Two losses went with a big gritty win in Allentown last week when the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins didn’t gain or lose any ground in sixth in the Atlantic Division. They didn’t have any offense at all in the two losses to equate with great defense (only seven shots allowed in the second and third periods total in Rochester Wednesday) and lost a close one Friday at home against Belleville. Goals :34 apart in the second period helped save their bacon Saturday in Allentown against the Phantoms.
Two in Charlotte Tuesday and Wednesday and then a Saturday home game against a hot Springfield team. The Checkers are in fifth place in the Atlantic and only a couple percentage points off fourth place Providence. So yeah, it’s an important series.
Charlotte split a series last weekend at home against Bridgeport. They shutout the Islanders 2-0 Saturday behind 25 saves by Spencer Knight. Bridgeport beat them 4-3 Friday.
Springfield is suddenly the hottest team in the division, winners of three straight. The Thunderbirds don’t play at all this week and will be well rested when they come to town Saturday night.
The Pens can’t overtake the Checkers for fourth in the division with two clean wins, but they can get dangerously close. It’s more about preserving their hold on the last playoff spot in the division and trying to climb higher.
Penguins are 19-19-2-3, .500 and sixth in the Atlantic. Checkers are 23-18-2-0, .558 and fifth in the Atlantic. Springfield is 25-14-5-1, in first with .622 percentage points in the Atlantic.
Who’s Up, Who’s Down, Who’s Out?
Status quo with all the injuries. Sam Houde came off last week. Jamie Devane, Filip Lindberg and Chris Bigras are all out week to week.
Who’s in Goal?
Expect a split of Tommy Nappier and Alex D’Orio in Charlotte and likely whoever plays better in Charlotte starting Saturday at home against the Thunderbirds. Expect a split of Spencer Knight and Joey Daccord with the Checkers and then likely Joel Hofer on rest Saturday for the Thunderbirds.
What can we learn about the Penguins this week?
Are they serious contenders for a playoff spot or will they continue as a bubble team? Simple as that. If they go to Charlotte, a tough place to play, and get four clean points, then yeah, this is a team to keep an eye on. A split is more likely, just because you don’t go into Charlotte and sweep them unless you are an elite team. The Penguins aren’t that.
Springfield is a team that the Penguins have had success against, so maximizing six points this week is the game plan, obviously.
Who is running the show?
Riley Yerkovich and Jake Rekucki are the referees this week in Charlotte. Linesmen on Tuesday are Justin Johnson and Scott Senger. Wednesday sees Ken Radolinski and Shane Gustafson on the lines. Saturday back in WIlkes-Barre sees Michael Zyla and Mason Riley as the referees with Colin Gates and Josh Cleary on the lines.
A busy week to close out February. Tuesday trip to Hershey, Wednesday home game against Lehigh Valley then a Saturday trip to Bridgeport and a Sunday home game against Syracuse.
No Friday home games for the Penguins on back to back weekends. I’ll take it, but not at the expense of a Sunday afternoon home game.
Give us a bold prediction…
The Penguins sweep the week.