Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: The AHL

AHL Power Rankings: Week 2

Week 2 AHL Power Rankings are due and there isn’t that much of a shake up at the top.

The new number one team is the only team undefeated after the second week of play, and that’s the Milwaukee Admirals.

Last week’s number one, the Texas Stars, did not fall too far, they drop to second.

Last week I debuted a new format to the Rankings, and this week I think to draw more eye to it while scanning the website, I am going to give you the top 5 teams and then make you click the jump for the teams 6-30. If you link in direct via e-mail, Twitter, Facebook or otherwise, you won’t see the jump. Let me know what you think.

Here we go starting with the Top 5…

1

Last Week: MIL 5 @ RFD 3
Admirals are still undefeated after just playing one game this weekend against Rockford. Welcome the Hershey Bears from the Eastern Conference and rematch against the IceHogs this week.

+3

This Week: vs. HER 10/20, vs. RFD 10/21
Record: 3-0-0-0

2

Last Week: TEX 3 @ SD 1, TEX 1 @ SD 5
Stars will get cozy this week with in-state rival San Antonio, with a trio of games.

-1

This Week: vs. SA 10/20, vs. SA 10/21, @ SA 10/22
Record: 3-1-0-0

3

Last Week: TOR 2 @ HFD 5, PRO 3 @ TOR 2, TOR 2 @ SPR 1
Nice weekend for Toronto through New England, especially after dealing Providence their first loss of the season Saturday.

+3

This Week: vs. CHA 10/21, vs. CHA 10/22
Record: 4-1-0-0

4

Last Week: BNG 7 @ LAV 8 (OT), BNG 5 @ LAV 1
This team can run with anyone it looks like early on. Tough road test through the Atlantic this week should hash out that claim.

+1

This Week: @ WBS 10/20, @ BRI 10/21, @ PRO 10/22
Record: 3-1-0-0

5

Last Week: BNG 7 @ LAV 8 (OT), BNG 5 @ LAV 1
Devils are shaping up to be a tough team. Lost a run and gun affair Friday in a game that saw three hat tricks then come back and adjust and handle the Rocket easily Saturday night.

+7

This Week: @ SYR 10/20, vs. LV 10/21
Record: 2-0-1-0

Click through here to see teams 6 through 30

Summers Up – No, Literally

With Ian Cole taking a full slap shot off of his two front teeth in Pittsburgh’s last game against Nashville on Saturday night, the Penguins today recalled D Chris Summers from Wilkes-Barre this afternoon.

In the aftermath, Cole tweeted a picture of his repairs that is as graphic as you can think of. He had swelling and is doing better than expected per Mike Sullivan.

Summers isn’t expected to play in Pittsburgh’s games in Washington Wednesday and Tampa Bay Thursday but the Penguins needed to make a recall because historically they like to roll with seven defenseman.

Summers wasn’t my first choice as a player to go up in a role of the seventh defenseman, I expected Frank Corrado to get that call. But I just blog about the team, I don’t make hockey decisions.

On Coal Street, the Penguins defense is already stretched thin with the recall of Summers. Jeff Taylor, Zach Trotman and Jarred Tinordi are all out and most likely ruled out for the weekend. The skinny on Trotman, who left the game Saturday, is that he is day to day but is unlikely to play in this weekends games. (Isn’t that week to week?) So that leaves some combination of Andrey Pedan, Ethan Prow, Kevin Czuczman, Kevin Spinozzi, Frank Corrado, Dylan Zink and Lukas Bengtsson for Clark Donatelli and his staff to choose from. With a three in three coming up for the Penguins, expect to see a recall from Wheeling at some point before Friday, one would assume.

In other news, the Colorado Eagles will become the AHL’s 31st team in 2018-19 serving as the primary affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche. The Eagles are already the ECHL affiliate of the Avalanche so they are stepping up a league. They are going to play in the Pacific Division. That means you are probably going to see the Texas Stars and San Antonio Rampage head to the Central Division and most likely the Cleveland Monsters head to the Eastern Conference and the North Division. All yet to be determined, but we do know that the Eagles are coming next season and will play in the Pacific. What we don’t know is if they will play 76 like the rest of the AHL or 68 like the California teams and the Tuscon Roadrunners.

