All posts by Steven Czarnecki

WBS Results Recap: Weekend of 10th December

A game on Friday night then a game on Sunday evening for the Baby Pens. Some more transactions occurred from Wednesday. Simon heads up to Pittsburgh, with McKegg coming back down. Burton was also assigned to Wheeling. Archibald remains with WBS for a little bit longer. Kostopoulos remains injured.

Friday Night (12/8/2017)

Charlotte Checkers (Home) – 2-1 Loss

Spionzzi, McGrath, Thomas and Johnson get scratched alongside the still injured Kostopoulos. McKegg slides in between Sprong and Wilson and Zach Aston-Reese gets promoted into Simon’s spot, with Maguire getting the start in net. The Penguins ended the first period giving up 14 shots and only registering 4. At even strength, the play was pretty even, but the Penguins gave up 3 powerplay opportunites and had their own popwerplay opportunity that, unsurprisingly, resulted in very little. Stick tap to Maguire for keeping the game even. The 2nd period continued with much of the same, with Charlotte getting another 4 powerplay opportunities, one of which results in a powerplay goal for Poturlaski for the Checkers, who had also assisted on another Charlotte goal, ending the 2nd period 2-0 to Charlotte. To start the 3rd period, the Penguins finally added a goal on the powerplay after a hooking penality through Daniel Sprong ripping a one timer straight off the faceoff win from JS Dea.WBS carried most of the play for the 3rd period, and were building towards an equalizing goal. This was until an incredibly questionable charging call with 3:30 left on Ryan Haggerty who was chasing down a loose puck and collided with Jeremy Smith, the Checkers goalie who had come out past the hashmarks to try and collect the puck. Archibald and McKegg tried their best to generate shorthanded, getting a good rebound opportunity just chipped wide. Before they could pick up steam, another questionable call on Archibald for unsportsmanlike conduct put the Pens shorthanded once more and the game ends 2-1 to Charlotte.

Friday 8th December

Sunday Evening (12/10/2017)

Hershey Bears (Away) – 4-1 Win

Two roster transactions to discuss. Corrado comes back down as Czuczman goes up to Pittsburgh. Also, Ethan Prow is recalled to WBS, who gets in straight away in place of Bengtsson, with Spionzzi getting in ahead of Tinordi. Quinney and Haggerty are out from Friday, replaced by Thomas and McGrath. The Baby Penguins have been plagued by bad starts, but not in this game, as Hershey turned the puck over with little pressure on the forecheck, dribbling the puck into the slot and right to Christian Thomas who ripped it first time to put WBS up 1-0 7 minutes into the game. Hershey handed another opportunity to WBS by having captain Garret Wilson take an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty debating a slashing call to put the game at 5 on 3, in which Sprong converted with a one timer from Prow to make it 2-0 Wilkes-Barre. Not long after the expiration of 3 straight powerplays for WBS, Hershey once again handed the Penguins a great opportunity as Siegenthaler threw the puck over in front of his own net under pressure from Sestito and DiPauli chipped in the unintentional feed for a 3-0 lead. Hershey did manage to claw back a goal with 18 seconds left in the first period to send us to intermission tied 3-1. The 2nd period was mostly uneventful outside of a quick scrum where Sprong once again got himself into the middle of it. In the third, Hershey once again get themselves into penalty trouble, resulting in another 5 on 3 which this time Trotman slams home a one timer from the blueline and the center of the zone to make the score 4-1 WBS with 9 minutes left. This is how the game ended, with WBS doing a great job of limiting a normally potent Hershey offense to only 19 shots in the entire game.

Sunday 10th December

Three Takeaways

1) Daniel Sprong continued to rebound from his healthy scratch, scoring 2 goals and 1 assist over the weekend and showing a more physical edge than previously seen, getting involved in a scrum that he started against Charlotte and one against Hershey where he came in and ripped Tyler Grovac’s helmet off. He also threw a number of big hits in these games, including a hip check against Charlotte where he flipped a Checkers forward trying to score on the empty net. This is the Sprong the NHL Penguins want to see, and if he keeps up this level of engagement, his call up won’t be too far away.

2) I’m somewhat of a pessimist when it comes to prospects, and that comes with being wrong a lot of the time. With Sean Maguire, it seems I’m very wrong. He appeared in all 3 games this week (including 1 in relief of Peters on Wednesday) and turned in a .937% and a 1.60 GAA including an absurd 4 save sequence against Charlotte:

3) WBS turned in a great performance against Hershey with a strong first period and it’s just what the doctor ordered. After a great early season where they went 12-2-1, they hit a skid of 1-5-1 where they were plagued by awful starts, terrible discipline and inconsistent effort. The game against Hershey showed exactly what the Baby Penguins are capable of, being fast on the forecheck and causing nightmares for the Bears’ defenders trying to move the puck. This could be a huge result for them, as they try to remind themselves of what they’re capable of.

