Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Postgamer

A Good Bjork — Pens WIN 2-1 (OT)

Instead of a bad Bjork or break. Hey, it’s something.

The Penguins and Wolf Pack nearly skated to a stalemate in Wilkes-Barre Friday. There were chances aplenty for each side but no finish for either as the Penguins and Wolf Pack needed overtime to decide this one. A goal by Kasper Bjorkqvist is the deciding goal and the Penguins win 2-1 in overtime and improve their record to 2-1 on this very young season.

Filip Lindberg opposed Keith Kinkaid.

Here’s how they lined up:

Hartford didn’t post theirs. Hell, they didn’t even send a radio broadcaster. Keith Kincaid got the start, as I predicted. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and again.

Lineup Notes:

No need to recall anyone for Tristan Jarry as it was a false positive. Jarry practiced today in Pittsburgh.

First Period: Both teams navigated through a penalty kill. Penguins break through off a rush where Filip Hallander scored on a rebound of a Nathan Legare shot. First pro point for Legare. First non-Finn goal scored for WBS.

With :23 left, a puck from the point hits PC Labrie who corrals it and passes to Anthony Greco who snaps it past Lindberg for a goal that tied the game at one heading into the…

Second Period: Forgettable. They had just three shots in the period despite three power plays. The power play looked disjointed, and that’s saying something after watching 10 years of this team trying to properly execute a power play.

Third Period: Better fortunes for the Penguins shot wise. Not a lot of penalties but for an offsetting roughing call. You got the sense as the game wore on that it was going to be next shot wins.

Nothing developed in the period but for this near miss by Nathan Legare that went off the post.

Seemed like there were a lot of breakaways in the game, but no one wanted to score.

Overtime: Hartford with a good 90 seconds of possession and shot after shot after shot. Then the Penguins regained possession and then were able to slowly gain entry to the offensive zone. Jordy Bellerive flips a shot that goes off of Keith Kinkaid’s pads and, well I will just let the pictures tell the rest of the story:

Three Stars: 3) Filip Hallander (goal) 2) Filip Lindberg (30 saves on 31 shots 1) Kasper Bjorkqvist (overtime game winning goal)

The Good: They managed a way to win. It was not pretty by any means, but sometimes that is what it takes.

The Bad: You can take the last sentence from above and apply it here. Seemed like the Penguins had more talent on paper but Hartford was just better in a few areas. Get a team in with more talent than Hartford and you can run into a problem.

Turning Point: The obvious goal by Bjorkqvist.

Around the Division: Charlotte beats Hershey in the Checkers home opener 5-3….Utica clips Providence in overtime 2-1….Springfield is off to a 3-0 start with a 3-1 win over the Islanders.

Standings: Still too early for these. Pens bump from 6th to 4th in the division.

They are off Saturday and back at it Sunday at 3 in Allentown. More after then.

Let’s Go Pens!

No D’Accord — Pens LOSE 4-1

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Well, you can’t win them all.

After looking like world beaters Saturday night against Lehigh Valley, it seemed like the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins couldn’t get out of their own way Sunday, losing 4-1 to the Charlotte Checkers.

What may have helped is that the Checkers had a hell of a hand playing goal for them also.

Joey Daccord, a Seattle Kraken prospect playing in Charlotte this season with the Checkers dual affiliation, was lights out Sunday, stymieing the Penguins offense and stopping 26 shots. He was beat once, when the Penguins had a late power play and pulled starter Tommy Nappier for an extra attacker. Felix Robert was a beneficiary of a puck careening off of the back wall right to him for a goal, spoiling an otherwise stellar appearance by Daccord.

Juuso Riikola was a -3 today. The rest of the defensemen weren’t great either but Riikola was on the ice for two of the even strength goals against and was caught watching when Max McCormick skated in behind the defense midway into the third period which made it 3-0.

Tommy Nappier was the hard luck loser in goal. Kid can’t buy any run support when he is in the nets. His record in the AHL drops to 1-3 (going back to last years exhibition season)

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: Felix Robert for Jan Drozg up front, the third line stayed intact. P.O. Joseph was sent down Sunday morning and replaced Chris Bigras. Alex D’Orio backed up.

“Minor” lower body injuries to Anthony Angello and Louis Domingue.

First Period: No scoring. Penguins had two power plays and didn’t score. Charlotte gave up two power play goals to Hershey the night prior, but their PK looked excellent.

