Chirps from Center Ice

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

We Didn’t 1-4 This To Happen…


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I don’t think it matters here because it’s still a regulation loss, but the Phantoms added two empty net goals which inflated the final score here.

A 4-1 setback Friday to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Help from out of town with Hartford and Bridgeport going down, but there’s only 15 games left in the season, it will be 14 after Saturday and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are five points out.

Here’ how they lined up…

Lineup Notes: Roster stability, I guess because there were no changes from Wednesday. Alex Nylander was recalled to Pittsburgh before the game.

First Period: Phantoms score on their first shot of the game via a Ronnie Attard snipe.

Great start! 🙄

It was a feckless, toothless, inert effort by the home team in the first period. Have the players checked out?

Second Period: Sam Houde on a power play, ties the game.

The Penguins power play is lethal. Sad, really, that the team as a whole sucks and probably won’t make playoffs, but the power play is firing on all cylinders and it’s good to see them get goals on the man advantage.

Penguins get out of a 90 second five on three against, with a lot of blocks from Mark Friedman and even a glove save through traffic from Dustin Tokarski. Here’s where I thought success here would propel the Penguins to a goal, for something positive.

I was wrong.

I’m sorry, but what the hell is this? There is NO ONE to the goaltenders right. Cooper Marody runs right over, gets the puck and gets a shot through. He has a lot more ground to cover then the goaltender. Tokarski either misreads the play entirely or is point shaving, or is too old and too slow to play goal at this level any longer.

Third Period: Penguins aren’t able to cash on a power play, Drake Caggiula was snakebit and wasn’t able to figure out Sam Ersson all period. Caggiula was easily the Penguins best player in that period, if not all game.

Ollie Lycksell was awarded a penalty shot. I have no idea how he was awarded a penalty shot because he wasn’t, in my mind at least, unabated to the goaltender and got what IU thought was a shot off, but referee Mike Zyla awarded one anyway.

Indeed, since it kept it a 2-1 game.

Penguins use their time out with 2:18 left and pull Tokarski. I don’t think J.D. Forrest’s plans included a cross up at the blue line which leads to Cooper Marody scoring his second, but that’s what happened. Then a few minutes later Max Willman hit the empty net again which made it 4-1.

Three Stars: 3) Sam Houde (goal) 2) Sam Ersson (25 saves) 1) Cooper Marody (two goals, assist)

The Good: Power play slaps.

The Bad: Sadly I don’t think the officials will allow you to play on said power play all night.

Turning Point: The Marody first goal was the backbreaker. It’s like when you play blocks with a child. You build up the blocks (in this case the big kill on the 5-on-3) and then the kid runs in the room and knocks down all the blocks, laughs and runs off. You feel like a dope for a sec. Well the Pens were the dope but the Phantoms weren’t playing around.

Around the Division: Charlotte 7-1 over Bridgeport…Rochester beats Hartford 8-4…Springfield doubles up Providence 6-3.

Standings: Hershey 75 – Providence 74 – Charlotte 71 – Springfield 68 – Lehigh Valley 64 – Bridgeport 60 – || – Hartford 58 – Penguins 55

Wheeling Update: Nailers are out in Fort Wayne as this blog goes up, box here.

Video Highlights:

Let’s Go Pens!

What Did I Tell You? — Pens LOSE 3-1


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From this morning’s Weekend Preview…

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.

Competitive game throughout, but a 3-1 setback to the Toronto Marlies. A third period goal by ex-Penguin Joseph Blandisi late sinks the home team. Is this finding a way to lose? When you play good, but get scored on late, like the Pens did Wednesday, I think it is.

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: Filip Hallander was out. He took a puck off the face Sunday in Cleveland, returned with a bubble, ala Ty Smith about three weeks ago. I didn’t listen to Nick Hart’s very detailed look at the Penguins injuries, so I am only speculating. If you did, go ahead and drop a comment.

Edit: Taylor was listening…

First Period: Both teams went 0/2 on the power play, Pens had the better of the jump, once outshooting the Marlies 7-1 at one point. Pace was good. Energy was good. All that.

Second Period: The vaunted Penguins power play strikes again when Lukas Svejkovsky deflects a Mitch Reinke shot for a goal that gives the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

But almost immediately, Jordie Benn scores on a rocket of a shot which was briefly discussed for goalie interference.

No one knows what goaltender interference is, so let’s not try and start now. Fix the problem by allowing video review. You have it in all 32 AHL buildings, why not?

Svejkovsky finds time and space and is stoned by Woll.

Joseph Woll was 14-1 coming into this game. He’s good. That save showed why.

I still liked the pace. I still liked the energy.

Third Period: Pace, energy was good. They went back and forth, as you know the struggle consumes us all.

With time winding down, it started to become a game of who would make the first mistake.

It was the Penguins, sadly.

