Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Postgamer

Playing Out the String — Pens LOSE 4-1

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These are house money games. Meaningless when you are cemented into the four seed and you already know your fate, the idea with the final two games of the regular season is simple, don’t get hurt.

It’s deeper than that sure, but going 5/5 on the power play while losing your top two players to injury in a 7-1 blowout doesn’t do you any favors.

The Pens better hope they don;’t run into Syracuse again this season. I have the feeling that the Crunch are going to be a tough out in this Calder Cup Playoffs and good luck to the rest of the teams in the North Division that have to run up on this side. It very well may be Syracuse that comes out of the North in the Conference Finals.

Maybe, Utica led that division wire to wire, but that’s for next weeks Playoff Preview.

Pens lose 4-1. No one got hurt, so it’s a loss in the books but a win anyway.

Tommy Nappier opposed Max Lagace.

Lines were…

Lineup Notes: Color me shocked that they went with Nappier in goal, but perhaps he wanted to stay sharp against live fire vs. sitting at home this weekend. Clayton Phillips and Ty Glover made their pro debuts, Niclas Almari’s first game since December 14.

First Period: Droned on in bits, but Remi Elie found some space and opened the scoring past halfway to put the Crunch up 1-0.

Pens had the only crack on a power play which had some good looks but lacked finish. Where have I seen this before?

Second Period: Radim Zohorna finally cracks the Lagace code and scores to tie the game at one.

But Syracuse answers right back on a 2-on-1 to go up 2-1.

That was Symon Ryfors taking a feed from Remi Elie.

Gabriel Dumont scores his 30th goal of the season with a pretty play.

Third Period: Pens had a crack at an early power play but couldn’t come up with anything. Syracuse had two cracks and had the same luck. Alex Green hit an empty netter with Tommy Nappier pulled.

Three Stars: 3) Max Lagace (20 saves) 2) Symon Ryfors (goal) 1) Remi Elie (goal, assist)

The Good: No one got hurt.

The Bad: Would like to see them beat Syracuse, but that’s discounting a Crunch team which still had the two seed in the North to play for.

Turning Point: The Dumont goal late in the second put an already out of reach game it seemed for the Penguins, that much further from their grasp.

They finish out the regular season in Allentown Saturday. The Penguins will kick off the Calder Cup Playoffs Friday at home against Hershey.

Spoiler Alert — Pens LOSE 6-3

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Full disclosure on this one, a 6-3 Penguins loss Sunday to the Hartford Wolf Pack, playing in their final regular season game of the season.

The Penguins magic number to secure home ice over the Hershey Bears in the Calder Cup Playoffs, best of three between the teams is two. Well, Hartford, after the utter and epic collapse the Wolf Pack displayed at the end of the season going from the top team in the Atlantic to out of a playoff berth played spoiler and beat the Penguins straight up.

It went, based off of what I picked up on radio (I was traveling back from a camping trip in Lancaster Sunday) is that they went back and forth and in the third period, the Wolf Pack, with no tomorrow to play for, emptied the tank and scored two goals and then a meaningless empty netter with starting goaltender Tommy Nappier pulled for an extra attacker.

Filip Hallander had a pair of goals, and Alex Nylander had the other.

Anthony Angello replaced Felix Robert from the only lineup change from Saturday in Springfield. Robert is a guy whom I do not believe should ever be scratched. But as I say time and time again, I don’t coach the club, I just blog about them.

We will wait and see if the Pens can back into a playoff spot with Hershey playing Syracuse at home in the Bears regular season finale late Sunday. If the Bears lose, I will update either the blog or make a new post.

Wilkes-Barre closes out its regular season next weekend with one in Syracuse and one in Lehigh Valley. News as it comes, but if not talk to you again for the final Weekend Preview of the regular season late next week.

Let’s Go Pens!

Better Bird — Pens LOSE 3-1

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Joel Blomqvist started the game in goal for the Penguins, making his debut in goal for Wilkes-Barre and deserved a better fate.

Blomqvist is the future in goal for this team and his team ran into special teams trouble against a team really good at that aspect of the game and Wilkes-Barre loses 3-1. Blomqvist deserved a better fate, in my opinion.

Blomqvist opposed Joel Hofer.

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: Joel Blomqvist made his AHL debut in goal for the Pens. No other lineup changes for the Penguins so the #PlayYourKids isn’t on just yet, with fourth place still on the line.

First Period: Radim Zohorna scored two power play goals last night in Providence, and scored another Saturday in Springfield.

Springfield responded fairly quickly, with a goal by Tommy Cross.

