Chirps from Center Ice

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

Close Shave — Pens WIN 2-1 (OT)

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In a bit of a surprise to Penguins fans on Wednesday night, the Wilkes-barre / Scranton Penguins tweeted their usual lineup graphic. It looked like this:

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That is indeed Riley Barber’s name in the lineup. Tyler had some more insight:

I had a whole paragraph I had to rip up criticizing the Penguins and the antiquated way that injuries are described in professional hockey. After Barber scored in overtime to give the Penguins a 2-1 overtime win in Allentown Wednesday night, it didn’t matter.

It was a goalie duel, and don’t look now but Dutsin Tokarski has quietly won some games for the Penguins where Casey DeSmith has faltered. Am I brewing up a goalie controversy? No, I am not. Just stating the facts. It will be very interesting to see who plays Saturday in Hershey. Not overlooking the rematch Friday against the Phantoms, but the Bears are a juggernaut and the Penguins need to be almost perfect to win games these days.

This was, by all accounts a better game for Wilkes-Barre, who were in a battle with the Phantoms all night and managed to find a way to win. Find a way to win, that has to be the mantra in this last month of the season.

Other lineup notes included Barber for Justin Almeida and Niclas Almari for David Warsofsky. Warsofsky was listed as injured. I honestly don’t mind, his even strength numbers are terrible and his +/- is a joke. He’s good on the power play and that’s all. Almari has been an abject disaster of late, but if he is going to develop as a pro over here, he learns from his errors and gets better the next time out.

First Period: Alex Lyon kind of stole the period for the Penguins, making stops on Adam Johnson on a breakaway, Kevin Roy on a redirect of a Cole Cassels shot and then Riley Barber twice in close in the periods final seconds. High degree of difficulty saves which he made look easy.

Second Period: The goaltender duel continued and the period zipped by. Kevin Roy got free, but hit a post. Seconds later on the same shift, this:

Amazing what happens when you take the goaltenders eyes away.

Penguins found themselves on some penalty trouble late, but the Penguins penalty kill was stout and held the Phantoms out of the net.

Third Period: Penguins killed off the remaining penalty kill time left over from the second, then had a power play of their own that they failed to score on then Kurtis Gabriel scored on a deflection in front that squeaked through Tokarski and in to tie the game at one.

The Phantoms didn’t GIF the goal.

Penguins had a late power play come and go and it was off to….

Overtime: It took Riley Barber :50 to end it.

On a nice feed by ex-Phantom Phil Varone, no less.

Three Stars: 3) Kurtis Gabriel (goal) 2) Alex Lyon (33 saves) 1) Riley Barber (overtime game winning goal)

The Good: Strong goaltending from Tokarski, defense looked good. Lehigh Valley has been a huge disappointment this season, so take this with a grain of salt.

The Bad: In games like this where the goalies steal the show, anything is a nitpick. They didn’t take any exorbitant penalties and found a way to win. Moving on…

Turning Point: Barber’s shot that ended it gets it here.

Around the Division: It’s a meaningless exercise if the Charlotte Checkers, who are in fourth place keep winning and oh, shucks, they did tonight against Cleveland 3-2 in overtime….Bridgeport beats Toronto 4-1….Providence wins their twelfth straight with a 3-1 win in Hartford and the Wolf Pack have lost five straight.

Standings: Providence 82 — Hershey 81 — Charlotte 73 — Hartford 73 — Penguins 66 — Springfield 65 — Lehigh Valley 58 — Bridgeport 53

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off.

Video Highlights: If I see them I will edit them in.

Pens rematch Friday in Allentown. Gameday setup hits here Friday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Lehigh Valley 3/11

Who: Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Where: PPL Center

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game: Sunday at home ageists Binghamton the Penguins were shutout 3-0. The Phantoms hosted the Sound Tigers Sunday and blew a two goal lead in the third and lost 6-5 in a shootout. Five different Phantoms scored goals.

Last Meeting: February 8 in Wilkes-Barre, the Penguins lost 5-3. Max Sushko had a pair of goals for the Phantoms, Jan Drozg, Myles Powell and Kevin Roy scored for the Pens.