Puck deflects off Mark Friedman to Joseph Blandisi for a goal.

It happens.

Later, Woll stops Valtteri Puustinen in close.

Kyle Clifford, who took three penalties on the night, hit an empty net from about 180′ away to tie the game away for the first place Marlies.

Three Stars: 3) Lukas Svejkovsky (goal) 2) Joseph Blandisi (game winning goal) 1) Joseph Woll (31 saves)

The Good: I mean they stayed in it till about the end.

The Bad: Hockey is a 60 minute affair.

Turning Point: Blandisi’s goal gets it here.

Around the Division: Direct implications here. Springfield shuts out Hartford 4-0. That is good, but Bridgeport beats Charlotte 3-2. That is bad. This is why…

Standings: Hershey 75 – Providence 74 – Charlotte 69 – Springfield 64 – Lehigh Valley 62 – Bridgeport 60 – || – Hartford 58 – Penguins 55

Pens are five out of a playoff spot. 16 games left. Everyone’s magic number drops.

Wheeling Update: Toledo thumps Wheeling 4-1 in a school day game out in Ohio. Brooklyn Kalmikov with the goal, Tommy Nappier with the loss in goal.

Video Highlights: 

Massively important game Friday against Lehigh Valley.

Let’s Go Pens!

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…

Dads Love Cleveland — Pens WIN 6-4


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Apologies to any of you looking for a Saturday recap of the outdoor game in Cleveland. The game was supposed to start at 1, it was sunny, the sun creamed the ice, and they delayed the game to 6. I had dinner plans with my family for my mother’s birthday, so I wasn’t able to watch or pay much attention to the game, a 3-2n Cleveland overtime win.

Penguins win the rematch, indoors, Sunday 6-4. A wild one, to say the least. Pens fall down 4-2, battle back to tie the game in the second period and then go ahead on a power play goal in the third. Two goals by Ty Glover, a pair of power play goals by Drake Caggiula, a goal by Taylor Fedun which kickstarted the comeback, and an empty net goal by Alex Nylander which sealed it.

Good win. 3 of 4 points taken from Cleveland. I’d argue caution by anyone reading this, Cleveland is a last place team in the North Division. We will see what kind of team we have two set up for a playoff run this week against the number one team in the North with Toronto, then Lehigh Valley comes in Friday and the Penguins close out the weekend with a home game with the Utica Comets. All playoff teams right now. The Penguins are chasing down the Phantoms for the last playoff spot.

So yeah, pretty important.

If you are asking about the headline, it was the Fathers trip for the team.

I’ll give you lineup, the goals and then the standings.

Ty Glover scored the first of his two goals via penalty shot, of all things.

Nice move.

But Cleveland led 2-1 after the first period.

Glover’s second of the game tied the game at two.

But Cleveland rattled off two straight fairly quickly, 1:01 after the Glover goal with a goal by Trey Fix-Wolansky and then another goal another 1:01 later with a goal by Alex Whelan.

But then the comeback started.

You love to see it.

Then the Penguins put their power play to work, with a goal by Drake Caggiula.

Nifty deflection.

Looked like they were going to play for overtime, but then Caggiula struck with 6:01 left with another power play goal that put the Penguins up for good 5-4.

You want to see them get themselves back into the game with the power play and that’s exactly what they did.

Nylander added an empty net goal. I thought they may pass to Ty Glover for the hat trick, but Nylander took it and put the game out of reach for Cleveland.

Divisionally, I can’t figure any of these teams out. Bridgeport gets thumped 9-0 Saturday, comes back and wins 3-0 over Springfield…Hartford loaded up at the NHL trade deadline, and lost 6-3 to Charlotte after winning Saturday. Lehigh Valley and Providence are still playing as this blog goes up.

Penguins are three off Bridgeport, who have 58 points, tied with seventh place Hartford. Islanders, Wolf Pack and Penguins all have 55 games played.

More Wednesday, more conventionally, after the game with the Marlies.

Let’s Go Pens!

Preheat the Oven — Pens LOSE 5-3


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Seasons cooked, folks.

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins slip to below .500 with a 5-3 loss to the Hershey Bears Wednesday night. Pens and Bears were the only game in the Atlantic Division, so the Penguins, who used to gave a cache of games in hand on a ton of divisional opponents, now have one more game played than 4th place (58 points) Springfield, 6th place (55) Hartford, 7th place (54) Bridgeport. The Penguins are in last with 52 points.

Season is cooked.

Lines were…

Lineup Notes: Lots to get to so please keep up. Drake Caggiula will be recalled.

Filip Hallander is non-COVID sick. So Justin Addamo, signed to his 700th PTO this morning, went in and Colin Swoyer who is a defenseman, slotted in at forward.

Andrew Nielsen made his WBS debut, paired with Taylor Fedun on defense.

