Chirps from Center Ice

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

Weekend Preview: Stuffed Checkers

After mining three out of a possible four points in Springfield and Providence last weekend, its a quick turnaround and a visit to North Carolina for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins who face off against the Charlotte Checkers in midweek action before heading home for Thanksgiving and rematching with the Providence Bruins at home Saturday night.

The Setup

The power play drought ended on the first one awarded last weekend which snapped an 0/36 skid that the Penguins were on. Drew O’Connor, fresh down form Pittsburgh made an immediate impact across both contests that the Penguins played in, scoring three goals. A 5-4 shootout loss in Springfield was followed up by a pretty good 3-1 win in Providence.

The Pens travel down to North Carolina for a Tuesday / Wednesday night set against the Checkers. The Penguins are 1-2 against the Checkers so far this season and 1-1 against Saturday’s opponent, the Providence Bruins.

The Checkers were in Hershey Sunday after becoming just another notch on the Utica Comets belt Friday. The Comets dismantled the Checkers 4-1. On Sunday in Hershey, the Checkers were beaten by the Bears 4-2.

Providence was last in action last Saturday against the Penguins but will have played in Hershey on Wednesday and in Bridgeport on Friday.

The Records

The Penguins are 7-6-0-2, good for .533 percentage points and 5th in the Atlantic Division. The Checkers are 7-7-1-0, in sixth and .500 and the Bruins, at the time this hits the blog Tuesday, are 6-5-2-1 and good for .536 percentage points, but this will change by the time the Bruins hit the ice in Wilkes-Barre Saturday having played in two more games.

Who’s Up, Who’s Down, Who’s Out?

Anthony Angello continues to flip flop from day to day, week to week, to day to day with his lower body injury. Who the hell knows.

Filip Lindberg is week to week with a lower body injury. The Penguins have made no transactions so far this week, giving the wire a break.

What can we learn from the Penguins this week?

If Drew O’Connor plays in all three games, how much does he factor in to the result? Do the Pens pull out a win with him going scoreless and with three shots or does the offense run through him? That isn’t going to be good once he’s inevitably recalled leaving the Penguins back at square one again.

There has been some continuity with the defense corps, which is good. Regardless of what happens up front, it should be interesting to see how the defense tries to contain the Checkers offense and how much of that plays into the ultimate outcome of the games this week. I’d like to see a shutout thrown in here somewhere.

Who’s in Goal?

I don’t want to think that the Penguins drive Louis Domingue until the wheels fall off but they made a liar out of me last weekend when I said that with him seeing 39 shots in Springfield there was little chance he started the next night in Providence. Not only did he do that, he went out and won too.

Do I think Domingue gets both games in Charlotte? Maybe. Is it a foregone conclusion that Tommy Nappier is just there for show? Maybe, too. He has to get his reps in but if you want to ride the hot hand and keep Domingue’s workload to a minimum Tuesday, why not go directly back to him Wednesday? It’s possible that head coach J.D. Forrest does just that.

For the Checkers you will see Joey Daccord and Christopher Gibson in some form or fashion on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Providence has a brutal at Hershey Wednesday, at Bridgeport Friday then at Wilkes-Barre Saturday at 6:05 on their schedule this week. It’s a hellish week of work, so who knows this far out who they go with Saturday. It’s either Troy Grosenick, working his way back from injury or Kyle Keyser, who the Pens saw on Saturday.

Who is running the show?

Referees Brett Roeland and Cody Beach get the two day assignment from the AHL as do linesmen Brian Pincus and Scott Senger. You aren’t having refs shuffle in and out there on back to back games. They send who they need to and then its onto the next city.

For Saturday in Wilkes-Barre, Mason Riley and Jim Curtin get the assignment and Tom George and Tom DellaFranco will handle the lines.

Looking ahead...