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WBS Results Recap: 6th December

Wednesday night the Baby Penguins travel to Lehigh Valley and we have some more roster moves to recap. Tiffels was recalled then reassigned to Wheeling a day later, alongside Josephs returning from injury and Prow who had been healthy scratched a few times. Colin Stevens was also returned to Wheeling after being released from his PTO. Kostopoulos remains out injured, but Maguire is healthy enough to return.

Wednesday Night (12/6/2017)

Lehigh Valley (Away) – 5-0 Loss


Corrado is the most interesting scratch, indicating he’s likely to be called up. Spinozzi, McGrath, Burton, Thomas and Haggerty are the other healthy scratches. Anthony Peters gets the call in net after a strong showing over the weekend. Awful first period on the scoreboard where the Penguins gave up 3 goals, and they never really looked into it, despite the fact they somehow registered 15 shots in the period. Tyrell Goulbourne potted a 4th goal shorthanded to start the 2nd period and resulted in Peters being replaced by Sean Maguire. WBS didn’t play bad after this point, but failed to register a goal in the 2nd period as Tokarski turned in a solid performance. Notably, head coach Clark Donatelli put out the 4th line of Sestito, Blueger and DiPauli on the powerplay towards the end of the 2nd period to send a message to his usual PP performers. This message was as a result of the shorthanded goal given up and yet again, the WBS powerplay failing to generate much in the way of positive chances. Matt Read added a 5th with 6 and a half left in the game before a small brawl broke out. Archibald taking a run at Lehigh Valley goalie Dustin Tokarski with under 4 minutes left as a physical demonstration of WBS’ frustration with their performance led to some unhappy campers on both sides. Despite 39 shots, the Penguins could not pot a goal from any one and Sestito was the only player not on the ice for a goal against. A game to forget for WBS.

Wednesday 6th December

WBS Results Recap: Weekend of 3rd December

3 games in 3 nights for the Baby Penguins and a lot of moves around to talk about. Josh Archibald was reassigned from the NHL Penguins on a conditioning assignment, which led to Freddie Tiffels going back down to Wheeling. The Penguins also recalled Casey DeSmith to play backup to Jarry, so WBS recalled Sean Maguire and signed Colin Stevens and Anthony Peters to PTOs. As for injuries, Sestito and Wilson both return from injury, with Kostopoulos, Josephs, Prow and Maguire all out.

Friday Night (12/1/2017)

Milwaukee Admirals (Home) – 5-4 OT Win

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyrZW5dfn78

The 4 injured players are all out, as well as Spinozzi, Quinney, Burton and Summers. Daniel Sprong also takes a seat as a healthy scratch due to his ineffectual play over the last month. This is a pretty normal step for a lot of prospects, so let’s not read into things too much. Archibald’s return to WBS got off to a flying start with an assist to Wilson for an opening goal 2 and a half minutes into the game. Wilson kept up this performance, potting another 2 goals to complete a hattrick in the first period alone. This was an especially touching moment for Wilson who sadly lost his mother last week to breast cancer. With the game at 3-1 after the first, a less hectic 2nd ended 4-2 off the back of Josh Archibald short handed goal. However, WBS absorbed a lot of pressure in the 3rd, giving up 2 goals and forcing the game to overtime. As is now becoming a tradition, JS Dea ended overtime with an off wing snap shot over Saros’ glove to give the Penguins the 2 points.

Friday 1st December

Saturday Night (12/2/2017)

Rochester Americans (Home) – 5-2 Loss

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8uVv8xLJaQ

Anthony Peters gets the nod in net for his first ever appearance for WBS and Summers jumps in for Bengtsson who gets the night off. Sprong also returns on the 4th line in place of Sestito. The Baby Penguins held their “Teddy Bear Toss” night and it couldn’t have been more fitting for Teddy Blueger to get the first goal of the game and trigger stuffed toys to rain from stands. However, this feel good moment was short lived as Rochester responded with 4 unanswered goals in the last 11 minutes of the 2nd period to take a 4-1 lead. While Blueger potted his 2nd goal late in the 3rd, it was too little too late as Rochester put in an empty netter to walk away as 5-2 winners.

