After an odd scheduling and the Thanksgiving holiday and even more odd scheduling, the Weekend Preview is back and marginally better than ever with a look at the weekends games for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins against the Bridgeport Islanders and the Hershey Bears.
After a hellish schedule bit, 7 games in 12 days (including a trip to Charlotte, NC), the Penguins get a bit of a break from the schedule makers with just 5 games in the next 15 days with four of them at home and just one on the road (a 90 minute trip to Hershey, this Sunday)
So you take it. Rest, recover, work on things. I know I am going to enjoy this Friday off and next Saturday. That is for sure.
Music to set the mood…
This weekend, the Penguins will honor Tom Grace, Tom Kostopoulos and Steve Barrouk with enshrinement in the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins Hall of Fame.
Grace was a guy you either loved or hated. I don’t think there was any in between. Grace did a lot in getting the Penguins out there to the masses. Who remembers the radio shows on Thursday’s at the Grotto? Grace’s enshrinement is overdue in my opinion. He should have been in sooner.
You don’t need me to introduce Tom Kostopoulos. If there’s a Mt. Rushmore of players he and Dennis Bonvie are on it.
Steve Barrouk was one of the pillars of the community who without, Penguins hockey in the Wyoming Valley isn’t a guaranteed reality.
I’m not a suit and tie kind of guy. I wear a suit once a year, for the Hall of Fame, or if I have to go to a funeral or something. It’s just not me.
If you can guess who said it (no cheating) leave me the answer in the comments. Provided I remember if no one guesses right, I’ll reveal the answer next week.
Fairly straightforward with a game against the Bridgeport Islanders on Saturday and a road trip down to Hershey.
Bridgeport is one of two teams, Providence being the other, who have just three regulation losses so far this season. In the entire AHL. If the Atlantic Division didn’t have so many heavyweight teams (Hershey and the Bruins being the others) they would easy lead the division. Bridgeport’s 28 points is 5 better than first place in the North’s Toronto Marlies.
Hell, the Penguins, in fifth coming into Friday, have 23 points. You are going to have to be really good to contend in this division this year, it seems.
Hershey needs no introduction.
The Islanders have points in six straight, and beat the Providence Bruins 4-3 on Wednesday.
Hershey, after beating the Pens in comeback fashion via shootout Tuesday, beat Lehigh Valley in Allentown 4-2. With the win they became the top team in the AHL. It appears the Big Bear Machine is warming up.
Neither team will be in action until they play the Pens, so that means Hershey is off Friday and Saturday, Bridgeport is off Friday.
Coming into Friday, Hershey is tops in the division with a 14-4-2-0 record with 30 points. Bridgeport is 12-3-4-0 good for 28 points and third in the division. The Pens are 10-5-1-2 and have 23 points in fifth in the Atlantic Division.
Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Who’s Out?
No one from Wheeling. No one in Pittsburgh. Kris Letang had another stroke, so it’ll give a cap strapped Penguins team the availability to put Letang on long term IR and make moves if they have to.
Jordan Frasca and Jamie Devane remain out. Taylor Fedun is partially banged up, in and out of the lineup and Mark Friedman was out sick Tuesday against the Bears.
Who’s in Goal?
I’d go Dustin Tokarski in both games, he’s been that good, but what do you do with Filip Lindberg? So expect Lindberg to get a game, probably Sunday in Hershey.
For the opposition expect Corey Schneider for the Islanders and Hunter Shepard for the Bears.
Who’s running the show?
Stephen Hiff and Mike Dietrich will run things Saturday and Jud Ritter and Kirsten Welsh will rule on icings and offsides.
On Sunday Hiff will follow the Penguins to Hershey and meet up with Carter Sandlak, Kirsten Welsh will as well to meet up with her counterpart on the lines, Joseph Mahon.
A lonely Friday home game against the Cleveland Monsters. In retrospect, I should have lumped the Monsters in with this Preview, but I can use the traffic next week. I hear the blog is big in Avon Lake.
Give us a bold prediction…
After three straight overtime games for the Penguins, every game this weekend will be decided in regulation.