I don’t know about you, but I think “Phantom Wolf” would make for a hell of a team name. Maybe there is a high school somewhere in Nebraska who are known as the Phantom Wolves. All black jerseys, big, howling wolf that just intimidates opponents.
Penguins coming off opening night weekend with a Jekyll and Hyde performance against Lehigh Valley (a win) and Charlotte (a loss) where they looked like two different teams. A gritty 2-1 win against the Phantoms followed up by a dud the next night with a 4-1 loss to the Checkers.
Hartford comes in Friday, having their 2021-22 campaign begin with a good ol’ three in three. They beat Bridgeport last Friday 2-1 in their home opener, then lost 2-1 the next night in Springfield and then finished off the three in three weekend with a gritty 4-3 shootout win against the Providence Bruins.
Then Penguins get Saturday night off, then square off against Lehigh Valley in what will end up being a home and home, Sunday in Allentown and next Wednesday in Wilkes-Barre. Lehigh was in Hershey last Sunday and lost 2-1. By the time the Pens face them Sunday, they will have played the Wolf Pack this Saturday night.
Coming into this weekend’s action, the Pens are 1-1, .500 and 6th in the Atlantic Division. The Wolf Pack are 2-1, .667 and 4th in the Atlantic and Lehigh Valley is in last place, 0-2 with a .000 percentage point.
Who’s in Goal
I got this completely wrong last week. I expect that to continue heading into week two, but here goes. Filip Lindberg will get one of the games, my guess Friday, and since Alex D’Orio was reassigned to Wheeling on Monday of this past week, either Tommy Nappier or maybe Louis Domingue coming off injury gets the road start Sunday in Allentown. But Domingue or Lindberg may be headed up, as it was revealed Thursday that Tristan Jarry was placed in COVID protocol. So, one of either Domingue / Lindberg are likely going up. With three goalies here, you don’t need to recall D’Orio. For the opposition, my guess is Keith Kinkaid for the Wolf Pack Friday and, with Lehigh playing the night before, backup Samuel Ersson for the Phantoms Sunday afternoon.
What can we learn about the Penguins this week?
Oh boy, where to start. They looked like two completely different teams in each game. You want more of what you saw Saturday, obviously, than you did Sunday. But, it is a young team that will probably be chomping at the bit after a week of hard practice to get out there again for another home game Friday and then for a road trip to Allentown Sunday. Hartford can run and gun it looks like, so the Pens will need to keep that in check. Normally you know where you stand in the first ten minutes of a hockey game after a bad performance like the one you saw Sunday. Then, with Lehigh Valley, the Phantoms are getting these same Wolf Pack on Saturday, having off Friday. No one can discount the firepower that the Phantoms possess. Gotta keep that in check in a hostile environment Sunday.
Who is running the show?
Scheduled referees as assigned by the American Hockey League are Rob Hennessey and Beau Halkidis Friday night in Wilkes-Barre and Dan Kelly, who you may remember as a referee last year and Tyler Loftus on the lines. Kelly switched to linesman late last season. For Sunday, it’s Halkidis again joined by Patruck Hanrahan calling penalties with John Rey and J.P. Waleski handling the lines.
Lehigh Valley is in next Wednesday to pay off the home and home, then the Pens take to the road with a game in Hartford next Friday and then a Saturday game in Springfield to close out the month of October.
Give us a bold prediction…
The Penguins score five goals this weekend and win both games.