Saturday 2nd December

Sunday Afternoon (12/3/2017)

Hershey Bears (Away) – 4-3 OT Loss

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ftnj06XySdY

Summers drops back out for Bengtsson, while Simon picked up an injury blocking a shot so drops out, alongside Adam Johnson and Ryan Haggerty. This opens the door for Quinney, Burton and Sestito to come back in. Peters gets the nod for the 2nd night in a row. The Pens got off to a great start with Quinney potting a goal on an assist from Sprong and then Sprong scored from a Quinney feed to put WBS up by 2 and Sprong getting his first multi-point night since the 20th of October. Hershey pegged one back in the 2nd to enter the 3rd with the scored at 2-1 to WBS. Hershey then managed to put 2 past Peters in the Baby Penguins before Sestito added a goal from Archibald and forced the game into OT. While the Penguins lost in OT, they put up a solid effort to finish the weekend getting 3 of 6 available points with an inexperienced stable of goaltenders.

Sunday 3rd December

Three Takeaways

1) Daniel Sprong was the victim of a healthy scratch on Friday night, and rebounded on Sunday with a goal and an assist. One thing I will preach is not to be concerned with him taking a healthy scratch. The AHL is, fundamentally, a development league and roster depth is such that healthy scratches happen with a lot more regularity than they do in the NHL. Sprong taking a seat seems to have worked, and honestly, he deserved to sit for as ineffectual as he had been. He has always seemed to respond well to the Penguins direction for development despite his rumoured ‘attitudes issues’, so I suspect that he’ll be motivated to work on whatever the team suggested he need to improve.

2) Credit must be given to both Anthony Peters and Colin Stevens. Both guys came in and gave the Penguins an opportunity to win all 3 games on the weekend and put forth very solid performances. I suspect Maguire will be back sooner rather than later, and with Murray’s injury in Pittsburgh being a 2-4 week variety, DeSmith will be back before much damage is done, but Peters may earn himself a contract with the Penguins if he keeps up these performances.

3) I really don’t love Pedan as a prospect, nor as an every day AHL defender. He’s fine, but I’d love to see Bengtsson get away from him. Pedan takes a fair few penalties and doesn’t really have the puck skills to do a lot in the Penguins system. His lack of puck ability causes a lot of turnovers behind the WBS net and that’s never a good place to lose the puck. I suspect there was logic to Summers going out of the lineup over the weekend, but I just don’t think it should be so Pedan can stay in.

November Prospect Review

Welcome to the 2nd monthly update of the Penguins prospects. All stats are correct as of 29th of November.

Forwards:

Jordan Bellerive, 5’10, 194 (UDFA, 2017) – Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)

Bellerive continues to run along at a great pace, currently at 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) in 23 games and taking over the scoring lead at Lethbridge. He is also up to third on the team in PIMs as he continues to show a feistiness far beyond his 5’10 frame. Lethbridge are not having a great season, and have a losing record, but sit 2nd in their division and may make the playoffs as a result of this.

Jan Drozg, 6’0, 174 (5th round, 2017) – Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)

As Shawinigan cement themselves as the worst junior team in Quebec, Drozg is the victim of an awful supporting cast as he sits at 21 points (7 goals, 14 assists) in 25 games, putting him 2nd on the team. For both Drozg’s development, and his own happiness, I would suspect Shawinigan looks into trading him soon as they are so far back from making the playoffs. That will be where we see how much talent Drozg has.

Daniel Sprong, 6’0, 181 (2nd round, 2015) – WBS Penguins (AHL)

When we last checked out the prospects, Sprong was on 12 points. It’s roughly 3 weeks later and he only has 14 points and Sprong is currently on a run of 4 points in his last 12 games. A cold powerplay in Wilkes-Barre is negatively affecting his production, but this has been a pretty awful month for Sprong. I don’t think he’s done as a prospect, but fans should temper expectations of when Sprong should be seen.

Dominik Simon, 5’11, 176 (5th round, 2015) – WBS Penguins (AHL)

Simon is another victim of the brutally bad WBS powerplay, but currently sits at 15 points in 17 games, which is good for 1st in points for WBS. Simon has shown a lot more consistency this year than his previous two, with his longest point drought only being 3 games so far. While I’m still not sure about his long term future as an NHL prospect and especially within the Penguins organization, he’s putting together a very good year for himself. As to what that means for him going forward is anyone’s guess.

Sam Miletic, 6’0, 196 (UDFA, 2017) – London Knights (OHL)

A solid season so far for Miletic who sits at 28 points (7 goals, 21 assists), but I still can’t find much of a logic behind this signing and my bias is leading me to downplaying his year as being the benefit of two very good talents he gets to play on a line with in Robert Thomas (20th overall pick in the 2017 draft) and Cliff Pu (3rd rounder in 2016).