Springfield didn’t score on their first power play, James Neal got close when a puck squirted on him in the crease and the Penguins rookie made the save.

But then, on a double minor, the Thunderbirds scored on the back end of it. James Neal didn’t miss this time.

He scored with four seconds left.

Second Period: Uneventful but for the fight between Will Bitten and Cam Lee. Pens navigated out of another Springfield power play.

Third Period: Pens had pedal to the metal attitude to start the period and that continued throughout, but Hofer was a wall in net for the Thunderbirds. Time slowly became the enemy of the Penguins and with Blomqvist pulled, the Penguins couldn’t find the equalizer.

The Good: Good showing for Blomqvist in goal. Really no complaints with the kids play. The Pens played a decent game but we’re bit on the penalty kill.

The Bad: Sentimental games are nice, but as the Penguins are a playoff team, they are going to ruin in to teams better than them on special teams like the Thunderbirds. They have to figure out how to win games like this.

Turning Point: They we’re four seconds way from getting out of the first 1-1, but NHL sniper James Neal snipes Blomqvist for the goal that stands up as the game winner.

Three Stars: 3) James Neal (goal) 2) Will Bitten (goal, assist) 1) Joel Hofer, 32 saves.

Around the Division: Link to those boxes here. 6:05 start in Springfield tonight, Pens were done an hour early.

Standings: Pens magic number for the four seed and home ice in the first round is four. They should make it, with three games left.

Wheeling Update: Nailers in Game 2 with Fort Wayne, up 1-0 in the series. Box here.

Video Highlights: You should know where to find these.

Back at it in Hartford at 3 Sunday.

Let’s Go Pens!

Playoff Bound at the Surgery Center — Pens WIN 4-1

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If you read the below and only this, I won’t be mad.

Thanks to Hartford losing AND Lehigh Valley losing in overtime, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are playoff bound.

Oh, the Penguins needed to handle their business themselves in order to even have the out of town scoreboard matter and they did. They did it with about the most methodical takedown if I ever saw one of one of the top teams in the Atlantic Division.

Penguins win 4-1 Friday night in Providence, a place they have not lost in regulation in this season and have fortified what looks like a 4th place finish in the division.

Lineup Notes: Reinke for Swoyer on defense, Drew O’Connor for Anthony Angello.

First Period: All Penguins to start. Providence took a penalty and in short order, Radim Zohorna made them pay.

But then the Penguins took a penalty and the roles were reversed. Justin Brazeau scored to tie the game at one.

Shots were 12-7 at the end of one. The Penguins came into the game needing a win and help from out of town to clinch a playoff spot, so to this point they were holding up their end of the bargain by controlling what they could control.

Second Period: All Penguins in this period as well, Matt Bartkowski scored off a nice setup and the Penguins were up 2-1.

The Penguins were getting power plays and kept making the Bruins pay. Radim Zohorna scored again on a power play to give the Penguins a 3-1 lead.

Juuso Riikola took a hard hit along the board and left the game.

That was the power play the Zohorna scored on.

FIlip Hallander scored at the buzzer of another Bruins power play but time had already expired.

Third Period: The surgical dissection continued and the Penguins optioned to press. Then Kyle Olson salted the game away with a goal that made it 4-1 and that quelled any Bruins attempt at a serious comeback.

Three Stars: 3) Justin Brazeau (goal) 2) Drew O’Connor (two assists) 1) Radim Zohorna (two goals)

The Good: What a way to take down the top (coming into tonight) team in the Atlantic tonight with a surgical takedown. That will be a good sign if these teams meet again down the road this season.

The Bad: Can’t think of anything here because the Penguins pressured all game and got what they came for.

Turning Point: The second Zohorna goal, which came about after the hit into the board by Riikola, one of the Penguins best defenseman, put the game in serious favor for the away team.

Around the Division: Got help from Hershey beating Lehigh Valley 4-3 in overtime (thank Brett Leason when you see him next, he scored the OT game winner) and Charlotte beating Hartford 2-1. None of the other scores mattered.

Standings: Wilkes-Barre, Hershey, and Bridgeport secured playoff spots. The Penguins are still in fourth, .542 to .527 over Hershey.

Wheeling Update: Nailers are in Game 1 with Fort Wayne. Box here.

Video Highlights: I am RVing this weekend so I am not sure I will work my way back around to this.

Now to see what type of lineup they dress the final five games of the season with the x next to their name. Guess we don’t have to wait to find out long, back at it Saturday in Springfield.

Let’s Go Pens!

Buckeye Blast – Pens WIN 3-0

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They finally got one for their goaltender.