I don’t want to. The next time the Penguins hit the ice after this week it will be December already and time for snow. Speaking of snow and cold, the Penguins will travel to the coldest spot in the Eastern Conference next Friday when they face off against the Syracuse Crunch, then it’s back home again next Saturday night against the Charlotte Checkers and then get ready, the Hershey Bears make their debut on the schedule for the Penguins and in a big way. Four out of the next five are against the Bears, who the Penguins will see six times total in the month of December.

Give us a bold prediction…

You won’t shovel any snow until January. Happy Thanksgiving.

Power Rankings – The Utica W(x13)agon

Typing out thirteen ‘W’s’ in a row in the headline seemed like overkill here, given it is Thanksgiving week and the Utica Comets still have yet to be dealt a setback of any type whatsoever in their contests. A remarkable feat and a record broken. The Utica Comets remain the undisputed number one team in the AHL Power Rankings this week.

Stockton remains number two after also not losing in regulation, but there are two overtime losses mixed in there. Not too much shakeup in the top five this week.

Here’s the whole list, in all it’s glory:

RankTeamBlurbLast Week
113-0 and still haven’t lost. At this point, it’s checking the schedule to see when the Comets may be in trouble. I don’t see it this week. Maybe next week.n/c
2Asserted dominance over Ontario Sunday in their only match of the week Sunday. Rematch later today.n/c
3So there is an epic clash this weekend between the red hot Springfield Thunderbirds, who swept the weekend, against the Hartford Wolf Pack who are equally as hot.+1
4Wolf Pack haven’t lost in five straight and have a shot to overtake Springfield at the top of the Atlantic in home and home action this coming weekend. +1
5Got beat at home over a very good Stockton team on Sunday. A chance at payback later today. +1
6Split a pair with Tucson. Lead the Central by the slimmest of margins.+8
7Up to second in the North now after a perfect week with a sweep of the Crunch and a Sunday OT win over the Marlies. +12
8Have needed extra time in their last four games. Are up to third in the division.-1
9Is it a good week for the Amerks when they lose twice to the buzzsaw Comets and need a shootout to beat the hapless Phantoms?-6
10All three contests went to overtime for the Griffins this week. Points are good this time of year. +5
11There’s no consistency with this team, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering everyone and their mother makes playoffs. Busy Thanksgiving week for the Bruins, playing in three contests. +1
12There’s no consistency with this team either. 5-5 in their last ten.-4
13It’s amazing what a little help from Pittsburgh will do for a team. This standard also applies to just about any AHL squad.+9
14Split a pair of close contests in Colorado. Host Iowa this weekend.-5
15Beat up on a hapless Milwaukee side this week. Home stand continues with Texas this week.+3
16If the IceHogs play the way they did when they took on the Wolves for a home and home, Rockford is not near the Central basement for much longer.+11
17Time to pump the brakes on the Wolves? Maybe. Chicago finds ways to get points and are still in the mix in the North, but they aren’t going to run away with the lead in this competitive division. -7
18Exposed a bit in Hartford Saturday, up 3-2 and lost 7-3. May not even be the the third or fourth best team in the division.-7
19Senators were good in their only action this past week against Laval. Very winnable games coming up here where the Senators can start making a move out of the North Division basement.+5
20Pair up in Winnipeg against the Moose next weekend. Split OT wins with the Griffins last weekend.+3
21Leaving the Canucks where they were last week because they didn’t play this week due to flooding in and around the Fraser Valley. Smart call. All the best to the City of Abbotsford.n/c
22Had their trip to Abbotsford postponed due to flooding there. Lost to San Jose last Wednesday. Contests with the Reign and Gulls this week.-9
23Split home contests with Henderson. Stockton drops by this week.+2
24Beat the Marlies in a shootout midweek then dropped the first of what’s going to be three with the Senators.-4
25Swept the Barracuda up in San Jose this past weekend. Now, San Jose returns the favor this weekend for a pair in San Diego.+5
26Well, they didn’t give up seven this week at any point but they did beat Bakersfield midweek and were swept by the Gulls.-9
27Split in Iowa. Are out of the Pacific basement. Host Abbotsford this weekend.+1
28Haven’t won in five contests. The Crunch are becoming a footnote in the North Division. -12
29Winless in their last five and no, I still don’t see a winnable game on the schedule for the Phantoms this week. n/c
30Islanders can’t get out of the block the right way in most games and it sticks with them. Winless in their last five.-4
31Salvaged a win in Manitoba Sunday. Are the only team in the AHL in single digits on points. n/c

The Drew and Louie Show — Pens WIN 3-1

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Let’s review the weekend, shall we?