Kasper Bjorkqvist, 6’1, 205 (2nd round, 2016) – Providence College (NCAA)

Bjorkqvist has somewhat tailed off through the last 3 weeks, only adding an assist and a goal to get him to 7 points (5 goals, 2 assists) through 14 games. While this puts him 5th for scoring among forwards for the Friars, it doesn’t fill me with confidence with regards to his upside. It’s an improvement on his freshman year, and he’s still good on the PK, but there seems to be a clear offensive ceiling there for Bjorkqvist.

JS Dea, 5’11, 175 (UDFA, 2013) – WBS Penguins (AHL)

Things have just stayed the same for Dea and that’s probably the best thing for him. He’s now up to 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists) in 17 games while regularly rolling out the best line WBS have playing with Haggerty and Aston-Reese. This season has gone so well for Dea that he’s likely to be the first or second in line for a callup to the NHL roster in the case of injuries or a trade of a forward.

Teddy Blueger, 6’0, 185 (2nd round, 2012) – WBS Penguins (AHL)

Blueger continues his steady development as a bottom 6 center, upping his point output to 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) through 17 games, and was rolling on a strong 4th line with DiPauli and Sestito. However, both Blueger and DiPauli got themselves a new linemate in Sprong, and that looks to be a line going forward. Whether this is a demotion for Sprong or a promotion for the other two remains to be seen, but if Sprong can get hot, Blueger has the playmaking ability to really rack up some points.

Thomas DiPauli, 5’11, 187 (UDFA, 2016) – WBS Penguins (AHL)

As mentioned above, DiPauli got himself a shiny new linemate and a promotion of sorts, and has added more production to his game with 10 points (7 goals, 3 assists) in 15 games. This jump in production along with his speed, forechecking and defensive skills have pushed him into the conversation of potential callups to the NHL and I’d certainly like to see him get that opportunity once some roster dominos fall.

Adam Johnson, 6’0, 175 (UDFA, 2017) – WBS Penguins (AHL)

Johnson is moving around the lineup with some regularity, having been pushed out to the left wing with the return of Colin Smith to WBS, and then moving from the top 6 to a bottom 6 role and everything in between. Johnson has had a decent season so far, registering 8 points (2 goals, 6 assists) through 16 games. Expect him to get more comfortable as the year goes on.

Linus Olund, 5’11, 185 (5th round, 2017) – Brynas IF (SHL)            

Brynas are still not good, but Olund is trying his best as a 20 year old, registering 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists) through 21 games which is good for 5th among forwards on his team. Trades aren’t so common in the Swedish league, so I don’t expect Olund to go to a better team for the playoffs, so he’ll likely be in WBS for the end of the regular season with Brynas flirting with the relegation spots.

Nikita Pavlychev, 6’7, 212 (7th round, 2015) – Penn State (NCAA)

Not much has changed for Pavlychev with him now up to 6 goals and no assists through 16 games. While the Penguins would like to have seen a bigger jump in offensive production, he has matched his freshman goal total in less than half the number of games and he is second on his team for goals scored. I would expect him to up his assists a bit throughout the year as a 0 assist year seems entirely unsustainable.

Anthony Angello, 6’5, 205 (5th round, 2014) – Cornell University (NCAA)

Angello increased his total up to 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) through 10 games for Cornell. I very much expect Angello to be heavily influenced into turning pro as he has seemingly developed as far as Clarkson will allow him to. He’s having a solid junior year and it would help his professional future to come out this year and learn the pro game. I still like his size and skill combination a lot.

Zach Aston-Reese, 6’0, 205 (UDFA, 2017) – WBS Penguins (AHL)

Since starting the year pointless for the first 5 games, Aston-Reese sorted out his wisdom teeth and has scored 9 points (2 goals, 7 assists) through his next 10 games after being placed on WBS’ best line as of late with Dea and Haggerty. While I’d like to see an increase in his goal production, he’s providing a great forechecking presence and is showing signs of improvement when it comes to his skating.

Sam Lafferty, 6’1, 185 (4th round, 2014) – Brown University (NCAA)

Lafferty has improved his output from our previous recap up to 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists) in 9 games, but still not as good a year as his junior year. Brown have very even scoring throughout the lineup, as Lafferty is tied for 2nd in points with 3 other people. I still don’t know where this puts Lafferty in regards to the pros, but his draft rights expire on the 15th of August and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Penguins let that happen.

Freddie Tiffels, 6’1, 201 (6th round, 2015) – WBS Penguins (AHL)

Tiffels did get his stint down in Wheeling, which gave him a nice boost where he put 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists) in 6 games before being recalled to WBS, where he proceeded to get into 2 games and score his first AHL goal in one of those games. I still don’t see much of an upside to him, but his ECHL production is a solid enough start.

