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.

Advertisements

Pens Trying To Find Footing 5-on-5

The Pittsburgh Penguins can’t score at even strength. Who’d have predicted that? How does this keep happening with the roster they have? It can’t always be an issue of running into a hot goalie. Not every night.

You could just say they’ve gone cold, but that doesn’t explain how the power play is in the league top five, holding them in most games when needed.

You could ask them to shoot the puck more, but the Penguins are in the top 3 in shots on goal per game to date so shooting more in general isn’t an automatic fix.

The penalty kill is enhancing the problem operating at a bottom five rate, meaning a single well timed 5 on 5 goal could make or break a game for this team. That might make you think they should just take less penalties, but historically they’ve been in the bottom half of the league in penalty kills per game and it hasn’t been an issue.

Pittsburgh was 26th in the NHL in 2014-15 in this category. They bumped up to 16th the following year, then repeated as Cup Champions despite being 20th in kills per game in 2016-17.

There’s no deep analysis that explains the lack of even strength scoring. There’s no statistical evidence suggesting a trend or giving us hope they just need to do “x” and this will all go away. The Penguins just have to be better. Period.

Scoring slumps are frustrating, but usually nothing more than that. The only time they get terrifying is when the scoring chances aren’t there. As long as chances are being created, I believe they’ll eventually go in.

Pens Right Where They Want To Be

The Pittsburgh Penguins are a concern right now when it comes to their play but looking back to previous years they are on track for another great run.

There are several things to support this thought. One is just looking back at the standings and stats of the team and players. The standings are basically the same as last year and close to the 2015-2016 start.

When you look at the numbers up to the games played up to this point they are extremely similar. In the 2015-2016 season the Pens had 28 points through November which isn’t a impressive number at all and was the lowest in the three seasons thus far.

The 2016-2017 season had some more success but still only finished November with 29 points. It is only 1 point more then their previous year in which they won the cup.

Now moving onto this season where they haven’t finished November entirely when writing this article. But as of today they have 25 points but assuming that they win another game or so then that number goes to 27 points. So even though it might not seem that the Pens are in a great situation don’t forget that they’ve been here before. And in those situations they’ve won back to back cups.

Hockey and Coffee: Week of November 12 – 18

Hard Hitters

This week has had two of the biggest player safety issues so far this season. Radko Gudas of the Flyers and Austin Watson of the Predators were both suspended this week.

Radko Gudas was suspended 10 games for slashing Jets’ Mathieu Perreault on November 16. Honestly, this is one of the most brutal penalties I’ve seen. This wasn’t just a classic Brad Marchand slew foot (which is a complete cheap shot); this is worse, and if I say that a play is dirtier than Marchand… it must’ve been pretty bad. Any player that attacks the head or neck of another is despicable. 10 games is a lot to miss, but is it a harsh enough penalty? I personally think it’s enough. It was a very cheap shot and this isn’t his first offense, but 10 games is substantial to miss in any professional sport.

 

Austin Watson is a different story. Watson was suspended 2 games for boarding against Avalanche forward Dominic Toninato on November 18. 2 games isn’t enough in my opinion. Watson had plenty of time to stop or try to prevent such a hard hit on the unsuspecting Toninato. This hit was intended to cause harm not only due to the fact that he had time to stop, he also left his feet. I feel that Watson should have been suspended 4 games for this hit.

 

Boys Amongst Men

There’s no question that the NHL is becoming a younger league. Surrounded with such amazing young talent in players such as McDavid and Matthews, there are some other young stars that deserve some exposure.

Matthew Barzal
19 GP, 4 G, 15 A, 19 PTS
Barzal is a speedy young forward with great hockey sense, creativity, and a NHL ready shot. His play making ability has allowed him to rack up 15 assists in just 19 games. Playing second line center with Jordan Eberle as his right winger, the Islanders are hoping to get Barzal into a “shoot first” mentality, but he’s been known for his creativity and his play making ability.

 

 

 

 

Clayton Keller
22 GP, 11 G, 7 A, 18 PTS
Keller is someone I have been excited watch play since watching him in the 2015-16 WJC. Coming out out BU a year after teammate Jack Eichel went second overall, Keller was selected seventh overall in 2016. Keller only stands at 5’10, but he is not scared to go to the front of the net and make things happen. Mainly known for his top end scoring ability, there’s no doubt Keller is the future in Arizona.

