Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: The AHL

AHL Power Rankings: Early February 2020

So we are on the run up to the playoffs with the all star event behind us. We have two teams who may be on a collision course to meet in June but as we have all seen in this league, a lot can change and you should expect the unexpected.

The Milwaukee Admirals had something rare happen to them Wednesday. They lost in regulation for just the ninth time. They are the easy choice for the top team to lead the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings for this go around.

Belleville are close behind and have a decent lead on Rochester who are on a tear. Hartford are third and our run of having he division leaders as the top four each week is over for now with Stockton in fourth followed by Iowa in fifth.

Pop past the Wild if you didn’t link in direct to see where your favorite team ended up this week.


Last Games: RFD 4 @ MIL 7, MIL 5 @ RFD 2, MIL 7 @ CHI 3, MIL 7 @ RFD 1, MIL 2 @ GR 1
It’s damn near the middle of February and this team has yet to lose ten games in regulation. When does Milwaukee enter the discussion of one of the greatest AHL teams of all time?


Next Games: vs. TEX 2/7, vs. TEX 2/12, @ CHI 2/13, @ MB 2/15, @ MB 2/17, vs. IA 2/19
Record: 33-9-4-2


Last Games: BEL 5 @ UTI 2, UTI 2 @ BEL 4, BEL 4 @ LAV 3, BEL 5 @ LAV 4 (OT), BEL 3 @ TOR 1
So Belleville has 20 road wins after their win Tuesday in Toronto on 26 tries away from home. That is impressive and one of the reasons why the Senators have built up a nice lead on the rest of the North Division.


Next Games: vs. TOR 2/17, vs. LAV 2/8, vs. TOR 2/14, @ TOR 2/15, vs. SYR 2/17, @ RCH 2/19
Record: 30-14-3-1


Last Games: BRI 1 @ HFD 4, LV 2 @ HFD 4, SPR 3 @ HFD 6, HFD 0 @ SPR 2, SPR 4 @ HFD 7
Lose star goaltender and some other pieces to the Rangers and all hope is lost right? Wrong. The Wolf Pack haven’t lost a step yet.


Next Games: @ CHA 2/7, @ CHA 2/8, vs. WBS 2/12, vs. LAV 2/14, @ LV 2/15
Record: 28-11-4-5


Last Games: ONT 4 @ STK 3 (OT), BAK 1 @ STK 4
Heat are only a few off the Roadrunners who have all of a sudden gone cold. Busy two weeks for Stockton after just two games in the last two weeks.


Next Games: @ IA 2/8, @ IA 2/9, @ SJ 2/12, vs. ONT 2/14, vs. TUC 2/15, vs. SD 2/17, @ SD 2/19
Record: 25-10-3-3


Last Games: MB 0 @ IA 1, MB 3 @ IA 4, GR 1 @ IA 4, SA 0 @ IA 4
Try as they might, the Wild are at least keeping the Admirals semi-honest. Solid playoff team here.


Next Games: vs. STK 2/8, vs. STK 2/9, vs. SA 2/11, vs. SD 2/14, vs. SD 2/15, @ MIL 2/19
Record: 28-14-3-3

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AHL Power Rankings: End of January 2020

So we are at the All-Star break scheduled for this weekend in Ontario, California. You’d be surprised how many people confuse the Ontario Reign and think they are located in Canada, when they are really located in Southern California.

Anyway, there hasn’t been any change to the top team this week as the Milwaukee Admirals are making it look easy. They are a win away from thirty, and still haven’t lost ten. Odds on favorite for a Calder Cup? That’s for you to decide.

Belleville has finally gotten the love from the Politburo they deserve and are the number two team. Did we get a Calder Cup preview when the Senators visited the Admirals this past Tuesday?

Tucson has hit a rough stretch by their high standards and because we don’t do ties here, Hartford and Hershey round out the top five but are at this point two identical teams which lead their division.

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


Last Games: RFD 0 @ MIL 2, RFD 1 @ MIL 2 (OT), MIL 4 @ RFD 1, CHI 2 @ MIL 3 (SO), MIL 1 @ CHI 4, BEL 1 @ MIL 2
The runaway favorite for the Calder Cup? Can we make this distinction in January? It worked last year with Charlotte, history could repeat itself again.


Next Games: vs. RFD 1/24, @ RFD 1/25, @ CHI 1/31, @ RFD 2/1, @ GR 2/5
Record: 29-8-4-2


Last Games: BEL 5 @ ROC 1, BEL 4 @ UTI 0, BEL 5 @ MB 3, BEL 2 @ MB 3 (OT), BEL 4 @ GR 3 (SO), BEL 3 @ RFD 0, BEL 1 @ MIL 2
This Belleville Senators team is criminally underrated and shouldn’t be. They are a loaded, dangerous team loaded with a hell of a coach. It’s going to be fun to watch them battle with Utica, who they see twice before the All-Star break, for the division lead.


