Chirps from Center Ice

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

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Weekend Update 3/1

I took the weekend off because of my cat and stayed off Twitter so I apologize if you rely on me to give you updates about the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. Friday night I was in New York State and Saturday night I was home relaxing and decompressing and quite frankly wanting nothing to do with tweeting.

I didn’t watch a second of the Syracuse game Friday because of my travels, but watched a good portion of Saturday’s game. I can tell you that the Penguins were more competitive just based off of what I read on Twitter and elsewhere on Friday than they were on Saturday. I don’t think it’s a situation of giving Hershey the division and the odds on lock in the Calder Cup Finals, but when you constantly turn the puck over and don’t look like a cohesive unit 50+ games into the season, any team will look like a Cup contender.

They lost Friday 4-3. The Penguins were up 2-1, then got it to 3-3 before Alexander Volkov’s goal with under four minutes to play in the third period gave the Crunch the lead for good. Alex Barre-Boulet stole the show, scoring :11 into the game and netting a hat trick with two other goals.

Here’s how they lined up Friday.

Phil Varone made his debut and immediately made an impact. The power play clicked twice and Varone assisted on both goals. Varone had a goal taken away on account of a kick in that was taken away on video review.

Riley Barber had a nice goal that put the Penguins up 2-1 in the first on a power play goal.

Cole Cassels and Phil Varone had the assists there.

Saturday, they were expecting a different result. They played good Friday in Syracuse and were looking to carry the momentum into Hershey Saturday.

It didn’t work.

Here’s how they lined up first and foremost.

No Niclas Almari for both games this weekend. He’s been a sore spot, but I don’t think it would have mattered Saturday. They were on a whole, bad in every way Saturday night.

They went down 4-0. Garret Pilon scored on a breakaway goal off of a gaffe. Daniel Sprong made his Bears debut and scored on a fluke of a goal that clattered around in the air before going in the net. Mike Sgarbossa scores into an empty net when Sprong hit him with a no look behind the back pass. Sgarbossa’s first game back in a while too which made it 3-0. Philippe Maillet scored to make it 4-0 before David Warsofsky connected with a power play goal that made it 4-1 with and assist to Phil Varone before Sgarbossa and Sprong connected again to make it 5-1. Hershey let off from there and protected it’s four goal lead.

That’s basically it in one paragraph. Everything that could go wrong went wrong Saturday.

They have a week to get it together. They head to Binghamton Friday before returning home to face Bridgeport who always plays them tough and host the Devils again for a Sunday matinee.

Some solace as Springfield is struggling just as much and have lost two straight and are on 62 points with the Penguins.

The bad news is fourth place Charlotte is at least four points up with two games in hand after Sunday’s game in Hershey.

We will get back to regularly tweeting the games next weekend dependent on the health of the little guy who is improving.

AHL trade deadline is Monday. I don’t expect the Penguins to be active, but stranger things have happened. Check in Monday for an update there if there is one to be had.

AHL Power Rankings this Thursday but for anything breaking before.

Tuesday Notes 10/9

What you see below was a Facebook status update. I didn’t think I had enough to string together for a blog post, but after I finished I looked at it and figured it was so here goes…

Pens made cuts – sent Dane Birks, Kevin Spinoza and Cam Brown to Wheeling on Sunday.

– Pens had a goalie controversy until they didn’t. Matt Murray is out with a concussion (again, his third) and Tristan Jarry is on his way back up.

– I upgraded to a five year plan with the Penguins. The early access, my own line and parking spot put me over the top.

– As some of you may know, the Power Rankings will be out Thursday. I’m not married to Thursday’s yet, but I’m not staying up late on Sunday to run them on Monday anymore. May run them Tuesday, but Thursday it is for now.

– Pens are going to be on NHL Network later in the season. Way later, March 13 and April 7 in Lehigh Valley against the Phantoms.

That’s all. Pens are the only game in town when they play a rare Thursday game in Cleveland. More then.

Blog of the Year Nomination

Was notified this afternoon by the fine folks who run the annual NEPA BlogCon that this blog has been nominated again for Sports Blog of the Year. 

I want to personally thank first the people that nominated me again for consideration. I do this as a hobby. It’s not my profession. Just my observations of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins put into words. How many people read, share or interact isn’t important to me because, again, it’s a hobby. I say that some people collect stamps. I write a blog. It’s a blog up for NEPA BlogCon’s Sports Blog of the Year again. 

If you’d like to vote, you can do so here. Thank you in advance for your consideration and your support.

Hello Anybody?!

Full disclosure: I got this idea that you are about to see from Stephen Meserve, who runs the blog 100 Degree Hockey and does a tremendous job covering the Texas Stars. Sometimes you see Meserve’s name on theAHL.com’s site doing features on the Stars. I consider him one of the greats in the blogosphere.

Anyway, he created a questionnaire for his readers. It is input that he will no doubt use to improve 100 Degree Hockey as a blog and beyond. What’s good for Cedar Park, Texas is good for Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania I figure. So what I would like is your input about this blog. What you like, what you don’t like, how you follow, how often you visit and where you get your information from.

Please click here where you will be taken to the survey.

I appreciate your time.

I Heard You Paint Houses

Normally, if anyone asks me what I do for a living, I causally tell them that, “I paint houses” which is a inference to the book about Frank Sheeran, who was a part of Bufalino Crime Family which originated from Pittston, PA, where I went to school as a young boy.

I don’t paint houses and I sure as hell don’t do what “painting houses” inferred to in the book, but I have been very busy this week with life in general, so I haven’t been able to update the blog at all this week as a result. Blogging doesn’t pay the bills, sadly.

