Chirps from Center Ice

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

Weekend Preview: Welcome to the Black Parade

Back and marginally better than last year, the Weekend Preview returns, setting up the week or so of play for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, who kickoff the regular season a day later than the official start, Friday or today, on Saturday night against in state rival Lehigh Valley and then wrap up opening weekend with a rare Monday game up in Utica, the Pens only visit up to the Comets this season.

I’m going to try to spice these up with a YouTube video of some relevance to the weekends proceedings and a quote to tie it all in before diving right in to the where’s, why’s and what’s of the weekend slate of games.

Easy enough start. Parade of a slimmed down 72 game schedule starts out of the gate with a 6:05 Saturday home game against Lehigh Valley.

A Quote

Old Men and Comets have been reverenced for the same reason:
their long beards. and presences to foretell events.
– Jonathan Swift

Utica did pretty well last year. I know in my AHL Preview I gave you yesterday that I really wanted to see how the Penguins stacked up against the Hartford Wolf Pack on October 22 because I loved all of the signings made by the Wolf Pack, but if the Penguins roll out of the gate hot with a 2-0 start against a Utica team they did pretty well against last year, they can really pick up momentum as they have traditionally done in seasons past.

One weekend does not a season make, but you have waited (conceivably) all summer for this, you want it to go well.

The Setup

Lehigh Valley and Utica home and away respectively. How do the Penguins fare against a Phantoms team which stunk last year and brought back the coach that oversaw the flaming wreckage? As I said yesterday, I think Wilkes-Barre improved and got worse at the same time. I like the Jon Lizotte signing a lot. I like bringing back Alex Nylander. Xavier Ouellet provides solid defensive depth. Goaltender Dustin Tokarski has a lot of miles on him but Tommy Nappier is more than capable and a logjam in goal with Filip Lindberg back and healthy will make for great competition. I don’t like losing Jordy Bellerive to rival Lehigh Valley and Hershey is primed and ready to cause chaos. Remaining essentially the same, but different, may not be the best concoction for the Pens. But time will tell.

Utica did well for itself last year under the new New Jersey Devils regime, running away with the North Division but stumbled in the Semifinals, getting bounced in five games against Rochester. They are primed and ready for another run and should not be taken as a pushover.

In my (whatever it’s worth) preview I gave you yesterday, I have the Comets finishing third behind Laval and Syracuse.

Who’s in Goal?

I think you have to start with your horse, so for the Pens that is going to be Filip Lindberg on Saturday and possibly Monday, if not then likely the backup which should be Dustin Tokarski up in Utica. Tommy Nappier was sent to Wheeling Thursday evening, so that eases some of the bottleneck for the Pens in goal.

For Lehigh Valley Troy Grosenick will likely be out first for the Phantoms. For Utica, they are in Hershey Saturday night and I think that’s Akira Schmid’s start meaning that Nico Daws gets the start Monday. You can flip that and have Daws go Saturday and Schmid for the Comets home opener, but that’s overthinking another teams lineup.

Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Who’s Out?

Enjoy it. Full strength. Everyone who should be in Pittsburgh is in Pittsburgh. Everyone who should be here is here. Wheeling gets going next week.

It won’t last long, as history has shown.

What can we learn about the Penguins this week?

Do they have a finisher? What’s the power play / penalty kill look like? How physical will they look?

I think that’s a general question which can be applied to the other 31 teams in the AHL. Will it be a grind for the Pens, as it was in parts during last year or will it come easy and for how long does it last before the inevitable callups and injuries occur?

If you forced me to answer, it’s going to be a little of both. Pittsburgh is one of the oldest teams in the NHL, so they aren’t getting any younger. There are going to be injuries, which will prompt call ups. The Pens are bare prospect wise, so where will they go if the leading scorer goes up? Who steps up and how?

Pens play two games this weekend. I think a fair assessment can be made with the following guide:

0-2: Work needs to be done.
1-1: Can live with it.
2-0: Keep going, don’t stop.

I’m discounting loser points. *shrug*

Who is running the show?

Weekend assignments usually come out around Wednesday. The AHL usually doesn’t play on Monday’s but in this case the Pens do. This is a long explanation that I don’t have the Monday crew. Mystery refs!

Jack Young and Casey Terreri are your first pair of refs to yell at Saturday with Patrick Dapuzzo and J.P. Waleski on the lines.

Looking ahead…

Let’s get one of the only two three-in-three’s out of the way as soon as possible. Pens host Laval next Friday, October 21st, then travel to Hartford on the 22nd and then Providence for a Sunday matinee on the 23rd.

Give us a bold prediction…

Three power play goals will be scored this weekend, Penguins win both games.

One response to “Weekend Preview: Welcome to the Black Parade

  1. John October 14, 2022 at 10:21 pm

    How have the Pens improved? Lizzotte. He’s not enough to make a difference. What has LV done to improve? Can’t be worse than last season. Pens still are second tier team.

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