The reigning AHL Coach of the Year Mike Vellucci has his hands full.
His Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins were totally outgunned and outclassed in a 4-2 loss in Rochester Wednesday. The scoreline is a bit of an oasis, this game wasn’t as close as the line indicates. Rochester went up 4-0, then let off and the Penguins got two, extra attacker goals in garbage time.
The Penguins couldn’t break the Rochester press, had their press broken easy and looked slow against Rochester’s speed.
Against Texas it was a team that had speed that the Penguins didn’t have a lot of film on and were unfamiliar with. The Stars came in on a point run also.
Against Hershey Sunday, they choked a lead late and lost in overtime.
Wednesday was a lesson in while yes, you were 9-2-1-1 in the month of November, Rochester didn’t lose at all in that month and just had a 12-game point streak cut by Charlotte last Saturday. This Amerks team suffocated the Penguins and if not for Casey DeSmith, the game could have been out of hand in the second period.
They have a lot of work to do because you run into teams like this, better ones even, in May and June. Vellucci of all people knows that.
The aforementioned Casey DeSmith opposed Andrew Hammond.
Lineup Notes: A few switch ups to the bottom six and defense, but no one in, no one out in contrast to Sunday in Hershey. Adam Johnson is day to day and didn’t make the trip.
First Period: Rochester’s speed was on full display. They broke out quickly and easily marched through the neutral zone and into the attack zone.
Finally Curtis Lazar used a burst of speed to break in, nutmegged Zach Trotman and scored on a wicked wrist shot that beat DeSmith and gave the Americans a 1-0 lead.
The Penguins didn’t really have a lot of high danger scoring opportunities and didn’t score on the only power play awarded in the period.
Second Period: Wilkes-Barre had a quick little flurry of offense in the opening seconds of the period, then only mustered four total shots the entire period. Rochester had the puck seemingly for the entire period and doubled their lead when ex-Penguin J-S Dea stripped Zach Trotman of the puck and scored to make it 2-0 Rochester.
Earlier, Macoy Erkamps caught Casey Fitzgerald up high with an elbow….
….they later fought….
Fair fight, Erkamps caught Fitzgerald with two punches, they grappled and then Fitzgerald slipped and they both fell.
Wilkes-Barre killed two penalties in the period. The penalty killing looked good, but Rochester was breaking the press far too easy at even strength and using speed to get at DeSmith.
Third Period: Wilkes-Barre went over ten minutes without a shot on goal, even with a power play.
Andrew Oglevie deflected a shot from the point that iced it away.
Penguins got desperate and pulled DeSmith and J-S Dea picked off a Penguins defenseman and found a streaking CJ Smith for an empty net goal that made it 4-0.
Rochester packed it in there and let the Penguins back into the game.
Off the ensuing face-off, Jan Drozg scored his first AHL goal here.
That goal snapped a 128:18 scoreless streak for the Penguins in Rochester. Remember, they were shut out last season here.
Andrew Hammond went for an unsuccessful poke check and Sam Miletic scored to cut it to two.
Andrew Agozzino nearly scored which would have made it a one goal game. Time ran out shortly after.
Three Stars: 3) Curtis Lazar (goal, assist) 2) J-S Dea (goal, assist) 1) C.J. Smith (goal, assist)
The Good: Jan Drozg finally getting his first AHL goal. You can see that they are starting to trust him and hopefully that goal will unleash an avalanche of goals to come for the Penguins rookie.
The Bad: Rochester didn’t become a great team last night or last week. They have been good all season. The Penguins knew this and game planned for a victory tonight. The way that the Amerks basically laughed at that and walked through the Penguins has got to be a bit of a concern.
Turning Point: The Oglevie goal serves two purposes. Here, it iced away a game which was already out of reach for the Penguins. For the Amerks, it put the Penguins in desperation mode, they scored again to make it 4-0 and let off. The North Division has too many good teams in it for Head Coach Chris Taylor to feel good about his teams last five minutes. But that’s his problem.
Around the Division: Syracuse beats Providence 4-1. The Bruins have lost two straight….Hartford beats Binghamton 3-1 to go up to the top of the Atlantic Division clean again. Everyone else was off.
Standings: Hartford 37 — Providence 35 — Penguins 30 — Hershey 29 — Springfield 28 — Lehigh Valley 25 — Charlotte 23 — Bridgeport 22
Wheeling Update: Nailers are out in South Dakota taking on the Rapid City Rush. Box here.
Video Highlights: If Rochester or the Penguins add them on Twitter, I will work the edit in here.
Pens will travel to Cleveland for their games with the Monsters Friday and Saturday. Penguins have had some success with Cleveland and this series may actually be just what the doctor ordered.
AHL Power Rankings hit the blog Thursday. Check them out then.
Let’s Go Pens!