Second Period: Lucas Carlsson’s shot through traffic goes in to open the scoring for the visitors:

Later, Chase Priskie with a shot that Alex True deflects in for a 2-0 lead on a power play.

Jonathan Gruden had no puck luck, multiple occasions for would be tap in goals didn’t go for him.

Third Period: Max McCormick with a stick lift on Michael Chaput and he’s in all alone for a goal.

Penguins respond with a goal late with Nappier pulled when Felix Robert breaks up the Daccord shutout bid.

I want to thank Taylor for allowing me to again run her video recaps of plays here on the blog this year.

Zac Dalpe hit an empty netter that made it the final, 4-1.

The Good: If you find something good that came out of this game, let me know.

The Bad: Man that defense stunk today. Look for changes Friday against Hartford, I would assume.

Turning Point: When they could’t score early on those two first period power plays nor muster anything indicative of a high danger scoring threat, you knew it was going to be an uphill battle.

Three Stars: 

I just noticed that the graphic doesn’t say who did what. True had a goal and an assist, Carlsson the same and Daccord stopped 26 of 27.

Around the Division: Could be worse, could be Lehigh Valley. Phantoms lose 2-1 to Hershey. Phantoms had eight power plays in that game to Hershey’s two. Hartford, here Friday, beats Providence 4-3 in a shootout. It’s the Wolf Pack’s third game in three days. Springfield beat Bridgeport 4-3 in a shootout also.

Standings: Too soon, but the Penguins are where I have them being at the end of the regular season, and that’s presently in sixth place. .500 right now. Again, it’s too soon. I’ll pick this up in due time.

Week of practice one would assume then a game Friday assist Hartford before a Saturday off then a road trip to Lehigh Valley. If not anything during the week, talk to you either Thursday or Friday for the Weekend Setup.

Let’s Go Pens!

Way to Finnish — Pens WIN 2-1

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I had this to say when I found out that Filip Lindberg was getting the start in net Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre, where I was expecting Alex D’Orio.

Maybe. Alex D’Orio didn’t dress, Tommy Nappier from The Ohio State University backed up and apparently Louis Domingue is injured. So Lindberg needed to step up and step up he did.

Penguins win 2-1, led by their Finnish players in Lindberg with goals by Niclas Almari and Vallteri Puustinen. A strong start to the season keeping Lehigh Valley’s high powered offense in check.

Here’s how they lined up:

Notes: Sam Houde was in for Anthony Angello, who was a mystery scratch. I think they are looking to protect him in case of the inevitable Pittsburgh injury.

First Period: Puustinen opens his account as the Penguins scored on the first power play of the season with this dart that gave Wilkes-Barre a 1-0 lead:

Jamie Devane massacred Brennan Saulnier in a fight. I don’t see many one sided fights at this level often, this was a mauling.

Shots were 13-6 Phantoms. Lindberg faced a firing squad in the period and looked unfazed and undaunted.

Second Period: Lehigh Valley draws even when Tyson Foerster beats Lindberg on a quick shot off a transition rush. Penguins were taking too many silly penalties for my liking and Lehigh Valley finally broke through on the power play.

(no GIF of the Foerster goal, sorry)

Third Period: Niclas Almari had a seeing eye shot go in. Defender gave him too much time and space and Almari set up and chose his shot placement carefully.

Lindberg continued to dazzle, making a huge stop on Connor Bunnaman that preserved the 2-1 lead Wilkes-Barre had at the time.

I didn’t think at any point they were nursing a lead, maybe when they were up 1-0, but after getting scored on to tie the game back at one it seemed that was the cold slap in the face that they needed to get them going in the right direction.

With Sandstrom pulled for the extra attacher, the visitors never found the equalizer.

Three Stars: 

The Good: My expectations are low, but man they looked good. Phantoms have some big time scorers on their team and the Penguins held them all in check. You have something special with Lindberg in goal and Puustinen I thought was at times the best player on the ice.

The Bad: The silly too many men penalties they took in the second spoiled what could have been a shutout for Lindberg in his pro debut.

Turning Point: I thought I had it when they killed off one of the penalties about midway in the second. Lindberg was dialed in and nothing was going to get past him. The next power play they score, so out the window goes that idea. Give to to Almari after his goal which set the pace for the Penguins who seemed to settle down coming out of the chute for the third and played better with the lead then they did the first time they had it.

