Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Postgamer

2021 Preseason Game #2 – Penguins 0, Phantoms 2

The final dress rehearsal before they do this for real was held at the PPL Center Thursday night after a delay from snow pushed the game back a few days. Emil Larmi went the distance again for the Penguins in goal, stopping 29 shots in a 2-0 Phantoms win Thursday night. Some of Larmi’s saves were highlight reel saves. 

But the Penguins couldn’t get anything going offensively and would get shut out. 

Here’s how they lined up….

Lineup Notes: Why don’t we just worry about this when the regular season starts for real, yeah?

First Period: Ten saves for Larmi in the period, teams trade power plays.

Second Period: Phantoms strike first after a penalty kill. Chris Bigras pounces on a rebound and scores to give the Phantoms a 1-0 lead. Penguins had two chances at a power play.

Third Period: Larmi gets screened and Tyler Wotherspoon shoots and scores to give the Phantoms a 2-0 lead. Seems like they stepped in something great in Newark a few nights ago against the Devils and no matter what they could do, tonight just wasn’t the Penguins night. 

Wilkes-Barre did kill a five on three against, so there is a bit of a silver lining. 

That’s pretty much it. Not really much to write home about for this one. They do it for real in some cities as early as Friday. 

So that will do it for preseason. The Pens get going for real Saturday at 5 at home against Binghamton, who will have played the night before at home against Hershey. Gameday setup will be here at 1. I don’t have anything for you in the way of league previews because I really haven’t put too much effort into it if I am being honest. Binghamton will be looking to recapture the hot run they were on when last season got canned, Hershey got Pheonix Copley back from Washington to play goal. Lehigh Valley may be a bit of a mystery and Syracuse will contend. I’m not paying attention to Rochester or Utica because the Penguins don’t play them. So boom, there is your 30 second, four team preview. 

Let’s Go Pens!

Stay safe.

2021 Preseason Game #1 – Penguins 5, Devils 1

They were originally slated to play this game on Monday, but because of the snow, moved it to Sunday. Hey, at least it wasn’t because of a COVID related something.

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins traveled to Newark, NJ where the Binghamton Devils will play their 2021 home campaign from this season and win 5-1. Not bad for a team together for about 72 hours, having opened training camp this past Friday.

Here’s how they lined up for the game, just their third game together as training camp started Friday:

Hashtag overload.

Devils didn’t post lines, or else I would have added them here. Evan Cormier started for Binghamton in goal. Both goalies played the entire game.

Again, with this being preseason, and the first one to boot, regular names like Jordan Nolan and others weren’t involved in the contest. Expect that to change when they do this for real, or as real as it can get in the middle of a pandemic, this Saturday.

First Period: They withstood an early push from the Devils to start, then Tim Schaller, in camp on a PTO, scored on the Penguins first shot of the game.

Thank you again to Taylor for allowing me to embed the goals and stuff in the blog pieces. It is appreciated.

Pens had a power play which looked about as good as you would expect from a team who are historically bad at them, just three days together as a unit.

Scare later in the period where Binghamton found itself on :31 of five on three. Emil Larmi made a save through a pile of bodies and the penalty killing unit made it out unscathed.

Second Period: Josh Maniscalco’s shot from the point beats Evan Cormier which extended the Penguins lead to two.

Evan Cormier was really keeping his team in the game, stopping Justin Almeida and Michael Joly on breakaway attempts. The Penguins killed off two more penalties in the period.

Third Period: Chase Berger sets up Zach Nastasiuk who beats Cormier five hole and the Penguins went ahead 3-0.

Binghamton gets on the board when Riley Walsh picks off Emil Larmi out of his net and scores to make it 3-1.

Cormier vacated for the extra attacker and Tim Schaller hit a post but Jordy Bellerive was there to push the puck into the empty net.

Pens get a gaol from John Gruden who grinds one past Cormier to make it 5-1 Penguins for good measure.

