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March Grades: Forwards

Thursday, March 31, 2011
Keven Veilleux had easily his best month of hockey as a professional. His team leading 10 assists in March have fans excited about finally seeing a healthy Veilleux be consistent on a nightly basis.

The forward core remained mostly intact this month with the only regular out of the lineup being Joe Vitale. Vitale has missed the last seven games with an upper body injury and his status remains day-to-day. The teams don't release much info on injuries these days. The team is hoping he can get to 100% for the playoffs.

Now for the forward of the month. Bryan Lerg scored the game winning goal shorthanded in overtime to... oh yeah clinch the East Division on Sunday. He played 14 games and recorded 11 points, six of those points came on the power play. Keven Veilleux was a close second place but Lerg's important goals can't be overlooked.

Bryan Lerg - Grade: A
Season Stats: 60 games played, 13G, 16A, +14, 15 PIM
March Stats: 14 games played, 4G, 7A, +4, 2 PIM

Lerg had his best month of the season in March. He came off an injury and worked hard on a line with Chris Collins and Ben Street for most of the month. That 2nd line was very effective towards the end of the month. lerg has come a long way this season, from being added on the team with a PTO to now earning his regular spot in the lineup.

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The rest of the forwards after the jump

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Check back later tonight for the March Grades on the Forwards.

March Grades: Defensemen & Goalies

John Curry has started the last four games in net for the WBS Penguins.

The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins went 9-4-0-1 in March and largely because of how well the defense and goalies played. Each goalie got a shutout this month and as a team allowed just 29 goals in 14 games, just over two per game.

The penalty kill wasn't overly impressive this month. The Pens killed off penalties at just an 81.5% rate in March but the team dug deep when they needed to, most notably when they killed off a full two minute 5-on-3 power play against the Admirals last night.

Everyone knows the old saying "defense wins championships" and the Penguins are hoping that statement rings true for them this season. The team defense this year has been incredible. They have allowed 27 less goals than any team in their conference and boast arguably the best goalie tandem in the league with John Curry and Brad Thiessen manning the net night in and night out.

Now for my defenseman/goalie of the month award. It was a tough call between Andrew Hutchinson and Brad Thiessen. But the winner is Brad Thiessen and let me tell you why.

Brad Thiessen - Grade: A
Season Stats: 32-7-0-1, 1.88 GAA. 0.924 SV%, 7 SO

March Stats: 6-1-0-1, 1.81 GAA, 0.927 SV%, 1 SO

Thiessen appeared in eight games in March for the WBS Penguins and despite not playing in the last four games due to an NHL call up, he still won twice as many games as John Curry this month. His stats show just how consistent he has been all season. A definite candidate for the AHL's MVP award that will be announced on April 8th according to this article released by the AHL on the league's website.

Grades for the other goalie and the defensemen after the jump.

WBS Penguins Hold on in Norfolk 4-3, Magic Number is 3

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
The Pens got off to a hot start and held on to the four goal first period to beat the Admirals tonight.
The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins got one step closer to clinching the AHL's number one overall seed in the playoffs tonight. First, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers pulled out a comeback win in regulation over the Portland Pirates. Couple that with a Penguins win tonight and the magic number drops from seven to just three points.

The bad news? Brett Sterling was drilled into the boards from behind by Vladimir Mihalik in the offensive zone early in the third period and lay motionless on the ice for about 30 seconds. He didn't return to the game but reports from someone in attendance told me that Sterling skated to the dressing room fully upright and without help from the trainers. Hopefully just a precaution. I will post an update on Sterling as soon as I can confirm his status.

STERLING UPDATE: Sterling will be on the bus home with the team, which is good because if his condition was bad or questionable he would have stayed for observation.

Stat of the night: After going 6 for 52 on the power play the first 11 games of March, the WBS Penguins have gone 7 for 22 with the man advantage in the last three games.

That was the last game of the month which means my March grades on the Penguins will be up soon. Be sure to check back for that. I plan on getting the defense and goalies done tonight and having them ready tomorrow afternoon. The forwards will hopefully be up tomorrow night or early Friday morning.

