well in the final eighteen minutes of the period, but Steve Whitney and Mike Sgarbossa scored second period goals on busted coverage plays that made it 4-0 before Joseph Cramarossa scored on a nice give and go with Jarrett Burton that made it 4-1 heading into the third period.

Here is Cramarossa’s goal.

But then Garrett Pilon scored on a snipe that handcuffed Peters that made it 5-1 2:08 into the third and the rout was on.

Sorry about the lack of GIFs on those goals. I rely on Taylor Haase for those, but she’s on a well deserved break I think and didn’t tweet anything tonight for Wilkes-Barre or Wheeling. She deserves the break, she works hard and is good at what she does.

That’s basically it. Here’s how they lined up tonight:

Cramarossa replaced Ryan Scarfo up front and yes, that’s Chad Ruhwedel on defense. Pittsburgh sent him here on 14-day conditioning loan. He remains on Pittsburgh’s 23 man roster. Ethan Prow returned from injury and Wilkes-Barre called up Kevin Spinozzi, who leads the ECHL in points by a defenseman, on Friday. Will O’Neill, Jeff Taylor and Tim Erixon were odd men out.

Vitek Vanecek started in goal for Hershey. He wasn’t really challenged tonight, stopping 22 of 23 shots.

Three penalties total in the game, none in the third. Uninspired effort by Wilkes-Barre all around. Embarrassing. People paid money to watch this trash tonight.

May I mention that it’s the same Bears team that lost 11-1 over the course of two games to Lehigh Valley last week?

Here are your highlights.

Lehigh Valley beat Providence and Bridgeport beat Springfield. Charlotte lost to Laval. Hartford was off.

Bad loss? It’s always worse some where else.

Penguins and Thunderbirds are tied with 35 points but Springfield has three games in hand. Lehigh Valley is pulling away with 41 points and three games in hand on Wilkes-Barre and Bridgeport (34 games played) has 45 points and Charlotte (33) has 48.

Behind the Pens are Hartford and Providence (32 games played) with 31 points and Hershey (32) with 28.

Wheeling loses a close one in Kalamazoo tonight, 6-5. They put up a fight. Alex Rauter had a goal and three assists.

Penguins are back in action Saturday in Allentown. Gameday setup will be up Saturday at 3.

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