Thoughts: The feed was horrible. They are playing in a practice rink so there are nets everywhere. They are not going to take the net down for games so expect that when you play Binghamton in Newark this year. Jon Lizotte played a solid game. They looked good, Larmi played well and Binghamton was chasing the game from the very beginning. Nice way to clamp down and not let the Devils back into the game, killing off those early penalties and the like.

They are back at it again Tuesday down in Allentown, suspect weather permitting. I did not see any place where the Phantoms would be doing a Facebook Live, so it will probably be radio only, so that means I will drop in and do my best to recap what I can for you here Tuesday. They get going for real on Saturday.

Let’s Go Pens!

Stay safe.

Close Shave — Pens WIN 2-1 (OT)


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In a bit of a surprise to Penguins fans on Wednesday night, the Wilkes-barre / Scranton Penguins tweeted their usual lineup graphic. It looked like this:

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That is indeed Riley Barber’s name in the lineup. Tyler had some more insight:

I had a whole paragraph I had to rip up criticizing the Penguins and the antiquated way that injuries are described in professional hockey. After Barber scored in overtime to give the Penguins a 2-1 overtime win in Allentown Wednesday night, it didn’t matter.

It was a goalie duel, and don’t look now but Dutsin Tokarski has quietly won some games for the Penguins where Casey DeSmith has faltered. Am I brewing up a goalie controversy? No, I am not. Just stating the facts. It will be very interesting to see who plays Saturday in Hershey. Not overlooking the rematch Friday against the Phantoms, but the Bears are a juggernaut and the Penguins need to be almost perfect to win games these days.

This was, by all accounts a better game for Wilkes-Barre, who were in a battle with the Phantoms all night and managed to find a way to win. Find a way to win, that has to be the mantra in this last month of the season.

Other lineup notes included Barber for Justin Almeida and Niclas Almari for David Warsofsky. Warsofsky was listed as injured. I honestly don’t mind, his even strength numbers are terrible and his +/- is a joke. He’s good on the power play and that’s all. Almari has been an abject disaster of late, but if he is going to develop as a pro over here, he learns from his errors and gets better the next time out.

First Period: Alex Lyon kind of stole the period for the Penguins, making stops on Adam Johnson on a breakaway, Kevin Roy on a redirect of a Cole Cassels shot and then Riley Barber twice in close in the periods final seconds. High degree of difficulty saves which he made look easy.

Second Period: The goaltender duel continued and the period zipped by. Kevin Roy got free, but hit a post. Seconds later on the same shift, this:

Amazing what happens when you take the goaltenders eyes away.

Penguins found themselves on some penalty trouble late, but the Penguins penalty kill was stout and held the Phantoms out of the net.

Third Period: Penguins killed off the remaining penalty kill time left over from the second, then had a power play of their own that they failed to score on then Kurtis Gabriel scored on a deflection in front that squeaked through Tokarski and in to tie the game at one.

The Phantoms didn’t GIF the goal.

Penguins had a late power play come and go and it was off to….

Overtime: It took Riley Barber :50 to end it.

On a nice feed by ex-Phantom Phil Varone, no less.

Three Stars: 3) Kurtis Gabriel (goal) 2) Alex Lyon (33 saves) 1) Riley Barber (overtime game winning goal)

The Good: Strong goaltending from Tokarski, defense looked good. Lehigh Valley has been a huge disappointment this season, so take this with a grain of salt.

The Bad: In games like this where the goalies steal the show, anything is a nitpick. They didn’t take any exorbitant penalties and found a way to win. Moving on…

Turning Point: Barber’s shot that ended it gets it here.

Around the Division: It’s a meaningless exercise if the Charlotte Checkers, who are in fourth place keep winning and oh, shucks, they did tonight against Cleveland 3-2 in overtime….Bridgeport beats Toronto 4-1….Providence wins their twelfth straight with a 3-1 win in Hartford and the Wolf Pack have lost five straight.

Standings: Providence 82 — Hershey 81 — Charlotte 73 — Hartford 73 — Penguins 66 — Springfield 65 — Lehigh Valley 58 — Bridgeport 53

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off.

Video Highlights: If I see them I will edit them in.

