Matchup Set: #WBSPens Meet Binghamton in First Round of AHL Playoffs

Saturday, April 19, 2014
With Albany's 5-2 win over Springfield and Providence's loss to Worcester, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins finish with the 6th seed and will face East Division rival Binghamton Senators in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs.

The Penguins won't have home ice advantage in the first round of the AHL playoffs, a best-of-five-series, but they avoided a long trip to Newfoundland for at least the first round and get to play arguably their biggest rival this season in the Senators.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Schedule

Friday 4/25 - Game 1: Penguins @ Binghamton at 7:00 p.m. ET
Saturday 4/26 - Game 2: Penguins @ Binghamton at 7:00 p.m. ET
Wednesday 4/30 - Game 3: Binghamton @ Penguins
Friday 5/2 - *Game 4: Binghamton @ Penguins
Monday 5/5 - *Game 5: Penguins @ Binghamton

* = if necessary

KNOW YOUR OPPONENT - Binghamton Senators

Regular Season Stats

BSens: 44-24-3-5, 96 points, First Place East Division

Season series: BSens went 5-3-0-0 vs WBS in regular season.

Leading Scorers: Stephane Da Costa (18G-40A), Cole Schneider (20G-34A), Chris Wideman (9G-42A)

Goalies: Andrew Hammond (25-19-3, 2.81 GAA, .910 SV%, 1 SO) and Nathan Lawson (15-8-1, 3.05 GAA, .908 SV%, 0 SO)

Eastern Conference Match Ups

1 - Manchester vs. 8 - Norfolk
2 - Springfield vs. 7 - Providence
3 - Binghamton vs. 6 - PENGUINS
4 - St. John's vs. 5 - Albany




Penguins Close Out Regular Season With Shutout Loss To Utica

Don't read too much into the final score, as this was nearly an exhibition game for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in their regular season finale with only playoff seeding on the line.

In a game that didn't mean too much for the Penguins, the Pens played a heavily ATO-based lineup and lose to Utica in regulation 2-0. The Penguins regulation loss means they don't face St. John's in the first round.

I'll have a separate post on the Penguins first round playoff opponent up shortly once the Providence/Worcester game goes final. A PBruins loss (they trail 2-0 late in third period) would set the Penguins up with East Division rival Binghamton in the first round. If the PBruins make an epic comeback and win, the Penguins play Springfield in the first round.

Goaltender Matt Murray got the start in net for the Penguins and looked pretty solid in his pro debut, stopping 22/24 in the loss. Hard to blame Murray on either goal - a point shot that through traffic that eluded him in the first and a point blank rebound power play goal after Murray made the initial two saves.

Forwards Jean-Sebastien Dea and Scott Wilson both made their pro debuts, while Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary also looked good in their respective 2nd pro games.

Peter Andersson got the Comets on the board after his point shot beat a screened Murray 7:18 into the contest.

From there it was a bit of a goaltenders duel between Murray and Eriksson, as both goaltenders made several great saves to keep it a 1-0 game through 40 minutes.

Pelletier put the Comets ahead 2-0 early in the third on a power play to cap the scoring. Joacim Eriksson tallied a 27-save shutout.


ROSTER NOTES

Matt Murray got the start in net, making his pro debut.

Scott Wilson and Jean-Sebastien Dea also made their pro debuts up front for the Penguins, who dressed a ATO-heavy lineup and gave the regulars a night off.

Lines

Conner - Rowney - Machacek
Zlobin - Payerl - Sheary
Rust - Sill - Wilson
Uher - Dea - Archibald

Dumoulin - Despres
Harrington - Goers
D'Agostino - Ruopp

Healthy scratches for WBS: Brendan Mikkelson, Harry Zolnierczyk, Nick Drazenovic, Chuck Kobasew, Clark SeymourMike Carman, Bobby Farnham, Andrew Ebbett, Tom Kostopoulos, Pierre-Luc Leblond and Matia Marcantuoni.

WBS Injured List: Reid McNeill (lower body) and Philip Samuelsson (lower body).

Saturday's Morning Skate 4/19

Eastern Conference Playoff Outlook 

The top four seeds are set, with Manchester, Springfield, Binghamton and St. John's leading the way in that order from first to fourth. The Penguins are currently in fifth place with 92 points. Both Albany and Providence trail the Pens by one point in sixth and seventh, respectively. Norfolk is two back of the Penguins in 8th place, but can only finish as high as sixth in the conference as the Penguins own the first tiebreaker, regulation/overtime wins.

For the Penguins, it's simple. A point of any kind today will guarantee the Pens the 5th seed and a date with the St. John's IceCaps regardless of what Albany and Providence do in their respective games.

If the Penguins lose in regulation, they can be passed by either of those two teams if they win their game. The AHL website's daily playoff primer has an extensive chart with every possible scenario but to simplify it here:
Any point by Pens against Utica OR if both Albany/Providence lose in any way (regulation/OT/SO), Pens finish 5th and face St. John's in the first round.
If Pens lose in regulation to Utica AND one of Albany/Providence win their season finale tonight, Pens finish 6th and meet Binghamton in the first round.
If Pens lose in regulation and BOTH Albany and Providence win, Pens finish 7th and take on Springfield in the first round.
For those unfamiliar with the AHL playoffs, the first round Conference Quarterfinals in the AHL is a best-of-five series.