Drew O’Connor is sent down from the Pittsburgh Penguins and on the very first power play the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins go on in Springfield on Friday, Drew O’Connor knocks one home for a power play goal which breaks a 0/36 drought coming into the contest.

Louis Domingue, fresh off a trip up to the NHL club, stops 35 of 39.

On Saturday, Drew O’Connor scores two goals and Louis Domingue stops 42 of 43 as the Penguins beat the Providence Bruins 3-1.

There are a few players in Wilkes-Barre lore that, “stirred the drink” so to speak. Stefan Noesen comes to immediate mind. Drew O’Connor was the best player, far and wide, on the ice wearing an oversized muscular penguin on his chest. He’s probably not long for this AHL world as soon as another Penguins forward goes down with injury he’s on a fast track straight back up again.

Credit Domingue, too. 80+ shots in back to back games on back to back nights is a hell of a work load.

Can they sustain it, can they ride the momentum into Charlotte Tuesday and Wednesday next week?

Domingue opposed Kyle Keyser. I speculated yesterday that with the 40 shots faced in Springfield it may be Tommy Nappier’s game. Well, I was wrong. Here’s how they lined up:

Bruins didn’t post lines. They never do.

Lineup Notes: Forward shuffling below the top line, but no lineup changes.

First Period: Penguins kill two penalties, start to push back a bit and forecheck, a Valtteri Puusitinen shot is saved by Keyser but the rebound spills to Drew O’Connor and is swept in.

Bruins would get another power play but the Penguins remained perfect in the period.

Second Period: Penguins tack on to their lead when a shot from Cam Lee double deflects in off of Kyle Olson and in that gives Wilkes-Barre a 2-0 lead.

Penguins didn’t take any penalties, played a disciplined period and had a few other chances to add on but Kyle Keyser was there to make a stop. Memorable chance was a stop on O’Connor off a 2-on-1 rush.

Third Period: Bruins put the screws to the Penguins and came out of the blocks hot putting immense pressure on the Penguins and Domingue. Finally, Jakub Lauko scores a power play goal on the fifth try of the game for the Bruins special teams unit.

Providence by rights weren’t getting any bounces. Their leading scorer Oskar Steen uncharacteristically whiffed on some shots for one time feeds which could have lead to Penguins danger.

Penguins were on their heels a bit for the final moments but with time dwindling Keyser vacated for the extra attacker and Drew O’Connor connected with the empty net.

Three Stars: 3) Jakub Lauko (goal) 2) Drew O’Connor (two goals) 1) Louis Domingue 42 saves

The Good: They played about as a complete game as you could ask for and won, on the road, against a good opponent.

The Bad: It’s been a while since their last shutout. It will come, but you have to wait a bit longer.

Turning Point: With all the love for O’Connor and Domingue and rightfully so, Kyle Olson’s second period goal took the air out of the sails a bit for the Bruins because what they were doing to that point didn’t work, causing the Bruins to re-work the game plan entirely. That’s when the Penguins handed the reins over to Domingue.

Around the Division: Lehigh Valley loses in overtime in Toronto this afternoon 3-2….Hershey was up 3-2 heading into the third in Hartford and lost 7-3….Springfield beats Bridgeport 2-1.

Standings: Springfield .800 percentage points / Hartford .750 / Charlotte .536 / Providence .536 / Hershey .536 / Penguins .533 / Bridgeport .406 / Lehigh Valley .344

Wheeling Update: Nailers are in Fort Wayne. Box here.