Pens rematch Friday in Allentown. Gameday setup hits here Friday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

Zane McInTitle — Pens LOSE 3-0


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Zane McIntyre has the title to the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

His exploits with the Providence Bruins and now with the Binghamton Devils, who win today 3-0, their first win here ever. 27 saves for McIntyre Sunday afternoon.

The Penguins played an incomplete game today and some of the saves made by McIntyre were dazzlers, but the Devils had the better of the play and got goals to go in what you could call a goalie duel.

Doesn’t look like a playoff team to me, sadly. It’s an amalgamation of players who come from all walks, Wheeling and elsewhere.

Casey DeSmith opposed McIntyre.


Lineup Notes: None that I can spot. Chris Brown was the extra on for warmups.

First Period: Scoreless period. Devils had two power plays out of it to the Penguins one. Shots were a very manageable 9-6 for Binghamton in comparison to Friday’s contest when it was a lot worse for the Penguins.

Highlight of the period was this save on Ben Street.

Second Period: Seemed like the Devils took over the game a bit and then Jesper Boqvist got free in the slot and wired a shot that went in for a 1-0 Devils lead.

Adam Johnson got in for a breakaway but had to settle the puck before firing and didn’t get a good enough shot off.

Third Period: Ben Street drives the net and Brett Seney cleans up the loose change in front just :12 into the period to give the Devils a 2-0 lead.

Penguins has a crack at a power play and never got close. Time dwindled and Binghamton hit and empty net to make it three.

Three Stars: ‪3) B. Seney (goal) 2) J. Boqvist (goal) 1) Z. McIntyre‬ (27 save shutout)

The Good: DeSmith should get MVP, either that or hazard pay.

The Bad: They wear different type of uniforms for a reason, so you don’t pass to the opposite team. Passes were terrible.

Turning Point: Seney’s goal :12 into the third put the hammer on the nail. No coming back from that with the collective way they played this afternoon.

Around the Division: Bridgeport gets three in the third, forces overtime and beats Lehigh Valley 6-5 in a shootout…Hershey gets two late goals and forces overtime but lose 3-2 in a shootout up in Providence….Springfield beats Hartford 4-1 Charlotte was off.

Standings: Hershey 81 — Providence 80 — Hartford 73 — Charlotte 69 — Springfield 65 — Penguins 64 — Lehigh Valley 57 — Bridgeport 51

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off. They played a three in three which started Wednesday and ended Friday. Would you consider that to get the weekend off? I think I would.

Video Highlights: I don’t think Coal Street is going to edit up a shutout.

Lehigh Valley Wednesday. More then, otherwise warranted.

Let’s Go Pens!

Streak Snappers — Pens WIN 5-2


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The five game losing streak that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins had coming into this game with Bridgeport is over. After having five games where ether couldn’t do anything right, this game where they won 5-2, they couldn’t do anything wrong.

Binghamton Sunday afternoon at home. If the Penguins are serious about making a playoff push, albeit a faint chance otherwise, it would behoove them to win that game.

Dustin Tokarski opposed Jakub Skarek.

Lines were as follows…

Justin Almeida was recalled for Myles Powell who must have been banged up Friday in Binghamton.

:11 in Jamie Devane butchered Cedric Lacroix. I mean just beat him to a mess. Lacroix left a trail of gushing blood all over time ice which required the zambonis to come out and clean up. After about a 15 minute delay, play resumed. Pens killed a penalty, then Kevin Roy tipped in a shot from Kevin Czuczman to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead. 

You could see that they were playing with purpose, outshooting Bridgeport 12-7. Both teams went 0/1 on the power play. 

In the second, the Penguins weren’t able to score on extended 1:40 of two man advantage but that didn’t stop the Sound Tigers from gifting the Penguins more penalties. 

They scored three seconds into one when Jordy Bellerive tipped a Zach Trotman shot that made it 2-0. 

They connected on their second power play goal of the period when Jan Drozg collected loose change in front and scored to make it 3-0. 