A quick recap after the jump.

Game Thread: WBS Penguins @ Norfolk

It's not an illusion! Joe Vitale really turned around that quick on a face off against the Admirals earlier this year in Wilkes-Barre. Here's to hoping Vitale gets back in the lineup and plays well soon.

Before you join in and talk about Penguins hockey tonight, I want to drop this info on anyone interested in attending the first two home games, Games 1 and 2 of the first round, to cheer on theWilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and their march toward the Calder Cup. This from the WBS Penguins Twitter feed.
First Two Home Playoff Dates Announced - Friday, April 15 and Saturday, April 16. Individual tickets on sale this Friday. LET'S DO THIS!
The team is also selling whiteout playoff T-shirts on the team's homepage.

Now, get ready for what should be a great game tonight by two East Division rivals, who are both in the playoffs. Expect the rough stuff to continue because these teams just don't like each other.

Game 74 Preview: WBS Penguins @ Norfolk

One of the biggest divisional rivalries this season for the Pens in my opinion. And yes, I think the Norfolk guy on the left is holding three helmets!

The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins traveled to Norfolk and take on the Admirals tonight at The Scope, 7:15 p.m. EST.  The Pens will have a different look after a bunch of roster moves were made between Sunday and today.

First off, Brad Thiessen was reassigned to WBS and will most likely get the start in goal after the team taxed John Curry all three games over the weekend. Patrick Killeen and Alex Grant were sent to Wheeling (ECHL) and they added some younger players to the roster in defenseman Victor Ekbom (Swedish Elite League) and forward Paul Thompson (UNH - College Hockey). Sarnia Sting defensive product Joe Rogalski was added to the team last week. A note on all three guys on my previous post here.

The Basics
Norfolk: 72 games played - 4th East Division, 37-21-8-6, 88 points
WBS Penguins: 73 games played - 1st place East Division, 52-20-0-1, 103 points

Season Series: WBS Penguins lead 4-3
Previous 10 games - NOR: 6-3-0-1  WBS 7-2-0-1

Follow the action in tonight's game thread that will be up at 6:30 p.m. EST. Puck drops at 7:15. Follow the blog on FaceBook and follow my Twitter feed for Penguins updates.

Players to watch and final thoughts after the jump.

Ekbom. Rogalski. Thompson. How Do They Fit WBS Picture?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011
A lot of news regarding injuries, roster moves, etc. today so let me give you all of that.

The Good News - Brad Thiessen has been sent back to the WBS Penguins and will most likely be the starter in net tomorrow when the Pens take on the Norfolk Admirals at The Scope. That move meant Patrick Killeen's time in the AHL is over for now.  Defenseman Alex Grant was also reassigned to Wheeling.

The Bad News - Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma said today that Dustin Jeffrey's MRI revealed knee damage and that he will need further evaluation. Not a good sign for DJ or the WBS Penguins, who were hoping to add him for the AHL playoffs after Pittsburgh's run was over.

The New Guys
For those who didn't already know, the Pens have added a few guys who have had their seasons end elsewhere.

More on them after the jump....

Lerg's Goal Clinches AHL's East Division For WBS

Sunday, March 27, 2011
Bryan Lerg is the hero of tonights 3-2 win over the Hershey Bears, with the game winning goal and an assist.
Bryan Lerg's shortanded goal in overtime gave the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins the game clinching win they needed to wrap up the division.The Penguins have won its third East Division title in the last six years, also winning it in 2006 and 2008. They also broke their franchise record for wins in a season, picking up their 52nd win of the season over the Bears tonight. John Curry got his 100th career AHL win, his 20th of the season, tonight as well stopping 24 of the 26 shots he faced. 

Ok enough records and on to a recap of the game.

Game Thread: WBS Penguins @ Hershey

The Penguins can clinch the East Division with a win tonight and a Norfolk loss.
Join in the conversation for tonight's game against division rival Hershey. The Pens road trip hasn't resulted in any points so far, so they need to get back to their winning ways with a good performance against the Bears.

I won't be able to live tweet the start of this game as I will be traveling back to school. I will get right to it when I get back to Penn State though. Puck drops at 5:00.


