Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: The AHL

Tuesday’s Preseason Game Postponed to Thursday

 

It’s not like the teams don’t play each other ten plus times in the regular season and the regular seasons starts for both teams 48 hours later. You’re telling me that a preseason game is THAT important that it must be played? Please.

This is just silly, and probably not the last time that there is going to be an announcement that there is some alteration to the Penguins schedule this season.

🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄

Delayed Already

Tyler had some news on Sunday afternoon.

I’m not going to publicly play the speculation game on which player / staff member tested positive.

Tyler followed it up with a story in today’s Citizen’s Voice on the delayed start to the season, speculating on if the delay would have any bearing on the exhibition game the Penguins were scheduled to play in Allentown against Lehigh Valley.

Coal Street with a Monday afternoon announcement confirming the doubts.

This, coupled with….

Makes for cluster bleep of an attempt of a season, and what’s setting up to be a total disaster on all fronts. Just give it time.

The idea of a forced season, especially in the way you have it constructed presently, with taxi squads, three teams sitting out and the way you have your divisions drawn up and the opponents you will play (i.e. Hershey plays Wilkes-Barre, Lehigh Valley and Binghamton and that’s it) makes for a terrible, asinine idea.

But, they are going to make it work, damn the torpedoes!

2021 AHL Schedule Released

They are hell bent on making this work, so two weeks before the season begins, a schedule was announced for said season.

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins will play 32 games in the abbreviated attempt of a season. Normally what I do in seasons past is a question and answer session, so in keeping with the silly tradition, I offer the following:

Penguins release here. League release here.

1) What does the opponent matrix look like?

Well, you know that the division is changed this season because of the pandemic. Charlotte and Springfield aren’t playing, Hartford, Bridgeport and Providence are playing in a separate three team division which leaves the Penguins, Lehigh Valley, Hershey, Binghamton, Utica, Syracuse and Rochester in a division all to their own called the North Division. Binghamton is playing their home games out of Newark, NJ. There was talk that no team would travel more than 250 miles one way to avoid having to stay in a hotel so that rules out Rochester and Utica. That leaves 10 games with Hershey and Lehigh Valley and six games with Syracuse and Binghamton.

2) Longest road trip? Longest home stand? Three in threes? And will fans be allowed at all?

Well, again, the Penguins aren’t staying in any hotels this season, no team in the division is, really, but since you asked it’s no more than two in a row at home and three straight on the road March 28, 31 and April 3. Zero three in threes. Five back to back games.

No fans to start. The Penguins did mention they would like to allow fans, “at a later date” but if you want my advice, do so at your own risk.

3) Any workday games?

No. The games that the Pens will be playing on the weekdays will be played at home but for April 30 (a Friday) at 7 against Binghamton. All the other weekday games start at 5 but for an April 28 game against Lehigh Valley which starts at 7 and a May 12 game against Syracuse which starts at 7.

I would actually prefer this if there aren’t going to be fans, it frees up my evenings for other things.

4) Is there an All-Star Classic?

Not this year. Laval was supposed to get it under normal circumstances, they just moved it out one year.

5) I didn’t get my free AHL TV code yet.

Neither did I. Don’t fret, just periodically check the e-mail the Penguins have on you. If push comes to shove, call or e-mail your ticket rep.

6) Playoffs?

Don’t know yet. Players want them, team front offices haven’t thought that far out. I don’t see it happening, personally.

7) Any wiggle room for inevitable COVID related delays?

With the concept of playing behind closed doors and teams playing teams only a bus ride away, you would think that there is room for that, but with players wanting playoffs, I honestly don’t think if a weekend set of games for one team gets canned, it’s highly unlikely that those games get added to the tail end or wedged into the schedule.

8) So how are they going to rank teams in the division? Don’t say by points percentage!

Okay, so that question may have been asked by the section in my mind which is bad at math. It looks like yes, they will be ranking teams by points percentage this season because of the amount of games that all the teams are going to be playing and how each differs across the geographic spectrum which is today’s American Hockey League. It’s (sadly) the only fair way to do it.

9) I think this is stupid.

So do I, friend, so do I.

Penguins also announced their training camp roster. Link to that here.

Preseason game next Friday.

Stay safe.

Schedule Friday

Back here Friday afternoon to break it all down.

Preseason Schedule Announced – Sort Of…

By a matter of chance I happened upon the AHL’s website and clicked on their GameCenter menu line item and what drops down is the preseason schedule for 2020-21. So I click on it and it brings me here. On it, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are slated to play two exhibition games. They are:

  • Friday, January 29 at Lehigh Valley at 7 p.m.
  • Monday, February 1 vs. Binghamton (in Newark, NJ) at 4 p.m.


Nothing official from the team yet, but if it is on the league’s website, it’s as official as official gets.

No info about radio, etc. Preseason games are not televised on AHLTV.