Oliver Wahlstrom scores on a Sound Tigers power play to spoil the Tokarski shutout and made it 3-1. 

But the Penguins got it right back when Zach Trotman fired and scored to reestablish the three goal lead. 

(no GIF of this one)

A failed clear by the Penguins in the third and Seth Helgeson scored to make it 4-2. You could feel as the period went on that the Sound Tigers were making a push.

But Chase Berger finally connected on his first goal of the season into an empty net which made it 5-2. With that monkey off of his back, perhaps the goals will come.

The Good: Felt like a team win. Guys were blocking shots, helps that they connected on a few power plays here and there too.

The Bad: A team like the Penguins should always beat a last place team, no matter if it is Bridgeport or whoever. Proof will be in the pudding when Binghamton rolls in town in a few hours.

Turning Point: Jamie Devane’s massacre of Cedric Lacroix set the tone early for the night.

Around the Division: Providence wins its tenth straight, beating Springfield 4-2….Hershey beats Hartford for the second straight night and wins 4-1….Binghamton beats Lehigh Valley 5-1….Utica clips Charlotte 3-2 in overtime.

Standings: Hershey 80 — Providence 78 — Hartford 73 — Charlotte 69 — Penguins 64 — Springfield 63 — Lehigh Valley 56 — Bridgeport 49

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off.

Video Highlights: 

Gameday setup here at 11 am Sunday for Binghamton, Let’s Go Pens!

Bedeviled — Pens LOSE 6-4


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The scoreline was never that close tonight, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins simply didn’t have it Friday in Binghamton and lost 6-4. Losing streak hits five games.

Shots were 15-4, 29-9 Binghamton after the first and second periods respectively. When the Penguins would score, the Devils would score right back. One of the best shorthanded units in the AHL, the Devils struck once. Casey DeSmith should get hazard pay, you could tell he was frustrated as the game went on.

I mean if you didn’t think they were making playoffs a few weeks ago, this performance tonight, coupled with all the other ones in this five game losing streak are glaring indicators that they are. We can get into why at a later date.

Casey DeSmith opposed Gilles Senn.

Lines were…

Lineup Notes: Jan Drozg up from Wheeling, Chase Berger’s first game since February 8. Zach Trotman was back. If you didn’t hear Riley Barber was injured last weekend, played through it but was ruled out for six weeks. The curse of trades with Wilkes-Barre continue.

First Period: Devils ran amok on the Penguins, outshooting them 14-5 in the period, yet the two teams just scored a goal a side.

Binghamton first with Jesper Boqvist scoring on a rebound that made it 1-0 Devils.

Kevin Roy found Adam Johnson with a rainbow pass that sent Johnson off on a breakaway and Johnson buried it to tie the game at one.

The Penguins were lucky to get out of the period tied at one.

Second Period: Binghamton broke the dam.

They outshot the Penguins 15-4 and scored three times. Ben Street, Jesper Boqvist on a power play and Janne Kuokkanen all scored in the period to break the game wide open for the Devils and it was 4-1 after two.

Third Period: Penguins manage to get more shots at Senn, but they still trailed by three. Kevin Roy scored on a one timer off a Cole Cassels pass but :24 later Ryan Schmelzer scored to reestablish the three goal Devils lead.

Nathan Bastian blew away Casey DeSmith on a shorthanded goal that made it 6-2.

Jordy Bellerive scored a pair of power play goals in garbage time when Binghamton let off to make it 6-4.

Mistakes. Lackadaisical defending. At what point to we start talking about David Warsofsky and his -32 +/- or his 34.15% even strength goals for differential? You may as well call up Emil Larmi up now and let him get his lumps versus having DeSmith get shelled night in and night out.

Lost in all off this is Cole Cassels who is the teams MVP. He’s one guy you lock up the first chance you get this summer.

Three Stars: 3) Janne Kuokkanen (goal, assist) 2) Ryan Schmelzer (goal, two assists) 1) Jesper Boqvist (two goals)

The Good: There are players who want to play, Bellerive, Cassels and Roy come to mind and others who just want to ride. Lead, follow or get out of the away,

The Bad: This is only the second time since the Binghamton Devils have existed that they have defeated the Penguins.