Record: For WBS: 28-26-3-5 (64 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For 24-28-2-7 (57 pts., 7th place Atlantic Division)

Referees: Rob Hennessey / Peter Schlittenhardt

Linesmen: Bob Goodman / Ryan Knapp

Why You Should Care: Pens need to be in win now if they want to be serious about a push towards playoffs. Otherwise, there is a month left in the season and that’s all. It needs to start tonight in Allentown.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is back for another season and better than ever.

Other Game to Watch: Charlotte, the team in the four spot which the Penguins are chasing, rematch against Cleveland tonight.

Next Five Games: @ LV 3/13, @ HER 3/14, vs. CLE 3/18, vs. HER 3/21, @ BNG 3/27

Zane McInTitle — Pens LOSE 3-0

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Zane McIntyre has the title to the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

His exploits with the Providence Bruins and now with the Binghamton Devils, who win today 3-0, their first win here ever. 27 saves for McIntyre Sunday afternoon.

The Penguins played an incomplete game today and some of the saves made by McIntyre were dazzlers, but the Devils had the better of the play and got goals to go in what you could call a goalie duel.

Doesn’t look like a playoff team to me, sadly. It’s an amalgamation of players who come from all walks, Wheeling and elsewhere.

Casey DeSmith opposed McIntyre.

Lineup:

Lineup Notes: None that I can spot. Chris Brown was the extra on for warmups.

First Period: Scoreless period. Devils had two power plays out of it to the Penguins one. Shots were a very manageable 9-6 for Binghamton in comparison to Friday’s contest when it was a lot worse for the Penguins.

Highlight of the period was this save on Ben Street.

Second Period: Seemed like the Devils took over the game a bit and then Jesper Boqvist got free in the slot and wired a shot that went in for a 1-0 Devils lead.

Adam Johnson got in for a breakaway but had to settle the puck before firing and didn’t get a good enough shot off.

Third Period: Ben Street drives the net and Brett Seney cleans up the loose change in front just :12 into the period to give the Devils a 2-0 lead.

Penguins has a crack at a power play and never got close. Time dwindled and Binghamton hit and empty net to make it three.

Three Stars: ‪3) B. Seney (goal) 2) J. Boqvist (goal) 1) Z. McIntyre‬ (27 save shutout)

The Good: DeSmith should get MVP, either that or hazard pay.

The Bad: They wear different type of uniforms for a reason, so you don’t pass to the opposite team. Passes were terrible.

Turning Point: Seney’s goal :12 into the third put the hammer on the nail. No coming back from that with the collective way they played this afternoon.

Around the Division: Bridgeport gets three in the third, forces overtime and beats Lehigh Valley 6-5 in a shootout…Hershey gets two late goals and forces overtime but lose 3-2 in a shootout up in Providence….Springfield beats Hartford 4-1 Charlotte was off.

Standings: Hershey 81 — Providence 80 — Hartford 73 — Charlotte 69 — Springfield 65 — Penguins 64 — Lehigh Valley 57 — Bridgeport 51

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off. They played a three in three which started Wednesday and ended Friday. Would you consider that to get the weekend off? I think I would.

Video Highlights: I don’t think Coal Street is going to edit up a shutout.

Lehigh Valley Wednesday. More then, otherwise warranted.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: vs. Binghamton 3/8

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Who: Binghamton Devils

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena

When: 3:05 p.m.

Last Game: Last night at home against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Penguins won 5-2. Jordy Bellerive scored a power play goal again, and the Penguins overall scored three times on the man advantage. For Binghamton, the Devils beat the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at home Saturday 5-1. The Devils connected for two power play goals as well as two shorthanded ones. Zane McIntyre stopped 34 shots.

Last Meeting: Friday in Binghamton, the Penguins lost 6-4. The game wasn’t ass close as the scoreline indicated. Jordy Bellerive had a pair of power play goals.

Record: For WBS: 28-25-3-5 (64 pts., 5th place Atlantic Division) // For BNG: 32-24-4-0 (68 pts., 4th place North Division)

Referees: Alex Normandin / Chris Waterstradt

Linesmen: Tom DellaFranco / Tyler Loftus

Why You Should Care: Pens should have a good idea of what type of team they are this weekend when they rematch against the Devils this afternoon. That should determine really if getting hopes up for a playoff push again are founded or unfounded.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is back for another season and better than ever.

