Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Deliberately Uncategorized

On Hiatus

Blog is on hiatus for the time being. They brought back taxi squads, and the AHL club is dressing half baked, ECHL type lineups. You may or may not have noticed I didn’t even write about the last two Penguins games against Hershey, completely non-competitive 4-1 and 6-1 throttlings at the hands of the Hershey Bears.

I am not paying to watch this anymore, and I know a lot of people with me in this regard. With that said, the luster of watching a half dressed / half attempt of a club come in to a game night and have the [redacted] kicked out of them isn’t something that interests me.

The AHL’s grand idea was to just add a week to the end of the regular season schedule. As if a COVID pandemic will conform to what Scott Howson and the rest of the clowns driving this car off a cliff’s ideas are. You postpone games daily, clubs just lost their six best players and starting goaltender to the NHL taxi squad and your bright idea is to whistle past the graveyard, pretend everything is normal and when pressed, just add an extra week and let the teams figure it out. Fantastic leadership being displayed there.

Pens have a lot of games to make up and not a lot of time to do so. I’ll direct you to their website on information in that regard. I have totally lost interest.

So I am hiatus for the time being. My opinion can change at any time and I’ll start putting content up again.

They have Utica this Friday, who has only lost one (1) game in regulation thus far this season and a Saturday and Sunday in Hershey, who have beat the ever living tar out of them. If they score more than four goals across the three games I’d be surprised.

I’ll still be around, just not involved as much.

Weekend Preview – Crunchy Chex

The Penguins would absolutely have to tank big time to not be considered a playoff team with six of the eight teams in the Atlantic Division making it this season, so my stance on this club being a playoff team hasn’t changed. However, if it comes down to the final weeks of the season, looking back on the last week, where the Penguins split in Charlotte (perfectly fine, no one beats the Checkers twice down there) but then were obliterated in the third period of a 1-1 game Saturday at home against Providence. The Bruins had 1000 miles on a bus in the span of 72 hours going from Hershey, home, then to Bridgeport then to Wilkes-Barre. Zach Senyshyn’s third period hat trick capped off what was a very good week for the Providence Bruins.

The Setup

Pens have two games this weekend, away and home with the Syracuse Crunch and the Charlotte Checkers. Their game with the Hershey Bears was postponed due to COVID in the Bears camp. First, it’s a trip to Syracuse to take on the injury riddled Crunch followed by yet another contest against Charlotte.

Syracuse comes in on a 2-6-1-1 in their last ten streak and haven’t beat anyone of substance since Laval in the beginning of November. They had their Wednesday game in Rochester postponed due to COVID.

The Checkers were swept at home last weekend by Utica. Only really, really good teams do that to the Checkers and well, you guessed it, Utica is a really good team. The Checkers are in Lehigh Valley Friday.

The Records

Syracuse is 6-8-2-1, on 15 points and in last place in the North Division.

Charlotte comes into the weekend 8-9-2-0 on 18 points and sixth in the division with .474 percentage points.

The Penguins are a straight .500 team at 8-8-0-2 and 18 points.

Who’s Up, Who’s Down, Who’s Out?

Bryan Rust is week to week again with a lower body injury and didn’t accompany the Penguins to Western Canada for their trip so Pittsburgh recalled Drew O’Connor from Coal Street.

Anthony Angello, Filip Lindberg and Kasper Bjorkqvist are out. Angello has a god knows what injury that they still laughably call day to day, Lindberg is week to week and I didn’t catch what it was status wise on Bjorkqvist, but it’s lower body.

Coal Street swapped backup goalies this week, sending Tommy Nappier down to Wheeling and recalling Alex D’Orio. With Lindberg shelved, this makes the most sense in getting live fire for your assets in the system.

They also recalled Justin Almeida and Will Reilly. These two had no business playing in the ECHL. Almeida has nine goals in six games for the Nailers. Reilly has six points in three games.

What can we learn about the Penguins this week?

Syracuse stinks and Charlotte has a smell about them. The Penguins have a smell about them too, but as we have seen in flashes with this team (close contests in Charlotte, OT mastery so far) but some real stinkers (Providence in the third period last Saturday, special team failures in the second game against Charlotte) you just don’t know what team you are going to get each night.

And on top of that, you may have to call into question the coaching. Unless J.D. Forrest skated the piss out of them earlier this week, it is completely unacceptable to have an opponent come on your home ice after 1000 miles in a bus and outpace and out work your dandy behind when you flew home Thursday and didn’t skate Friday.