They are back in action Tuesday in Charlotte looking to carry the momentum from this weekend into a two game set in North Carolina. Power Rankings will hit some where in between. I just don’t know when or where.

Let’s Go Pens!

 

Man the Toropchenkos! — Pens LOSE 5-4 (SO)

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I don’t know if there is such a thing as a good loss, but this game, a 5-4 shootout loss to the Atlantic Division leading Springfield Thunderbirds, sure felt like one.

The Penguins finally scored a power play goal, two of them in fact and back to back and raced out to a 3-0 lead on the Thunderbirds but it was Springfield scoring late in the first.

Then in the second.

Then twice in the third to take a 4-3 lead before Cam Lee scored to tie the game at 4.

Penguins have to kill about :33 of two man disadvantage but get the game to overtime.

They scored once in the shootout and we did not.

It’s a good performance because the Penguins raced ahead of the Thunderbirds and managed to eke out a point in a shootout loss. They caught a good Springfield team flat footed and tried to fend off a furious rush by the Atlantic leading Thunderbirds. It’s a lot to build off of.

Louis Domingue opposed Joel Hofer. I mentioned in the Weekend Setup that if Domingue didn’t face a big workload you may see him Saturday in Providence again. He faced 40 shots tonight, so expect Tommy Nappier from THEE Ohio State University Saturday.

Here’s how they lined up…

Lineup Notes: All four big guns (O’Connor, Riikola, Joseph and Domingue) from Pittsburgh were in the lineup replacing Sam Houde and Dylan MacPherson (who aren’t even in town anymore because they were sent to Wheeling) and Chris Bigras.

It was mentioned before the game that goaltender Filip Lindberg is week to week with a lower body injury.

First Period: It took all of 63 seconds for the Penguins to get on the board with Radim Zohorna scoring to put Wilkes-Barre up 1-0.

Then, back to back power play goals. What team is this?

Oh, yes. A team that got help from a healthy Pittsburgh Penguins team.

Drew O’Connor on a rebound of a Juuso Riikola shot.

Then Filip Hallander off a nice setup from Valtteri Puustinen on the second power play goal in a row.

That sound you may have head was me hitting the floor as all of this was occurring in real time.

Some notes on these goals. First, it’s the quickest goal scored by the Penguins so far this season and Juuso Riikola had the secondary assist on all three goals.

The Penguins would see the Thunderbirds push back at all three ties that Springfield would get scored on. Nathan Todd had a few quality shots on Domingue.

Alexey Toropchenko goes up the ice and scored to get the Thunderbirds on the board.

I didn’t like the way that the period ended for the Penguins. Seemed like they let off a bit.

Second Period: It carried over into the second period. Seemed like the Penguins were getting flattened every shift. Domingue bailed them out on a three against one shorthanded bid and then Matt Peca scored here to cut the Penguins lead to one:

It seemed like the Penguins didn’t have a big danger scoring opportunity at all in the period until the last minute of the period where they started to pepper Hofer for some shots he was able to turn away.

Third Period: Alexey Toropchenko and Tanner Kaspick score :41 apart to give the Thunderbirds a 4-3 lead.

Hardly ideal, but not like you couldn’t see it coming with the run of play the Pens were on in the second period.

On top of that, the Pens found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-on-3 situation but were able to get out of that OK.

But not before Cam Lee scores to tie the game up again.

They were outshot by a 2:1 clip (12-6 for the period) but managed to get the game to…

Overtime: They went end to end without a whistle in a ferocious, frenetic 5 minute race, but no one scored.

Shootout: Hugh McGing scores in the top of the second round for the Thunderbirds and Drew O’Connor, Radim Zohorna and Valtteri Puustinen all missed on their chances, in that order.

Here’s McGing’s shot:

Three Stars: Juuso Riikola (three assists) 2) Mackenzie MacEachern (two assists) 1) Alexey Toropchenko

The Good: They scored a pair of power play goals and were perfect on the penalty kill.

The Bad: They figured out special teams tonight, but seemed to forget everything else five on five, where Springfield was the better team tonight.