Next Games: @ UTI 1/24, vs. UTI 1/25, @ LAV 1/31, @ LAV 2/1, @ TOR 2/4
Record: 25-14-3-1


Last Games: TUC 1 @ COL 5, TUC 4 @ COL 2, TUC 1 @ SD 4, TUC 2 @ ONT 1 (OT), TUC 3 @ SD 1
Some hiccups here, but in a division where you play 68 games those are highlighted more. Make no mistake this Tucson team is still very good.


Next Games: vs. BAK 1/24, vs. BAK 1/25, vs. COL 1/31, vs. COL 2/1, @ BAK 2/5
Record: 28-9-1-0


Last Games: CHA 3 @ HFD 6, HFD 0 @ WBS 3, HFD 5 @ UTI 6 (OT), HFD 3 @ UTI 6, HFD 4 @ HER 5 (OT)
Wolf Pack remain at the top of the Atlantic for now and they keep piling points up. It hasn’t been all that bad for Hartford.


Next Games: vs. BRI 1/24, vs. LV 1/25, vs. SPR 1/31, @ SPR 2/1, vs. SPR 2/5
Record: 23-10-4-5


Last Games: HER 2 @ WBS 1 (SO), CLE 2 @ HER 4, HER 1 @ CHA 4, HER 4 @ CHA 5, HFD 4 @ HER 5 (OT), ROC 1 @ HER 4, HER 2 @ SPR 5
Bears seem to have cooled from their run from a few weeks ago, just 6-4 in the last ten. Rematch in Springfield Friday then head to Providence before the break. Are tied with Hartford for division lead but could have company in the form of either Charlotte or Providence quick.


Next Games: @ SPR 1/24, @ PRO 1/25, @ BRI 1/31, vs. LV 2/1
Record: 25-14-2-3

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Oula Palve Traded to Dallas 1/17

Rare that two AHL teams see their parents swap NHL contracts while those two AHL teams are in the same city together, on the morning of game.

It happened Friday. Oula Palve was traded to Dallas for defenseman John Nyberg.

Palve and Nyberg don’t have to go far, Wilkes-Barre plays Dallas’ AHL affiliate the Texas Stars later today.

It’s a swap of two players that had offensive gifts playing last year overseas who, for whatever reason or another, didn’t click with the organization they were currently playing with.

For Palve, he had 51 points in 53 games playing in Finland last year. This year, he has a goal and seven assists in 37 games for Wilkes-Barre. He’s bounced around lines for Mike Vellucci’s crew, until he was shuffled out for good last week.

Nyberg has the same history, touted as an offensive defenseman but never made enough of a mark to stick.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to go far to get information on Nyberg as the great Stephen Meserve’s site 100 Degree Hockey had this to say about Nyberg back in January 2019 about Nyberg:

…He has struggled to make a mark on the lineup, bouncing in and out as a healthy scratch at times and not scoring his first AHL goal until late December. The assignment should give him a chance to play solid top pair minutes and establish himself better in the North American game.

Nyberg has 19 AHL games under his belt this season with two goals, four assists and six points with a even +/- rating.

One foreign (Nyberg is Swedish) reclamation project for another, essentially.

Gameday setup for Pens / Stars hits the blog at 4, later.

AHL Power Rankings: Mid-January 2020

There hasn’t been much of a shakeup to the top five in this version of the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings. The top five from last time are still in the top five, but there has been some shuffling with the top four.

Milwaukee and Tucson remain the class of the West, Hershey may be the best team in the East, and there are teams elevatoring up and down as we go through January.

After Hershey, jump through to see where your favorite team ended up this time if you didn’t link in direct.


Last Games: MIL 3 @ GR 0, GR 3 @ MIL 2, MIL 3 @ CHI 2 (SO), MIL 2 @ CLE 3 (OT), MIL 4 @ CLE 5, GR 3 @ MIL 2
Still lead the Central by a lot, so a few slip ups here and there don’t hurt. Are the class of the division for certain.


Next Games: vs. RFD 1/10, vs. RFD 1/11, @ RFD 1/14, vs. CHI 1/15, @ CHI 1/18, vs. BEL 1/21
Record: 24-7-4-2


Last Games: COL 4 @ TUC 3, COL 4 @ TUC 1, SD 4 @ TUC 7, SJ 1 @ TUC 5, SJ 5 @ TUC 4 (OT)
Since we last did these, the Roadrunners went 2-2-1. Is this a trend worth keeping an eye on? That’s for you to decide.


