Chirps from Center Ice

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

Weekend Preview – Ides of March or March of the Penguins?

Here’s a look at the bottom four teams in the AHL’s Atlantic Division as we enter Wednesday:

5. Springfield Thunderbirds: 55 games played – 62 points
6. Bridgeport Islanders: 55 – 58
7. Hartford Wolf Pack: 55 – 58
8. WBS Penguins: 55 – 55

Springfield is tied on points with fourth place Lehigh Valley with 62, but the Phantoms have another game played. Bridgeport are tied with Hartford with 58 points.

The Penguins have the remainder of head to heads with the following teams:

Lehigh Valley – 4
Springfield – 0
Bridgeport – 1
Hartford – 2

So it is going to be a lot of scoreboard watching.

The Penguins also have the third toughest strength of schedule percentage (.581) in the entire division behind Springfield (.595) and Charlotte (.591)

It’s a lot of ground to cover, and not a lot of head to head games left to have direct implications.

A Lesson to Set the Mood…

Et tu, Storm?

(Storm is Bridgeport’s mascot)

I think it’s important to focus on the out of town aspect…

I agree, somewhat. I’ll expound below, but for the sake of asking, here’s who has who this coming week:

Springfield: Home against Hartford, Providence and Laval.
Bridgeport: At Charlotte for three straight.
Hartford: At Springfield, Rochester and Toronto.
Penguins: Home against Toronto, Lehigh Valley and Utica.

Springfield is 5-1-1 against the Wolf Pack, 2-4-1 against Providence, and 0-1 against Laval.
Bridgeport is 1-2 against Charlotte.
Hartford is 2-3-2 against Springfield, 1-0 against Rochester and haven’t played Toronto yet. Marlies are the best team in the North Division, for what it’s worth.

The Penguins are 0-1 against Toronto, 4-2-1-1 against the Phantoms and 0-1 against Utica.

Okay, but what about worrying about your own house?

The Bad: They miss Ty Smith (possible broken jaw) and Jonathan Gruden (possible broken rib(s)) big time. Captain Taylor Fedun is a defensive mess. Head Coach J.D. Forrest can’t stop tinkering with the lineup. They have no secondary scoring whatsoever, what they do produce is overshadowed by shoddy defending or sometime suspect goaltending, as evidenced crystal clear as a bell last Wednesday in Hershey, where Taylor Fedun put on a masterclass of how not to defend, but were brought even by Justin Addamo and Alex Nylander, only to be let down by a boffo goal allowed by their veteran goaltender Dustin Tokarski.

Microcosm of the season summarized in one game? Yes.

Focusing on the good: The power play is lethal, bringing them back into games as you saw Sunday in Cleveland, jumpstarting them to four unanswered goals and a 6-4 win over the last place Monsters. You are starting to see some secondary scoring come to light with Ty Glover getting two goals Sunday and Raivis Ansons and Peter DiLiberatore scoring Saturday outdoors, but, back to the inconsistency of the lineup, where was Justin Addamo Saturday? Kid scores two goals in Hershey and is an aircraft carrier on the ice (my college coaches always said you can’t teach size) and he’s scratched for Drake Caggiula who was invisible on Saturday?

It’s mind boggling. Time is running out here. Even if you do run up to the six seed, is it worth getting smashed by three seed Charlotte (who have 56 games played and a 7 point cushion over Lehigh Valley at the four) who the Penguins are 3-2-1 against head to head? I don’t know.

Alex Nylander was recalled Tuesday, so there goes half the offense and a main power play threat. A seemingly more insurmountable feat just got more difficult.

Internal reflections…

Ask yourself this question. Are you good with missing playoffs or would you rather they make it as a six seed with virtually no shot of running the table?

I don’t personally know yet, but this weekend will be a good telltale sign of what’s to come, that’s for sure.

Under 30 words on who we face this week…

Toronto just runs team over but are 0-2 thus far on their Pennsylvania trip, dropping back to back 4-3 losses to Hershey and Lehigh Valley this past weekend.

Lehigh Valley are mercurial. They always will be under Ian Laperriere.

Utica is a big unknown. They are 4-0-1 coming into this week and 15 points back of Toronto but just a point clear of rival Syracuse.

Give me the crews…

Wednesday: Rob Hennessey and Michael Zyla with Brandon Grillo and John Rey on the lines.
Friday: Sam Bernier and Michael Zyla with Jud Ritter and J.P. Waleski on the lines.
Saturday: Sam Bernier and Dre Barone with Josh Cleary and J.P. Waleski on the lines.

Looking ahead…

Rochester at home next Friday, at Syracuse Saturday and at Lehigh Valley Sunday.

Realistically, what do you think happens…

They find a way to lose against the Marlies, beat Lehigh Valley clean and take a point from Utica. Out of town, they inch to within two points of the six seed, and we are probably doing this same exercise some time next week.

Give us a bold prediction…

One of these days I will figure out a format with these Weekend Previews and stick to it throughout the course of the season…

2 responses to “Weekend Preview – Ides of March or March of the Penguins?

  1. Jeremy March 10, 2023 at 12:14 am

    Where are the officials for the games posted in advanced?

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