Turning Point: Could go a lot of places here. The kill on the 5-on-3 in the third or the Cam Lee shot that forces OT. Give it to McGing and his goal in the second round of the shootout which put the heat on the Pens for good.

Around the Division: Utica has set an AHL record at the expense of the Charlotte Checkers winning their twelfth straight game to start the season. The Comets are 12-0 after beating the Checkers 4-1….Providence beats Hartford 2-1 in overtime after Oskar Steen’s goal just :26 into the extra period for the P-Bruins. Lehigh Valley loses again, this time in a shootout in Rochester 5-4.

Standings: Springfield .786 percentage points / Hartford .733 / Providence and Hershey .577 / Charlotte .536 / Penguins .500 / Bridgeport .433 / Lehigh Valley .333

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were out in Indy tonight and lost 5-2. Chris Ortiz and Matt Alfaro had the goals. Alex D’Orio stops 26 of 30.

If the Thunderbirds or Penguins post highlights I’ll see if I can run the edit here.

Weekend Preview: Northeast Extension

Seeking their first power play goal since the Carter Administration, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins embark on a four game road trip. This weekend sees the Penguins in Springfield, Massachusetts for a date with the Thunderbirds Friday, then off to Providence, Rhode Island for a Saturday night date with the Bruins.

The Setup

The Pens played in three games last week and won just one of them. They got smoked by Rochester Wednesday at home 5-1, beat the Charlotte Checkers at home 2-1 Friday on a late goal by defenseman Chris Bigras then were shut out the next night against the same Checkers side 4-0. Cole Schwindt bagged a natural hat trick and goaltender Chris Gibson, of his sub .900 save percentage and plus 4 goals against coming into that game, shut them out.

Springfield comes off a 2-1 overtime win last Saturday and a 6-4 setback against Hartford the night prior. They also lost their leading scorer, defenseman Scott Perunovich, to recall by the St. Louis Blues this week.

Providence, on the other hand, suffered the same fate as the Penguins in that they only won one game last weekend too with a 6-3 pasting of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last Friday at home then a loss in overtime to the Hartford Wolf Pack last Saturday at home.

The Records

On account of a loss by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Sunday, the Penguins moved up to sixth in the Atlantic on percentage points. The Penguins are a .500 club with a 6-6-0-1 record….Providence is a few percentage points better in fifth place at .542 percentage points with a 5-4-2-1 record and Springfield still sits atop the Atlantic with a 9-2-2 record and a .769 points percentage.

Who’s Up, Who’s Down, Who’s Out?

Wilkes-Barre got help in the form of defenseman P-O Joseph and Juuso Riikola, goaltender Louis Domingue and forward Drew O’Connor all being sent down on Sunday when Pittsburgh returned back from its Canada trip, seemingly at full strength health wise and COVID free.

In related transactions, the Penguins sent forward Sam Houde, defensemen Chris Ortiz and Dylan MacPherson back to Wheeling. MacPherson was released from his PTO.

Injury wise, forward Anthony Angello still has yet to appear in a game from his lower body injury. His status was finally switched from the laughable day to day variety to a more manageable week to week. Goaltender Filip Lindberg left after the second period on Friday and has a lower body injury. He was sent for an MRI this week. His status is unknown, but figure with a diagnostic such as an MRI, he’s week to week. The Penguins had to recall Alex D’Orio from Wheeling for Saturday but sent him back Sunday with the return to Domingue from Pittsburgh.

What can we learn from the Penguins this week?

The special teams are an unmitigated disaster, top to bottom. They haven’t scored a power play goal in their last 36 tries and have given up a league high four short handed goals in the process. While not all directly responsible for the losses of late, bagging a power play goal or maybe not allowing an opponent to score short handed may tip the scales in their favor.

Do I think that P-O Joseph is the straw that stirs the drink? No. I don’t. This club has so many gaping holes offensively and defensively that one player isn’t the entire team.

However, this influx of top end talent should help.