Turning Point: Tons of little things, but Ryan Schmelzer’s goal which came seconds after Cassels in the third basically said that the Devils were going to assert their dominance and there wasn’t anything the Penguins could do about it.

Around the Division: Utica beats Charlotte 2-1. Providence beats Springfield 2-1 in overtime. The Thunderbirds will be affiliated with the St. Louis Blues next season. Silly season is upon us. Hershey beats Hartford 1-0. Bridgeport beats Lehigh Valley 6-4.

Standings: Hershey 78 — Providence 76 — Hartford 73 — Charlotte 68 — Springfield 63 — Penguins 62 — Lehigh Valley 56 — Bridgeport 49

Wheeling Update: Kalamazoo beats Wheeling 4-2.

Video Highlights: Moving on…

Bridgeport in Saturday. They always play the Pens tough so it’s a big task. Gameday here Saturday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

Mauled – Pens LOSE 6-2


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Tonight was just the second home game I missed in the ten or so years that I have been a season ticket holder. I have a sick cat. My buddy Barry hasn’t been eating, and a long story short is a likely diabetic which is causing pancreatitis which is causing his liver to fail on him. He was at the vet today and goes back Thursday. I am hoping that with supportive care that he pulls out of this and gets back to a semi normal lifestyle again.

Based off of that, this blog recap is going to be a bit on the fly.

Maybe it’s good that I missed the game. The Penguins lose 6-2. They look nothing like a playoff team right now. Providence wins their sixth straight and the Penguins, with an injection of Anthony Angello back from Pittsburgh, couldn’t do anything to look competitive after the second period.

Casey DeSmith opposed Dan Vladar.

They lined up like this.

No Varone yet. Lafferty was recalled Tuesday.

First Period: Missed all of it. Here’s the timeline.

Shot from the point. Vladar leaves loose chance and Sam Miletic smacks it in.

Josiah Didier charged at a puck left in the high slot off of a face-off draw and stepped into one and scored to make it 1-1.

Seemed like an even period from the vibe off of the Twitter feed.

Second Period: It wasn’t an even period.

:41 in and Cameron Hughes scored to make it 2-1.

About 65 passes on that play in a phone booth walking through the teeth of the defense.

Cameron Hughes picks a corner and it’s 3-1.

Niclas Almari caught watching again. He should sit next to me in Section 104 next game. I don’t move my legs much either when I’m at a Penguins game.

Riley Barber opened his scoring account and scored to make it 3-2. Miletic stripped Jack Studnika and he and Barber were off on a two on none.

Bruins respond in kind a few minutes later and Cooper Zech scored on a weird looking shot which beat DeSmith up high that made it 4-2.

Bruins controlled play, outshooting the Penguins 18-7 in the period.

Third Period: Bruins connect at the tail end of a power play as it expires and then later on a 5-on-3 to go up 5-2 then 6-2. The Penguins had a 5-on-3 that they could have had chance to score a goal on but made far too many passes and the time expired.

Penguins don’t connect on their five on three, the Bruins connect on theirs.

Three Stars: 3) Josiah Didier (goal, assist) 2) Cooper Cech (goal, assist) 1) Brendan Gaunce (two assists)

The Good: Good start, going up 1-0 and then only 1-1 at the end of one.

The Bad: That second period where they got steamrolled where they had the game essentially taken from them, doesn’t show me any signs that this team is anything close to a playoff team. Phil Varone isn’t going to fix this. They have a lot of issues which Providence exposed these past two games.

Turning Point: Failing to score on that five on three with time left in the third is a glaring miss.

Around the Division: Strange, but the Pens and Bruins were the only game in the division.

Standings: Hershey 74 — Hartford 71 — Providence 70 — Charlotte 64 — Springfield 62 — Penguins 62 — Lehigh Valley 54 — Bridgeport 45

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off tonight.

Video Highlights: I doubt they are going to want to cut up highlights of this dumpster fire.