Injuries: Goaltender Lindberg is day to day with an upper body injury. Ty Smith and Jonathan Gruden are week to week. J.D. Forrest is more optimistic on Gruden’s week to week then he is Ty Smith.

Speculation: Gruden and Smith were injured the last time the Pens were in Allentown. Gruden was slammed into the bench by ex-Penguin Garrett Wilson. If I had to bet a dime it’s a broken rib. You just give that time. Ty Smith took a puck off the face, returned with a bubble but hasn’t been seen since. He was at the dentist on the next day, Sunday, and hasn’t been seen since. If I had to bet a dime it’s a broken jaw. You wire that shut and eat through a straw.

Trades and Other Transactions: 

DiLiberatore will report to Wilkes-Barre. He has three assists with AHL Henderson and three assists with ECHL Savannah. Not exactly lighting the world on fire.

Both players cleared waivers today. We can use all the help we can get.

OK now onto the game.

First Period: Bears score first when Henrik Borgstrom walks through three guys, draws a penalty and scores about halfway through to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.

But then the Penguins, who Nick Hart mentioned had the best power play in the entire AHL during the month of February, struck off a power play goal when Justin Addamo scored on a tip in front to put the Penguins level with the Bears.

Second Period: Taylor Fedun is a problem.

First, the Penguins were outshot 14-4. That’s not on Fedun. The Bears are good. They are well coached and coming off of probably their worst month of the season. They haven’t won in three games and are neck and neck with Providence for the division lead. They needed a response coming out for the second period tied with a last place team and took advantage.

Where Fedun became a problem were highlighted on the two Bears goals in the period.

Ethen Frank with a one time bomb on a power play from the near dot ala Chris Bourque puts the Hershey Bears up 2-1.

Baffling that they allow a guy who leads the Bears in goals that much time and space on a power play. Like you know the guy is going to get the puck and you know the guy is going to shoot it. But here’s Fedun just coasting to the slot like a robot hoping to deflect a bullet out of a cannon. Good luck.

Then, with under a minute to play and the Penguins still hanging around, the Penguins captain gets caught crossing up his new defenseman partner in Nielsen, leaving Tokarski out to dry and giving Joe Snively, another Penguins killer, all the time in the world to deflect in a shot and give Hershey a two goal lead.

As Charles Barkley would say, that’s turrible, Ernie.

Third Period: Wilkes-Barre shows some tenacity and actually battles back to tie the game.

Penguins cash another power play goal with Justin Addamo again when Nathan Legare’s shot is blocked to Addamo in the slot. Addamo goes for a pass to a streaking forward down the opposite side and that is blocked. Addamo then just flips a backhander past Fucale to pull the Pens to within one.

Later, Alex Nylander scores on a breakaway when he jukes Fucale back to York, PA and ties the game at three.

Penguins navigate safely out of a Hershey power play, but then are let down by their goaltender when Joe Snively goes into the corner, sees daylight and fires a shot past Dustin Tokarski to put the Bears ahead with just over four minutes left to play.

That’s probably a save that Dustin Tokarski makes 10 times out of 10 on any given day, but on this particular instance, it’s a save he doesn’t make at a costly time during the hockey game.

Mike Vecchione scores on an empty netter and that’s the ballgame.

Three Stars: 3) Justin Addamo (two goals) 2) Mike Sgarbossa (three assists) 1) Joe Snively (two goals, assist)

The Good: I liked the way they battled back in the third period there. They could have packed it in but used the power play to get them back into it and one of their horses in Nylander to get them even.

The Bad: Fedun had a forgettable defensive game which will be erased by the team getting it back to even, but the veteran goaltender doesn’t make what appears to be a routine save and the Penguins fall further into the abyss of the handful of teams which won’t make AHL playoffs this season.

Turning Point: Seemed like this Wednesday game had a ton of them and it did, but it’s the Snively late goal that gets the nomination here.

Around the Division: As I said off the hop, Pens / Bears was the only game in the Atlantic Division.

Standings: Hershey 73 – Providence 72 – Charlotte 65 – Springfield 58 – Lehigh Valley 58 – Hartford 55 – Bridgeport 54 – Penguins 52

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off.

Video Highlights: 

Back at it Saturday in Cleveland outside at the football stadium.

Let’s Go Pens!

Legalize Even Strength Goals Already! – Pens LOSE 2-1 (OT)


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Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins drop a 2-1 overtime loss to the Belleville Senators on Saturday night. A couple things about this match:

  • Belleville gives up the most goals to Eastern Conference teams.
  • Their penalty kill was 31st in the AHL.

So Wilkes-Barre scores a late, extra attacker goal via Tyler Sikura and go 0/3 on the power play and don’t score an even strength goal.

