Chirps from Center Ice

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

Weekend Preview – November Has Come

Wait a minute, aren’t we already in November?

Yes, just go with it.

November has come and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have yet to win a hockey game or collect a singular point in the 11th month on the Julian calendar.

Music to Set the Mood…

I enjoy the Gorillaz. Demon Days was a banger album. Plastic Beach was too.

November has come and the Penguins don’t have a win yet. Hopefully, by the time we do this again they will. This is the last Weekend Preview for the month with Thanksgiving in a week and holiday travel and the like, so consider this a mega chungus version of the Preview.

A Quote…

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
– Thomas Edison

I like this one and think it applies partially. Think of all the one goal losses of recent for the Penguins.

Nov. 5 vs. Hershey – fell in a 2-0 hole, scored a power play goal late, ran out of time and lost 2-1.
Nov. 6 at Hershey – fell in a 4-0 hole, scored three straight in the third period, ran out of time and lost 4-3.
Nov. 11 vs. Hartford – carried 1-1 game into the third, played careless. Lost 3-1, Wolf Pack had an empty netter.
Nov. 12 vs. Springfield – fell in 2-0 hole, tied it on a 4:00 power play – another turnover sees ex-player score game winning goal. Lost 3-2.

The Penguins have not scored first since October 21 at home against Laval. They haven’t had a lead since beating Hershey in overtime 2-1 on October 29 (their last win)

Am I suggesting they are giving up as the quote above states? No. But seeing the other team score first, getting behind the eight ball with silly careless plays with the puck and it’s easy for a game to get away from you at this level.

The Setup

Well, there are a lot of them. I am giving you the next seven games. So pay attention!

This Friday and Saturday against Hershey at home and Bridgeport on the road. Then a Monday / Wednesday trip to Charlotte next week. Thanksgiving Thursday. A Black Friday home game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms then a Saturday trip to Springfield and then a rare Tuesday visit to Hershey.

Whew that was a lot. Let’s break the opponents down.

Hershey: Ahead of the Penguins on points, beat the Bridgeport Islanders in two overtime games last weekend and then hosted the Laval Rocket and won there too. Hershey sweeps the weekend. After playing the Penguins, will play Hartford four times with a pre-Thanksgiving game against Springfield sandwiched in between before seeing the Penguins again on November 29.

Bridgeport: Played the Bears close in Hershey last weekend but lost two overtime games. Will see Charlotte on Friday before hosting the Penguins this Saturday.

Charlotte: Floundering a bit. November hasn’t been good to them either but they are winning games. Won their first road game of the season last Saturday in Hartford in a shootout. Dug themselves out of a hole with Providence Sunday but still lost (sound familiar?) In Hartford this past Wednesday, history repeated itself and they beat the Wolf Pack again in a shootout. Will be in Bridgeport Friday and Springfield Saturday before returning home for a pair against the Pens the first part of next week.

Lehigh Valley: Have won three straight coming into this week, but the real test comes this weekend when they play a pair in Providence. I think the Phantoms are mercurial, but they did beat Springfield and Laval in one goal contests last weekend. After the doubleheader in Providence next Friday and Saturday, will visit Springfield on Sunday the 20th before having the rest of the week off before the Black Friday trip up the Turnpike to play the Penguins.

Springfield: Pens most recent opponent, will be the Penguins last opponent in the five game home stand which kicked off this past Wednesday with a school day game against the Syracuse Crunch. Thunderbirds were up 4-1 in the third and saw Syracuse tie it and then go on to win it in a shootout. Will see Charlotte and Lehigh Valley this Saturday and Sunday, Hershey on Thanksgiving Eve then will close out their home stand against the Pens on Saturday, November 26.

Hershey again on November 29.

Records

Coming into Friday only.

Penguins: 6-4-1-0; 13 points – 6th in the Atlantic.
Hershey: 8-2-2-0; 18 points – 2nd in the Atlantic.
Bridgeport: 7-2-3-0; 17 points – 3rd in the Atlantic.
Charlotte: 7-4-1-1; 16 points – 4th in the Atlantic.
Lehigh Valley: 5-5-1-0; 11 points – 8th in the Atlantic.
Springfield: 6-5-0-3; 15 points – 5th in the Atlantic.

Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Who’s Out?

You are probably going to see a few transactions the remainder of the month but I’ll keep you posted on any of that in my Lineup Changes on each post game report. Those aren’t going anywhere.

Mark Friedman was sent back to Wilkes-Barre on Sunday. Jon Lizotte joins Jamie Devane and Jordan Frasca on the injured list. Mitch Reinke came off of that last week.

Filip Hallander was sent back Tuesday. Sam Poulin was sent down last weekend but didn’t play due to weather related travel issues. Poulin practiced with the team Tuesday on Coal Street.

Sean Josling was returned to Wheeling on Thursday morning.

So, yeah, barring anything unforeseen the team is at 100% capacity. No one is on recall to Pittsburgh.

What can we learn about the Penguins this week the remainder of the month?

I think the questions you have to ask yourself when a team is on a losing streak are as follows. I will answer as it applies to the Penguins.

Are these problems correctable? (yes)
Is it a personnel problem? (I don’t think so)
Is it a coaching problem? (No)

If the reverse is true to any of the questions above, we have a problem. I don’t think it is though. They are working through things. Teams have film on them now also, remember.

If you asked me to put a finger on it, it’s defensive idiocy with the puck and a lack of any kind of scoring from any line anywhere. Sometimes, if you are without one and have a lot of the other, you get the good to overshadow the bad and are able to work your way through it. The Penguins aren’t getting any scoring and their defense is suspect at this point. That’s why they are losing these close contests. Once you get one going, the other follows.

You’d rather these issues now in November then in March or April.

Who’s in goal?

I’m not going to predict this. Filip Lindberg and Dustin Tokarski will get their fair share of work against a bevy of equally talented goaltenders in the Atlantic Division.

Who’s running the show?

Friday sees Michael Zyla and Mathieu Menniti wreaking havoc on evildoers and Jud Ritter and J.P. Waleski on the lines.

Saturday sees Mason Riley and Jordan Deckard ensuring everything stays on the up and up with Bill Lyons and Trevor Disbennett on the lines.

Sean Fernandez and Jake Kamrass work Monday in Charlotte with Ryan Jackson and Brandon Grillo on the lines.

AHL hasn’t posted assignments past this coming Tuesday but it’s a safe enough bet that Fernandez / Kamrass will be the referees for Wednesday’s game with the Checkers and different linesmen.

Looking ahead…

Yikes, by the time we meet again for the Weekend Preview it will be December. A Saturday, December 3 home game against Bridgeport and then a Sunday trip to Hershey on December 4. If the Penguins don’t figure out their problems, the hits will keep coming in December and beyond.

Give us a bold prediction…

We will probably eat too much turkey on Thanksgiving and watch too much football. The American kind, not the World Cup, but I’ll probably watch the World Cup.

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