Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Postgamer

Pretty Convincing — Pens WIN 4-2

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Seems like they are coming together.

You could see it last Saturday in a close game and loss in Hershey. They said all the right things, it felt like a win despite a loss, etc.

Wednesday in the rematch with Hershey they play a complete game, probably the best game of the young season and hand the Bears their first regulation loss of the season.

Easy to replicate against the Phantoms, yeah?

In this case, certainly. A 4-2 win against the first of many with Lehigh Valley, handing the Phantoms their first regulation loss of the 2021 season.

These Penguins are trending in the right direction. Up.

Max Lagace opposed Zane McIntyre.

Lineup: 

Lineup Changes: 

Narrator: Anthony Angello was already recalled, you dummy. Pittsburgh re-assigned Jordy Bellerive at 5.

First Period: Pens struck first and quickly, Will Reilly with a shot through traffic that beats Zane McIntyre through the five hole to give that gives Wilkes-Barre an early 1-0 lead.

Wilkes-Barre would find itself in a bit of penalty trouble when they had to kill off a five on three. Lehigh Valley’s power play was dead last coming into today’s action or else the Penguins would have been in big trouble. A late block of a pass by Kevin Czuczman, playing in his 400th AHL game, at the end of the period while Wilkes-Barre was still killing the two man disadvantage was a key point.

Second Period: Jon Lizotte beats McIntyre through the five hole for a goal that gives the Pens a 2-0 lead.

About :20 later, Phantoms rookie sensation Zayde Wisdom does this:

You aren’t supposed to be able to that that at his age in this league. Two defenders riding him, he steps by them like they aren’t even there, makes another move and flips it into the net to respond.

Penguins would get McIntyre again through the five hole when Jan Drozg tips in a Lizotte shot which gave the Penguins a two goal lead.

Third Period: Felix Robert scores on an absolute dart to make it 4-1 Penguins.

High quality snipe by the neophyte, if I can steal a line from Clyde Frazier.

Max Willman would respond about :40 later as an uncontrolled, pinballing puck is collected by Max Willman and put in to bring the Phantoms back within two.

(Taylor didn’t GIF this one, use your imagination)

They clamped it down from there, I was almost waiting for them to make a mistake but that never happened despite Lehigh Valley getting some power play opportunities.

Three Stars: 3) Felix Robert (goal, assist) 2) Jon Lizotte (goal, assist) 1) Jan Drozg (goal, assist)

The Good: Doesn’t seem like there are any leaks right now with this team. The earlier issues have been buttoned up, team looks great.

The Bad: When you are struggling to come up with something, you know it was a good game.

Turning Point: Going to give it to Robert tonight and his goal that gave the Penguins a 3 goal lead at the time in the third period. The Willman goal got the Phantoms closer, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

The two teams rematch Saturday in Allentown.

Around the Division: I don’t even know if Rochester or Utica or those other teams in the division are playing or not. Hershey and Binghatom are. That box is here. I don’t think there is going to be a playoff this season. If there was, you would think they would have announced something by now. They haven’t.

Gameday setup here Saturday at the more conventional 3 pm.

Highlights will be posted as a later edit provided I can get back around to a computer screen.

Let’s Go Pens!

Stay safe.

Loco for Zoho! — Pens WIN 4-2

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Maybe too early to call it a breakout game for Radim Zohorna, who had a pair of goals and assisted on another in this 4-2 Wilkes-Barre win Wednesday night, but more games like this from the rookie and you can probably point back to this night as to where it all started.

The Penguins deal the Bears their first regulation loss of the season in probably their most complete game of the 2021 campaign. They were close Saturday when the last played against these Bears, but they didn’t get any offense and one player, Connor McMichael, supplied all of the offense for the Bears. Tonight, I didn’t hear play by play man Nick Hart say McMichael’s name very much and the Penguins get a good win against a hated rival.

Max Lagace opposed Ilya Samsonov.

Here is how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: 

First Period: Pens killed 1:06 of five on three quite effectively with some nice stick work by Will Reilly who broke up a pass attempt.

Bears got on the board first with a goal from Will Graber.

(the Bears didn’t GIF any goals and Taylor took the night off)

Radim Zohorna answered right back with a goal that tied it.

Nice play here. Guy riding him, he keeps control of the puck and scores the goal.

Second Period: Anthony Angello stuffed in a rebound of a Freddy Gaudreau shot to give the Pens a 2-1 lead.

Which didn’t really last long because Mike Sgarbossa inadvertently blocked a teammates shot, collected the puck and shot it in for a goal that tied the game at two,.

Radim Zohorna scores his second goal of the night with a very nice crossover move that put the Pens ahead. Just look at this…

Nifty move.