Game 73 Preview: WBS Penguins @ Hershey

Could Patrick Killeen be getting his first AHL start today in Hershey?
I know there was a lot of rumors flying out there that Brad Thiessen would be sent down for this game but that's not the case. The Bears' goalie Braden Holtby was sent to the AHL for this one. I don't see John Curry playing in three straight nights, especially since he wasn't spectacular this weekend. Nolan Schaefer played the last two nights for the Bears so it will be either be Todd Ford or Braden Holtby for the Bears and I would bet on Patrick Killeen making his first AHL start. I'll update the blog as soon as I can confirm.

Sunday Showdown
The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins take on the Hershey Bears in Giant Center tonight, finishing their three games in three nights against the defending champions. Both team's have clinched a playoff spot and with the Bears 10 points behind the Pens with two more games played, unless there's an absolute meltdown by WBS and Hershey wins the rest of their games, the Pens will take the East Division

Penalty Fest 2011 - Pens Fall 3-2 to Phantoms

Saturday, March 26, 2011
Ben Street and his linemate Bryan Lerg each scored a power play goal tonight and assisted on each others goal.

The Penguins dominated the play at even strength tonight for the most part, but they simply lost the special teams battle.
A total of 17 power plays were awarded tonight by referee Tim Mayer. The Pens got nine power plays, one of those being a 5-on-3. The Phantoms got eight, with three 5-on-3 opportunities. All five goals scored tonight came on the man advantage.

Game Thread: WBS Penguins @ Adirondack

John Curry will start again tonight. Looks like Brad Thiessen might be on his way back to AHL for Sunday's game against the Bears.
The Penguins take on the Phantoms at 7:00 p.m. EST. Join in the conversation here and follow my Twitter feed for updates tonight.

Game 72 Preview: WBS Penguins @ Adirondack

Andrew Hutchinson needs to play better in his own zone, especially with Wagner out of the lineup. Hutchinson and Corey Potter, along with Robert Bortuzzo and Brian Strait, will be relied on heavily the rest of the weekend.
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Getting Back on Track
After a disappointing night yesterday, the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins need to bounce back tonight in Adirondack when they take on the Phantoms in the second of three road games this weekend. After beating the Phantoms the first four times the team's met, the Phantoms have turned the tide and beaten the Pens the last two times out.

Pens Start Weekend Road Trip With 3-0 Loss to Binghamton

There's something about playing in Binghamton for the WBS Penguins. They have now lost all four meetings in New York this season and are 0-7 in their last seven visits dating back to last season. The last time they won in Binghamton was October 16th, 2009.

The turning point of this game occurred in the first period when the Penguins were awarded 1:10 of 5 on 3 power play time. They didn't take advantage of that opportunity, or any offensive chances for that matter. The defense played well in the first, not allowing the Senators a shot on goal in the first 15 minutes of the game.

Game Thread: WBS Penguins @ Binghamton

Friday, March 25, 2011
Rookie defenseman Carl Sneep has missed some time with a hand injury but practiced today without the red "no contact" jersey. He might be making a return to the lineup soon.
The magic number to clinch the AHL's East Division is five points for the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins as they gear up for three games in three nights in three different cities. Tonight they're in Binghamton for a matchup with the Senators, a team fighting for their playoff lives.

Join in the conversation or follow my Twitter feed for live in-game updates of tonight's action. Puck drops at 7:05 p.m. EST.

Game 71 Preview: WBS Penguins @ Binghamton

With Brad Thiessen recalled to Pittsburgh, John Curry gets his chance to shine in the spotlight this weekend.
The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins travel to Binghamton for tonight's game with the Senators. I went to the team's morning skate and was able to confirm via head coach John Hynes that Patrick Killeen was in fact recalled. Hynes told me that Killeen landed around 10:30 this morning but was unable to join the team for the morning skate. He will join the team and be the backup goalie tonight.

The team got another body on defense when Joe Rogalski took to the ice this morning wearing #16. Rogalski, a 6-2 right handed shooting defenseman, played for the OHL's Sarnia Sting this year registering seven goals and 25 assists in 63 games. He was recently signed to an amateur tryout contract.

