Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Postgamer

Baby Steps — Pens WIN 2-1

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I would consider this a successful weekend for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.

They did everything right Friday and lost, but did everything right.

They did the same thing Saturday and won handily.

Sunday, they played the Atlantic Division’s best team tightly and eked out a 2-1 win on home ice.

4 points out of 6 when you should have got all 6 is okay. It’s excellent considering that you had just on in seven contests coming into the weekend.

Saturday, they theme was crawl before you walk. Today, I think you can start taking steps. Baby steps.

They have a lot of firepower up on a taxi squad in Pittsburgh. This present, playing unit in Wilkes-Barre was the best team in PA this weekend. Think of it, 0-7 against Hershey and the Phantoms come into the weekend on a six game win streak. Little ol’ Wilkes-Barre sticks to plan, plays the right way and gets 4 out of 6 points to start the climb out of the basement.

Tommy Nappier opposed Pheonix Copley.

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: J.D. Forrest said on the pregame as I was driving in that Nappier earned back to back starts. Patrick Watling replaced Pascal Laberge up front.

First Period: No scoring. Pens spent a good majority in the offensive zone, and you could argue, despite a 7-7 even shot count, that Wilkes-Barre was the better team in the period.

Second Period: A power play goal by Alex Nylander had the Penguins out front. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either and I was at the game, my first since the Friday after Thanksgiving.

But Hershey would respond in kind with 7.7 left when the Bears version of the Phantoms Felix Robert in Shane Gersich scores on a puck left uncovered by Nappier to tie the game at one.

Puck left uncovered, referee right there on top of it, gotta cover up.

Third Period: Bears opened with a blitzkrieg to start but the Penguins withheld the charge. Pens get caught down low on a shot in their own end and Hershey charges out of the zone on a four on one. Here comes Nathan Legare, the subject of a healthy scratch last weekend, to make a back check and steal the puck away. He finds Patrick Watling, the last to exit the Penguins end on a naked breakaway. Watling,  one of the Wheeling Nailers leading scorers and up on a PTO, does this…

Big goal by a guy filling a hole in a big moment. All you can ask for.

Bears pull Copley for the extra man but don’t find the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Alex Nylander (goal) 2) Tommy Nappier (23 saves) 1) Patrick Watling (goal)

The Good: Bears had just one power play opportunity, but the Penguins played that fair and played an overall solid, sixty minute hockey game.

The Bad: Nitpicking, 1/4 on the power play for Wilkes-Barre. It isn’t so close if you score on the delay of game call against Hershey there in the third period.

Turning Point: Legare’s back check and Watling’s goal is what gets it here.

Around the Division: Texas beats Charlotte 6-5. Goaltender Matt Jurusik signed an SPC with Texas and won the game for the Stars. You may remember him as the guy that came out of no where and shut out the Springfield Thunderbirds a few weeks back…Toronto cuts down Lehigh Valley 4-3 in overtime…Providence roughs up Bridgeport 6-3.

Standings: Bears with the loss drop to third in the division on .603 points to Providence and Springfield’s .621 and .606 respectively. Hartford (.597) Charlotte (.563) Lehigh Valley (.467) Bridgeport (.446) and the Penguins in last at .433.

Wheeling Update: Nailers win in OT in Orlando 4-3. Justin Almeida scored two goals and the OT game winner.

Video Highlights:

Back at it Wednesday against Lehigh Valley.

Let’s Go Pens!

Crawl Before You Walk — Pens WIN 5-2

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First win of the 2022 calendar year for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins breaking a 8 game winless streak good for their tenth win of the season (dude, it’s January) with a 5-2 win over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Saturday night.

They win this game doing the same thing they did Friday against these same Phantoms, tons of shots for, few against. You’ll win a hell of a lot more than you will lose employing that strategy, but they lost Friday. They won tonight.

They showed fire in Utica last Friday and lost to the Eastern Conference’s best team. That’s what good teams do, they find ways to win.

They were competitive-ish against Hershey in parts, few and far between, but still haven’t beat the Bears this season.

But this one felt good. Three goals in 97 seconds in the second period blew it open and while they still have a ton of holes (special teams are an abject disaster) they still were able to call this an easy victory.