Around the Division: Hershey beats Charlotte 5-2. Five different scorers for the Bears and they also struck twice on the power play….Providence beats Bridgeport 2-1 in a shootout….Springfield clips Hartford 2-1 at home. Lots of 2-1 scores tonight.

Standings: It’s too early for this. Plus, they are doing them by percentage points this year.

Back here on the blog after the 3 p.m. Sunday game with Charlotte. No pregame setup, I kind of gave it to you in the Weekend Preview. I think you should see D’Orio with probably Nappier backing up. I’ll be wrong again though probably.

Out the door, it was cool to be there Saturday for some history.

Didn’t notice the referees much tonight. That’s a good thing.

Let’s Go Pens!

Preseason Game #3 – Phantoms 4, Penguins 3 (OT)

Penguins played in their final preseason game before the real thing starts next Saturday. They were in Allentown playing against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Phantoms are next Saturday’s opponent. Let’s hope that tonight’s result, a 4-3 overtime loss, isn’t a preview of coming attractions for next weekend and beyond.

First, more housekeeping. The Penguins received Juuso Riikola and Michael Chaput from the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday afternoon after the duo cleared waivers. Anthony Angello is on waivers presently.

Coal Street made some cuts today as well:

They also made cuts the other day too, and I never added those here over on the blog. So, here those are, but these are dated:

Preseason for me too.

Anyway, here is how they lined up tonight:

That’s a hell of a lineup. Let’s see how long it sticks together. If history is any indicator, not long.

For the Phantoms:

It was a fun first period, if you were a Penguins fan. The Phantoms found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-on-3 for 90 seconds, but were able to get out of it. They scored a few seconds later when Max Willman picked a ridiculous angle to beat Domingue for a 1-0 Phantoms lead.

But, on yet another 5-on-3, P.O. Joseph went bar down and in for a goal that tied the game at one a piece.

Kasper Bjorkqvist scored in the slot to make it 2-1. Sam Houde had a primary assist here, his fifth such assist in the preseason. Sometimes you just play your way onto a team, that’s what Houde is doing.

Nathan Legare scored his first goal in Wilkes-Barre via the short handed variety, giving the Penguins a 3-1 lead.

But then Samu Tuomaala scored with under 4 minutes left to play in the second period to cut the lead to one.

The one thing I will say is that there were way too many penalties in this game, with nine against the Penguins and eight against the Phantoms. You can’t establish anything close to a flow when there are referees arms going up every three minutes.

Morgan Frost tied the game at three after the Penguins killed a long five on three against.

In overtime, the aforementioned Frost crashed the net and beat Domingue to win it for the Phantoms.

These two teams do it for real in a week from Saturday in Wilkes-Barre. But for a few modifications here and there, this is as close as a dress rehearsal for the Penguins as you are going to find. They could get more help, but don’t count on it.

I’ll have a preview of the opponents for you Tuesday here on the blog. Sooner if there is anything newsworthy. I’m shaking things up this year with the Gameday Previews too. I think you’ll like it.

Preseason Game #2 – Penguins 4, Bears 5

Before we get ripping on the game story, some news from earlier in the day.

The Penguins sent the following players to Wilkes-Barre:

Forwards Kasper Bjorkqvist, Filip Hallander, Nathan Legare and Sam Poulin. They also sent defensemen P.O. Joseph down as well.

Reassigned (after getting called up Wednesday) were forwards Jonathan Gruden and Valtteri Puustinen, as well as defensemen Niclas Almari and Taylor Fedun.

In a separate transaction, goaltender Louis Domingue was sent down later in the day.

Also, defenseman Juuso Riikola and forward Michael Chaput were placed on waivers on Friday.

That doesn’t mean necessarily that Riikola and Chaput get sent here automatically (provided they clear by 2 p.m. Saturday) but, like Domingue, if they clear it could be a matter of time.

Onto Friday nights on ice action…the Penguins hosted the Hershey Bears Friday night.

Here’s how they lined up:

Penguins jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a Jan Drozg dart. It’s Drozg’s second goal in as many games.

Bears respond in kind just after their power play expired on an Eddie Wittchow dart which tied it.

Later, a Cam Lee shot was stopped but remained in the slot long enough for a falling Matt Alfaro to sweep home to put Wilkes-Barre back ahead 2-1.

Early impressions of Lindberg is that he’s as athletic as they come. Bears had a handful of power play opportunities in the first, he handled it all well. He had a diving post to post stop about halfway through the period also. Wilkes-Barre may be deep in defensive depth, they are deeper in goal I think.