Otherwise, you have to build the roadmap of a game by not allowing the opponent to score first and keep it close like they did Friday against Charlotte. If not, things can and will go off the rails quickly, as it did Wednesday against Rochester and Saturday again against the Checkers.

It kind of has to be a back to basics type of thing with this club, which is a silly thing to say given the fact you are dealing with professional athletes playing the game at the second highest level in the world.

Who’s in Goal?

Louis Domingue Friday in Springfield and, depending on the work rate he faces then, right back to him Saturday in Providence. You will pretty much know or have a feel for it after the first or second period. If the Pens are in a close one, and limiting the Thunderbirds in shots and chances against, Domingue should have enough in the tank to go right back in net again Saturday in Providence. Tommy Nappier is capable, but if you are looking to essentially rebuild and hit restart on the young season, you want your de facto number one goalie to carry you through the short two game road set this weekend.

Expect Joel Hofer Friday to oppose Domingue Friday in Springfield and likely Kyle Keyser Saturday in Providence.

Who is running the show?

Rob Hennessey and Carter Sandlak have the assignment Friday with Ryan Jackson and Nick Briganti on the lines. For Saturday, Carter Sandlak and Ryan Jackson again (I wonder if they carpool?) with Referee Jason Williams and linesman Kenneth Gates.

Looking ahead…

Quick turnaround for the Pens as they will bus back Saturday after the game in Providence, a likely day off Sunday and then a travel day Monday for a flight down to Charlotte for a pair of games there Tuesday and Wednesday.

Give us a bold prediction…

One of the players sent down by Pittsburgh has an immediate impact in both games and the Penguins win them both.

Power Rankings – The Utica Wagon

With a 10-0 start to the season, the Utica Comets remain the #1 team in the Power Rankings for the third week in a row.

Hartford replaces Ontario in the top five but the Reign didn’t drop far.

Here’s the whole list, in all their glory…

RankTeamBlurbLast Week
1One win away from tying the best start by an AHL team to start the season. The last team to do it is the team the Comets play this week, the Rochester Americans.n/c
2So I like to watch this team play, and I can tell you that they grind you down. They played a competitive series against Henderson this past weekend at home. Big game this Sunday in Ontario.+1
3I mean the only thing you can go right now if you are any team in the North Division not named Utica is be the best team not named Utica, and that’s Rochester right now.+2
4This team keeps rolling, despite a setback at home against Hartford this past Friday. Penguins, then a home and home against Bridgeport coming up this week.n/c
5Color us shocked that the Wolf Pack are still contending here in mid-November, coming off statement wins over Springfield and Hartford.+5
6Reign will be well rested for their Sunday clash at home against an equally rested Stockton team after splitting a pair in Tucson last week.-4
7Roughed up the Wolves this weekend in Chicago and there aren’t many teams that can do that. Keep an eye on the Marlies.+7
8Took 4 of 6 out of Pennsylvania this past weekend. The big matchup is this Friday in Utica.+4
9Played competitive hockey with Stockton this week. Winnable games in Colorado this weekend.+2
10Gave up out of conference points and may have been exposed a bit. Rest of the division has caught up, for now.-4
11I’m going to call this a stumble for the Bears. Just a shootout win over Syracuse to show for the week.-4
12Last week stock up, this week is stock down for the Bruins who get Hartford again this Friday.-3
13Swept a home and home with San Diego, up to third in the division. Busy week with San Jose and Abbotsford coming.+9
14The stock up and stock down with Providence we talked about above applies here to Iowa. Either that or Milwaukee isn’t a very good team.+5
15Will face a snarly Wolves team in kids day game Wednesday then it’s off to Texas.-7
16Crunch will be looking to get back on track this week in Cleveland.-3
17Barracuda stay competitive but gave up seven again this week, this time to Abbotsford.n/c
18Three with the lowly Admirals this week at home. Iowa and Chicago look to be sputtering, this is Manitoba’s chance.-2
19Split with Rochester. Better than the week prior. Host Syracuse for a pair this week.+6
20Nice battles this week with the Islanders and Comets. Big test this week against Toronto.+9
213 out of 4 points this weekend against San Jose to right the ship. Condors are coming in next.+9
22When this team scores a power play goal (currently 0 for their last 36) come get me. Otherwise, this is a below average team in an average division.-4
23Good chance to make up some ground this week with a pair against the Griffins.+1
24No one can fault the Senators for losing to the Comets, but everything else (loss to Laval, win against Bridgeport) is up in the air.-3
25Split a pair in Texas. They are looking like they are turning a corner. Big test with the Silver Knights coming up.-2
26A win in Syracuse and one point in their Canadian trip was all the Islanders took from the week. Better week than Hershey, Wilkes-Barre and Providence, but the Islanders sit behind these teams at present.-6
27Played one game and lost. Get the Wolves this week for a home and home.-12
28Good response by the Roadrunners who dropped eight goals on Ontario on Friday. Honorary Pacific Division member Iowa drops by this weekend.+3
29I don’t see any winnable games for this teams this weekend.-3
30Travel up to San Jose this week for a pair with the Barracuda. Dropped a pair against Bakersfield this past weekend.-2
31This team stinks and the schedule isn’t going to relent.-4