Anyway, you may or may not have heard by now the influx of injuries and call-ups to Pittsburgh and injuries to the call-ups.

— Jayson Megna is called up essentially for Pascal Dupuis, who is out long term with a blood clot.
— Andrew Ebbett was called up for Marcel Goc, who hurt his foot.
— Brian Dumoulin was called up because Kris Letang is out with a groin injury and Robert Bortuzzo was under the weather during Tuesday’s morning skate before the game with New Jersey that night.
— Scott Wilson was called up because Sidney Crosby was also ill Tuesday but played in the game against the Devils.
— Anton Zlobin’s season is over after he has surgery to his shoulder.

Later…

— It was revealed that Chris Kunitz has a broken foot and is out at least a few weeks.
— Scott Wilson was injured in the second period of his NHL debut against New Jersey with a leg injury.
— Robert Bortuzzo was suspended two games for his late hit on Jaromir Jagr.

So Pittsburgh is down to 12 forwards and 6 defensemen. Wilkes-Barre has 11 forwards. Pittsburgh hosts Vancouver Thursday and Ottawa Saturday before traveling to Long Island to play the Islanders Monday. Wilkes-Barre hosts Lehigh Valley Friday, Hershey Saturday and travels to Giant Center Sunday.

Goc practiced today. His status Thursday against the Canucks is up in the air. If he can’t go, then another recall from Coal Street is going to be needed. I think either J-S Dea or Bryan Rust would be the safe bets there. I also think that another defenseman goes up to be the seventh defenseman. The logical choice is Scott Harrington. If it would turn out to be true, such terrible luck for Harrington as Dumoulin would probably dress over him and Harrington would, again, be stuck in the press box. Who knows.

Color me shocked that Pittsburgh actually divulged real information on injuries and laid out a possible timetable for recovery rather than using the painfully benign “upper / lower body” classification and “day-to-day / week-to-week” garbage we see all the time.

Anyway, I’ll be back in full force with pre and post game coverage of the slate of games this weekend.

Blog of the Year Nomination

The fine folks at NEPA Blog Con have nominated this blog, along with four other blogs for “Blog of the Year” in the “Fitness and Sports” category.

I had no idea until about five minutes ago that I was even up for nomination until I was tagged in a Facebook post.

That’s just the thing with all that I do here. I’m not out for awards, or for recognition of any kind when it comes to this blog. I treat this like a hobby. If you read, great. If you want to get your information from someplace else, fine. It doesn’t matter to me. I will keep doing what I do. That this blog even gets nominated for consideration for “Blog of the Year” is an accomplishment in and of itself.

If you would to vote for the blog, the link is here. I voted for myself. I don’t know what the policy is for voting, or how many times you can do it. I’m not about to tell you to stuff the ballot to get me recognized for “Blog of the Year” because that’s not what I am about and that would be unfair. If you want to and it’s allowed, great, knock yourself out. But I didn’t tell you to do it.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Weekend Setup 12/19

I am off from my real job for these next two days so I got a large majority of my Christmas shopping done Thursday afternoon. I could not believe the amount of people out and about. My brother got me a $25 Panera gift card for my recent birthday and Panera, on a Thursday afternoon after the standard 12-1 lunch hour, was packed with people. Doesn’t anybody work anymore? Or are the standard 9-5 workdays a thing of the past and everyone has a .com, work-from-home business empire that they call their bread and butter? Baffles the mind…

Fontina Grilled Cheese with a baguette and a medium Mountain Dew, if you are scoring from home. Fontina Grilled Cheese from Panera is the bees knees.

Anyway…

Couple of things you know, then a few things you might not if you aren’t tuned into the M*A*S*H East Division like I am. Let’s get with the things that you may know…

Brian Gibbons was recalled in wake of Jayson Megna’s injury, yet the Penguins keep winning.

Jonathan’s Thursday update. In it, news that Eric Hartzell is starting tomorrow, Bobby Farnham on the 2nd power play unit and Reid McNeill’s unavailability. Jonathan had a Tuesday update that revealed that Dom Uher should be back this weekend, skating with a full shield.

— Wilkes-Barre will be donning Christmas jerseys this weekend. They had a big Twitter reveal on Tuesday, but it went totally over my head that the Holiday Nutcrackers they handed out Saturday actually had the jerseys painted on them. What slacking by me, I could have had an “exclusive” story on the Christmas jerseys before anyone else.

Outside of Wilkes-Barre, but staying in the East….

Hershey released Jamie Johnson from his standard playing contract and let him go back overseas to the Kontinental Hockey League. Johnson found himself a veteran scratch more than he saw himself of the ice, so it’s a move that was mutual, if I had to guess.

— Syracuse gets an offensive shot in the arm with the announcement this week that they have signed Jon DiSalvatore to an AHL deal. DiSalvatore had been playing in Munich, and much like Johnson in Hershey, wasn’t seeing as much ice as he wanted to so he was let out of his deal and returned here to play for a Syracuse team desperate for offense with much of their team in Tampa Bay on recall.

— Syracuse does get some help with the re-assignments of Matt Taormina and Dana Tyrell back from Tampa Bay.

— Ol’ buddy Chris Collins was released by Norfolk and goes back to his ECHL club in Bakersfield.

Sorry Binghamton, no news out of you this week.

Anyway, Worcester in in town already for the 7:05 Friday start tomorrow in Wilkes-Barre. Gameday for this will be here on the blog tomorrow at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!