The Senators have given the Pens some trouble this season, as the Pens trail the season series between the teams (3-4). With Barry Brust out of action this weekend, Robin Lehner will be in net for the Sens. Meanwhile, the Pens will go with John Curry.

Alright, back to the usual format after the jump

WBS Penguins Squeak By Devils 2-1, Sweep Season Series

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Brad Thiessen shut the door in the shootout, stopping 4 of the 5 shooters he faced.

The WBS Penguins got off to a slow start and looked sloppy in the 2nd period but managed to pull off a 2-1 shootout victory over the Albany Devils tonight. The magic number for the division title is now at five points.

Brad Thiessen picked up his 32nd win of the season and needs one more win to tie John Curry for most wins in a season for a WBS goalie with 33. Ryan Craig tapped home a puck in a goalmouth scramble on the power play midway through the opening period. Brett Sterling and Keven Veilleux scored in the shootout.

The win gives the Pens 51 on the season, tying a franchise record. They'll look to surpass that on Friday when they take on the Binghamton Senators up in New York. I'll be at the WBS Penguins practice tomorrow morning and will put up an after-practice update sometime in the afternoon.

Game Thread: Albany @ WBS Penguins

Carl Sneep is still recovering from his injury but skated in practice the other day in a red no-contact jersey. Hopefully Sneep will be able to finish out his rookie campaign.
The WBS Penguins look to tie a franchise record for wins in a season tonight as they go for win #51. The Albany Devils have been playing better hockey lately, as evidenced by their 7-3 record in the last 10 games. The Pens might be 7-0 against the Devils this season, but they won't be handed the eighth win tonight.

Magic number for the Pens is still seven points to clinch the East Division. You can follow this blog on Facebook and follow my Twitter feed for game updates, injury reports and breaking news on the Penguins.

Join in the conversation! Puck drops at 7:05 p.m. EST.

Game 70 Preview: Albany Devils @ WBS Penguins

The Penguins won't have two of the three Penguins shown in this picture for tonight's game against Albany, but at 7-0 against the Devils this season, the Pens will have to keep doing what they have been doing against Albany if they want to win.
The Road to a Season Sweep
The WBS Penguins will look to win all eight games against the Albany Devils with their final meeting of the season tonight at the Mohegan Sun Arena.  The Pens magic number to clinch the division is seven points heading into Wednesday's action. Meanwhile Albany, much like the NHL Devils, got off to a slow start but have been playing a lot better towards the end of the 2010-11 campaign.

The Basics
Albany Devils, 30-35-1-3, 64 points, 6th East Division
WBS Penguins, 40-18-0-1, 101 points, 1st place East Division

Season Series: WBS leads 7-0
Previous ten games - ALB: 7-3-0-0  WBS: 7-2-0-1

Players to Watch:
Albany: Chad Wiseman has 20 points in his last 19 games (9G, 11A), including eight goals in his last seven games. Goaltender Mike McKenna is a perfect 6-0 in March with a 2.30 GAA and .920 SV%.

Penguins: The Penguins line of Zach Sill (4G,4A), Keven Veilleux (0G,10A) and Geoff Walker (3G,5A) have all been dynamite in the month March. Andrew Hutchinson has six points in his last seven games. Brad Thiessen needs two more wins to tie John Curry's franchise record 33 wins in 2008-09 for the most by a WBS goalie in a season.

Final Thoughts
Patrick Killeen has been re-assigned to the Wheeling Nailers, which is good news on the injury to John Curry that forced him to miss the last two games. With four games in the next five days I expect both Thiessen and Curry to see action, though I'm not sure whether it will split down the middle at two a piece for each goalie.

Alex Grant and Jason DeSantis have been swapping the role of the 6/7 defenseman and have both seen a few games since being recalled from Wheeling. I still like Grant over DeSantis at this point, he's just more noticeable on the ice in a good way than DeSantis.

