Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Weekend Preview

Weekend Preview – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Penguins close out 2022 with a home game against the Providence Bruins and then head to Allentown Saturday for New Years Eve.

Music to set the mood…

From me and the cats, Happy New Year to you and yours. Thanks for making the blog a part of your every day. I appreciate it. May 2023 get you everything you are looking for and more.

A Quote…

The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.
J.P. Morgan

Pens want more than their 31 points and their fifth place showing in the Atlantic at present. It’s time to make a move so it’s time to go.

The Setup

A not so good trip to Canada and a postponed game because of weather last week. Pens lost straight up to Toronto and Belleville and the Laval game was postponed. A close game with Hershey this past Tuesday. Now, finally shifting away from the Bears and focusing on Providence and a resurging Lehigh Valley team.

Bruins are the second best team in the AHL (Hershey is the first) and Lehigh Valley is nipping at the Penguins heels, tied with them with 31 points.

Providence was in Hershey Wednesday and lost 1-0 in a shutout. Lehigh Valley played a run and gun with the Bridgeport Islanders on Wednesday and won 6-5 in a shootout. Islanders scored late to tie it.


Providence is 16-6-5-2, good for 31 points and second in the Atlantic. Lehigh Valley is 14-11-2-1 and have the same 31 points as the Penguins with a 13-8-2-3 record. Pens are 5th, Phantoms are 6th.

Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Who’s Out?

Boy, a lot has changed. Drew O’Connor and Mark Friedman remain up and Drake Caggiula and Ty Smith joined them this week. No one is in Wheeling because the Nailers saw Taylor Gauthier and Josh Maniscalco get called up this week. Filip Lindberg left the game before a faceoff in the Belleville game, and Kyle Olson was announced this week as being out week to week, same as Lindberg.

So it’s walking wounded again. Not going to complain because you should be used to it by now. If you are tired of it, don’t renew. It is what it is.

What can we learn about the Penguins this week?

Providence always plays the Penguins tougher. I’d rather watch three straight against Hershey then one against Providence because it is always a battle with the P-Bruins. The Bruins are the bellweather for a lot of teams to see how good they really are.

I think the Bruins are better than the Bears, if that means anything.

Lehigh Valley has appeared to figure things out, but remain horribly inconsistent. Bridgeport is in third somehow in the Atlantic, 1-7-1-1 in their last ten, and the Phantoms are playing run and gun with a team they should have no business playing run and gun with.

Then there are the Penguins who, when healthy, are slightly above average at best. Drew O’Connor is in Pittsburgh and isn’t going to be around to score two goals every night and dish three assists. Drake Caggiula is a good role player who will just fill a press box seat in Pittsburgh for however long he’s up for, so the Penguins have to figure out the scoring.

Who’s in goal?

I’d go Tokarski tonight against Providence and Gauthier Saturday in Allentown. You might see Keith Kinkaid for the Bruins, saving Brandon Bussi for tomorrow night in Hershey again. Lehigh Valley is in Utica Friday. You may see Nolan Maier, who played in that offensively potent display Wednesday at home against the Islanders.

Who is running the show?

I think it’s in Terry Koharski’s contract that he sees every teams home ice at least once every season. He dropped the first puck when Coachella Valley opened it’s place up a few weeks ago, has been in Texas, Massachusetts and elsewhere. He will be in town tonight with Michael Zyla with Jud Ritter and Ryan Knapp on the lines. Saturday sees Rob Hennessey and Adam Tobias (ex-linesman) with Patrick Dapuzzo and Trevor Disbennett on the lines.

Looking ahead…

A pair of home games against Charlotte on Wednesday and Friday then Hartford stops in next Saturday.

Give us a bold prediction…

They get a point out of Providence and beat Lehigh Valley clean.

Weekend Preview: Oh, Canada!

So the Penguins are going to cram three games in a four game span when they kick off North of the Border tonight in Toronto, Ontario then immediately again tomorrow in Belleville, Ontario. A day off to travel to Laval, Quebec for a game Friday then the Christmas holiday.

It’s a nice change of pace to; a) have a busy week and b) play a team other than the Hershey Bears.

More on them in a bit.

Music to set the mood…

I mean, you have to don’t you? Penguins only trip to Canada. I’ve been there. I traveled up when the Pens played two in Manitoba (back when the Moose logo was green and they called it the MTS Centre) then flew back (with the team at the time, they were on the same flight as I was) to Toronto to watch them play the Marlies. I actually have about $300 in Canadian money somewhere. Hope to go back, someday. Toronto was great.