24 saves for The Ohio State University’s Tommy Nappier, his first professional shutout, in a professional takedown of the Hershey Bears in what will likely bee a first round playoff preview, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins take down the Hershey Bears 3-0 on Tuesday evening.

Work night. Let’s not dilly dally.

Here’s the box. 

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: Drew O’Connor and Mitch Reinke were out. O’Connor with an “ailment” and Reinke sick, non-COVID.

First Period: No scoring, but great pace. Nice outlet pass from Juuso Riikola found Valtteri Puustinen for a breakaway, then Colin Swoyer set up a few plays, stopping Brett Leason on a partial breakaway then setting up Felix Robert for a Grade A chance which was stopped.

With how wide open as it was, there were chances. Mike Sgarbossa broke in but hit a post and then Alex Nylander had a chance as well but was stopped.

Second Period: They remained close, trading early power plays. Michael Chaput had a chance on a breakaway about halfway through but couldn’t finish.

Jordy Bellerive was called for a questionable elbowing call, I thought it could have been a high stick, and the Pens were on a penalty kill.

Kasper Bjorkqvist chased a puck into the corner unimpeded and found Michael Chaput streaking to the net. He led him to the net with a pass that Chaput pool cues past Fucale and in for a 1-0 Penguins lead.

Well executed and a perfect finish.

Third Period: Nice setup by Cam Lee and Alex Nylander slams home one in front and the Penguins double their lead.

Pens navigated a penalty kill quite well. Hershey started to press.

Out of a time out, Head Coach Scott Allen pulls Fucale for an extra man. Pens win the face off to P.O. Joseph in the corner and Joseph flips it about 198 feet away into the empty net which made it 3-0.

Three Stars: 3) Alex Nylander (goal) 2) Michael Chaput 1) Tommy Nappier (24 saves)

The Good: Amazing second half turn around by JD Forrest’s team. This team was crap at the outset of the season, decimated by COVID around Christmas and has been a hard team to play against down the stretch. Fourth place is theirs for the taking now.

The Bad: Can’t fill this out truthfully. They executed perfectly in all areas.

Turning Point: The shorthanded goal was a huge momentum lift for the Pens and it stood up as the game winner.

Around the Division: At this point, none of what goes on with the division matters to these two teams. Here’s the link if you want to see the out of town scores. I’d run through these but it’s late, on a worknight home game.

Standings: Again, these two teams being so close to one another, what matters is who finishes ahead of who for home ice. Pens are even with Hershey now on points with two games in hand. Both teams have 76 points. Pens are fourth and I think control their own destiny for this, with the games in hand on Hershey. I don’t know, again it’s late.

Wheeling Update: Nailers regular season wrapped up last weekend. They open with Fort Wayne in the playoffs this weekend.

Video Highlights: 

Weekend Preview this Thursday for the three road games Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Let’s Go Pens!

By the Skin of Their Teeth — Pens WIN 6-5

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So I was thinking about this win the drive home.

The Pens have played the Bridgeport Islanders twice in a two week span and also played the Syracuse Crunch in that same two week span. They beat the Islanders with 9 goals two weeks ago and  6 goals tonight. 15 goals total. They don’t score a single goal in two games in two games against Syracuse. Go figure.

Pens win 6-5 and, as the headline says, by the skin of their teeth. They had a 6-3 lead then hold on to win 6-5.

Magic number to clinch is 7. I think. Math was never my strong suit.

Tommy Nappier is going to be the guy around these parts. Tristan Jarry is week to week.

Nappier opposed Corey Schneider

They lined up like this:

Bridgeport didn’t post lines.

Lineup Notes: Jordy Bellerive and Jamie Devane out, Anthony Angello and Felix Robert in up front. Will Reilly for Colin Swoyer on defense.

First Period: Bridgeport scores on their first two shots of the game. Simon Holmstrom and Michael Dal Colle score.

Hot start by the Islanders, but the Pens have been in these waters before.

Felix Robert should be a lineup regular. After a move like this, he has to be.

What a pass, what a shot, what a play.

Later, Filip Hallander deflected a shot off of Schneider and it was tied.

No GIF of this one.

Second Period: Valtteri Puustinen on a snipe and the Pens lead 3-2.

Mitch Reinke gets a baffling goal. Corey Schneider makes a glove save, the puck pops out of his glove, goes up in the air and then goes behind him and in the net for a 4-2 Penguins lead.

Just a terrible, awful blunder by Schneider. I would have pulled him if I were Brent Thompson, especially after that gaffe. Islanders in a battle for their playoff life, and you let in a boffo goal like that.