Next Games: @ COL 1/10, @ COL 1/11, @ SD 1/17, @ ONT 1/18, @ SD 1/21
Record: 25-7-1-0


Last Games: HFD 1 @ BRI 5, PRO 1 @ HFD 4, BRI 2 @ HFD 3, HFD 3 @ PRO 1, UTI 1 @ HFD 3, HFD 2 @ HER 1
Hartford sill lead in the Atlantic, but for how long? Star goalie Igor Shesterkin is with the Rangers now. The Wolf Pack have him to thank for this lead that they have.


Next Games: vs. CHA 1/10, @ WBS 1/11, @ UTI 1/15, @ UTI 1/17, @ HER 1/18
Record: 22-8-2-5


Last Games: BEL 3 @ ROC 4, ROC 0 @ BNG 2, ROC 2 @ UTI 3, ROC 4 @ BEL 3 (OT), ROC 2 @ TOR 5, BNG 4 @ ROC 3 (SO)
We find it funny how the Rochester Americans can throttle every team in their division except the last place Binghamton Devils, who got the Amerks twice the last time we did this.


Next Games: vs. BEL 1/10, @ SYR 1/11, vs. CLE 1/17, @ LV 1/18, @ HER 1/19, @ CLE 1/22
Record: 21-9-2-3


Last Games: HER 6 @ UTI 5 (OT), WBS 2 @ HER 1, HER 3 @ LV 0, HER 6 @ WBS 2, BRI 1 @ HER 2, BRI 2 @ HER 4, HFD 2 @ HER 1
Shakeup in goal in Hartford leaves the door wide open for Hershey to essentially now run away with this division based off of their current run of play. The Bears look like the only team in the Atlantic that wants to win on a consistent basis.


Next Games: @ WBS 1/10, vs. CLE 1/11, @ CHA 1/14, @ CHA 1/15, vs. HFD 1/18,vs. ROC 1/19, @ SPR 1/22
Record: 21-11-2-3

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California Dreaming – AHL All-Star Rosters Announced 1/3, More Notes

Late-ish announcement by Springfield with New Years falling on a Wednesday, but we know who is going to Ontario, California later this month to skate in the All-Star Classic.

If you don’t feel like clicking to expand, Andrew Agozzino was the sole Penguins representative named.

Friday was Andrew Agozzino’s birthday, and he leads the team in assists with 17 and points with 29.

Cases could have been made for the Penguins goal scoring leader Anthony Angello, but he just has 13 goals to go with 4 assists and also Casey DeSmith, but Hartford’s Igor Shesterkin is pretty much the sole reason the Wolf Pack have been the class of the Atlantic so far with his play in goal. Springfield’s Chris Driedger was the other goalie named and he’s been having an all-around great season for the Thunderbirds also.

Penguins alumni Ben Street (Binghamton) Derrick Pouliot (San Antonio) and Chris Wideman (San Diego) were named for the North, Central and Pacific squads, respectively.

In other news, Casey DeSmith and Thomas DiPauli are getting recalled later today. There is nothing to worry about in that with regards to injuries. Thomas DiPauli will serve as the extra forward on the trip to Montreal Saturday night and Casey DeSmith is going to back up Matt Murray on Saturday because Tristan Jarry is starting Sunday afternoon at home against the Florida Panthers.

Think of it this way, in baseball on the get away day (the game of a series on the road) the starting pitcher for the next days game is already in the city where that game is going to be played. That is what they are doing here.

If you are thinking, “wait a minute, Jarry DeSmith and Murray all came up in the AHL and rode those buses on those weekends where Wilkes-Barre played a three in three” you would be correct. This might be a new, trailblazing thing that Mike Sullivan is doing.

Taylor Haase has more here, including reassurance that Casey DeSmith will not require waivers when he’s reassigned next week, provided Pittsburgh’s plan goes off without a hitch.

Expect Emil Larmi to get recalled from Wheeling unless he isn’t and Mike Vellucci just rolls Dustin Tokarski Friday night against Hershey and Saturday against Springfield and Sebastien Caron gets the weekend PTO again. The Nailers are in Cincinnati for a pair of games against the Cyclones and the games this weekend are far too important to roll a backup out when Hershey is third and Springfield fifth, both visiting fourth place Wilkes-Barre this weekend.

Food for thought, we don’t have long to wait, the Gameday setup against Hershey is up already.