A Quote…

Canada is not a country for the cold of heart or the cold of feet.
— Pierre Trudeau

Apropos that the first day of Winter is Wednesday. Days get longer from here…

The Setup

Toronto Tuesday, Belleville Wednesday and Laval on Wednesday. This will be the first meeting of the season for the Pens against the Marlies and Senators, and final meeting of the season against the Rocket.

Toronto, who has played a very diverse schedule, are coming off of a Central Division road trip where they faced off against the Rockford IceHogs and the Milwaukee Admirals. Both regulation, one goal wins. Marlies lead the North Division by four points over the Rochester Americans.

Belleville and Laval are at the other end of the North Division spectrum, both trailing Toronto and the the other division heavies, but the margin isn’t as wide as it is in the other divisions.

Belleville got smoked in Manitoba Saturday and in the rematch Sunday lost in overtime.

The Rocket beat the Utica Comets in Utica last Wednesday, traveled to Cleveland Saturday and had seven goals hung on them and in the rematch Sunday beat the Monsters 4-1. They will be in Syracuse Wednesday before heading home to meet the Penguins.


The Penguins are fourth in the Atlantic and are making up ground with a lot of games in hand. They are 3-0-1 in their last three with Bridgeport in third who are 0-2-1 in their last three games, just three points ahead of Wilkes-Barre. The Penguins have four games in hand on the Islanders with a 13-6-2-2 record.

Toronto is in the drivers seat in the North with a 16-8-1-1 record and are on a 3-0-0-1 run.

Belleville is in sixth in the North with a 11-13-2-0 record and are winless in their last three games,

Laval is in last place in the North with a 10-14-3-1 and this record won’t be the same when they meet the Penguins because they play the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday.

Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Who’s Out?

No changes from the last time we did this. Jamie Devane is still hurt. Filip Hållander, Ty Smith and Lukas Svejkovsky were ill. Not COVID. Drew O’Connor and Mark Friedman are in Pittsburgh. Jordan Frasca and Colin Swoyer are up from Wheeling. Sean Josling was recalled from Wheeling on Monday, presumably because they will need a healthy body.

What can we learn about the Penguins this week?

They should (hypothetically) comfortably beat Belleville and Laval, Toronto should give them more of a fight. I don’t see any reason why they can’t sweep this trip. They are battle tested by carving out three of four points against the Hershey Bears this past weekend, have two really good goaltenders that can steal games and some stingy defenders, the question is who will score?

It may be a by committee thing. You hope Hållander is well enough to play this week. Get Drake Caggiula going. Valtteri Puustinen is best when he’s running downhill. Alex Nylander can score whenever he’s on the ice. That’s when this team is at their best.

Who’s in goal?

I’m glad I don’t have to make these decisions for real. But since I do for this space I think you go Dustin Tokarski Tuesday, Filip Lindberg Wednesday and then the better of the two Friday in Laval.

The Marlies went with Erik Källgren and Joseph Woll this past weekend. Källgren has more games under him but has a 3.37 GAA, Woll is undefeated at 4-0. I think Marlies head coach Greg Moore goes to Woll on Tuesday.

Antoine Bibeau and Mads Sogaard have been splitting the starts for Tory Mann’s Belleville Senators. Neither have anything over the top numbers wise. Sogaard started Sunday in Winnipeg against the Moose, so look for Bibeau to start against the Penguins on Wednesday.

Laval will be in Syracuse on Wednesday and played Sunday, so I have no idea who they will roll out this Friday. It’s a guess that Kevin Poulin goes for Jean-François Houle’s Laval Rocket on Friday.

Who’s running the show?

Cody Beach and Riley Brace get the assignment on Tuesday in Toronto with Justin Johnson and Shawn Oliver on the lines. On Wednesday, Beach follows the team to Belleville and meets up with Morgan MacPhee with Shawn Oliver and Dustin McCrank on the lines. Friday sees MacPhee again with Elizabeth Mantha in the other set of orange arm bands with Anthony Lapointe and Nicolas Boivin on the lines.

Looking ahead…

Wouldn’t you know it, more games with Hershey! A Tuesday home game (yay 🙄) against the Bears and then a Friday date with the Providence Bruins and then Wilkes-Barre closes out 2022 with a New Years Eve game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms down in Allentown.