Crawl, before you walk. There is still a lot of time here to make a push back up the standings.

Tommy Nappier opposed Felix Sandstrom. Here is how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: Pascal Laberge (who used to play for the Phantoms) was signed to a PTO by the Penguins Friday and made his debut, replacing Nick Hutchinson. Chris Bigras replaced Cam Lee on defense.

First Period: Exact copy as Friday, Phantoms had three shots all period (two came in an early power play and the other at the end of the period) and the Penguins score first. This time it was Valtteri Puustinen kicking off the scoring.

Shots were 13-3 in favor of the Penguins. Listen, it’s been a hellacious month with the team losing games, losing games to COVID, losing their favorite blogger covering the team and still losing games. This was a good period. Crawl before you walk. Don’t plan a parade yet.

Second Period: Three goals within 97 seconds and the Penguins turned the game into a runaway.

Sam Poulin, Phantoms killed Felix Robert and Nathan Legare all with goals. These guys are the guys that you want to see get hot offensively and get on a roll.

Crawl before you walk.

Sick angle there by Sam Poulin.

Suomi says Upper Grandma. Listen to the WBS Pens podcast and you will know what I am talking about.

Transition, dishing and swishing.

Three penalties a side for both teams. No scoring.

Third Period: Lehigh made a push and scored on their two opportunities of the period to make it a 4-2 game and just maybe you thought that the Pens were about to throw the game away.

But no, time worked against the Phantoms and Taylor Fedun hit an empty net to make sure that the Phantoms would not come back.

Connor Bunnaman and Wade Allison scored for Lehigh Valley.

Three Stars: 3) Connor Bunnaman (goal) 2) Felix Robert (goal, assist) 1) Sam Poulin (goal)

A note on Robert, he had three points Friday (1-2) and two more Saturday. A nice game against Hershey and that’s AHL Player of the Week territory.

The Good: Nice to get the win after so long without one.

The Bad: Special teams is bad and we should all feel bad.

Turning Point: Those 97 seconds were hell for the Phantoms and it was fairly easy sailing for the Penguins after that.

Around the Division: It’s really a meaningless exercise when the team you cover is in last but we will skip around anyway. Bridgeport was off. Hershey loses to Toronto at home in overtime 3-2. Bears haven’t won all week, but they haven’t been playing the Penguins….Providence beats Springfield 5-3. Hartford shuts out Laval 4-0. Keith Kincaid continues career renaissance with a 31 save shutout. Charlotte throttles Texas 8-3 in the rare Eastern Conference / Western Conference matchup.

Bonus: Not the only East / West matchup tonight as Cleveland was in Rockford and won narrowly 5-4.

Standings: Again, meaningless when you are in last, but the Pens pick up a few percentage points and sit with .414. Idle Bridgeport has .458 in seventh.

Video Highlights: 

Wheeling Update: Nailers win 4-1 down in Orlando. Jared Cockrell with a hat trick for Wheeling.

Pens wrap the weekend with a 3 p.m. start against Hershey.

If it Wasn’t For Luck… — Pens LOSE 4-3

So they outshoot their opponent 42-16 and lose it in the third period 4-3. They faced another goalie I never heard of and of course the kid plays out of his mind and befuddles the Penguins.

When it rains, it pours.

Here is how they lined up, Alex D’Orio opposed Garrett Metcalf:

First Period: Penguins outshot the Phantoms 16-6. It was good to see, especially with how they got pushed around by the Bears these last however many games they have played Hershey. Felix Robert opened the scoring with a low shot in the slot that beat Metcalf to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

But Linus Sandin scored a goal for Lehigh Valley on a power play that tied the game at one.

But for that blemish on the penalty kill, a decent first period for the Penguins.

Second Period: No scoring, Pens continued to pepper Metcalf.

Third Period: Phantoms get two goals, another from Linus Sandin and one from Cal O’Reilly, to go up 3-1. Refs let them play so there wasn’t many power play opportunities. Not that it would have mattered with the Penguins dead last power play.

Valtteri Puustinen got a goal with just under 4 minutes to play to make it 3-2. J.D. Forrest pulled D’Orio and Adam Clendening scored on an empty net to make it 4-2 but as fate would have it Alex Nylander would score to make it 4-3.