Holy Schwindt! — Pens LOSE 4-0

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Really nothing to this one tonight.

Cole Schwindt bags a natural hat trick, Wilkes-Barre / Scranton’s power play woes continue and they give up a league high fourth shorthanded goal and make Christopher Gibson and his sub .900 save percentage and +4 goals against average look like Ed Belfour and the Penguins lose 4-0.

Turning point of the game was when Schwindt scored his first of the game shorthanded on what was the Penguins third power play of the first period to give the Checkers a 1-0 lead.

Remember how we talked last night about how when the Penguins would go down early in a game and get buried after that and how it didn’t happen on Friday? Well, it happened tonight. Three straight power plays to start the game, they don’t score AND they get scored on another power play?

Schwindt would score at 2:52 of the second on what could have been a too many men on the ice call on Charlotte. Big hit which dislodges a Checkers player helmet and it is laying on the ice. That player has to get off of the ice for Schwindt who comes on. Penguins head coach J.D. Forrest thinks Schwindt jumped on too early thus too many men, but referees Mason Riley and Mike Sullivan disagree and Schwindt and the Checkers are off to a 2-0 lead.

Schwindt completes his hat trick when he’s set up nicely by Henry Bowlby later in the second period and it’s 3-0.

The AHL was nice enough to capture all three of his goals.

Charlotte would bag a meaningless empty net goal scored by Matt Kiersted. Yippee.

Penguins power play drought is 0/36. 0/7 tonight after not scoring on the first three and the last four. Wilkes-Barre didn’t allow a power play goal, if you are looking for a silver lining.

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: Alex D’Orio was recalled from Wheeling earlier Saturday. I heard Taylor Haase in the postgame show ask Forrest the status of Lindberg and he gave her some scrambled answer that they don’t even know where the injury is yet on Lindberg. Malarky. Ask him to point to where it hurts. He’s going Monday to get evaluated.

Not that it matters, goalies stop goals, they don’t score them.

Cam Lee returned from his two game suspension and drew in for Niclas Almari. When a Wheeling guy like Dylan MacPherson is getting reps over you, call home.

Up front, Jamie Devane wasn’t going to play back to backs after coming back from injury so Sam Houde jumped in for him.

These 6:05 stars are great when you are home by nine. Not so good when you are finished with the blog piece at 9:30 and there are other teams in the division and their games are just going final.

Maybe in 2022 and when we are closer to the end of the season I’ll add boxes to the finals around the division. If you are really interested, here’s the page for the day. Here’s the standings page too. Pens are on .500 percentage points and seventh in the division, currently out of a playoff spot (six teams in the division make it this year) but it is still early.

Here’s the highlights for posterity.

Pens are back in action next Friday in Springfield. Power Rankings Tuesday.

Woof.