Give us a bold prediction…

Penguins sweep up Canada, winning every game.

Weekend Preview: Bears, Bears, Bears!

Somehow, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have had six days off and, when the puck drops Friday, December 16 home game for the Penguins, Wilkes-Barre will have only been featured for the fourth time in the month. And yet, the Penguins will be playing one of their biggest and closest rivals on back to back nights, both at home.

Hershey is in on back to back nights. Saturday is the Teddy Bear Toss. So it’s Bears, on Bears, on Bears.

Music to Set the Mood…

After some time off, it’ll be good to get back into it with a back to back against Hershey then a Christmas trip up to Canada next week to see the Marlies, Senators and Rocket.

A Quote…

Rivalry doesn’t help anybody.
– Peter Jackson

Mr. Jackson must not be a sports fan. Penguins / Bears. Phantoms / Bears. Comets / Crunch. Wolves / Admirals. The AHL is full of them.

The Setup

Two with Hershey at home. Hershey is the best team in the League and the Penguins humbled the Bears at home in their last matchup 7-3 back on December 4. They have been close. A 4-3 Bears shootout win on November 29. A 4-0 Pens win on November 18. 4-3 Bears, 2-1 Bears, 2-1 Pens before that.

Two teams that know each other better than they know themselves. Great, great rivalry.


Bears are a league best 17-5-2-1 and sit at the top of the Atlantic with 37 points. The Penguins are in fourth in the Atlantic with 12-6-1-2 and 27 points. Wilkes-Barre has the fewest games played (21) in the division and the entire AHL joining other 21 game players Utica, Chicago and Coachella Valley.

Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Who’s Out?

Drew O’Connor and Mark Friedman went up to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Coal Street made their recalls Thursday, bringing up Jordan Frasca and Colin Swoyer.

Injury wise, a couple guys have been sick, but nothing else major. Jamie Devane is still out injured.

What can we learn about the Penguins this week?

They have four games in hand against Hershey and can really put some damage on the Bears with two straight up wins at home against them. There is a gap between fourth, where the Penguins are and third, where Bridgeport (33 points) and Providence (35) sit ahead of the Penguins, behind the Bears. Are you happy with the performance so far? I am, but you want more. No better way to get more then beating your biggest rival at home in what’s probably the biggest games of the season thus far.

Also, my bad. I forgot to include this segment in the last two iterations of this exercise.

Who’s in Goal?

I think they go straight back to Filip Lindberg Friday and then give Dustin Tokarski Saturday’s game. Figure that they are going to need both in some form or fashion next week in the Canada trip.

Bears are in a bit of a goaltending bind. They lost Hunter Shepard to recall before these two teams last met and obliterated Zach Fucale who is still with the team. Clay Stevenson is the backup to Fucale. Hershey has a Sunday game against the Phantoms. Figure Fucale gets both games against the Pens and Stevenson goes Sunday against the Phantoms.

Who’s running the show?

Beau Halkidis and Riley Brace are the referees Friday with Jud Ritter and John Rey on the lines. Saturday sees Justin Kea and Liam Maaskant make sure things stay on the up and up with Patrick Dapuzzo and J.P. Waleski on the lines.

Wait. Riley Brace. That name sounds familiar…

Indeed. He’s another player turned ref. Played a bunch with the Wheeling Nailers, the Penguins ECHL affiliate and appeared in a few preseason games for the Penguins about seven years ago. Never played for Wilkes-Barre in a regular season game. Played a bunch for Worcester of the AHL days and Iowa.

Looking ahead…

Tuesday in Toronto, Wednesday in Belleville, Friday in Laval. Pens aren’t back home until Tuesday (Tuesday?) December 27 against Hershey (Hershey, again?!?)

Give us a bold prediction…

Pens handle business against Hershey and get 3 out of a possible 4 points.

Weekend Preview: Finally Friday

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton can put all their eggs in one basket with just one game this weekend, a Friday home game against the Cleveland Monsters.

This is the only time on the season schedule where the Penguins will be featured just once in what is always a busy weekend in the American Hockey League. I am not complaining.

Music to set the mood…

Apropos if it were. I have never heard this song. I’m really not into country.

A Quote…

Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.
– Proverbs 16:27

The devil never played hockey apparently. You take the rest whenever you can get it.

No one got or cared to take a stab at last weeks quote author. It was CM Punk that said it. I wonder if George Jones can manage a Target.