Third Period: Zohorna would set up Nick Schilkey for his first goal of the season with this nice pass and better shot that gave the Penguins a two goal cushion.

Penguins played it cool from there but not without some close calls. Mike Sgarbossa hits the post twice on one shift, for example.

The Bears would pull Samsonov but never found any success. Zohorna missed a chance at the wide open net and his hat trick bid.

Three Stars: 3) Nick Schilkey (goal, assist) 2) Anthony Angello (goal, assist) 1) Radim Zohorna (two goals, assist)

The Good: As I mentioned in the open, probably the most complete game of the young campaign. Seems like the wheels are chugging in the right direction.

The Bad: Can’t really come up with anything other than the start, taking three straight penalties to start the game and giving the Bears a five on three says to me that you weren’t prepared to play the right way. Thankfully, they came away unscathed.

Turning Point: Schilkey’s goal that gave the Penguins the two goal lead gets the nod here. Play an almost perfect game and get a goal to go up two, the opponent probably isn’t coming back from that.

Lehigh Valley and Binghamton also played Wednesday. Box here. They are ranking the teams by percentage because the Bears have more points than the Phantoms, but the Phantoms are ahead of the Bears coming into Wednesday’s action.

Wilkes-Barre’s next game is another televised deal on Friday against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, at 5 pm.

If Coal Street runs a video package, it will go in this spot.

Let’s Go Pens!

Stay safe.

McMichael’d — Pens LOSE 3-1

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This one was a tough one to figure out on this Saturday afternoon. After an offensive explosion last week against Syracuse, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins go for 35 shots on goal against ECHL lifer Zach Fucale for the Bears and only come away with one goal to show. They only allow one player on the other team to score, but that player is quickly becoming the proverbial stone in the shoe for the Penguins.

A Connor McMichael hat trick, albeit on an empty net late, is all the Bears need Saturday afternoon as they beat the Penguins 3-1.

The aforementioned Fucale opposed Max Lagace.

Lineup:

Lineup Notes: Anthony Angello, Frederick Gaudreau and Max Lagace all made their WBS debuts. Angelo and Gaudreau went to the top line displacing Josh Currie (who was recalled) and Nick Schilkey. Schilkey dropped down to the second line. Chase Berger moved up to center the third line for Jordy Bellerive who was recalled. Jan Drozg down from the second line to this line. Nastasiuk slid over and centered the fourth line and Kyle Olson moved down from the third line to the fourth.

Defense pairs unchanged.

First Period: Teams trade power play goals. Zach Nastasiuk for the Pens to open the scoring:

Redirects for days on this shot. Nastasiuk was the last to touch it.

Hershey later responds on a give and go, shot, rebound score by Connor McMichael who scored his first of the contest.

Second Period: I think one of the keys to beating the Penguins this season is forcing the rookie defensemen to make mistakes.

😬💆‍♂️

Even game, tight contest, mistakes like these get magnified.

Third Period: Pens kill a penalty and then get two power plays late and can’t cash. With Lagace pulled for an extra attacker, they make a great play for Nick Schilkey who hits the post. An errant pass to no one is gobbled up by (who else) Connor McMichael who shoots from about 120 feet away and scores to complete his hat trick.

Three Stars: 3) Garrett Pilon (assist) 2) Zach Fucale (34 saves) 1) Connor McMichael (hat trick)

The Good: They scored one power play goal on six opportunities.

The Bad: They scored one power play goal on six opportunities.

Turning Point: Tight contest, McMichael’s goal 1:19 into the second period is enough for the Bears to ride out and grit out a win behind the rookies stellar play and the play in goal by Fucale who stopped 34.

Around the Division: I don’t know about you, but I kind of like these 1 pm away Saturday starts. Now I have the rest of the afternoon to myself. Anyway, Binghamton and Lehigh Valley play later at 7.

Video Highlights: 

Wilkes-Barre and Hershey rematch Wednesday evening at 5 in Wilkes-Barre. More then, if not sooner.

Let’s Go Pens!

Stay safe.

Night of Firsts — Pens WIN 5-4

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Couple of first goals for a few guys, first assists, first win for J.D. Forrest behind the bench, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins win their first game of the 2021 season 5-4 up in Syracuse Saturday night.

It wasn’t without a few puff out your cheeks moments, most especially in the third, where they have struggled the most.

After controlling play for the first forty minutes, it was a frenetic, nearly goal a minute pace in the third.

Things settled though without much more incident and the Pens have their first win of the season.

Emil Larmi opposed Sam Montembeault.

Before the game, the Penguins tweeted this…

Don’t want to speculate. Times are weird. Family, always first.

