Here’s a telling little nugget dropped on Twitter by Pens play by play man Nick Hart after the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins 2-0 win over Syracuse Saturday night.
So the defense, which we have kind of singled out as a bit of an early problem, has a bit of of a course correction as the Penguins sweep the weekend and pick up a maximum of four points to remain in contention in the Atlantic.
However, this was all Casey DeSmith tonight. The Penguins didn’t really give him a lot of run support tonight nor Friday night with Dustin Tokarski in Utica, but when you are scoring more goals than your opponent, it doesn’t really make a difference if it’s 2-1 or 1-0.
Syracuse outshot the Penguins 35-22 tonight and went 0-for-6 on the power play. DeSmith dazzled in goal, stopping a few 2-on-1 rushes and was generally dialed in from the drop. Sometimes you can tell early on if a goalie has it, and DeSmith definitely did, picking up his first shutout of the season.
He opposed Spencer Martin.
Syracuse didn’t post any lines that I saw through their platforms.
Lineup Notes: Essentially Andreas Martinsen for Ryan Haggerty vet for vet, Jon Lizotte was back in from injury for Matt Abt.
First Period: Andrew Agozzino got one to go with a weird play where he had a puck deflect off of him and then off of a Crunch defender that went in for a 1-0 Wilkes-Barre lead.
The new LED light system slaps, by the way. 100% better than the old sodium lights they had.
Penguins would go on to outshoot Syracuse 13-11 in the first, but would only muster nine more shots the rest of the way, six in the second and three in the third.
Second Period: Felt at the time that this was Syracuse’s big push period. Syracuse just likes to play run and gun and if you are a slow team or aren’t ready for that transition out of nowhere style, you’ll get buried quick. DeSmith was dialed in. Example:
Wilkes-Barre would see Sam Miletic leave after a nasty hit along the boards by Dominik Masin. Masin would receive a five minute major for boarding which carries an automatic match penalty.
Here’s the excerpt from the AHL Rulebook on the subject of a major penalty for boarding:
41.4 Match Penalty – The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by boarding.
41.6 Fines and Suspensions – Refer to Rule 23.6 – Fines and Suspensions – Physical Fouls Category.
When a major penalty is imposed under this rule, an automatic fine of one hundred dollars ($100) shall be imposed.
When a major penalty and a game misconduct is assessed for a foul resulting in an injury to the face or head of an opponent, an automatic fine of two hundred dollars ($200) shall be imposed.
If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the President at his discretion (refer to Rule 28).
So Masin could be looking at a suspension if warranted. Normally, you’ll only see that if a player is indeed injured. Miletic was held out of the rest of the game because he went face first into the boards and will need to go into the protocol for concussions. The Crunch are back in action Monday in Utica, so Masin could miss that game on a suspension. He may get a game regardless of how bad Miletic is injured anyway.
Third Period: This was all about Stefan Noesen taking penalty after penalty and the Penguins killing said penalty after penalty and DeSmith making save after save.
Noesen ended up with 21 penalty minutes. Ten of those were answering to the hit on Miletic, but you can’t really afford to have the AHL’s leading goal scorer cutting ruts to the penalty box when you are in a close game with an offensively potent team like Syracuse.
Penguins would get breathing room when Zach Trotman blasted one home while the Penguins were shorthanded.
Syracuse, with time running out, pulled Martin for an extra attacker yet were never able to score.
Three Stars: 3) Zach Trotman (goal) 2) Andrew Agozzino (goal, assist) and 1) Casey DeSmith (35 save shutout)
The Good: The penalty kill is really something to behold. The Penguins were better shorthanded tonight than Syracuse on the man advantage if that makes sense. Seems like Syracuse was chasing the game and taking too many chances while the Pens sat back and took what was given.
The Bad: Too many penalties by Stefan Noesen. There’s playing aggressive and playing reckless. Two penalties in the third period while the score was still 1-0 is inexcusable for a veteran player like Noesen. John Hynes would have benched him. Mike Vellucci should have too.
Turning Point: Trotman’s shorthanded goal in the third gave the Penguins a valley of breathing room and proved to be insurmountable for the Crunch to overcome.
Around the Division: Springfield beats Charlotte 4-3 in overtime in an up and down game….Providence runs over Bridgeport 4-1….Lehigh Valley beats Hershey 3-2 in overtime….Belleville takes down Hartford 4-3 in a shootout. The Wolf Pack continue to pile up points like the squirrels in your back yard are storing away nuts for the winter.
Standings: Hartford 22 — Providence and Springfield 18 — Lehigh Valley and the Penguins 16 — Hershey 15 — Charlotte 12 and Bridgeport 9.
Wheeling Update: Nailers lose in Reading 6-4. Jan Drozg had a goal and an assist. He may be headed here if Miletic is too banged up to go, the Pens have a vet problem and can’t just plug in Cramarossa or Haggerty.
Video Highlights: Went up before me. I’m late!
I’ll have a refresh of the charts Sunday afternoon and may, depending on when I get my walk in and if it’s before the MLS Cup final between Toronto and Seattle, open up the Mailbag a day early heading into a busy week. Drop by the blog Sunday anyway.
Let’s Go Pens!