 

 

 

 

Missing Matthews

Auston Matthews missed his first career game Wednesday night vs. Minnesota. We got to see a different looking Maple Leafs team the past few games, but that did not slow them down one bit. Winning five in a row before Matthews returned, the leafs getting Matthews back in the lineup is obviously a huge benefit. The young superstar missed four games due to an undisclosed upper body injury. Matthews returned to the lineup Saturday vs Montreal and did not miss a beat. Scoring two goals in his return, Leafs fans are ecstatic to have their star player back.

Here’s a look at Matthews’ first goal since returning from his injury:

https://twitter.com/nhldaily365/status/932079156908748802

Injury Report

Anders Bjork – undisclosed

Brad Marchand – undisclosed

Vladislav Kamenev – arm

Barclay Goodrow – undisclosed

Tobias Enstrom – lower-body

Marc Methot – knee

Evgeni Malkin – upper-body

 

A Look Ahead

Will Subban start over Lagace?

McDavid vs. Tarasenko, 11/21

Arizona is winning finally (stay tuned)

 

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ Atrocious History with Chicago

On Saturday, the Penguins witnessed yet another defeat at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks.

It got me thinking to when was the last time the Penguins actually won a game against Chicago. It turns out it’s a dark place in the history of the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin era.

Going back to when Crosby entered the league, the Penguins and Blackhawks have met 16 times. The Penguins have only managed to win four of those sixteen meetings. When it feels like we haven’t beaten Chicago in forever it’s because we haven’t. The last time the Penguins bested the Blackhawks was in 2014. That was also the year of the horrendous Stadium Series game at Soldier Field. But it doesn’t stop there.

The last eight games have seen the Penguins fall to the Blackhawks with their offensive production being lackluster as well.

In the last 10 times these teams have played, the total Goals For is 29 for Chicago and 12 for Pittsburgh. They are more than doubling the Penguins in goals.

When you look at the numbers, it’s no surprise this team hasn’t gotten this monkey off its back in the last 8 contests. It’s like they forget everything except fine dining and breathing once they hit the ice against Chicago.

This culture of being tortured by a single team needs to end along with a lot of growing trends this Penguins team is setting (bad in-zone defense, not capitalizing on chances, inconsistent scoring, etc.).

Something to keep in mind during this stretch of rough play is, you need to make the playoffs to three-peat. Everyone thinks we are a lock for playoffs but does this team look like a playoff contender right now? Recuperate, get things rolling, make a move player wise, find that offensive production you once had and show that this team has the ability to do the impossible. They have the tools and means necessary to get the wheels back on the wagon.

Is It Time to Trade Carl Hagelin?

The Penguins boast a collection of skaters on their team that could hold their own in any dead sprint on the ice. Carl Hagelin might be the fastest skater the Penguins have, and it’s a wonderful asset, but with his lack of production, you may begin to wonder if he could be used as a valuable trade piece to bring in more production.

Hagelin was originally brought to Pittsburgh by Jim Rutherford in the 2015-2016 season to upgrade the bottom-six’s overall production, and Hagelin later became a member of the infamous “HBK” line with Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel. No doubt, the line was a huge part in the 2016 Stanley Cup run, but the magic didn’t carry on to the following season.

Since that time, head coach Mike Sullivan has moved Hagelin up and down the lineup playing on just about every line. Granted, that shows his versatility and how his skill set can translate between a scoring line or checking line. What is alarming about Hagelin is the lack of production on the scoresheet on a team that is built to rely on all four lines to produce.

Now, Sidney Crosby has gone through a scoring drought himself this season, but no one sane would think about trading arguably the best player in the world. Given his track record, you would rely on Crosby to eventually figure it out. With Hagelin, the track record isn’t there, and with there being no one he has any great chemistry with, you begin to wonder if Hagelin hurts the team more than he helps it.

When Hagelin was traded to Pittsburgh in 2015-2016, he registered 10 goals and 17 assists in 37 games with the Penguins. In 61 games in 2016-2017, he only put up six goals and 16 assists. This season has been significantly worse, tallying only one goal and two assists in 21 games.

To really put things into perspective, Hagelin is making $4 million per season, and is under contract through the 2018-2019 season. Hagelin is a fine player to have on your team and can be a great asset as his speed is nearly second to none and he can kill penalties, but for $4 million on a team that needs production, the offensive stats just aren’t there.

In no way am I stating that he should be run out of town, but if I’m Jim Rutherford and the right deal comes along and Hagelin’s got to go, I’m not hesitating at pulling the trigger.

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).

We are not affiliated with the Pittsburgh Penguins in any way. We just hope to bring you coverage you will enjoy.