Lineup:

Lineup Notes: Felix Robert and Luke Stevens made their AHL debuts. Robert took Jordan Nolan’s spot, Stevens was in Justin Almeida’s spot. D pairs shuffled, Dylan MacPherson for Josh Maniscalco. 300th AHL game for Josh Currie.

First Period: I liked the way they played in the period. Syracuse is a dangerously offensive team that like to run you and gun you.

40 seconds out of the gate, Radim Zohorna drives to the net and Jan Drozg sweeps the puck in to give the Penguins an early 1-0 lead.

Penguins would work out of a double minor penalty. They tiptoed in and out of trouble on the kill.

Emil Larmi continued with his on point play, stopping Gabriel Fortier point blank then Alex Barre-Boulet after this ridiculous pass which sprung him for a scoring opportunity.

Barre-Boulet finally got a goal to go when he picked a corner on Larmi and tied the game at one.

Second Period: They clamped down in the second, went on three power plays and scored two goals in the period.

Good to see Berger get going early.

They kept grinding away at Syracuse and got a late goal from Kyle Olson on this dart that gave Wilkes-Barre a two goal lead.

Play by play man Nick Hart mentioned it in the intermission, but Felix Robert was getting under the skin of the Crunch skaters.

Shots were 13-6 Wilkes-Barre in the period.

But the big test was navigating the third period, which hasn’t been kind to them in the first two games.

Third Period: Four goals in the first forty minutes, then four in the games first 4:40.

2:10 in, Grigori Denisenko scored to bring the Crunch to within one.

About 1:40 later, Gabriel Fortier scored to tie the game at three.

Not this again.

Will Reillly scored to push the Pens ahead again.

That was :16 later, by the way. A hell of a response.

But :29 after that…

Chaos indeed.

Wilkes-Barre goes on the first power play of the period.

They scored on it.

And they settled things down from there. No more scoring and the pace of the game stayed quick as the Crunch, with Montembeault pulled for an extra attacker, never found the equalizer.

Those firsts I mentioned at the open?

Three Stars: 3) Grigori Denisenko (goal) 2) Alex Barre-Boulet (two goals) 1) Kyle Olson (goal, assists)

The Good: They stayed step for step with an offensively gifted Syracuse Crunch team when they were running and gunning. They did, for large stretches, control the pace as well.

The Bad: Why all of a sudden after an overall quiet first forty minutes did we get four goals in the first 4:40 of the third?

Turning Point: That power play that they scored on after all of that scoring deflated the Crunch after the frenetic push they made. Penguins hung on from there.

Around the Division: Utica clips Binghamton 6-5 in a shootout.

They are off for a whole week before they meet up with Hershey again. More likely then, no Power Rankings this year or anything like that. News and notes as it warrants.

Video Highlights:

Let’s Go Pens!

Stay safe.

Growing Pains? — Pens LOSE 3-2

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Emil Larmi deserved better. He really did.

He had 33 saves in a very, very, strong game, but his teammates struggled on special teams, going 1 for 6 on the power play and only 5 for 7 on the penalty kill and its the special teams that let them down Thursday as Hershey takes this one 3-2.

Larmi opposed Pheonix Copley.

Lineup:

Lineup Notes: Essentially Jan Drozg for Michael Joly on the second line wing.

First Period: Emil Larmi had a strong period. He really did. He made one mistake. A big one, that cost his team a goal.

It happens.

Larmi was getting shelled, the Bears outshot the Penguins 12-6 in the period, but he was up to task after some very difficult saves.

Penguins get on the board when Tim Schaller, signed this week to an AHL contract, went bar down and in to tie the game at one.

So a mix of what you saw in the third period Monday, but with better puck luck and stellar goaltending play.

Second Period: Penguins open the period with a power play goal when Josh Currie shoots one in off a terrific play by Cam Lee to put the Penguins ahead 2-1.

But the Bears answer right back on a power play of their own, when Mike Sgarbossa sniped one past Larmi to bring the teams level at two.

They then went into a penalty fest, where the Penguins enjoyed a long stretch of two man advantage but were unable to score. There were a few chances at tap in goals but they were foiled for one reason or another by the Bears penalty kill or Pheonix Copley.

Late, this ten bell save by Larmi will go on his personal highlight reel.

Larmi stayed dialed in, the Penguins power play was a jumble and the teams were tied at two heading into the…

Third Period: They killed one penalty but then Chase Berger put a puck over glass and Connor McMichael scored to make it 3-2 and put the Bears in front for good.

Wilkes-Barre didn’t get a single power play in the third, Hershey got three and scored on that one there. In a game full of microcosms, that is what wins Hershey the game.