So there you go. Some news on Friday for you.

We Are In – Where Things Stand as of 1/4

After a 3 pm AHL Board of Governors call, it was announced that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins will indeed, be part of the teams playing a truncated 2021 AHL season.

Here are the finer points of the details:

  • The Penguins will play in a division with Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester and Binghamton. It will be called the North Division.
  • Pens regular divisional foes Providence, Bridgeport and Hartford will play in a three team Atlantic Division.
    • Springfield and Charlotte have opted out entirely. They join Milwaukee. So that’s 28 teams out of a possible 31 who are playing.
    • Binghamton will play their games out of Newark, NJ and Providence will play their games in Marlborough, Mass.
  • Plan is to play a 32 game schedule out of the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
  • No fans allowed. They hope to allow a select few at a later date. Good luck.
  • Schedule formats and playoffs are still to be determined.

Some of the finer details out of Coal Street are as follows:

  • The 32 game schedule will go from February to mid-May.
  • If you are a season ticket member (like me) you will receive information allowing you to access AHL TV for free this year. You will be able to watch Penguins home and away games.
  • The credit for last years games and this years will roll over to 2021-22 or if they allow fans later in the year, if you so choose.
  • From the Coal Street release, “An extensive health and safety protocol has been put into place by the American Hockey League, which will include extensive cleaning of facilities, as well as regular Covid-19 testing for players and hockey operations staff members.”

Tyler reported that you may see some workday afternoon games to help some of the teams farther away in the division (Rochester, Utica, Syracuse, etc.) get in and out and home all in one day to avoid hotels. That means 3 p.m. (or earlier) starts. You can probably expect to see the same thing when the Penguins travel.

I’m fine with that idea. No teams in the division want to spend time in a hotel this year.

The Penguins will not share any affiliates prospects. It was announced that St. Louis (Springfield’s affiliate this year) will send some of their prospects to Utica. I didn’t see anything on where players from Charlotte or Milwaukee may go.

I will again go on record to state that this is a dumb idea, forced upon AHL teams to, “make it work” to ensure that their non-taxi squad players play these, what I am going to call glorified exhibition scrimmages for the sake of keeping them occupied. Sure, it is a great thing for the men and women who make the AHL teams operate off the ice to have something to do instead of twiddle their thumbs all day recycling GIFs and content for social media. I know my fair share of media, front office, ticketing and broadcasters who are likely thrilled and relieved that there is going to be a “season” to work on. But for the fan, the ones that pay the money to watch this, it’s not going to be a good product. Your top goaltender on every team is going to be on the NHL squad, and your six or seven (maybe more, depending on injuries) players are going to be with the NHL team on the taxi squad. So what’s left is AHL third and fourth liners as your top six, filled out with ECHL fodder filling out the rest of the lineup. Who wants to watch this?

I may change my mind and will likely re-examine my conscience a few times before the start of the shortened season. But I am leaning on scaling back whatever coverage I decide to dedicate to whatever becomes of these glorified exhibitions this season in the hopes that the Fall of 2021 brings some semblance of normalcy where we all can safely return to the rink and enjoy what we took for granted.

But in order to do that you have to wear your mask and stay the hell home if you are sick.

More as it comes, for now.

Meh…

Translated: We have a plan, we just don’t know what it is yet.

Who can play? What’s the schedule going to look like? Of the teams that are going to play, how many games are they going to play? Against who? Fans? Rosters? Playoffs?

Kind of important, don’t you think? But they don’t know yet, or if they do they aren’t telling us. The season starts five weeks this Friday. Tick tock…

Let me speculate:

  • Wilkes-Barre is part of the group that plays with all the other PA teams. They play in a division with Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Binghamton, Syracuse, Utica, Rochester and one of either Providence or Springfield. I don’t think that Hartford or Bridgeport play this season.
  • No fans allowed. Not that any sensible human being wouldn’t want to go to super spreader event such as an indoor hockey game where the COVID numbers are still out of control in the Commonwealth.
  • 42-48 games consisting of a lot of contests with Hershey and Lehigh Valley (10-15 each) and the rest filled out with 2-4 with the New York teams and one or two with either Springfield or Providence.
  • I took a two part stab the other day on Twitter on what the taxi squad for Pittsburgh may look like link of to there on who I think stays on the NHL roster.
  • Depending on who all plays, you may be looking at the top two or four teams in a division making playoffs or a tournament style playoff system.

Does this excite you? It doesn’t me. Who in their right mind wants to watch a watered down minor league product where all the teams are probably not going to play, behind closed doors?

It’s hard to get invested in a product like this, with a global, out of control pandemic still dangling over our heads.

This isn’t a case for or against piece, either. Remember you are paying money to watch this, money that a lot of people don’t have because, you know, pandemic and all. For me, the money might be well spent someplace else.

More, as it will come. Pandemic be damned.

Wear a mask and wash your hands.