The Setup

Cleveland Monsters are in for the lone weekend fixture. The Penguins own this team, especially at home, 6-0-1-0 against the Lake Erie / Cleveland Monsters franchise. They beat this team, often. So there’s another opportunity for them to do so again this weekend.

Cleveland scores darn near four goals a game. Their goals for average is tops in the Eastern Conference at 3.95. The Penguins are one of the stingiest teams in the entire AHL. A good defense should stifle a good offense.

The Monsters took three of four points away from visiting Rochester last weekend.

The Penguins got torched last weekend at home against the Bridgeport Islanders 5-1 and then absolutely smoked Hershey in Hershey 7-3.


Penguins are fifth in the Atlantic with a 11-6-1-2 record good for 25 points. Cleveland sit third in the North with a nearly identical 10-6-1-2 record good for 23 points.

Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Who’s Out?

Defenseman Colin Swoyer was sent to the ECHL last weekend. That tells me that Pittsburgh is OK now with Kris Letang being sidelined after his stroke and they don’t plan on a recall or putting Letang on LTIR, yet.

No one is presently recalled from Wheeling or to Pittsburgh.

Jamie Devane and Jordan Frasca remain out with injuries. Alex Nylander left in the third period against Hershey. His status as of now is unknown.

Pittsburgh announced that Sam Poulin asked for an was granted a leave of absence. In this day and age it is wrong to question a decision like this. You have to wonder if Poulin was getting frustrated with being in the AHL. The door is left open for his return. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t.

Who’s in goal?

Interesting conundrum we have here. Dustin Tokarski got smoked Saturday. Filip Lindberg looked shaky but his offense kicked in and he was insulated by that. I don’t know who you go to if I am JD Forrest. If you force me to make a decision (kinda the point of the exercise here) you go right back to Tokarski.

Cleveland will probably roll with Jet Greaves.

Who’s running the show?

Peter Schlittenhardt and Tanner Doiron are your referees with Tyler Loftus and J.P. Waleski running the lines. Doiron is a new referee making his AHL debut tonight. Heads up Hershey fans, he is headed your way Saturday. Here’s a story I found on the guy.

Looking ahead…

Two with Hershey, Friday and Saturday, both at home.

Give us a bold prediction…

There will be a hat trick Friday in Wilkes-Barre.

Weekend Preview: Hall of Famers

After an odd scheduling and the Thanksgiving holiday and even more odd scheduling, the Weekend Preview is back and marginally better than ever with a look at the weekends games for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins against the Bridgeport Islanders and the Hershey Bears.

After a hellish schedule bit, 7 games in 12 days (including a trip to Charlotte, NC), the Penguins get a bit of a break from the schedule makers with just 5 games in the next 15 days with four of them at home and just one on the road (a 90 minute trip to Hershey, this Sunday)

So you take it. Rest, recover, work on things. I know I am going to enjoy this Friday off and next Saturday. That is for sure.

Music to set the mood…

This weekend, the Penguins will honor Tom Grace, Tom Kostopoulos and Steve Barrouk with enshrinement in the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins Hall of Fame.

Grace was a guy you either loved or hated. I don’t think there was any in between. Grace did a lot in getting the Penguins out there to the masses. Who remembers the radio shows on Thursday’s at the Grotto? Grace’s enshrinement is overdue in my opinion. He should have been in sooner.

You don’t need me to introduce Tom Kostopoulos. If there’s a Mt. Rushmore of players he and Dennis Bonvie are on it.

Steve Barrouk was one of the pillars of the community who without, Penguins hockey in the Wyoming Valley isn’t a guaranteed reality.

A Quote…

I’m not a suit and tie kind of guy. I wear a suit once a year, for the Hall of Fame, or if I have to go to a funeral or something. It’s just not me.

If you can guess who said it (no cheating) leave me the answer in the comments. Provided I remember if no one guesses right, I’ll reveal the answer next week.

The Setup

Fairly straightforward with a game against the Bridgeport Islanders on Saturday and a road trip down to Hershey.

Bridgeport is one of two teams, Providence being the other, who have just three regulation losses so far this season. In the entire AHL. If the Atlantic Division didn’t have so many heavyweight teams (Hershey and the Bruins being the others) they would easy lead the division. Bridgeport’s 28 points is 5 better than first place in the North’s Toronto Marlies.

Hell, the Penguins, in fifth coming into Friday, have 23 points. You are going to have to be really good to contend in this division this year, it seems.