Promotion(s): TUX’S BIRTHDAY BASH –Celebrate with Tux and his furry friends as we celebrate the big bird’s birthday. Mascots from around the AHL and local colleges will be on hand to help him blow out the candles.

Other Game to Watch: Providence can tie Hershey in points at the top of the Atlantic and win their eleventh straight today.

Next Five Games: @ LV 3/11, @ LV 3/13, @ HER 3/14, vs. CLE 3/18, vs. HER 3/21

Streak Snappers — Pens WIN 5-2

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The five game losing streak that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins had coming into this game with Bridgeport is over. After having five games where ether couldn’t do anything right, this game where they won 5-2, they couldn’t do anything wrong.

Binghamton Sunday afternoon at home. If the Penguins are serious about making a playoff push, albeit a faint chance otherwise, it would behoove them to win that game.

Dustin Tokarski opposed Jakub Skarek.

Lines were as follows…

Justin Almeida was recalled for Myles Powell who must have been banged up Friday in Binghamton.

:11 in Jamie Devane butchered Cedric Lacroix. I mean just beat him to a mess. Lacroix left a trail of gushing blood all over time ice which required the zambonis to come out and clean up. After about a 15 minute delay, play resumed. Pens killed a penalty, then Kevin Roy tipped in a shot from Kevin Czuczman to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead. 

You could see that they were playing with purpose, outshooting Bridgeport 12-7. Both teams went 0/1 on the power play. 

In the second, the Penguins weren’t able to score on extended 1:40 of two man advantage but that didn’t stop the Sound Tigers from gifting the Penguins more penalties. 

They scored three seconds into one when Jordy Bellerive tipped a Zach Trotman shot that made it 2-0. 

They connected on their second power play goal of the period when Jan Drozg collected loose change in front and scored to make it 3-0. 

Oliver Wahlstrom scores on a Sound Tigers power play to spoil the Tokarski shutout and made it 3-1. 

But the Penguins got it right back when Zach Trotman fired and scored to reestablish the three goal lead. 

(no GIF of this one)

A failed clear by the Penguins in the third and Seth Helgeson scored to make it 4-2. You could feel as the period went on that the Sound Tigers were making a push.

But Chase Berger finally connected on his first goal of the season into an empty net which made it 5-2. With that monkey off of his back, perhaps the goals will come.

The Good: Felt like a team win. Guys were blocking shots, helps that they connected on a few power plays here and there too.

The Bad: A team like the Penguins should always beat a last place team, no matter if it is Bridgeport or whoever. Proof will be in the pudding when Binghamton rolls in town in a few hours.

Turning Point: Jamie Devane’s massacre of Cedric Lacroix set the tone early for the night.

Around the Division: Providence wins its tenth straight, beating Springfield 4-2….Hershey beats Hartford for the second straight night and wins 4-1….Binghamton beats Lehigh Valley 5-1….Utica clips Charlotte 3-2 in overtime.

Standings: Hershey 80 — Providence 78 — Hartford 73 — Charlotte 69 — Penguins 64 — Springfield 63 — Lehigh Valley 56 — Bridgeport 49

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off.

Video Highlights: 

Gameday setup here at 11 am Sunday for Binghamton, Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: vs. Bridgeport 3/7

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Who: Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game: Last night in Binghamton, the Penguins lost 6-4. Jordy Bellerive had a pair of power play goals late. for Bridgeport, the Sound Tigers were in Allentown and won 6-4. Kieffer Bellows had a pair of goals.

Last Meeting: February 15 in Bridgeport, the Pens lost 3-2. Simon Holmstrom had two goals. Jamie Devane and Joseph Blandisi chipped in goals for the Penguins.

Record: For WBS: 27-25-3-5 (62 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For BRI: 21-32-5-2 (49 pts., 8th place Atlantic  Division)

Referees: Michael Markovic / Jesse Gour

Linesmen: Bob Goodman / J.P. Waleski

Why You Should Care: Pens need to snap out of this five game losing streak. Bridgeport has played them tough. It may require a perfect storm to get two points later tonight.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is back for another season and better than ever.

