Chirps from Center Ice

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

Wrestling a Bear — Pens LOSE 4-2


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The term, “wrestling a bear” is used when you are dealt with a difficult task.

In this case, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are without defenseman Kevin Czuczman to injury and playmakers Anthony Angello and Andrew Agozzino to recall to Pittsburgh.

Every night is like wrestling a bear.

So they need to capitalize on the opportunities when presented.

They didn’t tonight.

A 4-2 loss to the Providence Bruins when crucial playoff points are on the line. The Bruins didn’t look like a team who have won just four games in their last ten. They gummed up the Penguins and have a hell of a goalie in Max Lagace tending the nets for them.

Onto Bridgeport Saturday, who will be coming up from Allentown overnight. The Bruins are off Saturday and it’s a chance again to draw even in points with Providence as we go on.

Casey DeSmith opposed Max Lagace.


Lineup Notes: Jordy Bellerive was back, on the the fourth line with Jamie Devane and Christopher Brown. Brandon Hawkins came out of the lineup to make room for Bellerive. No changes on defense. Kevin Czuczman, Dustin Tokarski and Chase Berger were all listed as, “week to week” on the pregame show with Nick Hart.

First Period: Not Niclas Almari’s best period.

Turned into a pylon on the first goal scored by Didier and then turned the puck over on the wall to the Bruins and Brendan Gaunce scored as he tried to olé his way back into the play. The Penguins are in big trouble if they are going to be without Kevin Czuczman for any length of time. The coaching staff has no faith at all in Macoy Erkamps and Matt Abt is banished to Wheeling. There really isn’t anything else in the ECHL affiliate to call up. For a team that is battling agin this season for its playoff life, plays shown above from Almari have to be corrected.

Yes, development league, yadda yadda. Save it.

Wilkes-Barre failed to score on the only power play in the period.

Second Period: Adam Johnson scored a power play goal in the opening stages in the period here.

And that was pretty much it for action in the period. Shots were 6-6 and I thought that the Penguins played better than the Bruins in the period. It resembled a lot of what they did in Hartford on Wednesday, they just were trailing here vs. leading there.

Third Period: Penguins had a great opportunity to score when Kevin Roy led a 2-on-0 up ice. His pass was broken up and then the Penguins buzzed around Lagace’s net before the referee lost sight of a puck in a mass of bodies when Joseph Blandisi pushed the puck in but the whistle had blown.

Two on one, Penguins defender goes to ground to cut off the pass and Joona Koppanen keeps it and scores to make it 3-1.

Penguins went into scramble mode from there and pulled DeSmith out of a media break with 4:21 left, scrambled some more and the Bruins hit an empty net. Jordy Bellerive tacked on a meaningless goal with .8 left to make it a 4-2 final.

Three Stars: 3) Joona Koppanen (goal) 2) Josiah Didier (goal) 1) Max Lagace (28 saves)

The Good: They didn’t take a penalty against.

The Bad: Niclas Almari needs to figure it the hell out already. You aren’t going to see me on his foreign exploits and put him as the second coming when he’s constantly lost out there on the ice night after night. He was responsible for both Bruins goals in the first period. At this point if I am Vellucci I run Macoy Erkamps out there to get a message across Saturday in Bridgeport.

Turning Point: Koppanen’s goal that made it 3-1 gets it. Lagace was dialed in from the drop, was beat early in the opening stages of the second on a power play goal but shut it down from there.

Around the Division: Binghamton clips Hershey in overtime 4-3. The Devils scored with an extra attacker to force and then won in overtime….Lehigh Valley beats Bridgeport in overtime 3-2….Hartford beats Laval 3-1. Charlotte and Springfield were off.

Standings: Hershey 68 — Hartford 66 — Charlotte 61 — Providence 60 — Penguins 58 — Springfield 54 — Lehigh Valley 50 — Bridgeport 42

Wheeling Update: Nailers are finishing up against Cincy. Box here.

Video Highlights: I doubt Providence will run a video highlight package.

Gameday setup for Saturday’s matchup against the Sound Tigers hits the blog Saturday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

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