Chirps from Center Ice

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

Weekend Preview: American Checkers

Clear of the Lehigh Valley’s and Hartford’s of the Atlantic Division scheduling, it’s time to set up for new foes for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.

The Setup

Last week wasn’t a very good week for the Penguins who gave the aforementioned Phantoms their first win of the season last Wednesday and then followed that showing up with another dud at home against the Providence Bruins. 4-0 and then 6-2 were the scores respectively there. Then, Saturday in Hartford the Penguins had a third period comeback fall short and lost 4-3.

This week it’s the Rochester Americans and then a pair with the Charlotte Checkers, all at home, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. All 7:05 starts but for that Saturday game which, like all of them will this season, start at 6:05.

Rochester split a pair of home games last week, beating Belleville 4-3 last Wednesday and then losing 4-1 to the Marlies on Friday. Amerks sit second in the North Division with a .625 win percentage.

Chalotte hosted Lehigh Valley for a pair down in North Carolina this past weekend and also split with the Phantoms, winning big Saturday and then losing the Sunday matinee rematch.

The Records

Pens are 5-4-0-1, good for 11 points and fifth in the Atlantic…Rochester is 5-3, good for ten points and second in the North…. Charlotte is 4-4-1 with nine points good for sixth in the Atlantic.

Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Who’s Out

Matt Alfaro was here for a game then sent back to Wheeling. Taylor Fedun went up to Pittsburgh joining P.O. Joseph, Wilkes-Barre recalled Chris Ortiz. Jamie Devane is out longer term, Anthony Angello may come back from his “day to day” status and finally appear in a game this week.

Penguins signed Dylan MacPherson to a PTO up from Wheeling on Tuesday morning. They got out ahead of the later announcement that Cam Lee was suspended for two games as a result of the hit on Patrick Khodorenko Saturday in Hartford.

What can we learn about the Penguins this week?

When the offense isn’t there, like it wasn’t in Allentown Wednesday, you are going to lose big. When the defense and special teams isn’t there like it was Friday against Providence and then in some forms like Saturday in Hartford, you are going to lose big.

Goaltending is there. But in order to get an engine to hum, it’s more about gears and sprockets and spark plugs. The whole unit has to time and fire at the same time if you want it to do anything. The Penguins have seemed out of sync recently and you can blame it on the roster being in flux with call ups both ways to Pittsburgh and from Wheeling. But eventually, you need to score a goal (which they didn’t do in Allentown last Wednesday) and you need to kill a penalty (Providence struck three times on the power play Friday) and you need to score a power play goal, which they didn’t do in seven tries in Hartford and haven’t done in their last 20 tries.

They need to pick it up, because Rochester is a very deep and talented team and the same can be said about Charlotte. Expectations this week should be 3 or more points across the three games. Anything less and you are piling on and getting deeper and deeper in the Atlantic Division with a tougher way back up. And Hershey hasn’t even been seen yet on the schedule.

Who’s in Goal?

Lindberg – Domingue – Lindberg is the way I would play it this week, in that order if I am J.D. Forrest.

Rochester is likely rolling with Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen if Aaron Dell isn’t back from Buffalo on Wednesday. Both goalies have +3 GAA and a SV% right around the .900 level, so get to them early and often when you can.

Charlotte will roll with Antoine Bibeau and Joey Accord in some combination Friday and Saturday.

Who’s Running the Show?

Mike Dietrich and Peter Schlittenhardt have the Wednesday assignment with Tyler Loftus and Patrick Dapuzzo manning the lines. Then on Friday, Mitch Dunning and Laura White will be in the orange armbands. It will be the second time that a female official runs a Penguins game, Katie Guay had the opening night assignment against the Phantoms about a month ago. Joining White and Dunning is Jud Ritter and J.P. Waleski. Mason Riley and Mike Sullivan are here Saturday with Colin Gates and Richard Jondo working the lines.

Looking ahead…

Friday / Saturday road trip up to Springfield and Providence. Schedule doesn’t get any easier, nor should it.

Give us a bold prediction…

The Penguins score a power play goal in each game this week.

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