Oh, in case you were wondering what happened with the Avalanche’s current AHL affiliate the San Antonio Rampage, the St. Louis Blues announced that they have signed the Rampage up as their primary affiliate beginning in 2018-19.

Still waters run deep in Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre.

More news as it comes this week, if not, check me out Friday for your Penguins / Phantoms Gameday setup.

AHL Power Rankings: Week 1

After a long summer for some and a shorter one for others, the first weekend of the 2017-18 AHL season is in the books.

Some teams are 2-0, other teams are 0-2. There are a bunch of teams in the middle somewhere because no one played three games this weekend.

Usually in the first weeks of the season here at the Rankings you see teams riding the elevator up and down. I don’t expect anything different here as we get rolling on the season. One weekend does not a season make, but you would rather start off on the right foot rather than the losing one.

New look to the Rankings this year, hope you like it. Please leave input below.

The Texas Stars are on top of the Power Rankings after week one after two wins against a very strong Chicago Wolves team. For a Stars team that missed playoffs last season, you probably couldn’t draw it up any better in Cedar Park.

Jump through if you didn’t link in direct to see where your favorite team ended up.

Read more of this post

Day Before-ish News and Notes

Penguins get ripping on their 19th season of hockey with a home game Saturday against the Charlotte Checkers. Here’s some news and notes.

Here is a look at the Penguins roster submitted to the AHL yesterday. 18 forwards, 11 defensemen, 2 goalies. No Sam Miletic, the Penguins sent him back to the London Knights, his junior team on Thursday. I wonder if they will regret this move in January.

On alternate captains…

On the new defenseman acquired this week, Andrey Pedan…

Pedan was ninth overall last season with the Comets in shot attempts with 107. Those same shot attempts would have put him ninth on the Penguins last year. Interestingly enough, the player that filed in ninth in shot attempts last season was the same player traded for Pedan, Derrick Pouliot.

Injury updates…

(something, something complaint about the non-disclosure of injuries in hockey still sucks and is archaic in every way imaginable)

Alumni Watch: Ex-Penguin Tim Erixon snagged himself a PTO with the Binghamton Devils and Reid McNeill will serve as one of seven alternate captains for the Syracuse Crunch this season.

Tomorrow’s opponent Charlotte is in Hartford tonight taking on the Wolf Pack. Here is their gameday tee-up. Look for whoever backs up goal tonight to start Saturday in Wilkes-Barre.

I do believe I saw that tomorrow’s game will be televised locally. Check your local listing if you are not able to attend in person.

Few more things out the door, as you know I am looking for help this upcoming season. I have gotten some feedback but am looking for more. If you would like to help out, do not hesitate to contact me about it.

Blog schedule for tomorrow will be the 3 p.m. Gameday setup here on the blog, the live twitter feed will go up at 6:10 and Rapid Recap right after the game goes final then the recap Saturday night. This process will repeat itself 75 more times this season.

I’m ready to go, hope you are too.

AHL Previews: Atlantic Division

Back for the final day on the eve of the 2017-18 AHL season with a look at the Atlantic Division. If you missed any of the other division previews you can scroll down if you didn’t link in direct or use the drop down menu above.

The only changes in the Atlantic are the reemergence of the Charlotte Checkers, who again come back to the Eastern where they had previously played in the Western Conference and the Central Division. With this being the Penguins home division, expect a lot of dates played against the opponents here, with those games played at home listed in bold.

Let’s wrap it up…

NHL Affiliation: New York Islanders

Record: 44-28-3-1 (92 pts., 5th place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Brent Thompson

Arena: Webster Bank Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Worcester Railers

Offseason Moves: Seth Helgeson

The Case For: The 92 points that the Sound Tigers finished 2016-17 with would have won the North Division and cemented themselves firmly in the Calder Cup Playoffs but since they played in the most competitive division in the AHL, they were left out. Does Bridgeport come roaring back with a vengeance and lay the hammer to the rest of the division?

The Case Against: Answer is probably no.

Social Media: @TheSoundTigers // /soundtigers // soundtigers

Broadcaster: Alan Fuehring

vs. WBS: 10/28, 12/16, 1/3, 3/25, 4/6, 4/8

NHL Affiliation: Carolina Hurricanes

Record: 39-29-7-1 (86 pts., 4th place Central Division)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 1 in five games to the Chicago Wolves.