Amazing. They did everything possible to score in the first two periods and in the games last four minutes, score two and still lose.

Three Stars: 3) Garrett Metcalf (39 saves) 2) Felix Robert (goal, two assists) and 1) Linus Sandin (two goals)

The Good: The quantity of shots was a good thing to see.

The Bad: The quality of shots were a bad thing to see. Most were routine.

Turning Point: Felt like the next goal to be scored would win the game in the third period and it came to fruition with Sandin bagging one for the Phantoms.

As fate would have it the empty net goal by Clendening stands as the game winner. What’s that about luck again?

They get a chance at revenge Saturday against the Phantoms.

There Was an Attempt — Pens LOSE 8-3

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They got their heads kicked in tonight and dressed two forwards short while Anthony Angello sat as a healthy scratch.

This season is devolving into a joke, like last year.

You have games being postponed daily. The Penguins have three players who played Tuesday in protocol. With the roster jockeying and postponements, it stops becoming fun and interesting anymore.

Pens lose 8-3.

I’m giving the AHL till the end of the year to figure out what to do. Pause the season, something. This isn’t hockey, this forcing a season through to force a  season through for the sake of forcing a season through.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to watch this anymore nor do I want to devote anymore time towards it.

Here’s a half assed attempt at a game recap.

Lineup Notes: Michael Chaput is week to week after he was injured on Tuesday. Pens took precautions and held Felix Robert, Radim Zohorna and Nathan Legare out because of COVID or a possibility of COVID. Anthony Angello is clear of all this and as a result Pittsburgh wants to hold him out now in event of a recall.

Bears were in the same boat. At some point this roster jockeying becomes dumb. Holding out Angello as a healthy forward when you have to dress 10 and float Will Reilly as a forward / D and go 8 defensemen? Why? If you don’t have enough players to play, why play? Dangerous and unsafe.

First Period: It went 3-0 Bears and you thought (I did too) that the game was going to go off of the rails quickly.

Kale Kessy scores on a tic tac toe play by the Bears to make it 1-0.

Kody Clark on a steal on a Penguins breakout. 2-0.

Ryan Dmowski with a slap shot in the slot and it’s 3-0.

I’m not GIFing all that.

Pens went 2/2 on the kill and were good in that department. After they killed the second, that was a kick in the pants I think that got them a goal to make it a two goal game. Here’s Jordy Bellerive:

Second Period: Bears got three more. Valtteri Puustinen scored the most desperate power play I think I ever the Penguins execute and scored to make it whatever it was at that time.

I think Taylor stayed with the game the whole night. I sure didn’t.

Third Period: Matt Bartkowski got one.

Bears got another, meaningless short handed goal that Nick Hart said after drove the Hershey faithful to the exits. They saw enough of a slaughter and wanted to go home.

Pens have a game Wednesday in Rochester. Will they have enough players?

Old Age Don’t Come Alone — Pens LOSE 4-1

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So Tuesday was my birthday. My father, who is still alive and kicking, still has some sage advice for me in his advanced age.

Old age don’t come alone.

I have all my teeth, have never had a cavity and every dentist I have ever seen has a picture of me on their wall as their best patient. Not really, but what I am getting at here is that as you age, you could possibly lose your teeth.

I still don’t know where I am going with this but the Penguins tonight had a toothless attack and lost 4-1.

They managed just 19 shots and went 0/3 on the power play. Ouchie.

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: None. Juuso Riikola, Sam Pouling, Jan Drozg and Alex D’Orio remained in COVID protocols.

First Period: Pens spent a ton of time in the offensive zone, but it was Joe Snively getting smashed into the boards by PO Joseph then picks himself up and cuts back to the slot where he scores to put the Bears up 1-0.

Second Period: Pens lose Michael Chaput to a lower leg / ankle / foot injury. He needed help off and wasn’t putting any weight on his foot.

Jurusik was keeping his team in the game, but as I have said all along, goaltenders don’t score goals, they prevent them.

So Hershey scores twice within 63 seconds late in the period. Here’s one of the goals that the Bears GIFed, they didn’t do the other one.

Kody Clark had the other goal.

