Chirps from Center Ice

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

Weekend Preview – March Madness?

It’s not good.

Last night, the Bridgeport Islanders played a rare Thursday game and burned a game in hand the had on the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins and won that game against the Belleville Senators 5-1.

Here’s what it did to the standings in the AHL Atlantic. Remember that the top six teams make it.

Is it too soon for this? I don’t think so. We are entering March, the final full month of regular season play in the AHL in a few days, so no, it is not too early to start talking about this.

Penguins are three back of an Islanders team on even games played and don’t exactly play Bridgeport well. They have Hartford in between who have been mini-surging, winning three straight, looking to keep up.

Here’s who has who this weekend:


At Syracuse (3rd in he North, 53 points) on Friday.
Home against Belleville (last in the North, 45 points) on Saturday.


At Syracuse Saturday.


Home against Charlotte (3rd in the Atlantic, 62 points) on Saturday
Home against Lehigh Valley (5th in the Atlantic, 55 points) on Sunday

Expanding on the divisional standings, Springfield is 4th at 50 games played and 56 points, Lehigh Valley has 51 games played and is 5th with 55.

So a run by the Penguins would most likely mean a run up the standings, possibly as high as fourth.

The Opponents

Toronto has opened up an eye popping 18 point lead on second Utica in the North Division. That race, barring a collapse, is over. So you are jockeying for the other home ice advantage with your rival Comets and trying to hold off runs by Laval, Rochester and Cleveland if you are the Crunch. They beat Utica 8-5 last Saturday and beat Rochester in overtime last Sunday. They have been off since. They are a good, solid team playing in a division with other good, solid teams.

The Penguins played the Crunch close in January, but that could have been the start of their downfall, as they lost that game in hand that they had on everyone in the division and just got straight beat by a team who was better then they were.

Belleville, on the other hand, isn’t good. Ravaged by injuries, seeing their head coach get fired for trading secrets, it hasn’t been a good year on the Bay of Quinte. The B-Sens (still feels weird typing that and having it not refer to Binghamton) beat the Penguins back in December. You might be able to go back to that game and say that it was the start of the downfall because they had no business losing to. Pens were on a 3-0-1 run at the time, while Belleville was 0-3. Pens would lose two more after that and haven’t really recovered as a top tier team since.

So I am expecting more hold on to your butt type games, like we saw Wednesday against Lehigh Valley.

Who’s in Goal?

Question about Dustin Tokarski’s availability. He got ran into late Wednesday and was shook up a bit, but stayed in. I haven’t seen any recalls up from Wheeling (yet) so it’s likely that Tokarski is OK and he goes Saturday against Belleville and you give Taylor Gauthier the net Friday in Syracuse against old pal Max Legace.

Belleville has had a revolving door of goaltenders, so it’s a tossup. They have Luke Richardson and Brian Wilson on the roster now, who knows if they will even make it to Wilkes-Barre Saturday. With the way the Penguins have been playing, it may not matter.

Refs Who Look Ahead

I mashed the sections together from the last time I did the Weekend Preview in case you haven’t noticed.

Casey Terreri and Adam Tobias work the Syracuse game with Rob Sauda and T.J. Dockery on the lines. Terreri takes the run down I-81 and meets up with Brandon Schrader with Patrick Dapuzzo and Jud Ritter working the lines on Saturday.

Pens open March Wednesday in Hershey then head to Cleveland for the outdoor game next Saturday at 1 against the Monsters then a Sunday matinee in Cleveland at 3.

Winnable games against Hershey and Cleveland. Pens have Hershey down to a science and always rough up the Monsters. Get 3 out of 4 points this weekend, propel yourself to a good week on the road and maybe you are closer to a four seed in mid-March than you are to the fourth tee in mid-April.

Music to lead you out the door…

Heard this pregame Wednesday night and it reminded me how much I sometimes miss the repetitive droning of terrestrial radio.

One response to “Weekend Preview – March Madness?

  1. Pingback: Bears’ Struggles Impact Progress in Weekend Split – Hershey Bears Hockey Nation

%d bloggers like this: