Chirps from Center Ice

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

Weekend Preview – What, No Bears?

No Hershey on the menu for the rest of the month for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, who start seeing that other PA team a couple times this month with some other non-Hershey divisional opponents.

Music to set the mood…

Meditation music? Really? You’re really reaching…

Wait. There’s a tiger tie in there with the Sound Tig- wait, they are the Islanders now. Aw, shucks. Well, at least no bears!

A Quote…

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.”

They have certainly. overcome challenges, haven’t they? Half the team either injured or called up and yet they are a point off Charlotte for third with three games in hand on the Checkers.

The Setup

Home against a game Syracuse team Wednesday then home against Lehigh Valley Friday before taking on Bridgeport in Connecticut on Saturday. The Penguins are better than all of these teams, but can’t take any of them lightly.

Syracuse is perpetually an offensively explosive team and that was on full display this past weekend with a 7-3 pasting of Laval Friday, a 5-2 walloping of Lehigh Valley on Saturday and took down their biggest rival Utica on Monday.

The Crunch are fourth in the North Division where only five teams make it so they want to stay ahead of the cut line as the season starts to head into its backend.

The Phantoms took 3 of 4 points out of Bridgeport a home and home Wednesday / Friday last week and then got thumped by the Crunch on Saturday. They are in Cleveland this week, beating Cleveland 3-1 Tuesday with a rematch on tap Wednesday night.

I gave you what the Islanders did in the first part of their weekend last, then they got stomped by Utica 5-1 on Saturday and against Springfield on Monday they beat a struggling Thunderbirds team 6-2.

Penguins beat Hershey in overtime after blowing a three goal lead in the third period on the road then gave rival Charlotte 3 of 4 points in North Carolina this past weekend and are a point off the Checkers.


Pens are 18-11-2-3, good for 41 points and fourth in the Atlantic.

Syracuse is 16-13-2-3, good for 37 points and fourth in the North.

Lehigh Valley is presently 17-14-3-2, good for 39 points and fifth in the Atlantic. The Pens have two games in hand.

Bridgeport is presently 16-15-6-1, good for 39 points and sixth in the Atlantic. The Pens have four games in hand.

Who’s Up, Who’s Down, Who’s Out?

Drew O’Connor, Jonathan Gruden, Ty Smith, Mark Friedman, Taylor Fedun and Dustin Tokarski are up with Pittsburgh. Kyle Olson, Xavier Ouellet and Filip Hållander are out, Taylor Gauthier and Filip Lindberg are in and out and are playing with something. Tommy Nappier has backed up and is up from Wheeling but hasn’t played in a game yet this season. Sean Josling, Chris Ortiz, Adam Smith, Josh Maniscalco and Colin Swoyer are also up from the Nailers.

Jeez, that seems like a lot. Hope I didn’t miss anyone.

What can we learn about the Penguins this week?

Last week it was about stepping up and getting results. I think they did that in some regard last week with getting by Hershey and taking two points out of Charlotte with how depleted they are in all areas.

This week should be about maximizing points against teams that are below them in the division and getting anything out of a non-divisional opponent on Wednesday.

I think Syracuse’s offensive forwards will challenge the Penguins defense, and the Penguins forwards may struggle to keep up on the scoreboard. But, as this team has shown me in the past, they exceed expectations.

They aren’t overtaking Hershey and Providence for the top of the division this weekend, but a good week starting Wednesday at home against Syracuse can be a step in the right direction.

Who’s in goal?

Good question. Taylor Gauthier left the game after the first period on Saturday then returned to back up the rest of the game but didn’t dress Sunday. Is he OK to go Wednesday? Can he back up? How is Filip Lindberg after his first game back after missing the last couple of weeks? Does Tommy Nappier get a start? Does Dustin Tokarski return from Pittsburgh?

I’m going Lindberg – Gauthier – Lindberg provided Tokarski stays in Pittsburgh.

For Syracuse, Max Lagace. For Leigh Valley, most likely Felix Sandstrom and for Bridgeport toss a coin for Jakub Skarek or Cory Schneider considering how far out that game is.

Who’s running the show?

Jordan Samuels-Thomas and Laura White are here Wednesday with Ryan Knapp and Tyler Loftus on the lines…Brandon Schrader and Amanda Tassoni are here Friday with Jud Ritter and Josh Cleary on the lines and on Saturday up in Bridgeport it’s Mike Dietrich and Jordan Watt with Nick Briganti and Josh Cleary again on the lines.

Looking ahead…

They make up the game against Utica on Tuesday going on the power play and then head to Rochester on Wednesday then they close out the weekend and the month of January in Allentown on Friday and then return home to host Bridgeport on Saturday.

Give us a bold prediction…

5 of 6 points, third place in the Atlantic at the end of the weekend.

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