AHL Power Rankings: End of December 2019

Not much has changed at the top of the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings this week from the last time we did this two weeks ago. Tucson and Milwaukee remain at the top of the heap with their remarkable runs. These teams combined are 45-9-3-2 good for 95 points.

Rochester bumps to third after a good two weeks, Hartford has resurrected back to the top of the Atlantic in fourth and the hottest team of them all winners of eight straight, your Hershey Bears are in the top five.

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


Last Games: TUC 2 @ SA 1 (SO), TUC 3 @ TEX 1, ONT 3 @ TUC 6, ONT 0 @ TUC 8
Tucson is making it look easy, feasting on an otherwise average Pacific Division palette of opponents.


Next Games: vs. COL 12/28, vs. COL 12/29, vs. SD 12/31, vs. SJ 1/3, vs. SJ 1/4
Record: 23-5-0-0


Last Games: CHI 1 @ MIL 4, MIL 2 @ CHI 3 (OT), SA 1 @ MIL 2, CLE 0 @ MIL 4
Thirteen point lead on the division lead and they are playing strong in Milwaukee. Will feast on Griffin wings through the New Year.


Next Games: @ GR 12/27, vs. GR 12/28, @ CHI 12/29, @ CLE 1/3, @ CLE 1/4, vs. GR 1/8
Record: 22-4-3-2


Last Games: ROC 3 @ LAV 2, ROC 5 @ LAV 0, ROC 1 @ BNG 2, BNG 0 @ ROC 3, UTI 4 @ ROC 3
Amerks get some separation between them and Toronto going 7-3 in their last ten. Belleville twice and Toronto highlight this next fortnight.


Next Games: vs. BEL 12/27, @ BNG 12/28, @ UTI 12/31, @ BEL 1/3, @ TOR 1/4, vs. BNG 1/8
Record: 19-6-2-2


Last Games: LV 0 @ HFD 4, HFD 2 @ LV 4, HFD 3 @ CHA 6, HFD 1 @ CHA 7, PRO 0 @ HFD 3
Still waiting on the Wolf Pack to stumble and they haven’t yet. Get used to seeing Hartford’s name at the top of the Atlantic.


Next Games: @ BRI 12/27, vs. PRO 12/28, v s. BRI 12/31, @ PRO 1/3, vs. UTI 1/4, @ HER 1/8
Record: 17-7-2-5


Last Games: BRI 2 @ HER 5, LV 1 @ HER 3, SPR 1 @ HER 2 (OT), SPR 2 @ HER 3
Eight straight wins for Hershey. This team right now isn’t getting enough talk about outside of Central Pennsylvania.


Next Games: @ UTI 12/27, vs. WBS 12/28, @ LV 12/29, @ WBS 1/3, vs. BRI 1/4, vs. BRI 1/5, vs. HFD 1/8
Record: 17-9-2-3

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Stefan Noesen Claimed by San Jose Sharks, Larmi Re-assigned 12/20

Didn’t want to do it, but here the post is as alluded to in the close of last nights recap of a toothless display by the Penguins where, they generated close to 40 shots against the Providence Bruins, but didn’t come close to scoring but for an Adam Johnson attempt early in the first period.

From what I have read, the Sharks needed help at right wing. Noesen will provide that. Now if in a month or whenever San Jose should waive Noesen the Penguins can, as they did last year with J-S Dea, reclaim him and assign Noesen back to Wilkes-Barre. Remains to be seen if that happens.

You can look at this two ways. First, a mission accomplished for a coach in Mike Vellucci getting his player in Stefan Noesen full time NHL work again. It’s a coaches job at the AHL level to graduate players, no matter how old they are or how much experience they have, to the next level.

Or, you can look at it as a raw deal for Wilkes-Barre, who are yet again robbed of a player with Noesen’s offensive prowess. Noesen came into the season as a player on an AHL contract, Pittsburgh signs him, has him play a handful of games and loses him on waivers. Was Ryan Haggerty’s phone broke that day? Did Andrew Agozzino not pay his phone bill for the month as part of a prank pulled by the rookies? It was a gamble if or when Noesen was inevitably signed by an NHL team and another gamble when Noesen would have been ultimately exposed to waivers again for the purposes of an AHL assignment.

I’m not choosing a side on this one. Just pointing out both ends of an argument which can be made here.

In other news Thursday, Coal Street assigned goaltender Emil Larmi to their ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers. Just a matter of time here and long overdue once Tristan Jarry, who the Penguins actively tried to trade in the summer, essentially took over the #1 starters job in Pittsburgh and is arguably the best goaltender in the NHL at this juncture.

Back Friday at 3 with the Gameday setup for the rematch with Providence.