Before we begin, it’s only apropos to spin this once before continuing…
Two games in Cleveland against the Cleveland Monsters. Wouldn’t you know it, but Saturday is actually “Cleveland Rocks” night. Don’t believe me?
Packed house on a Saturday in The Land with a Dave Grohl bobblehead? Monsters by a billion!
The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins take on the Cleveland Monsters for a pair Friday and Saturday. After getting throttled 5-1 Monday, the Monsters went up to Syracuse Wednesday and lost 3-1. The Penguins lost in a special teams battle to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last Wednesday and then swept the then hot Toronto Marlies in blowout and comeback fashions and then, after beating the Monsters at home Monday, went to Hershey for their biggest test of the week and passed the first quarter but failed the second, third and fourth quarters and lost 6-2.
The Bears are 8-1 against the Penguins. They are average against everyone else. Don’t believe me? Their record is 20-12-3-2. Take away the games against the Pens and they are 12-11-3-2.
I know you can’t. The Penguins had the Bears where they wanted them Tuesday after the first period, couldn’t withstand the charge put forth by the Bears in the second and with the game in the balance in the third, give up their seventh shorthanded goal against and the game was over at that point.
The Pens may be good, but the Bears exposed a lot of holes Tuesday.
Pens are 14-17-1-3 in last place and a .457 points percentage in the Atlantic and the Monsters are 13-14-4-3, in sixth in the North with a .485 win percentage.
Who’s Up, Who’s Down, Who’s Out?
Alright so we thought that Filip Lindberg was on the precipice of returning and we were wrong. A setback has him back to week to week. Tommy Nappier was placed in COVID protocol thus necessitating the signing of Tristan Cote-Cazenave to a PTO from Reading of the ECHL.
Niclas Almari was sent to Wheeling to get reps in. The Pens could have used Patrick Watling Tuesday in Hershey, so they recalled him from the ECHL and took him on the trip Thursday.
Who’s in Goal?
Alex D’Orio is probably getting both games for the Pens unless they took Nappier on the trip with them then its safe to say they give him a game, probably Friday.
You saw both J-F Berube and Jet Greaves Monday in Wilkes-Barre, so it’s safe to assume that this is the planned case with Berube and Greaves. Berube goes Friday, Greaves goes Saturday. The Monsters have a home game against Utica Sunday, otherwise you would be looking at Berube twice. But I don’t see that as the case.
What can we learn about the Penguins this week?
I don’t think they are that bad honestly. They relied heavily on their big guns to beat Toronto and then said guns were silent in a blowout win against Cleveland. I’m slowly coming around to the fact that it may be a mental thing against Hershey. The keys to success with this team is to keep it simple defensively, get scoring from any part of your lineup and stay above water on the penalty kill and you can beat pretty much any team in this league.
Four points isn’t too much to ask, given the success the Pens have had historically against Cleveland / Lake Erie. I’ll take three. Two is okay. Anything less and you’re back at square one again asking questions of a team that ran circles around this opponent Monday. What changed? Hopefully, it doesn’t go down that path.
Who is running the show?
Brandon Blandina and Sean Fernandez get the Friday work of doling out penalties and such. Joe Sherman and Dan Kovachik will work the lines. On Saturday, Jake Rekucki and Jackson Kozari run the show with Kovachik again on the lines joined by Alex Simkins.
Another three game homestand for the Pens when Springfield comes in Wednesday, followed by the Bridgeport Islanders for the first time all season on Friday and the Providence Bruins on Saturday. Four of the next five are at home.
Give us a bold prediction…
A month from now, the Penguins are a top four in the division team.