If you are wondering about the headline, there was a couple in my section who reeked of marijuana. If you followed along on Twitter Saturday, I made as many cheap weed as I could.

I don’t mind, by the way, as long as it’s in moderation.

Wilkes-Barre pumped 39 shots at Dylan Ferguson, making his debut for the Senators after a trade with the Toronto Marlies. Ferguson stole the game for the Senators tonight, plain and simple.

Taylor Gauthier started for the Penguins and showed himself well. It’s not a goaltending issue. Captain Taylor Fedun was directly responsible for both goals scored by Belleville.

Loses a puck battle behind the net and before he realizes where the puck is he’s out of the play and the red light comes on.

That was the overtime winner. Yikes.

Tyler Sikura scored for the Penguins on an NHL94esque wraparound that tied the game late with Gauthier pulled.

Wilkes-Barre will take the point, but are stymied by a Belleville team that has their number this season.

Here’s how they lined up:

They swapped Devane and Ansons back in for Ty Glover and Justin Addamo again and Swoyer for Ortiz on defense.

Three Stars: 3) Tyler Sikura (goal) 2) Dylan Ferguson (38 saves) 1) Cole Reinhardt (overtime game winning goal)

The Good: Nice to see the barn packed with people.

The Bad: Too bad the product on the ice sucked.

Turning Point: The Reinhardt goal, as most overtime goals would, is the turning point.

Around the Division: Charlotte beats Bridgeport 5-2 (which is good for the Penguins) — Hershey beats Lehigh Valley in a shootout 4-3 (Phantoms get a point, not good for the Penguins) — Hartford beats Syracuse 4-1 (terrible for the Penguins) — Rochester beats Springfield 7-1.

Standings: Providence 72 – Hershey 71 – Charlotte 65 – Springfield 56 – Lehigh Valley 56 – Hartford 55 – Bridgeport 54 – Penguins 52

Wheeling Update: Nailers win 6-3 over Norfolk.

Video Highlights: 

Pens hit the road against Hershey this Wednesday. More then.

Let’s Go Pens!

Lack of Support – Pens LOSE 3-2


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The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are a one dimensional hockey team.

Valtteri Puustinen and Alex Nylander had the goals in this 3-2 loss to Syracuse. That’s a theme. Those guys always score.

Thing is, no one else does. Puustinen and Nylander have 21 and 23 goals, respectively.

You aren’t going to win many games when you have an anemic offensive output such as this.

If or when Pittsburgh recalls Puustinen or Nylander, the goose for Wilkes-Barre will be cooked well done.

Onto the next…

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: Ty Glover and Justin Addamo for Raivis Ansons and Jamie Devane up front and Chris Ortiz for Colin Swoyer on defense.

Ty Smith and Jonathan Gruden are, “still being evaluated” after being injured last weekend – come on guys, this is silly. It doesn’t take a week to figure out what’s wrong with a guy. Just don’t mention anything if you are going to feed us this garbage. Filip Lindberg has an upper body injury.

First Period: Every Crunch player touches the puck on a Syracuse power play and Alex Barré-Boulet scores to give the Crunch the `1-0 lead.

But then the Penguins get a chance on a power play and Drake Caggiula feeds Alex Nylander for yet another power play goal that tied the game at one.

Puff out your cheeks moment as the Crunch went on another late power play but the Penguins navigated out of it unscathed.

Second Period: Microcosm of the last couple of weeks here.

That’s a Trevor Carrick pass which goes off Jon Lizotte’s skate right to Rudolfs Balcers and in for a goal that gives Syracuse a 2-1 lead.


Later, Lucas Edmonds gets a goal after a perfect feed from Jack Finley from behind the net for a goal that gives the Crunch a two goal lead.

Wilkes-Barre / Scranton was doubled up in shots (10-5) and goals (2-0) in the period after a pretty even first period.

Third Period: Penguins score late when Alex Nylander sets up Valtteri Puustinen for an extra attacker goal that brings the Penguins to within one.

Are there any other players on this team? No one else can carry an offensive load?

Three Stars: 3) Max Legace (26 saves, 7-0 all time against the Penguins) 2) Trevor Carrick (assist) 1) Simon Ryfors (two assists)

The Good: Buddy I got nothing for ya.

The Bad: So not only are they in last place, they are losing with fluke goals now too.

Turning Point: Balcers goal snowballed things downhill for the Pens.

Around the Division: Providence beats Charlotte 6-5 in overtime. For a Friday, a light night in the Atlantic as everyone else was off.

Standings: Providence 72 – Hershey 69 – Charlotte 63 – Springfield 56 – Lehigh Valley 55 – Bridgeport 54 – Hartford 53 – Penguins 51

Wheeling Update: Nailers are hosting the Norfolk Admirals. Box here.

Video Highlights: 

Back at it Saturday against Belleville.

Let’s Go Pens! 😬