As far as an injury update goes, we turn to WBS Penguins beat writer Jonathan Bombulie:
John Curry practiced and Patrick Killeen was reassigned to Wheeling, so he’s a go. Carl Sneep skated in a non-contact red jersey. Joey Mormina and Joe Vitale did not skate.
I haven't heard much about Mormina or Vitale, but what Highland Park Hockey reported awhile back regarding Carl Sneep's injury was confirmed over the weekend again by Penguins play by play man Tom Grace who referred to the cast on Carl Sneep's hand.

Game thread will post at 6:30 p.m. EST. Puck drops at 7. Follow this blog on Facebook and follow my Twitter feed for in game updates and Penguins hockey breaking news.

Off Day Topics: Cooke Suspension & AHL East Division Race

Monday, March 21, 2011
Cooke to Miss 14-17 Games
I'm sure most of you have heard the news about Matt Cooke's recent headshot hit on New York Rangers' Ryan McDonagh in Sunday's afternoon game. The result from his 1:30 EST meeting in Toronto: a suspension for the rest of the regular season (10 games), the first round of the playoffs (4-7 games) and a loss of pay exceeding $200,000. Steep penalty but for a repeat offender the NHL is taking a stance against blatant head shots.

Effects on WBS, and the AHL's East Division Standings with thoughts on playoffs after the jump.

Sill-Veilleux-Walker Dominate, Pens Win 50th Game

Sunday, March 20, 2011
Zach Sill has been one of the best players on the team this month. With eight points (4G, 4A) in his last nine games, Sill has enjoyed centering the Pens' best forward line with Keven Veilleux and Geoff Walker.
Ryan Craig played very well between Keven Veilleux and Geoff Walker. When Craig was promoted to center the top line, Zach Sill filled the void and what a job he has done. Sill sealed the deal with his goal in the third, and assisted on the team's only other goal in a 2-1 win over the Charlotte Checkers this afternoon.

Follow the blog on Facebook! Recap after the jump.

Game Thread: Charlotte @ WBS Penguins

With six assists in his last eight games, Keven Veilleux is becoming more consistent in his first full season of pro hockey.
The Penguins are looking to wrap up the East Division after clinching their ninth straight playoff berth last night in a 5-3 win over Worcester. The Charlotte Checkers are coming to Wilkes-Barre after a 6-2 loss to Syracuse last night. The Checkers need to keep pace with Norfolk and Binghamton if they want to make the playoffs.

You can follow the blog on Facebook, or follow my Twitter feed for more regular up to the minute updates on Penguins hockey.

Join in the conversation. Puck drops at 3:05 p.m. EST

Game 69 Preview: Charlotte @ WBS Penguins

With Joe Vitale out of the lineup, Ryan Craig has been bumped up to top line duty while Zach Sill is in the middle of the Keven Veilleux/Geoff Walker tandem that has been deadly as of late.

Back In The Saddle Again
The WBS Penguins are back at it this afternoon with a 3 p.m. EST faceoff against the Charlotte Checkers, the AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes. Having already clinched a playoff spot with last night's win, the Pens look to put a stranglehold on the East Division with another solid effort today.

The Basics
Charlotte Checkers, 38-24-2-6, 84 points, T-3rd East Division
WBS Penguins, 49-18-0-1, 99 points, 1st place East Division

Season series: WBS leads series 5-1
Previous ten games - CHA: 5-4-0-1  WBS: 7-2-0-1

WBS Penguins Clinch A Playoff Spot after 5-3 Win over Worcester

Saturday, March 19, 2011
The Penguins punched their ticket to the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs with their win tonight.

The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins are the first team in the AHL to clinch a playoff spot for the Calder Cup Playoffs. The win gives the Pens 49 on the season, which is how many wins I predicted the Pens to finish the season with back in October when I gave my preseason prediction. Needless to say, this team has exceeded many people's expectations. The Penguins have now clinched a position berth for the ninth straight season.

After a slow start to the game the Pens got it going on the power play scoring two early second period goals with the man advantage to take control of the game.Tim Wallace finished the night with the game's last two goals.

The Penguins have 99 points and are in first place. Hershey lost in a shootout and is up to 91 points. So that's an eight point lead with three games in hand. Everything looks good in Penguins land.