Pens had just 5 shots in this period, to the Bears 12.

Third Period: The toothless attack continued. The Pens went the first eight minutes of the period without a shot, and even had a laughable power play tossed in there. Also, while not mentioned by Nick Hart on radio, the Pens may have lost Vallteri Puustinen and Niclas Almari to injury as they were noted by Zach Fisch on the Bears side as not on the Penguins bench.

Just dandy.

P-O Joseph busts up Copley’s shutout bid with a shot from the point that goes in to make it 3-1.

But Matt Moulson scores to make it 4-1 later on to snuff out any faint hopes for the Penguins possible comeback.

Gotta move things along here, it’s a Tuesday and a work night, no GIFs here.

Three Stars: 3) P-O Joseph (goal) 2) Kody Clark (goal) 1) Joe Snively (goal)

The Good: Nothing to see here.

The Bad: Toothless attack. Hershey is an extremely average AHL team, but they have some offensive punch. These are the same Penguins who pumped the Springfield Thunderbirds for six goals Sunday. Was Springfield really that bad Sunday? My guess is yes, which isn’t good for Springfield’s prospects as they stand today.

Turning Point: Penguins waited for something to develop and instead, were developed, Kody Clark’s goal that made it 2-0 was really all Hershey needed to cakewalk the rest of the way. That the Penguins didn’t muster anything resembling an offensive attack in the third period but for the Joseph goal made it easy for them.

Around the Division: It could always be worse. We could be Rochester Americans fans. They witnessed their team lose 11-1 to Charlotte. Yes, eleven to one.

Standings: Bears to fourth, Pens to sixth. Pens are .500, and will probably play there all season.

Pens and Bears rematch Saturday in Wilkes-Barre’s only action of the weekend. I may preview that one and the two games midweek next week with Toronto and Rochester.

I’ll be back at the next Penguins home game on December 27 against Hershey. Can’t actually wait for that one.

Let’s Go Pens!

Jurusik Park — Pens WIN 6-0

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This headline is probably the easiest one I will write all season.

Penguins sign Matt Jurusik out of Idaho from the ECHL to a PTO Friday evening because Alex D’Orio has COVID, Louis Domingue has a lower body injury and so does Filip Lindberg.

So it’s essentially Tommy Nappier and Matt Jurusik tending nets for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.

If I would have told you that it would be a PTO on a call up from Idaho of all places that would have gotten the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins their first team shutout since January 11, 2020, you wouldn’t have believed me.

Hell, I wouldn’t have even believed myself.

28 saves for Jurusik, 14 different Penguins players record a point and it’s the biggest, easiest win of the season by far for the Penguins who crush the Springfield Thunderbirds 6-0.

Jurusik opposed Colten Ellis.

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: 500th professional game fro Taylor Fedun….Sam Poulin, Juuso Riikola, Jan Drozg, and Alex D’Orio remain in COVID protocol. Jordy Bellerive and Justin Almeida returned to the lineup from their COVID protocol taking the place of Nick Hutchinson and Will Reilly.

First Period: Matt Jurusik had a bit of a baptism by fire stopping all 13 shots faced in the first period. He had a good stop on Hugh McGing where the shot popped out of his glove and into the air. He tracked it and made another save with Nathan Moon buzzing close by.

Anthony Angello scored a shorthanded goal.

Anthony Angello scored a shorthanded goal.

Yes, I typed it twice and yes I did it deliberately because I still don’t believe it.

Good period overall.

Second Period: To quote an ex-Penguin radio voice, OK if you like perfect.

Felix Robert on a rebound and it’s 2-0.

Then the Penguins score :26 apart and make it 4-0. P-O Joseph from a ridiculous angle that makes it 3-0 and then Matt Bartkowski from the blue line with no one in front of him that beats Ellis on a howitzer for a 4-0 lead.

Joel Hofer came in on relief for Colten Ellis, but Ellis would return for the start of the third.

Hofer fared no better, as a Bartkowski shot deflects off of Kyle Olson’s chest and in to the net to make it 5-0.