Eddie Wittchow scored again to open the second period just as a Penguin penalty had expired from the first to tie the score at two.

There were a lot more fights in this game then there were Wednesday. There are guys trying to make an impression and make the team. Well, Felix Pare is one of those guys. He fights Kale Kessy after a save. Kessy doesn’t need an invitation to fight. What’s Pare given? An instigator penalty which also comes with being thrown out of the game.

Ridiculous. You want to cut down in fighting but protect guys like Kessy whose only existence is to fight. It was a terrible decision by the officials (Hanrahan and Kamrass) throwing Pare out of the game like that.

Hershey scored on a power play later on with Lindberg screened to take the lead. Lindberg dazzled again with more sprawling post to post saves.

In the third, the teams switched goaltenders. Alex D’Orio for the Penguins and Ryan Bednard for the Bears. The Penguins peppered Bednard with shots and got goals from Jan Drozg (a nifty between the legs goal) and Justin Almeida for a 4-3 lead.

But Bednard settled in, something I didn’t think he would do, and the Bears got goals from Brett Leason on a power play and ex-Penguin Macoy Erkamps with a deflection in front to give Hershey a 5-4 lead with 63 seconds left to play.

Here’s the box, in case you want to check that out.

Eh, it’s exhibition. Onto Lehigh Valley Saturday night before the real thing next weeekend.

More tomorrow.

Preseason Game #1 – Penguins 2, Phantoms 1

I was going to do math today and find out how many days it had been since I was last at the Arena to take in a game. I want to say March 2020. I got busy at work today and never got around to it.

Moral of the story is I still don’t like weekday games. Maybe later in the month and the first part of November when I’m back working from home it will be a little better, but you can have everything about weekday home games.

The Penguins played host to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in a preseason home game Wednesday at the Arena. The Penguins beat the Phantoms 2-1.

Tommy Nappier opposed Kirill Ustimenko. Here were the lines:

I don’t think Lehigh Valley posted any. I didn’t look. It’s preseason. Also, their call letters are apparently ‘LHV’ now. Duly noted.

Not much happened in the first. The Penguins had two power plays. They didn’t score. Who needs preseason when your special teams are in midseason form.

One bit of action was when the Penguins Jake Flegal fought the Phantoms Quinn Schmiemann. With a name like Schmiemann, you’d think he’d be used to getting in fights. It did not go well for Schmiemann.

Jamie Devane, a regular you’ll be seeing a lot of this year, scored on a tip in front with 1:06 left to play off a nice setup from Patrick Watling.

Jan Drozg scored :21 into the third. Nice pressure to open and it was Sam Houde doing the dirty work to keep an uncontrolled puck controlled and over to Drozg for the goal.

So of course Lehigh Valley would respond on their very first power play of the season. Tommy Nappier was screened heavily.

Shaw Boomhower fought Brennan Saulnier. Two fights in one game? What is this, 1999?

No scoring in the third. Nappier played the whole game in goal for the Penguins. Pat Nagle took over for the Phantoms to start the period.

But for the logo being upside down, good to be back. The tickets on the phone thing worked fine, they have touchless hand sanitizer stations all over the place. About half the food vendors were open. I didn’t buy anything.

More Friday, sooner if I have to.

Finally Over — Pens LOSE 5-2

Thank god this “season” is over.

Never have I been more disinterested in a feeble of an attempt to play hockey. First, you only play four opponents, in front of no one, have a training camp delayed, other games delayed or rescheduled and then go in with an inexperienced team which is by some miracle a .500 team.

I really don’t feel like recapping this. Brett Brochu made his debut in goal for the Penguins in Hershey. He is the youngest player ever to play for the Pens at 18 years and some months. Hershey played a man short, were busted up and really it felt like a preseason game.

Hershey runs the Pens up to a 3-0 lead. Wilkes-Barre gets two back to make it a 3-2 game and make it interesting for a bit. They get in a few scuffles (more so than usual) and Hershey gets two more for a 5-2 final.

You expect better by coming and reading the blog, you really do and I didn’t give it to you this season because I just wasn’t interested. There would be several times this season I would just scan Twitter and half ass a game story off of that, vs. watching hem play this season. For that I apologize.

Better luck next year, I suppose. Hopefully under better circumstances.

Have a good summer.