A lot to celebrate: Pens clinch a playoff spot, Thiessen wins his 30th and Wallace gets his 20th goal.

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Recap after the jump.

Game Thread: Worcester @ WBS Penguins

A WBS Penguins fan took this shot of Patrick Killeen moments ago in warmups. Thanks to @nafsnep!

UPDATE: Patrick Killeen was on the ice for the WBS Penguins when the team took to the ice for pregame skate, so it looks like he wasn't sent down after all. Must have been a typo by the Wheeling Nailers twitter feed when they wrote that Killeen was returned.

The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins are back home for the weekend and take on the Worcester Sharks tonight in front of what should be a sell out crowd at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

If you are looking for some amusement before the game tonight, check out this WBS Penguins St. Patrick's day video on YouTube - WBS St. Patty's Day. Hilarious. Now if you want to listen to something to get pumped up for tonight's game I might give this a listen, also on YouTube (Penguins pregame theme).

Game threads will always be up 30 minutes prior to each game. Tonight, the puck drops at 7:05 p.m. EST.

Join in the conversation tonight in the comments section below. Follow this blog on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter for exclusive updates on the Penguins.

Game 68 Preview: Worcester @ WBS Penguins

Zach Sill has filled his role perfectly this season, playing a vital role on the penalty kill and playing solid two way hockey.
The Boys Are Back In Town
After taking seven out of a possible eight points on that Canadian road trip, the WBS Penguins look for another impressive performance tonight at home against the Worcester Sharks, another team on the bubble in terms of the playoff race.

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More pregame notes after the jump

WBS Penguins Resting Up for Saturday's Game

Friday, March 18, 2011
On Thursday, the WBS Penguins flew out of Winnipeg and into Toronto, where they packed up their hockey gear on bused the team from Toronto back to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton area.

After a long day of traveling yesterday, the WBS Penguins were given today (Friday) off. An accurate injury update via WBS Penguins beat-writer Jonathan Bombulie, who spoke with head coach John Hynes today:
Joe Vitale (upper body) is day to day after a boarding incident Wednesday in Manitoba. Moose defenseman Ryan Parent was suspended one game for the hit.
John Curry (upper body) is also day to day. Hynes said Patrick Killeen was called up from Wheeling to give Curry a few days off. He said the injury is from overuse and Curry just needs the rest.
Joey Mormina (upper body) is expected back early next week.
Carl Sneep (upper body) could be back by the end of next week.
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More injury information and my insights after the jump.

WBS Penguins call up Patrick Killeen

Thursday, March 17, 2011
Many wondered why John Curry was taken out of last night's game. The news of this call up might answer why.
Wheeling Nailers beat writer Shawn Rine confirms the transaction log on the ECHL's website that Patrick Killeen has been called up the the AHL Penguins. The move to pull John Curry last night might have become more clear.

There hasn't been an update on the status of Curry but calling up a goalie from the ECHL can't be a good sign for Curry's chances this weekend. Brad Thiessen will likely start in goal for the Pens on Saturday when they host the Worcester Sharks.

Penguins Roster Update: The Forwards

Does getting these NHL forwards back really help WBS forward core for the AHL playoffs?

With the news of Mike Comrie, Sidney Crosby, Aaron Asham all skating in the last few days, many wonder what the NHL Penguins will do. You pick your forward core for the playoffs with:

Centers (7) : Sidney Crosby*, Jordan Staal, Mark Letestu, Max Talbot, Craig Adams, Mike Comrie*, Dustin Jeffrey
Left Wing (5) : James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Matt Cooke, Mike Rupp, Eric Tangradi
Right Wing (6) : Alexei Kovalev, Tyler Kennedy, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Conner*, Eric Godard, Nick Johnson.

I know General Manager Ray Shero said at his press conference on trade deadline day that Dustin Jeffrey would remain in Pittsburgh the rest of the season, but what about for the playoffs?

More after the jump.

No "Lack" of effort, Pens stun Moose 4-1

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Both John Curry and Brad Thiessen saw action tonight and played well tonight.