Promotion(s): ST. PATRICK’S DAY CELEBRATION –The Penguins will be celebrating the area’s Irish heritage once again with our annual St. Patrick’s Celebration.  The Pens will be wearing special Shamrock sweaters which will be auctioned during the game, and we’ll have FAN-Tastic Irish entertainment throughout the night.

Other Game to Watch: Rochester meets Belleville in Canada as these two teams who are at the top of the North Division.

Next Five Games: vs. BNG 3/8, @ LV 3/11, @ LV 3/13, @ HER 3/14, vs. CLE 3/18

Bedeviled — Pens LOSE 6-4

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The scoreline was never that close tonight, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins simply didn’t have it Friday in Binghamton and lost 6-4. Losing streak hits five games.

Shots were 15-4, 29-9 Binghamton after the first and second periods respectively. When the Penguins would score, the Devils would score right back. One of the best shorthanded units in the AHL, the Devils struck once. Casey DeSmith should get hazard pay, you could tell he was frustrated as the game went on.

I mean if you didn’t think they were making playoffs a few weeks ago, this performance tonight, coupled with all the other ones in this five game losing streak are glaring indicators that they are. We can get into why at a later date.

Casey DeSmith opposed Gilles Senn.

Lines were…

Lineup Notes: Jan Drozg up from Wheeling, Chase Berger’s first game since February 8. Zach Trotman was back. If you didn’t hear Riley Barber was injured last weekend, played through it but was ruled out for six weeks. The curse of trades with Wilkes-Barre continue.

First Period: Devils ran amok on the Penguins, outshooting them 14-5 in the period, yet the two teams just scored a goal a side.

Binghamton first with Jesper Boqvist scoring on a rebound that made it 1-0 Devils.

Kevin Roy found Adam Johnson with a rainbow pass that sent Johnson off on a breakaway and Johnson buried it to tie the game at one.

The Penguins were lucky to get out of the period tied at one.

Second Period: Binghamton broke the dam.

They outshot the Penguins 15-4 and scored three times. Ben Street, Jesper Boqvist on a power play and Janne Kuokkanen all scored in the period to break the game wide open for the Devils and it was 4-1 after two.

Third Period: Penguins manage to get more shots at Senn, but they still trailed by three. Kevin Roy scored on a one timer off a Cole Cassels pass but :24 later Ryan Schmelzer scored to reestablish the three goal Devils lead.

Nathan Bastian blew away Casey DeSmith on a shorthanded goal that made it 6-2.

Jordy Bellerive scored a pair of power play goals in garbage time when Binghamton let off to make it 6-4.

Mistakes. Lackadaisical defending. At what point to we start talking about David Warsofsky and his -32 +/- or his 34.15% even strength goals for differential? You may as well call up Emil Larmi up now and let him get his lumps versus having DeSmith get shelled night in and night out.

Lost in all off this is Cole Cassels who is the teams MVP. He’s one guy you lock up the first chance you get this summer.

Three Stars: 3) Janne Kuokkanen (goal, assist) 2) Ryan Schmelzer (goal, two assists) 1) Jesper Boqvist (two goals)

The Good: There are players who want to play, Bellerive, Cassels and Roy come to mind and others who just want to ride. Lead, follow or get out of the away,

The Bad: This is only the second time since the Binghamton Devils have existed that they have defeated the Penguins.

Turning Point: Tons of little things, but Ryan Schmelzer’s goal which came seconds after Cassels in the third basically said that the Devils were going to assert their dominance and there wasn’t anything the Penguins could do about it.

Around the Division: Utica beats Charlotte 2-1. Providence beats Springfield 2-1 in overtime. The Thunderbirds will be affiliated with the St. Louis Blues next season. Silly season is upon us. Hershey beats Hartford 1-0. Bridgeport beats Lehigh Valley 6-4.

Standings: Hershey 78 — Providence 76 — Hartford 73 — Charlotte 68 — Springfield 63 — Penguins 62 — Lehigh Valley 56 — Bridgeport 49

Wheeling Update: Kalamazoo beats Wheeling 4-2.

Video Highlights: Moving on…

Bridgeport in Saturday. They always play the Pens tough so it’s a big task. Gameday here Saturday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!