Head Coach: Mike Vellucci

Arena: Bojangles Coliseum

ECHL Affiliation: Florida Everblades

Offseason Moves: Martin Ouellette, Jeremy Smith, Zack Stortini, Matt Finn, Brenden Kichton

The Case For: Charlotte returns back to the Eastern Conference after bouncing around and around in divisions in the Western Conference. They are coming in as a playoff team last year from a loaded Central Division.

The Case Against: The four teams favorited for playoffs have already penciled in in the Atlantic. Charlotte, while they may be a darkhorse, doesn’t look like one of them.

Social Media: @CheckersHockey // /charlottecheckers // checkershockey

Broadcaster: Jason Shaya

vs. WBS: 10/7, 12/8, 3/13, 3/14

NHL Affiliation: New York Rangers

Record: 24-46-4-2 (54 pts., 7th place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Keith McCambridge

Arena: XL Center

ECHL Affiliation: Greenville Swamp Rabbits

Offseason Moves: Paul Carey, Cole Schneider, Scott Kosmachuk, Ryan Bourque

The Case For: Only place to go is up for this last place team. Decent signings should ensure that last year’s result will not replicate itself in 2017-18.

The Case Against: Up? How far? Playoffs? Don’t think so.

Social Media: @WolfpackAHL // /HartfoedWolfPack // hartford_wolfpack

Broadcaster: Bob Crawford

vs. WBS: 10/21, 12/15, 12/29, 1/21, 3/17, 3/30

NHL Affiliation: Washington Capitals

Record: 43-22-8-3 (97 pts., 3th place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 2 in seven games to the Providence Bruins.

Head Coach: Troy Mann

Arena: Giant Center

ECHL Affiliation: South Carolina Stingrays

Offseason Moves: Paul Geiger, Tyler Graovac, Wayne Simpson, Anthony Peluso

The Case For: Arms race between Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre, Hershey calmly went through summer making signings which should bolster an always strong Bears side. Oh, they also locked up the services of future Hall of Famer Chris Bourque for another season.

The Case Against: May be the third best team. In Pennsylvania.

Social Media: @TheHersheyBears // /TheHersheyBears // thehersheybears

Broadcaster: Zack Fisch

vs. WBS: 10/27, 11/5, 11/12, 12/3, 12/10, 12/30, 1/24, 2/2, 2/25, 3/18, 4/3, 4/15

NHL Affiliation: Philadelphia Flyers

Record: 48-23-5-0 (101 pts., 2nd place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 1 in five games to the Hershey Bears.

Head Coach: Scott Gordon

Arena: PPL Center

ECHL Affiliation: Reading Royals

Offseason Moves: Phil Varone, John Muse, Derek Hulak

The Case For: Phantoms returned a huge lot of their corps from last season who gave in state teams fits. Are locked and loaded for a bunch of wins and possibly a long playoff run.

The Case Against: Healthy doses of Wilkes-Barre and Hershey, coupled with visits from those North Division teams may wear down the Phantoms enough that they miss, but don’t bank on it.

Social Media: @LVPhantoms // /lehighvalleyphantoms // lehighvalleyphantoms

Broadcaster: Bob Rotruck

vs. WBS: 10/13, 10/14, 11/3, 11/22, 12/6, 12/23, 12/27, 1/17, 1/26, 2/3, 2/18, 4/14

NHL Affiliation: Boston Bruins

Record: 43-23-6-4 (96 pts., 4th place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 3 in five games to the Syracuse Crunch.

Head Coach: Jay Leach

Arena: Dunkin’ Donuts Center

ECHL Affiliation: Atlanta Gladiators

Offseason Moves: Teddy Purcell, Kenny Agostino

The Case For: Playing an already stingy style of hockey that lost out to a trip to the Calder Cup Finals, Providence makes a few good signings this season and it looks like will start with the services of reigning AHL MVP Kenny Agostino. You want a dark horse Calder Cup contender? Look no further.

The Case Against: Seemed like every team that the Bruins play this year made upgrades. You still have to play these games, so nothing is a given till the trophy is passed out.

Social Media: @AHLBruins // /providencebruins // ahlbruins

Broadcaster: TBA

vs. WBS: 11/11, 1/19, 2/9, 2/11, 3/28, 3/31

NHL Affiliation: Florida Panthers

Record: 32-33-9-2 (75 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Geordie Kinnear

Arena: MassMutual Center

ECHL Affiliation: None.