3 of 4 points out of the weekend may be too much to ask. But you have Hartford and Springfield getting away and then mediocrity with the Penguins, Charlotte, then a COVID riddled Providence, Hershey and Bridgeport and a what the hell were they thinking in hiring Ian Laperriere in the first place Lehigh Valley Phantoms squad bringing up the rear, falling behind and making fools of themselves in the process each weekend. Just be better than the four you are grouped with. Some weeks it’s Providence, others its Hershey and sometimes even the Checkers and Pens. Consistency is key here.

Unless, “consistently average” is what we are going to get with this team. Who knows.

Who’s in Goal?

I think they go Domingue for both games. If not then Alex D’Orio Saturday.

Figure ex-Penguin Max Lagace Friday in goal for Syracuse, then a combination of either Evan Fitzpatrick or Chris Gibson for Charlotte Saturday. Figure Gibson because he has the Penguins number of recent. The Seattle Kraken recalled Joey Daccord earlier this week so you could see Gibson get both games.

Who is running the show?

Stephen Hiff and Nicolas Loyer will maintain order Friday in Syracuse joined by Jason Brown and Brian Oliver on the lines. Loyer worked in Winnipeg this past weekend for Texas / Manitoba, so transferring to Syracuse where it’s equally cold if not colder is nothing for Mr. Loyer. What I want to know is who he upset at the scheduling office to draw Winnipeg and Syracuse on back to back weekends.

Jordan Deckard and Alec Rounds get the Saturday assignment. Deckard was in Charlotte last weekend, so the Checkers are probably tired of seeing him. Bob Goodman and Jud Ritter work the lines along side Deckard and Rounds.

Looking Ahead…

Wednesday and Saturday home against Hershey then Sunday at home against Springfield. Oh, the joy of a weekday and Sunday home game all in one week!

Give us a bold prediction…

There is a shutout somewhere in one of these games for the Penguins. They are going to make liars out of me and have a hot start to an even hotter December.

Reader Survey Analysis

Thanks for the feedback on the Reader Survey. I’ve decided to share with you the feedback and give a preview of coming attractions as far as what to expect with the blog for the 2019-20 season with the Penguins.

Most of you follow me on Twitter and get to the blog based off of tweets of mine which link stories for you to read here. (42.2%) The other half of you (39.1%) access the blog he most direct way, directly through the website. 29.7% of you see something I post on Facebook and link in that way and 18.8% of you are signed up for the e-mail notifications.

Analysis: Pretty much as I expected, I use Twitter to drive people to the website, Facebook is secondary and the e-mail signups are just an added vehicle for those who have neither.

Half of you read the blog weekly and 45.3% of you daily and just 6.3% of you monthly. I’d assume, and I will get to this here soon, that there is a small portion of readers from out of town that access the site from other AHL cities.

A vast majority of you read the blog on your phones. (68.8%) and I have to consider that when putting out content because it shows up differently on the phone vs. the computer (35.9% of you) or tablet (just 12.5%)

Analysis: The blog is really set up for reading on a laptop or PC, but WordPress plays nice enough to allow for reading on a phone. I’ll go in on the back end and see if there are any improvements that can be made for viewing on mobile devices.

The next parts are of interest in what I talk about during the season:

Gameday Setups and Postgame Summaries are a popular thing which I don’t intend on tinkering with and a vast majority of readers come here for that sole purpose.

AHL Power Rankings was balanced all the way through with, 21.9% voting “2” and 29.7% voting “5” with “3” and “4” somewhere in the middle. More on this in a minute. (the scale was “1” being least interested and “5 being most interested)

Next and with this being a blog about the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, the 57.8% of you who marked “most interested” in the feature for WBS News and Notes doesn’t surprise me. I would like to mix in more non-gameday stories throughout the season as they come.

AHL News and Notes was also balanced with about 25% for categories 3-5. I always try to mix in news about the Penguins or their opponents here.

Now, some pie charts:

This is actually what I was hoping for and what I was expecting. There are a cadre of readers who like the Power Rankings but most people don’t read all of them all the time. Well, for me, I can’t just put half the scores or work on 2/3’s of the teams. It’s a time consuming process that I moved to Thursday’s because I wanted my Sunday evening’s back instead of sitting in front of a computer at 9 o’clock in the evening knowing that in twelve short hours I would be back at my regular job doing it again. So I moved them to Thursday’s last year and it was a lot better for me.

Doing both on ice and Power Rankings at the same time in the same week is not an option, but I threw it in there anyway. Leads to my next pie chart.

You’ll be getting that. I am planning on going deeper this year and bringing back the on-ice stats for the Penguins.

Next pie was how, if you followed on Twitter, how it could best be served you.

Good to see Hershey fans have a sense of humor!

I just tossed in this next question to see where the base of the readers come from.

Decent spread, with the majority full share members, the die hards and the ones that the blog really caters to.