Hershey needs no introduction.

The Islanders have points in six straight, and beat the Providence Bruins 4-3 on Wednesday.

Hershey, after beating the Pens in comeback fashion via shootout Tuesday, beat Lehigh Valley in Allentown 4-2. With the win they became the top team in the AHL. It appears the Big Bear Machine is warming up.

Neither team will be in action until they play the Pens, so that means Hershey is off Friday and Saturday, Bridgeport is off Friday.


Coming into Friday, Hershey is tops in the division with a 14-4-2-0 record with 30 points. Bridgeport is 12-3-4-0 good for 28 points and third in the division. The Pens are 10-5-1-2 and have 23 points in fifth in the Atlantic Division.

Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Who’s Out?

No one from Wheeling. No one in Pittsburgh. Kris Letang had another stroke, so it’ll give a cap strapped Penguins team the availability to put Letang on long term IR and make moves if they have to.

Jordan Frasca and Jamie Devane remain out. Taylor Fedun is partially banged up, in and out of the lineup and Mark Friedman was out sick Tuesday against the Bears.

Who’s in Goal? 

I’d go Dustin Tokarski in both games, he’s been that good, but what do you do with Filip Lindberg? So expect Lindberg to get a game, probably Sunday in Hershey.

For the opposition expect Corey Schneider for the Islanders and Hunter Shepard for the Bears.

Who’s running the show?

Stephen Hiff and Mike Dietrich will run things Saturday and Jud Ritter and Kirsten Welsh will rule on icings and offsides.

On Sunday Hiff will follow the Penguins to Hershey and meet up with Carter Sandlak, Kirsten Welsh will as well to meet up with her counterpart on the lines, Joseph Mahon.

Looking ahead…

A lonely Friday home game against the Cleveland Monsters. In retrospect, I should have lumped the Monsters in with this Preview, but I can use the traffic next week. I hear the blog is big in Avon Lake.

Give us a bold prediction…

After three straight overtime games for the Penguins, every game this weekend will be decided in regulation.

Weekend Preview – November Has Come

Wait a minute, aren’t we already in November?

Yes, just go with it.

November has come and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have yet to win a hockey game or collect a singular point in the 11th month on the Julian calendar.

Music to Set the Mood…

I enjoy the Gorillaz. Demon Days was a banger album. Plastic Beach was too.

November has come and the Penguins don’t have a win yet. Hopefully, by the time we do this again they will. This is the last Weekend Preview for the month with Thanksgiving in a week and holiday travel and the like, so consider this a mega chungus version of the Preview.

A Quote…

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
– Thomas Edison

I like this one and think it applies partially. Think of all the one goal losses of recent for the Penguins.

Nov. 5 vs. Hershey – fell in a 2-0 hole, scored a power play goal late, ran out of time and lost 2-1.
Nov. 6 at Hershey – fell in a 4-0 hole, scored three straight in the third period, ran out of time and lost 4-3.
Nov. 11 vs. Hartford – carried 1-1 game into the third, played careless. Lost 3-1, Wolf Pack had an empty netter.
Nov. 12 vs. Springfield – fell in 2-0 hole, tied it on a 4:00 power play – another turnover sees ex-player score game winning goal. Lost 3-2.

The Penguins have not scored first since October 21 at home against Laval. They haven’t had a lead since beating Hershey in overtime 2-1 on October 29 (their last win)

Am I suggesting they are giving up as the quote above states? No. But seeing the other team score first, getting behind the eight ball with silly careless plays with the puck and it’s easy for a game to get away from you at this level.

The Setup

Well, there are a lot of them. I am giving you the next seven games. So pay attention!

This Friday and Saturday against Hershey at home and Bridgeport on the road. Then a Monday / Wednesday trip to Charlotte next week. Thanksgiving Thursday. A Black Friday home game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms then a Saturday trip to Springfield and then a rare Tuesday visit to Hershey.

Whew that was a lot. Let’s break the opponents down.

Hershey: Ahead of the Penguins on points, beat the Bridgeport Islanders in two overtime games last weekend and then hosted the Laval Rocket and won there too. Hershey sweeps the weekend. After playing the Penguins, will play Hartford four times with a pre-Thanksgiving game against Springfield sandwiched in between before seeing the Penguins again on November 29.

Bridgeport: Played the Bears close in Hershey last weekend but lost two overtime games. Will see Charlotte on Friday before hosting the Penguins this Saturday.