Offseason Moves: Harri Sateri, Curtis Valk, Alex Grenier, Connor Brickley

The Case For: We have talked about sleeper teams in all of these previews, so count Springfield as one of those.

The Case Against: Thunderbirds have a lot of work to do if they want to be considered a contender.

Social Media: @ThunderbirdsAHL // /thunderbirdsahl // thnderbirdsahl

Broadcaster: Ryan Smith

vs. WBS: 12/13, 1/5, 2/7, 4/13

NHL Affiliation: Pittsburgh Penguins

Record: 51-20-3-2 (107 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 1 in five games to the Providence Bruins.

Head Coach: Clark Donatelli

Arena: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

ECHL Affiliation: Wheeling Nailers

Offseason Moves: Christian Thomas, Kevin Czuczman, Colin Smith, Greg McKegg, Jarred Tinordi, Zach Trotman

The Case For: Could be better than last year, if that is imaginable. Lots of firepower up front, retooled, even better defense and two goalies who were best tops in the league which will be trying to outdo each other for the backup spot in Pittsburgh in 2018-19.

The Case Against: Normally this team is stripped away by injuries. Playoffs have become a norm around these parts, but never has that gotten them to the Promised Land.

Social Media: @WBSPenguins // /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // wbspenguins

Broadcaster: Mike O’Brien and Nick Hart


Thanks for reading these previews. These are fun to put together and share year after year. If you have a team going Friday, good luck and have a great season!

Spinozzi Signed, Maguire to Wheeling 10/4

News dujour out of Coal Street Wednesday was news that the Penguins signed Kevin Spinozzi to a professional tryout agreement and then later in the day sent Sean Maguire to the Wheeling Nailers.

Spinozzi certainly earned the extended tryout agreement. While I don’t see him as a regular contributor to the Penguins defensive corps in the immediate future, he may play a factor when the injuries start piling up and bodies are pulled from all over the place. Obviously, Clark Donatelli and his staff saw enough of Spinozzi to offer him the tryout agreement.

Sean Maguire was sent to the Wheeling Nailers. It wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when for Maguire with the tandem of Tristan Jarry / Casey DeSmith already set in goal for the Penguins. Maguire should see the majority of starts for the Nailers and be ready should his services be needed by the Penguins in the near future. 

Pittsburgh finalized its roster. Here it is:

That does not include Andrey Pedan, who we can only assume has been assigned to Wilkes-Barre.

AHL Previews are rolling along with the Pacific, Central and North done and the Atlantic rounding things out Thursday at noon.

AHL Previews: North Division

Back for the penultimate day of the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Previews. If you missed the Pacific on Monday or the Central yesterday, you can scroll down or head to the top of the blog and use the drop down menu I installed there.

We are in the North Division today and there is lots of shake up in this division. Ottawa moved their prospects from Binghamton to Belleville, Montreal moved from St. John’s to Laval and New Jersey moved from Albany to Binghamton.

Penguins play everyone in this division. Home games listed in bold.

NHL Affiliation: Ottawa Senators

Record: 28-44-2-2 (60 pts., 7th place North Division playing as the Binghamton Senators)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Kurt Kleinendorst

Arena: Yardmen Arena

ECHL Affiliation: None.

Offseason Moves: Max Reinhart, Tyler Randell, Erik Burgdoerfer

The Case For: Last years Binghamton Senators team reincarnate as the Belleville Senators with a fresh look and a new city and venue. If we laid any money on dark horses in the North, smart money is on Belleville.

The Case Against: It may be an uphill battle. Look for an improved Ottawa prospect pool, but one that just misses out on a playoff spot in April.

Social Media: @BellevilleSens // /BellevilleSens // bellevillesens

Broadcaster: TBA

vs. WBS: 1/6, 1/12

NHL Affiliation: New Jersey Devils

Record: 39-32-2-3 (83 pts., 3rd place North Division playing as the Albany Devils)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 1 in four games to the Toronto Marlies playing as the Albany Devils

Head Coach: Rick Kowalsky

Arena: Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Adirondack Thunder

Offseason Moves: Bracken Kearns, Brian Strait, Mirco Mueller, Tim Erixon

The Case For: Watch out for the BInghamton Devils. They return a large corps of players who got them to playoffs last year and added some big names.