Defense:

Clayton Phillips, 5’11, 174 (3rd round, 2017) – Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)

Phillips is currently sat at 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists) in 14 games through two different teams in the USHL and that puts him at 3rd in the entire league for points per game by a D. This pick has the potential to be another Minnesotan USHL steal by the Penguins following in the foot steps of Guentzel and I wouldn’t expect Phillips to stay at Minnesota for much more than his freshman year if he shows this talent in his freshman year.

Lukas Bengtsson, 5’10, 192 (UDFA, 2016) – WBS Penguins (AHL)

While the production is not quite as sexy as you’d like from an undersized D like Bengtsson, he’s suffering from a terrible powerplay like others in WBS. What is most impressive, however, is just how solid he is in his own zone. If the Penguins do trade Ian Cole as is being discussed, I would hope the Penguins give Bengtsson a solid go at earning a full time NHL spot this year. His play in WBS has deserved that opportunity.

Dane Birks, 6’2, 183 (6th round, 2013) – Michigan Tech (NCAA)

Birks is continuing to have quite the good junior year, putting up 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) in 17 games while providing to be a steady defensive presence. Birks’ year may have played himself back into consideration for an ELC. I don’t expect fireworks from Birks, but if he can develop into a solid depth callup option in case of injuries, that’s a solid 6th round pick up.

Niclas Almari, 6’2, 181 (5th round, 2016) – HPK (Liiga)

I don’t fully understand what HPK is doing with Almari at this point. Since our last update, he’s only managed to get into 1 game for HPK and played 2 on loan to a Finnish 2nd division team. I don’t entirely follow if he was injured or they just felt like he needed healthy scratching, but I think this would only push the Penguins to want Almari to come over to North America sooner rather than later. HPK don’t seem likely to make the playoffs, so we might see that soon.

William Reilly, 6’3, 196 (7th round, 2017) – RPI (NCAA)

Reilly hasn’t really improved much since our last update, only adding a goal to get 5 goals and 1 assist through 14 games. While I’m still high on Reilly as he has good skating and size, and is on pace to tie his production from his freshman, I hope he can hit another jump in production and his 5 goals does have him tied for first in the team for goal scoring.

Connor Hall, 6’3, 190 (3rd round, 2016) – Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

Since our last update, Hall has played 10 more games and registered 3 more assists to get to 6 points (6 assists) in 27 games. There is still no real guarantee on Hall getting himself an ELC, even though he is a third round pick. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Penguins give him an AHL contract and see if he shows any development in the pro game before handing out an ELC.

Antti Palojarvi, 6’1, 176 (6th round, 2017) – Luuko U20 (Liiga U20)

Not much has changed for Palojarvi as he’s now at 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists) in 22 games. He ranks 5th on his team in defenseman for scoring, which is really disappointing as he doesn’t appear to be bringing much to the party for his team. I’m not sure where he goes from here or what the Penguins really saw from him when they drafted him, but it doesn’t look like he has a bright future.

Joseph Masonius, 6’0, 190 (6th round, 2016) – Connecticut (NCAA)

Masonius got 5 more games in from our last check in, and added another 2 assists to get to 4 assists in his 10 games played. He’s only taken 3 minors in those 5 games, but there’s not a whole lot to write about Masonius as he is a pretty bland prospect. I don’t suspect the Pens will try to entice him out of college until his senior year is over.

Zachary Lauzon, 6’1, 190 (2nd round, 2017) – Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)

While he has returned from injury, Lauzon hasn’t shown a whole lot of offensive development, as he only has 2 assists in his 11 games so far this year. He has 25 PIMs, so is showing off his physical side, but there’s not the development you would have liked to see from a guy picked as far off the board as the Penguins did pick Lauzon.

Ryan Jones, 6’2, 192 (4th round, 2016) – University of Nebraska-Omaha (NCAA)

Jones hasn’t added anything to his stat sheet since our last article, as he’s still at 1 assist through 10 games. Scoring isn’t super high on Nebraska-Omaha, but Jones’ return is not anything to get excited over and I think he’s going to go the way of Reid McNeill and Ryan Segalla et al in that he won’t ever be anything to look at and be happy with.

Jeff Taylor, 6’0, 185 (7th round, 2014) – Wheeling Nailers (ECHL)

Finally healthy and reassigned to Wheeling, Jeff Taylor is putting together a very solid season so far with 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists) in 10 games and looks to be thriving with the Penguins taking a slow approach to his development. He’s not likely to get into many AHL games with the amount of the depth that WBS has on defence, but a year of being relied upon by Wheeling in every situation will benefit his development.