Eastern Conference Standings

*1. Manchester - 105 points, 0 games left
*2. Springfield - 100 points, 1 game left
*3. Binghamton - 94 points, 1 game left
4. St. John's - 97 points, 1 game left
5. PENGUINS - 92 points, 1 game left
6. Albany - 91 points, 1 game left
7. Providence - 91 points, 1 game left
8. Norfolk - 90 points, 1 game left

The East Division was settled last night as the Binghamton Senators held off a late flurry by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to claim the East Division title. In fact, with Norfolk's win over Hershey, eight teams in the Eastern Conference have earned a berth in the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Friday Night Around The East Division

Binghamton - 5, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton - 4 

The BSens clinched the East Division with a win much more dominant than the final score shows. The home team jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second period, much thanks to Jean-Gabriel Pageau's pair of goals early in the middle fame, but the never-say-die Penguins made a game of it in the third.

After a pair of late second period goals by Adam Payerl and Bobby Farnham gave the Pens some life, the duo of Andrew Ebbett and Chuck Kobasew dominated the third period. Ebbett and Kobasew set each other up for a goal apiece and Kobasaew's 11th goal in 12 AHL games with 2:36 left made it a one-goal game.

The Pens outshot the BSens by a 26-7 count in the final twenty minutes but credit goaltender Andrew Hammond for some key saves in the waning moments to preserve the win.

Norfolk - 3, Hershey - 1

In southern Virignia, the Admirals knocked the Bears out of the postseason with a regulation win. 

Tyson Strachan brought Hershey even at 1-1 in the first period, but goals by former Bears forward David Steckel in the 2nd period and Max Friberg late in the third period proved too much for Hershey, who rarely misses the postseason but will not compete for the Calder Cup this year.

Rochester - 5, Syracuse - 1

In Rochester, the Americans handled the Crunch after jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. Andrey Makarov stopped 22 of 23 shots for the Amerks, who got goals from five from different players.

Jonathan Marchessault got the Crunch on the board early in the third period, but the four-goal deficit was too much to overcome in the final frame. One season after reaching the Calder Cup Finals, the Crunch will have an early summer after a rough year riddled with injuries and call ups, among other things.

East Division Standings (Conference Position)

1. Binghamton (3rd) - 94 points, 1 game remaining
2. PENGUINS (5th) - 92 points, 1 game remaining
3. Norfolk (8th) - 90 points, 1 game remaining
4. Hershey (9th) - 86 points, 1 game remaining
5. Syracuse (12th) - 73 points, 1 game remaining


Penguins Rally Falls Short, BSens Win East Division Title

Friday, April 18, 2014
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins nearly did the impossible tonight, coming back in a game they trailed 5-0 at one point, but ultimately come up short in a 5-4 loss to the Binghamton Senators. With the regulation win, the BSens have won the East Division and leave the Penguins with either the 5th, 6th or 7th seed pending the outcome of tomorrow night's games.

The Penguins can clinch the 5th seed tomorrow with a point of any kind in Utica against the Comets. With Providence winning in overtime tonight, they can still catch the Penguins in standings as can Albany. Both the Bruins and Devils trail the Penguins by one point with all three teams having one game left on the regular season schedule tomorrow night.

The eight playoff teams in the Eastern Conference are decided, as Norfolk eliminated Hershey with a 3-1 win tonight, but only the top four seeds are set as Manchester, Springfield, Binghamton and St. John's have the top four spots in that order.

The Penguins only possible first round opponents are now Springfield, Binghamton or St. John's.

Quick recap after the jump.

Penguins Battle Senators For East Division Title

Simon Despres looks to bolster the Penguins blue-line this weekend.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins finish the 2013-14 regular season with a pair of road games, starting with tonight's showdown in Binghamton against the Senators at 7:05 p.m. ET.

With two games left for both teams and currently tied in the standings with 92 points each, the winner of tonight's Pens/BSens game will control their own destiny in terms of winning the East Division and the 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

A BSens regulation win clinches them the division tonight and although the Pens can't clinch the division with a regulation win of their own tonight (BSens hold the tiebreaker - ROW), the Pens would need just one point Saturday in Utica if they beat the BSens in 60 minutes tonight.

In terms of the Penguins playoff opponent for the first round, tonight will likely make things much more clear.

Currently, 1st, 2nd and 4th place in the conference have already been clinched by Manchester, Springfield and St. John's, respectively. The Penguins can't finish any lower than 7th in the East, so scratch Manchester off the list of possible first round match ups for the Pens.

A point of any kind tonight will ensure the Penguins that neither Norfolk, Albany or Providence can pass them in the standings, leaving the Penguins left with either a division title and the 3rd seed or the 5th seed and a trip to Newfoundland to start the first round to take on the IceCaps in a best-of-five conference quarterfinal.

A look at all the news and notes this week leading up to tonight's game after the jump.