The Case Against: Binghamton is in a pool with a loaded up Rochester team, a Syracuse team that is the defending Eastern Conference champion. The North is shaping up to be a war zone.

Social Media: @BingDevils // /BingDevils // bingdevils

Broadcaster: Rob Lippolis

vs. WBS: 11/17, 12/22, 1/27, 3/9, 3/24, 4/7

NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens

Record: 36-30-8-2 (82 pts., 4th place North Division playing as the St. John’s IceCaps)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 1 in four games to the Syracuse Crunch

Head Coach: Sylvain Lefebvre

Arena: Place Bell

ECHL Affiliation: Brampton Beast

Offseason Moves: Matt Taormina, Byron Froese, Peter Holland

The Case For: We have a feeling that one of these new Canadian teams in Laval here and Belleville will make playoffs and we are leaning heavily towards the Rocket.

The Case Against: Rocket had a boatload of departures which pushed the IceCaps to a four seed last season. These new guys better be ready to step up.

Social Media: @RocketLaval // /RocketLaval // rocketlaval

Broadcaster: Anthony Marcotte

vs. WBS: 10/20, 1/13

NHL Affiliation: Buffalo Sabres

Record: 32-41-0-3 (67 pts., 7th place North Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify

Head Coach: Chris Taylor

Arena: Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial

ECHL Affiliation: Cincinnati Cyclones

Offseason Moves: Kyle Criscuolo, Barry Goers, Sahir Gill, Kevin Porter, Seth Griffith, Adam Wilcox

The Case For: Totally overhauled, retooled roster put in place by a totally overhauled, retooled front office looking to win. Amerks signed big names and big role players and are expecting to jump out of the gate and contend.

The Case Against: Amerks aren’t going to surprise anyone and every team is going to give them their best. Will they be ready to answer the challenge is going to be the number one question.

Social Media: @AmerksHockey // /RochesterAmericans // amerkshockey

Broadcaster: Don Stevens

vs. WBS: 12/2, 2/16

NHL Affiliation: Tampa Bay Lightning

Record: 38-24-7-7 (90 pts., 1st place North Division)

Playoffs: Lost in the Calder Cup Finals to the Grand Rapids Griffins in six games.

Head Coach: Benoit Groulx

Arena: Oncenter War Memorial Arena

ECHL Affiliation: None.

Offseason Moves: Mat Bodie, Michael Leighton, Reid McNeill, Alex Gallant, Jamie McBain

The Case For: Defending Conference champs reload for another run. We think this is Syracuse’s division to lose.

The Case Against: Too many departures to other teams may be enough of a crack in the foundation to bring the Crunch down a few notches.

Social Media: @SyracuseCrunch // /syracusecrunch // syracusecrunch

Broadcaster: Lukas Favale

vs. WBS: 10/15, 11/24, 11/25, 2/24

NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs

Record: 42-29-4-1 (89 pts., 2ns place North Division)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 2 in seven games to the Syracuse Crunch.

Head Coach: Sheldon Keefe

Arena: Ricoh Coliseum

ECHL Affiliation: Orlando Solar Bears

Offseason Moves: Cal Heeter, Vincent LoVerde, Chris Mueller, Max Novak, Josh Winquist

The Case For: Marlies started slow last year and it nearly cost them but they finished second behind the team that knocked them out in seven games. The number one threat to the Crunch in the North may not be Binghamton or Rochester, but Toronto.

The Case Against: Departing players from last year and their absences this season may end up hurting the Marlies.

Social Media: @TorontoMarlies // /TorontoMarlies // torontomarlies

Broadcaster: Todd Crocker

vs. WBS: 11/8, 3/20

NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks

Record: 35-32-7-2 (79 pts., 5th place North Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Trent Cull

Arena: Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium

ECHL Affiliation: Kalamazoo Wings

Offseason Moves: Jaime Sifers

The Case For: The Comets always put up a fight and this year should be no different. With the viper pit of the Rochesters, Torontos, Binghamton and Syracuse of the division beating the tar out of one another, Utica could sneak up and claim a playoff spot.

The Case Against: The Comets are more of a team that you expect to be an easy two points for those teams mentioned above vs. the other way around.

Social Media: @UticaComets // /UticaComets // uticacomets

Broadcaster: Andy Zilch

vs. WBS: 2/27, 3/23


Back tomorrow to wrap up the previews with the Atlantic Division.