In the, “things I learned today” portion of my life today I learned that there is no place on Earth named Bruin Island. You’d think that there would be, right? An island somewhere off in Scandinavia that used to have bears of all types which go cut off from the rest of the main island, thus naming it Bruin Island. Well, it doesn’t exist.
Three on the road, starting with a pair in Bridgeport to visit the Islanders Friday and Saturday then a Sunday matinee against the Providence Bruins in what I think is going to be a good measuring stick type game for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins to see just how they stack up against a powerhouse Bruins team.
The Islanders are coming off of a weekend where they split a pair of 5-3 decisions. They lost last Saturday at home against these Penguins and then beat the Charlotte Checkers Sunday afternoon by a score of 5-3.
Providence has stayed busy after going 2-1 last weekend beating Charlotte 5-1 at home, losing to Hartford on the road 5-2 and then beating the Wolf Pack 6-3 at home Sunday. On Wednesday, they traveled to Allentown to take on the Phantoms and won 5-3. They will have traveled to Springfield Saturday to take on the Thunderbirds Saturday after a Friday off.
The Pens are a solid sixth place team with a 23-21-2-4 record for .520 points percentage. The Islanders are in last in the Atlantic with a 19-23-5-4 records for .461 percentage points. Providence, coming into the weekend and not taking into account the Springfield result this coming Saturday, stands at 25-14-3-3, in second place at .622 percentage points.
Who’s Up, Who’s Down, Who’s Out?
Defenseman P.O. Joseph and Forward Kasper Bjorkqvist are on recall to Pittsburgh. The Penguins recalled Defenseman Chris Ortiz from Wheeling on Wednesday.
Defenseman Chris Bigras, Forward Jamie Devane and Goaltender Filip Lindberg are all skating but not cleared yet to play. I don’t know if they will be on this trip.
Who’s in Goal?
I’d go Nappier / D’Orio / Nappier if I were J.D. Forrest. I think the way that they do it this week will show you who they are higher on because the game Sunday against Providence is going to be a decent enough litmus test. Who gets that start in goal probably starts Game 1 of your first playoff series.
Jakub Skarek Friday and then Cory Schneider Saturday for the Islanders.
As for Providence, good luck getting this one right. Troy Grosenick or Kyle Keyser. Flip a coin and pick one.
What can we learn about the Penguins this week?
When is the next let down? They took 7 of 8 points last week and kept pace with fifth in the division while solidifying themselves as a six seed and separating themselves from seventh. Is it too much to ask for all six points? 5 of 6? That may be more slightly reasonable.
Providence is an elite club, but they can get beat. Bridgeport I don’t think finishes last this season, but they are who they are. Pens win Friday, OT or shootout loss Saturday then win a tight one Sunday is how I would write it if I had the book.
Who is running the show?
Jordan Deckard and Tim Mayer have the assignment Friday and John Rey and Kenneth Gates have the lines.
On Saturday, Tim Mayer bounces and it’s Jason Williams joining Deckard on referee duty with Glenn Cooke and Brent Colby on the lines.
Sunday, Jason Williams follows the team bus to the Rhode Island capital and meets up with Cody Beach. Dmitrii Antipin and Kenneth Gates from Friday have the lines.
Five straight at home, but not all in the same week. Cleveland stops in Wednesday to make up their game from over Christmas, then Laval stops by for the first time all season on Saturday then Hartford comes in for a Sunday matinee.
Give us a bold prediction…
The Penguins sweep the weekend, scoring a power play goal in every contest and not allowing a power play goal against.