Ethan Prow, 5’11, 185 (UDFA, 2016) – WBS Penguins (AHL)

Prow has found himself healthy scratched on numerous other occasions, and has picked up a bit of an injury, but only managed to appear in 6 games getting himself 1 assist. There is very little to be excited about with Prow right now and I very much expect that the Penguins won’t tender him a contract when his contract expires this year.

Goalie:

Tristan Jarry, 6’2, 194 (2nd round, 2013) – WBS/Pittsburgh

Jarry has found himself in sole possession of the Pittsburgh Penguins starting goalie spot for the next 2-3 weeks as Matt Murray has picked up a lower body injury. His stats sit at a 2.83 GAA and a .907% in 4 games, but I very much expect those will increase as he sits on the starting hill and puts in solid performances like he has in backup duty so far. This is going to be very good for Jarry’s development.

Filip Gustavsson, 6’2, 183 (2nd round, 2016) – Lulea HF (SHL)

Playing 9 games, getting a 2.65 GAA and a .900% is a very good showing for a 19 year old in a men’s league like Gustavsson is. His stats are down a little bit from our last look, but he’s still very young and seems to be getting into more games than you’d expect from a backup, so this is a good thing for him in the long run. Expect him to keep the pipeline of good goalies chugging along.

Sean Maguire, 6’2, 203 (4th round, 2012) – Wheeling Nailers (ECHL)

This next 2-3 weeks will be a make or break period for the prospects of Maguire as a professional goalie. With DeSmith recalled to the NHL to serve as Jarry’s backup, Maguire now takes sole possession of the WBS net and has an opportunity to prove himself. His ECHL stats of 3.28 GAA and a .910% are pretty solid, if unspectacular, so we will see if that’s a result of Wheeling’s play or if Maguire is a solid goalie.

Alex D’Orio, 6’3, 196 (UDFA, 2017) – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)

D’Orio continues to suffer through Saint John being terrible as he has a 3.43 GAA and a .897%. He’s likely hoping for a trade to a better team and I have no doubt the Penguins feel the same way. It’ll be interesting to see if that trade happens and if he so, how his stats improve.

WBS Results Recap: Week of 26th November

The Baby Penguins play one game on Wednesday against rivals Lehigh Valley before taking Thanksgiving off and playing a home and home with Syracuse on Friday and Saturday. Pedan remains suspended and should be back for the 2nd game of the weekend against Syracuse. Wilson, Kostopoulos, Josephs are still out injured, and add DiPauli and Prow to that list. Sestito would also appear to be injured, but there hasn’t been any confirmation of that. Tiffels was recalled from Wheeling after putting together 7 points (3G, 4A) in 6 games down there while Corrado returns from the NHL Penguins.

Wednesday Night (11/22/2017)

Lehigh Valley (Home) – 4-3 Win

With all the injured players above out injured, Spionzzi and Tiffels are the only two healthy scratches with McGrath sliding onto the 4th line with Blueger and Johnson. WBS took a very early lead through the Dea line, who once again were flying. Aston-Reese applied a good forecheck, turning the puck over to Dea who did a drop pass to Haggerty who showed off some ridiculous hands to curl and drag Mark Alt and slide the puck past Lyon in the Lehigh Valley net. For the rest of the period, the Phantoms hammered the Penguins, going into the 1st intermission with a 16-5 lead in shots and a 2-1 lead on the scoreboard. The Baby Penguins came back out flying for the rest of the game and had a 33-17 lead in shots for the remaining 2 periods and potting another 2 goals through the Dea line with one for Dea and one for Haggerty (all 3 players were involved in all 3 goals, with ZAR picking up 3 assists on the night). Wilkes-Barre got the game winner through the line of Simon – Smith – Thomas, after Czuczman kept the puck in the Phantoms end and Simon set up Smith for a wrister from the slot. Unsurprisingly, DeSmith turned in yet another solid performance, saving 31 of 33 shots.