Last was a free form field that if you wanted you could drop a note. Here are some with my response.

First off, thank you so much for all the time you put into the blog. You don’t understand how much at work I look forward to a new post. Moreover, I think you should go live on Twitter an answer questions from readers… I would love to have a more open discussion about the Baby Pens…And hear not only other people questions, but your thoughts!

Sounds like a good idea.

We are from MN and don’t go to all the games. We watch all the games on AHL TV stream. We buy the season pass. Thank you so much for your blogs. Enjoy them.

Some of the responses were like this one above. You are welcome.

Time on ice for wbs players

Trust me, if there was a way I could freely access this and share, I would. You can’t. I have looked. A lot.

Maryland loves Nafsnep

Thanks, Dan!

I always check your blog. You do a great job. The questions above didn’t ask about game day updates. I go to your live feed for that. If I am out travelling that is where I go. Not the AHL scoreboard. I like to see who scored etc. I always look for the capital letters because that means we scored. I also listen to the game on my phone. Lets see if the next couple of years we can get over the hump and get a championship!

If that day comes, I wonder what the postgame story would be and what it would look like. Likely an incoherent mess put up at 3 am after the celebrations.

I think you do a tremendous job with your blog. Your level of detail & dedication are very much appreciated. I’m from the Pittsburgh area and your blog is a daily read during the season & a weekly read during the off season to see what you will post next. I hope you can keep it up & look forward to what changes you may make. Thanks again!

Blog isn’t going anywhere so don’t worry. Thank you for the kind words.

You’re doing a great job and are now basically the only reliable blog to read up on the WBS Penguins since the Penguins Insider one is pretty much dead. I’m a reader from Bulgaria, so there’s virtually no other way for me to get some insider info on the AHL Penguins. Even the radio that covers WBS games is geoblocked for some reason. Not following you on twitter just because I don’t have one (never hopped onto that train;). Cheers!

Get a VPN and connect into the USA to allow yourself to listen to the games on the internet radio… Jonathan left for Pittsburgh and his inspiration for me to start my own blog has grown into this… Tom Venesky doesn’t cover the Pens anymore and I’m not going to step on Tyler’s toes as he does this for a living and I a hobby. I’ll never encourage folks to prefer the blogger over the paid professional but I’m not going to tell the person where to get their news.

Thank you to all who contributed to the reader survey. I truly do appreciate your input in helping me improve the blog.

So anyway, I’m going to make the AHL Power Rankings a bi-weekly feature and in weeks where there are no Power Rankings offer up a deep dive into Penguins on ice stats. Long time readers of the blog will remember this feature from a few years ago. I have to work on a few things as to how to best apply this so look for more information on this in the coming weeks.

Training camp and rosters will be out soon for the Penguins as camp opens on Coal Street next week. I’ll be back with a look at the names attending the camp. First preseason games get going next week as well.

It’s about that time.

Join My Team

EDIT: This idea went over like a lead balloon. Had a lot of people window shop, but no one walked through the door. Disregard the entire post…

Read more of this post

Blog of the Year Nomination

The fine folks that coordinate the NEPA BlogCon are handing out their yearly Blog of the Year Awards. 

This blog, Chirps from Center Ice, was nominated again. First, I’d like to thank you for nominating the blog again. I don’t nominate myself. 

Click here to be brought to the voting page. There are other categories to vote on also. Chirps from Center Ice is under the, “Best Sports Blog” category. 

Thank you.

Schedule Soon, Other Notes

Real quick one today.

The NBA has their schedule, so the AHL can start finalizing theirs. The NBA announced their schedule last week, so I would expect that the AHL will have their schedule by the end of this week.

No rush. I am enjoying the summertime.

Out the door, Clark Seymour and James Melindy have new homes. Seymour was a little used defensive fill-in and Melindy was a throw in for the Dustin Jeffrey trade that never played a game in Wilkes-Barre. Seymour signed with HC Bolzano in the EBEL and Melindy signed with Wichita in the ECHL.

So there is that. I updated the 2016 Offseason Moves List and put one last edit in on the big board, which as you see if you didn’t link in direct is no longer pinned to the top of the site. You have to scroll down now if you didn’t bookmark.

Will probably drop a line here again when the “schedule is coming tomorrow” announcement is made. An announcement about an announcement!

Go outside and jump in the pool while you still can!

They’re Going the Distance…

The Hershey Bears got all the offense they needed in the first period of Game 4 tonight and force a decisive Game 5 with a 2-0 win tonight at home tonight against the Portland Pirates.

So the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins opponent, and schedule for said opponent, will need to wait another day.

The winner take all Game 5 goes off from Hershey Sunday at 5.