Third Period: Basically in runaway games like this it’s all about preserving the good and trying to minimize or eradicate the bad or anything that can be construed as bad. Springfield didn’t make Jurusik work because the Penguins didn’t let them, and the Penguins got another goal for good measure when Justin Almeida put home his first of the season in the AHL off a nice feed by Nathan Legare.

Three Stars: 3) Matt Bartkowski (goal, assist) 2) P-O Joseph (goal, two assists) and 1) Matt Jurusik (28 saves)

The Good: Nice to have that monkey off the back and pick up a shutout, first in nearly two years. Way overdue.

The Bad: Nothing to see here. The Penguins played an almost perfect game. They didn’t allow their opponent to score and picked up a clean sheet for their try out guy from the ECHL. What more can you ask for?

Turning Point: Go back to that save that was highlighted above where Jurusik plays it out of the air after making the initial save. He was dialed in from the get go. Good to see the kid pick up the first shutout in nearly two years for the Penguins.

Around the Division: Lehigh Valley beats Hartford 4-3 in a shootout. Providence roughs up Toronto 5-1. Hershey is playing Laval when this goes up. Box here.

Standings: Can’t given them fully because the Bears are still playing when this goes up but the Pens are above .500 and on .525 percentage points good for fifth place as things stand now.

If Coal Street tosses together a highlight package and I can work in an edit it will go here.

Last Wednesday’s postponed game against Hershey will be played this Tuesday in Wilkes-Barre at 7:05. More then. Power Rankings maybe Tuesday will be back before.

Let’s Go Pens!!

Overtimed Out — Pens LOSE 3-2 (OT)

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Full disclosure, I didn’t type up a weekend preview for this weekends games because I wasn’t totally sure they were playing the games this weekend.

Also, I’ll be back at the games in person on December 27. COVID caused my Thanksgiving to be spent alone, I don’t want the same for Christmas.

Both the Penguins and Bears returned from about a two week hiatus from COVID and met Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre.

You could tell. Game was scrambly at times, really even between the two COVID ravaged sides and it rightly was decided in overtime. Hershey wins 3-2.

Both teams are back at it Sunday afternoon, but against different opponents. The Bears head home to host Laval and the Pens stay in town and host Springfield, who is also dealing with COVID and call-ups.

Tommy Nappier opposed Pheonix Copley.

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: Penguins made a bunch of transactions this week trying to construct a healthy lineup. Jan Drozg, Justin Almeida, Jordy Bellerive, Kasper Bjorkqvist, Sam Poulin, Chris Bigras, Juuso Riikola were out of the lineup. Louis Domingue was hurt in practice, lower body and is day to day. Bjorkqvist’s injury is a bad laceration.

First Period: Teddy bear toss night at the arena, so Valtteri Puustinen didn’t waste time to get the fur flying.

Bobby Nardella would even the game just north of halfway for the visitors.

With both teams playing their first game in the month of December on the 11th day of December, it was a pretty even period otherwise.

Second Period: Goals :28 apart by both sides opened the action in the middle frame.

Cody Franson scores off a face-off play that gives the Bears a 2-1 lead.

But like the tweet above said, it was a lead that didn’t last long because Felix Robert was left alone in the slot and scored to make it 2-2.

Tommy Nappier is really good at handling the puck. He started a rush up the ice with a pass that ended up on Nathan Lagare’s tape that the Penguins rookie nearly scored on.

Pens took three penalties in the period, back-to-back-to-back, but were able to negotiate out of them without any damage.

Third Period: Pens had the only power play of the period and failed to score on it. The teams picked things up in the final five minutes with furious rushes, but it was off to…

Overtime: Flubbed outlet pass pounced on by Hershey and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby called game.

Three Stars: 3) Valtteri Puustinen (goal) 2) Felix Robert (goal, assist) 1) Axel Jonsson-Fjallby (game winning OT goal)

The Good: Good to see the Penguins (and Bears for that matter) returning to health after COVID derailed the start of their December and delayed their (Wilkes-Barre’s) first four games.

The Bad: 0/5 on the power play.

Turning Point: OT winners usually get these.

These Saturday at 6:05 starts are great because they get people home sooner but with the rest of the division starting at 7 it really throws a monkey wrench into the blog and the out of town recaps.

Springfield is in here Sunday at 3. More then.

Let’s Go Pens!