Chirps from Center Ice

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

Weekend Preview: Bear Hunt

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins enter November as the last unbeaten team in regulation in the American Hockey League and the #1 team in all of the 32 team AHL. The grind continues now as the month flips to November with more work to do, starting off with a home and home against the rival Hershey Bears.

Music to set the mood…

I have no idea what they are teaching kids these days and have openly said on a number of occasions that I would make for a terrible parent. I found the video relevant, however. I’d rather cats, instead.

A Quote…

For me, winning isn’t something that happens suddenly on the field when the whistle blows and the crowds roar. Winning is something that builds physically and mentally everyday that you train and every night that you dream.
– Bilal Zahoor

A lot, and I mean a lot of the success of the team starts with the work that J.D. Forrest and his staff have done in preparing the team week in and week out thus far. Trusting and executing the process. All that.

And the Award Goes To…

Dustin Tokarski was named AHL Goaltender of the Month for October on Tuesday. Any concerns (I had them) that Tokarski doesn’t have “it” anymore have been quelled by this award. 4-0-1 record, 1.38 GAA and a .949 SV% is pretty, pretty good for veteran player like Tokarski. There are a lot of good goalies in this league. The Goaltender of the Month Award is always one I hold in higher regard because there are so few goalie jobs available across the higher levels of professional hockey.

Mail Time!

I asked you to send me questions and some of you did. Let’s dig in…

Tony asks: What does the souvenir cup look like this year?
Answer: Good Question. The next time $7.50 burns a hole in my pocket and I want to spend it on a soda at the game, I will let you know.

Dean asks: Do you think such a great start and not so good for Pittsburgh will they start taking from Wilkes barre and go down hill
Answer: Currently? No. They don’t have cap space to just randomly pull guys up from the AHL. You saw that a few games back when Pittsburgh skated a forward short. They sent back Drake Caggiula and recalled Drew O’Connor on Monday. It’s cycling guys who have had good AHL weeks and rewarding them with an NHL call up, but when healthy, they have to send O’Connor and Sam Poulin back because they have no money to keep them around.

Patrick asks: Give me your October MVP.
Answer: Without the obvious choice of the aforementioned Tokarski, pick one of Ty Smith or Jonathan Gruden. Smith is a wiz with the puck, can quarterback the power play with ease and Gruden is the straw that stirs the drink and solidifies an already talented, young, hungry team with his return from injury.

Jean asks: Name another team other than the Penguins in the division we should worry about.
Answer: I think Bridgeport is the early leader in the clubhouse with their 6-1-1 record. Off to a good start, beating good teams (Charlotte, Providence, Springfield, Laval to name some) The Pens drop by November 19.

The Setup…

A home and home with the Hershey Bears Saturday in Wilkes-Barre and Sunday in Hershey. This is the second and third straight games against the Bears and already 25% of the games scheduled against the Chocolate and White.

Hershey thumped a lifeless Lehigh Valley team Sunday at home 4-1 and lost to the Hartford Wolf Pack Friday 4-2 and sandwiched in between was a 2-1 OT loss to the Penguins.

Could Hershey just be, average? Ask me in a month. They have Bridgeport twice, next week, Laval and then the Penguins on November 18. I’m not buying an average Bears squad just yet. I think the Pens are in another stratosphere and there will be a regression to the mean at some point.


Pens are a league best 6-0-1, good for 13 points; Bears are 3-2-2 good for 8 points.

Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Who’s Out?

Sam Poulin and Drew O’Connor are on recall, Mitch Reinke has a lower body injury and could be back. Jordan Frasca has a lower body injury. Jamie Devane returned from injury last weekend. No one is up from Wheeling.

What can we learn about the Penguins this week?

Can they get four points off the Bears this week? Can they stay undefeated? Can Tokarski stay hot? Will the power play improve?

They remain unfazed. They continue to ground teams to dust. They grind offenses. A switch of the calendar isn’t what is going to bring this team down is it?

I don’t think we will ‘learn’ anymore from this team until it starts hitting adversity. Losses, injuries, more call ups, what have you.

Who’s in goal?

Tokarski and Filip Lindberg in some form or fashion. I don’t think they let one of them go back to back. Same story applies for Zach Fucale and Hunter Shepard for the Bears.

Who’s running the show?

Jack Young and Patrick Hanrahan have the Saturday assignment. Kinda disappointed with this as we have seen these guys this year already. John Rey and Jud Ritter work the lines. On Sunday in Hershey, Young again and Peter Schlittenhardt are the referees with Michael Magee and Tyler Loftus on the lines.

Looking ahead…

Two home games Friday and Saturday against Hartford and Springfield respectively.

Give us a bold prediction…

Pens get a shutout this weekend. Filip Lindberg gets it.

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