Three Stars: 3) Emil Larmi (33 saves) 2) Garrett Pilon (two assists) 1) Mike Sgarbossa (goal, assist)

The Good: I have a feeling they are going to ride Larmi for all he is worth in this shortened season, and he passed the test with flying colors tonight, just could not get any run support.

The Bad: Can’t really get on the power play tonight when they score one and two on Monday, but the lack of success and maybe the undisciplined play leading to them having to kill penalties does them in tonight.

Turning Point: Tyler with the foreshadowing:

This is after Wilkes-Barre failed to score on the two man advantage there in the second.

So far, I haven’t seen anything special out of Hershey, Lehigh Valley or Syracuse. Binghamton may be the best out of all four Penguins opponents this season, but there is time to get things shook out.

Around the Division and Standings: I don’t think I am going to update these, since the Penguins didn’t see anyone in the division play Thursday and standings may be useless because I honestly don’t think there will be a playoff this year.

Wheeling Update: Same goes here. Half of what was on Wheeling when they started the season are playing in Wilkes-Barre now anyway.

Video Highlights: 

Let’s Go Pens!

Stay safe.

Don’t Call It a Collapse — Pens LOSE 4-3 (OT)

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I knew they were young at the back, I didn’t think they were that young at the back.

The Penguins played five rookie defensemen in their opening contest against Binghamton, delayed 48 hours because of COVID and carried a 3-1 lead into the third period. That was where they were met with a Devils buzzsaw. Binghamton gets two in the third and the one in overtime to win 4-3 Monday evening.

Emil Larmi opposed Evan Cormier.

Here is how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: If you are wondering where Shane Starrett is, you aren’t the only one. Apparently he is still getting in shape and they have Brochu backing up. I guess that explains his horrible ECHL numbers….Jan Drozg was scratched because of COVID….earlier Monday the Pens signed Tim Schaller to an AHL contract.

First Period: They went back and forth for about fourteen minutes in a virtual deadlock and then Jordy Bellerive scored the first goal of the 2021 season (I am not calling it 2020-21) when he chipped a puck off of the wall and put the shot on Cormier which ricocheted off him to Devils defenseman Brandon Gignac and careened into the net for a goal.

They closed the period a defense mess, which I suppose you will need to get used to dressing 5 of 6 rookie defenseman but Emil Larmi was up to task, stopping Tyler Irvine and then ex-Penguin Ben Street on separate chances.

Foreshadowing.

Second Period: I was ready to point out some more lax defending by the rookies, but then play by play man Nick Hart noted that Binghamton was without a shot with about six minutes left to play, then get a flurry of shots and one of them goes in, deflecting off of Nolan Foote’s foot and in.

Matt Miller takes a puck off the helmet while the Penguins were on a penalty kill.

It didn’t take long for the Penguins to regain the lead when Josh Currie scored his first as Penguins captain on a power play.

Then, an absolute gaffe of epic proportions by the Binghamton Devils.

On a delayed penalty against the Penguins, Evan Cormier leaves his net. Binghamton plays the puck back and it eludes everyone, Cormier included, and rolls harmlessly into the net to give Wilkes-Barre a 3-1 lead.

Sometimes you’re the hammer, sometimes you’re the nail.

Third Period: That slow start that I eluded to in the second period by the Devils was non-existent in the third. Binghamton peppers Larmi with shots and gets one to go when Danick Martel redirects a Tyler Irvine shot at the net which beats Larmi to cut the Penguins lead to just one.

Devils continue to roll, outshooting the Penguins at a four to one pace and Ryan Schmelzer sees a shot hit the post then hits him in the chest, where he sweeps it in the net to tie the game at three.

Penguins would get a late power play. Jon Gruden digs a puck off of the wall and tries to beat Cormier over the glove but the Binghamton goalie makes the save.

It was then off to…

Overtime: Reilly Walsh didn’t waste any time with all that open ice.

Three Stars: 3) Cam Lee (two assists) 2) Danick Martel (goal, assist) 1) Reilly Walsh (overtime game winning goal)

The Good: Power play clicked at a 50% pace. Probably not sustainable in the long term, but good to see.

The Bad: That defense is green, man. No answer whatsoever for the blitzkrieg the Devils unloaded in the third period at a four to one pace. Got to tighten up.

Turning Point: Late power play, game on the line and the Penguins come up empty. Game heads to overtime. Binghamton wins it. It may be meaningless because I don’t think they are doing playoffs, but two points would have been nice in this shortened season versus just one.

 Around the Division: They all watched us.

Standings: I am not going to pay much attention to this until there is word on if there will be a playoff. Don’t bet on it.

Wheeling Feeling: The Nailers were off.

Video Highlights: Coal Street didn’t offer any.

Let’s Go Pens!

Stay safe.

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.