Charlotte: Floundering a bit. November hasn’t been good to them either but they are winning games. Won their first road game of the season last Saturday in Hartford in a shootout. Dug themselves out of a hole with Providence Sunday but still lost (sound familiar?) In Hartford this past Wednesday, history repeated itself and they beat the Wolf Pack again in a shootout. Will be in Bridgeport Friday and Springfield Saturday before returning home for a pair against the Pens the first part of next week.

Lehigh Valley: Have won three straight coming into this week, but the real test comes this weekend when they play a pair in Providence. I think the Phantoms are mercurial, but they did beat Springfield and Laval in one goal contests last weekend. After the doubleheader in Providence next Friday and Saturday, will visit Springfield on Sunday the 20th before having the rest of the week off before the Black Friday trip up the Turnpike to play the Penguins.

Springfield: Pens most recent opponent, will be the Penguins last opponent in the five game home stand which kicked off this past Wednesday with a school day game against the Syracuse Crunch. Thunderbirds were up 4-1 in the third and saw Syracuse tie it and then go on to win it in a shootout. Will see Charlotte and Lehigh Valley this Saturday and Sunday, Hershey on Thanksgiving Eve then will close out their home stand against the Pens on Saturday, November 26.

Hershey again on November 29.


Coming into Friday only.

Penguins: 6-4-1-0; 13 points – 6th in the Atlantic.
Hershey: 8-2-2-0; 18 points – 2nd in the Atlantic.
Bridgeport: 7-2-3-0; 17 points – 3rd in the Atlantic.
Charlotte: 7-4-1-1; 16 points – 4th in the Atlantic.
Lehigh Valley: 5-5-1-0; 11 points – 8th in the Atlantic.
Springfield: 6-5-0-3; 15 points – 5th in the Atlantic.

Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Who’s Out?

You are probably going to see a few transactions the remainder of the month but I’ll keep you posted on any of that in my Lineup Changes on each post game report. Those aren’t going anywhere.

Mark Friedman was sent back to Wilkes-Barre on Sunday. Jon Lizotte joins Jamie Devane and Jordan Frasca on the injured list. Mitch Reinke came off of that last week.

Filip Hallander was sent back Tuesday. Sam Poulin was sent down last weekend but didn’t play due to weather related travel issues. Poulin practiced with the team Tuesday on Coal Street.

Sean Josling was returned to Wheeling on Thursday morning.

So, yeah, barring anything unforeseen the team is at 100% capacity. No one is on recall to Pittsburgh.

What can we learn about the Penguins this week the remainder of the month?

I think the questions you have to ask yourself when a team is on a losing streak are as follows. I will answer as it applies to the Penguins.

Are these problems correctable? (yes)
Is it a personnel problem? (I don’t think so)
Is it a coaching problem? (No)

If the reverse is true to any of the questions above, we have a problem. I don’t think it is though. They are working through things. Teams have film on them now also, remember.

If you asked me to put a finger on it, it’s defensive idiocy with the puck and a lack of any kind of scoring from any line anywhere. Sometimes, if you are without one and have a lot of the other, you get the good to overshadow the bad and are able to work your way through it. The Penguins aren’t getting any scoring and their defense is suspect at this point. That’s why they are losing these close contests. Once you get one going, the other follows.

You’d rather these issues now in November then in March or April.

Who’s in goal?

I’m not going to predict this. Filip Lindberg and Dustin Tokarski will get their fair share of work against a bevy of equally talented goaltenders in the Atlantic Division.

Who’s running the show?

Friday sees Michael Zyla and Mathieu Menniti wreaking havoc on evildoers and Jud Ritter and J.P. Waleski on the lines.

Saturday sees Mason Riley and Jordan Deckard ensuring everything stays on the up and up with Bill Lyons and Trevor Disbennett on the lines.

Sean Fernandez and Jake Kamrass work Monday in Charlotte with Ryan Jackson and Brandon Grillo on the lines.

AHL hasn’t posted assignments past this coming Tuesday but it’s a safe enough bet that Fernandez / Kamrass will be the referees for Wednesday’s game with the Checkers and different linesmen.

Looking ahead…

Yikes, by the time we meet again for the Weekend Preview it will be December. A Saturday, December 3 home game against Bridgeport and then a Sunday trip to Hershey on December 4. If the Penguins don’t figure out their problems, the hits will keep coming in December and beyond.