Wednedsay 22nd November

Friday Night (11/24/2017)

Syracuse Crunch (Away) – 5-2 Loss

Burton and McGrath take a turn out of the lineup as DiPauli returns from injury and Tiffels joins him on a line with Blueger for his first game since coming back from Wheeling. An awful first period was once again an issue for the Baby Penguins, going down 3-0 and giving up 14 shots in an abysmal 20 minutes along with the powerplay failing to convert on the 3 opportunities. A better 2nd period helped to cut the lead to 3-1 Syracuse through a ColinSmith powerplay goal, with WBS converting on only their 3rd powerplay goal in 33 powerplay attempts in the month of November. Another good play from Colin Smith to corral a bouncing puck and set up Simon on a quick 2 on 1 put the game to 3-2 with 6 and a half minutes to go. Ben Thomas, a winger for Syracuse, then took a boarding major 30 seconds later against the returning DiPauli, giving the Penguins a 5 minute powerplay and a great chance to tie the game up. However, the Penguins awful powerplay as of late let them down, failing to convert even once on the major, before conceding an empty netter to go down 4-2 with a minute left in the game. Syracuse then added insult to injury tagging on another empty netter as the Penguins had a late game powerplay opportunity turning into a 6 on 4 with DeSmith pulled ending the game at 5-2.

Friday 24th November

Saturday Night (11/25/2017)

Syracuse Crunch (Home) – 4-3 Loss

The only change from Friday night is Pedan returning from his suspension in place of Trotman. Otherwise, all the same. A fun first period with 2 goals a piece for Syracuse and WBS, with Tiffels scoring his first of his career to equalise against an early Syracuse goal and Blueger adding a 2nd to take a lead, with Johnson adding assists on both goals. Syracuse scored late in the first on the powerplay to tie it at 2. Despite a plethora of powerplay opportunities, WBS continued to struggle with the extra man and gave up 2 goals, including one shorthanded, for Syracuse to take a 4-2 lead going into the 3rd period. Corrado added his 2nd of the year, and the Penguins earned a PP opportunity with 4 minutes left in the 3rd to tie the game, but much like Friday night, they failed to cash in and fell to Syracuse for the 2nd time in 2 nights.

Saturday 25th November

Three Takeaways

1) The point streak is officially over, finishing at 12 games with an 11-0-1 record. WBS have the depth and the talent to go on another similar tear if they respond to the weekend effectively. They’re an incredibly stacked team, and have the second-best record in the entire AHL next to the Toronto Marlies. If the two meet in the playoffs, it will be a barnburner of a series.

2) The Baby Penguins powerplay is just awful right now. In the month of November, they scored 3 goals on 40 powerplay situations, a percentage of 7.5%. With the amount of talent on the Penguins powerplay, there needs to be a significant up-turn in production if they intend to push for home seeding throughout the playoffs.

3) Talking of things going cold, Daniel Sprong has been colder than a brisk Amsterdam wind. After getting off a white hot start scoring 7 goals and 3 assists in his first 5 games, the next 12 games from Sprong have generated only 2 goals and 2 assists. As the powerplay has gone dry, so has Sprong, with his even strength scoring amounting to only 4 of his 9 goals this year. Sprong was recently the recipient of some new linemates, moving on from Johnson/Burton and Quinney to DiPauli and Blueger. It remains to be seen if that gives him better production, but his cold stretch is becoming a significant issue for the Baby Penguins.

WBS Results Recap: 17th November

Just one game this weekend, traveling to Binghamton who are now known as the Devils and are an affiliate of, well, the Devils. They were previously the affiliate of the Ottawa Senators. Tom Kostopoulos and Troy Josephs are still on the injured list, with TK moving from day-to-day to week-to-week. Christian Thomas also returns from his foray into international play with an appearance in the Kajala Cup playing for Canada while Andrey Pedan serves the 1st game of his 3 game suspension for a high hit on Providence’s Jakub Zboril.

Friday Night (11/17/2017)

Binghamton Devils (Away) – 4-3 Win

Scratches of the aforementioned Pedan, McGrath, Sestito, Garret Wilson, and Spinozzi alongside the two injured. In the first period, the Baby Penguins opened the scoring within 12 seconds of puck drop through Haggerty (whose line with Aston-Reese and Dea was once again flying), before giving up a powerplay goal to tie the game. They then struck again with 18 seconds left through the 4th line and DiPauli jamming in a wrap-around attempt from Blueger. WBS gave up the only goal in the second period to professional old man Bracken Kearns on the powerplay with just a touch over 2 minutes left in the period in an otherwise uneventful 2nd period. It took until 10 minutes in the 3rd period for the tie to be broken, with Adam Johnson ripping home a one timer filling in for the scratched Sestito on the 4th line left wing with Blueger. Wilkes-Barre then added an insurance marker 12 minutes in through Christian Thomas scoring on his return on a partial breakway set up by Colin Smith after Simon forced a turnover in the neutral zone. That insurance goal became vitally important as the Penguins got themselves into penalty trouble at the end of the third, taking three stick fouls in the last 7 and a half minutes, conceding a powerplay goal to make the game 4-3 with 4 and a half minutes left. Some outstanding goaltending from DeSmith helped to keep the Penguins in the game and have them leave with 2 points.