Penguins penalty kill used to be reliable, and Louis Domingue may have a hand in that, but Chris Terry, who is developing into a Penguins killer, scores far dot to make it a one goal game again.

Michael Chaput scores a power play goal, Sam Poulin tries The Michigan, Drew O’Connor scores and the Pens give up another power play goal and it’s 6-4 heading into the third. Here’s all what I just mentioned…

Third Period: A note about the officiating. Justin Kea didn’t have a very good game in my estimation, officiating the scoreboard vs. the action on the ice. A minor infractor would be a penalty on the Penguins, while a blatant foul by the Islanders goes uncalled.

Paul LaDue brings the Islanders to within one.

Puff out your cheeks moments for the Penguins, but they hold on as even with an empty net, the Islanders would not find the equalizer.

Three Stars: Valtteri Puustinen (goal, assist) 2) Drew O’Connor (goal, assist) 1) Juuso Riikola (four assists)

The Good: Too much fun and gun for me but it was nice to see the offense come to life.

The Bad: Domingue is going to be gone a while guys, hafta figure out the penalty kill. You aren’t scoring six goals every night.

Turning Point: The O’Connor goal was one at the time made it a bit of a laugher, but was just enough to get the Pens across the line first.

Around the Division: None of the other games mattered. It’s late. Hershey was off.

Standings: Hershey with 76 points in fourth; Pens in fifth with 74 and a game in hand. Pens have enough of a cushion I think on sixth place Bridgeport who only have two games left.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers lose 5-0 to Fort Wayne.

Video Highlights: Will probably go up when this does.

Happy Easter. Let’s Go Pens!

Puusty Power! — Pens WIN 3-2

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I think we have a playoff preview on our hands. Only thing that is going to need to be decided is who gets the four seed.

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins take down the Hershey Bears 3-2 in overtime in comeback fashion. Their tenth goal scored with the goaltender pulled to tie it, then a Valtteri Puustinen power play goal to end it in overtime to win it. The Bears escape with a point, but Wilkes-Barre draws ever so closer to the Bears and the four seed with two games in hand.

Tommy Nappier from THEE Ohio State University opposed Zach Fucale. Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: Anthony Angello was out and Jamie Devane was back in. Cam Lee replaced Will Reilly. Angello is still dealing with illness.

First Period: Flying start by the Penguins who go up 1-0 on a Kasper Bjorkqvist shot that bleeds through Fucale that gives the Pens a 1-0 lead.

But then Hershey responds in kind on an Ethan Frank power play goal that looks eerily similar to the Hershey power play goals of yore.

Shades of Keith Aucoin setting up Alex Giroux from that very spot. That Frank kid was probably still in elementary school.

The power play goal by Hershey ended the Pens streak of 30 consecutive kills over eight games.

Second Period: No scoring, but the Penguins had a pair of back to back power play tries they were unsuccessful on.

Third Period: Next goal huge, obviously. Hershey scores it on a power play (again) on a  deflection in front by Mason Morelli.

The Penguins thought they scored a goal but referee Justin Kea washed it out immediately on account of a hand pass into the net. Replay confirmed his initial call on the ice. The fans in attendance weren’t happy, but the camera doesn’t lie.

Time dwindling, goal needed, delivered by Radim Zohorna off a deflection from a Juuso Riikola shot that ties the game at two with Nappier pulled with just over two minutes to play.

Overtime: Big save by Nappier :13 in. Brett Leason with a trip :24 in. Valtteri Puustinen a few minutes later on the power play:

Ballgame.

There Stars: 3) Kasper Bjorkqvist (goal) 2) Radim Zohorna (goal) Valtteri Puustinen (goal)

The Good: Nice way to come back there at the end with your backs at the wall. Playoff like intensity and the Pens prevail.

The Bad: Penalty kill was a weak spot when for so long it was a strong suit.

Turning Point: In a game full of them, the Puustinen game winner that ended it gets it here.

Around the Division: Only games that matter were Hartford losing in Toronto 4-1 and Bridgeport beating Lehigh Valley to vault into sixth in the division with a 2-1 overtime win in Allentown.

Standings4) Hershey .535 5) Penguins .522 6) Bridgeport .514 7) Hartford .500

I think you can stick a fork in the Wolf Pack.

Wheeling Update: Nailers clinched so its all about seeding for them. They lose to Fort Wayne 2-1 at home.

In the who plays who tomorrow, Hershey is off. This is one of the two games in hand the Pens play Saturday against the Islanders.

Video Highlights: If I see them and can work the edit in…you know the rest.

Let’s Go Pens!