Give us a bold prediction…

We will probably eat too much turkey on Thanksgiving and watch too much football. The American kind, not the World Cup, but I’ll probably watch the World Cup.

Weekend Preview: Where Have All the Good Times Gone?

Wait a minute, you lose two games after that hot start in October and it’s all despair here at the blog?

Not exactly, but the way that they lost, almost won but still lost last week in two games after looking invincible in October was a shock. Plus this fanbase is a fickle bunch, so I like to play to those strengths.

The headline also lets me run straight into this…

Music to set the mood…

You are always going to get me to find a classic banger like this.

OK. So maayyybe I am being a bit overdramatic by asking the question. But a close game Saturday, ineffectiveness on the power play, your captain losing a man in front leading to a goal rolling into a 4-0 hole after the second period Sunday only to storm back to 4-3 and drop two straight against Hershey is a bit disheartening because it’s the Bears.

Things to work on for sure that you hope they worked on this week at practice.

A Quote…

If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
– Frederick Douglass

Remember how last week I said that we wouldn’t really be able to learn anymore about the Penguins unless or until they started hitting adversity? Well, I think we will learn a lot about the team this weekend. Read on.

The Setup…

Pair of home games Friday and Saturday against Hartford and Springfield, respectively. Hartford gave up five goals against Springfield last Friday and five more against Bridgeport last Saturday. The Wolf Pack hosted Springfield on this past Wednesday and held the Thunderbirds to just a goal and beat them 2-1 in a shootout.

After beating Hartford last Friday, Springfield hosted Providence last Saturday and lost 3-2. I gave you their most recent result in the paragraph above. They will be in Allentown Friday before heading up Saturday against the Pens.


Wilkes-Barre is 6-2-1-0 good for 13 points and 3rd in the division. Springfield coming into Friday is 5-4-0-2 good for 6th with 12 points and Hartford is 7th with a 3-4-1-1 record and 8 points.

Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Who’s Out?

Note: This space may need to be updated depending on who, if anyone Pittsburgh recalls on the defensive end. They lost P-O Joseph and Jan Rutta Wednesday in Washington. If it isn’t I will drop a blurb under the Lineup discussion in the postgamer later against Hartford.

Edit: As soon as this post went up at 11 a.m., Pittsburgh announced they have recalled D Mark Friedman and sent back F Sam Poulin.

Drew O’Connor is back down, replacing him up to Pittsburgh was Filip Hallander. Sam Poulin remains up. Mitch Reinke and Jordan Frasca have company amongst the infirmed with Jamie Devane being re-added to the injury list, getting hurt on his first shift on Saturday against Hershey. As a result, Sean Josling was recalled from the Nailers Friday morning.

What can we learn about the Penguins this week?

How do they bounce back and look more prepared against two tough opponents again this week. Hartford should be (at least hypothetically) be the easier of the two opponents but again, I did project the Wolf Pack as an early Calder Cup favorite back a month ago when I did my season predictions.

You wish you could bottle up the third period in Hershey performance when they nearly erased a four goal deficit against Hershey and replicate it. I think you will see a more prepared team on both nights against the Wolf Pack and Thunderbirds.

Do I expect two more losses? No. The team is too talented and too well coached to lay two duds like they did against the Bears. Now, if the personnel is careless and sleepwalk through shifts, it is entirely plausible. But I don’t see that happening.

The adversity is here, as mentioned above, in micro form. Button up the issues which caused you to lose (very minor in my opinion) and reap the rewards of the time you put in righting those wrongs.

Who’s in goal? 

No reason to change course here. Dustin Tokarski will get a game (probably Saturday) and Filip Lindberg will get a game (probably Friday) – expect Louis Domingue for Hartford Friday and Joel Hofer for the Thunderbirds.

Who’s running the show?

Morgan MacPhee and Marc-Olivier Phaneuf have the Friday assignment with Trevor Disbennett and Patrick Dapuzzo on the lines. Saturday sees the same referee crew with John Rey and Spencer Knox coming in to work the lines.

Remarkable. 81 referees under contract to the American Hockey League this season and we see the same pairing on back to back nights. Real original.

Looking ahead…

May have to double this one up. Friday game against Hershey, Saturday trip to Bridgeport which should be a nice measuring stick game against a good Islanders team and then a Monday / Wednesday pair in Charlotte before Thanksgiving.

Give us a bold prediction…

Back on track with a pair of wins this week. Pens work overtime in one of them but come away with all four points.