Friday 18th November

THREE TAKEAWAYS

1) WilkesBarre/Scranton kept their point streak going, hitting 11 games with at least a point with the win again. They also have a ridiculous +12 goal differential in the 3rd period so far this season (18 for, 6 against). Shout out to beat reporter Tyler Picotti for that stat.

2) Penalty trouble is going to eventually haunt the Penguins. They were shorthanded 8 times against Binghamton and their inability to stay out of the box in key situations is not going to help them. Their lack of effective powerplay is also going to hurt them, as they have only scored twice on 24 opportunities on the powerplay in the month of November, a dismal 8% conversion rate.

3) While the NHL Penguins seem to be trending up now, the Baby Penguins are their bizarro world counterparts for a lot of their struggles. While the NHL Penguins had a long period of only getting offense from their powerplay, the Baby Penguins are even strength demons with a struggling powerplay. WBS also gets massive contributions in scoring from their bottom 6, while their top 6 has struggled to provide offense, contrary to the NHL Penguins depth scoring troubles (which thankfully seem to have gone away).

WBS Results Recap: Weekend of November 12th

This weekend, it’s a game at home to 2017’s playoff opponents Providence on Saturday night then an away game with the always eager Hershey Bears on Sunday evening. Troy Josephs and Tom Kostopoulos are still on the injured list, with Josephs week to week and Kostopoulos day to day.

Saturday Night (11/11/2017)

Providence Bruins (Home) – 4-3 OT Win

Ethan Prow, Kevin Spionzzi, Christian Thomas, Patrick McGrath and Jarrett Burton are the scratches. The same lineup as Wednesday with the same lines. In what is becoming quite the theme, the Baby Penguins went down early 2-0 to the Bruins, and never really recovered in the game. The game itself may have been in the favor of the Bruins, but it took the Bruins scoring with 29 seconds left to take it to OT. However, the depth of the WBS team was once again shown, with the Zach Aston-ReeseJS DeaRyan Haggerty line once again coming up huge for the Penguins. Haggerty himself had a 3 point night, assisting on two goals, and adding the winner in overtime. Casey DeSmith put in a good showing for himself coming up with 33 saves on 36 shots.

Saturday 11th November
Sunday Evening (11/12/17)

Hershey Bears (Away) – 5-1 Win

Changes from Saturday night are Prow in for Lukas Bengtsson, who misses due to illness. Gage Quinney takes a seat for Burton and Tom Sestito was scratched in favor of a season debut for the professional annoyance McGrath. A bright start for WBS off the back of Jarred Tinordi’s 2nd goal in as many games and an Aston-Reese powerplay marker. The Baby Penguins built their way to victory off a very peculiar 2nd period in which Hershey had 3 powerplay opportunities, failing to convert on any thanks to marvelous work from DeSmith appearing in his 2nd game of the weekend. In the 2nd, Wilkes-Barre only registered 4 shots on net, but 2 of them resulted in goals with Daniel Sprong potting only his 2nd goal in 8 games and Thomas DiPauli scoring immediately after Hershey’s first/only goal of the night. Colin Smith added his first goal in a Penguins uniform with the empty netter.

Sunday 12th November

Three Takeaways

1) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton are on an AHL best streak of getting points in 10 straight games. That is mightily impressive. They’ve been lucky to have avoided a big rash of injuries that would normally deplete them at this point, with not having to have had any of their forwards called up and they have the luxury of placing a guy like Reid Gardiner in the ECHL, who’s currently rocking a 10 goal and 7 assists in 10 games stat line right now. WBS are on track for an exceptional season right now

2) The defense has finally contributed, with Andrey Pedan and Kevin Czuczman popping in goals on Wednesday and Saturday respectively, and Tinordi going back to back over the weekend. They’d contributed with a plethora of assists up to this point, but had been somewhat absent in the goal scoring department. This has now changed with the Penguins forwards, specifically their two bottom 6 lines, generating a significant amount of offensive zone time. Expect this trend to continue with Zach Trotman and Bengtsson getting more opportunities to score some goals.

3) Thomas DiPauli, while being part of the Penguins incredibly effective bottom 6, potted 4 goals over the course of the 3 games this week. This season has shown quite the comeback for DiPauli who missed significant periods of time last year for a shoulder injury and then a back surgery while only managing 2 goals and no assists through 21 games. While some (including myself) had questioned exactly where his disastrous first pro season left him as a prospect, he’s rebounding exceptionally well and is showing his value not only at even strength, but on the penalty kill, where he’s regularly out on the first unit with regular linemate Teddy Blueger.