The Manitoba Moose had just finished up a tough road trip that ended with three road games Friday, Saturday and Sunday, before having a day off Monday before two home games against the WBS Penguins. They were playing their 5th game in six nights tonight and for the first 20 minutes, really took it to the Penguins and were the more ready team.

I continued to think that if the Pens could just get one that they could win the game. I never thought I would see the Pens score four goals in a span of 4:11. But the Penguins clearly were the better team in the second period and trailing 1-0 with 8:04 left in the game Bryan Lerg opened the flood gates and the Pens went on to score four goals before the final buzzer sounded, stunning the Moose 4-1 and taking seven out of a possible eight points on their Canadian road trip.

The Penguins are now 48-18-0-1 and with 97 points the Pens are ahead of the 2nd place Hershey Bears by nine points with two games in hand. They also only need three points to clinch a playoff spot in this year's Calder Cup Playoffs.

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Quick recap of tonight's game after the jump.

WBS Penguins @ Manitoba 8:30 P.M. EST - Game Thread

Tonight we'll have the first game day thread. Game Threads for every WBS Penguins game will be up a half hour before the scheduled start time of the time.  Tonight the Penguins finish their Canadian road trip with the final game of two on Manitoba. Puck drops at 8:30.

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Lets Go Pens!!!

Game 67 Preview: WBS @ Manitoba - Part 2

Brad Thiessen was given the start in back-to-back games in Abbotsford after he registered a shutout in the first game. So why shouldn't John Curry get the start tonight?

After a 2-0 victory last night the WBS Penguins were hoping they would get back two of their defensemen for tonight's game at 8:30 P.M EST against the Manitoba Moose. With the Pittsburgh Penguins leaving Ottawa last night and not having another game until Sunday, both Corey Potter and Steve Wagner were re-assigned to WBS.

Now with 7 healthy defenseman it looks like either Jason DeSantis or Alex Grant will be the odd man out. Up front, look for either David Marshall or Nick Petersen to be the 13th forward and a healthy scratch.

Both Eddie Lack and John Curry were outstanding last night, and you should expect that both will be in net again tonight. Curry picked up his second shutout of the season, with 23 saves, while Lack kept the Moose in the game through the first 54:35 of play.

The Stat of the Day:
For those of you who don't follow me on Twitter, the line of Keven Veilleux (0G,4A), Geoff Walker (3G,2A) and Ryan Craig (3G,3A) has been the team's best forward line this month, the last 6 contests.

A Quick Look at the East Division Standings:
WBS: 95 points, 14 games remaining
Hershey: 88 points, 11 games remaining
Norfolk: 81 points, 14 games remaining
Charlotte: 80 points, 13 games remaining
Binghamton: 75 points, 14 games reamining

The Pens are still in control with a seven point lead with three games in hand, one of which will be made up tonight. A win tonight puts the lead to nine with two games in hand on second place.

If you're scoring at home, the magic number of points the Pens need to clinch the East Division is at 110 points right now meaning the Pens need to get 15 out of a possible 28 points in the last 14 games this season. That's .500 hockey and not at all out of reach for this Penguins team that has found ways to continue to win. The WBS Penguins also need just five more points to clinch the first playoff spot for the AHL's Calder Cup Playoffs.

Curry shuts out Moose 2-0, five defenseman do the trick

Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Yes. That's Geoff Walker when he was the Pens' "moustache boy" for December.

Geoff Walker notched his 3rd goal of March late in the first period, banging in the rebound of a Robert Bortuzzo shot from the point. Keven Veilleux had the first chance on the rebound before Walker tapped it home.

The Pens held onto that 1-0 lead until late in the third period until Manitoba missed the chance of the game and Chris Collins sprang his linemates Bryan Lerg and Ben Street on a 2-on-1 rush the other way. Lerg fed a pass across to Street who buried a backhander past Moose goaltender Eddie Lack to give the WBS Pens a 2-0 lead with 5:35 left in the game. 

A shorthanded defensive unit featuring only one guy not in his first or second AHL season, found a way to hold off the offensive attack from Manitoba, giving up only 23 shots in tonight's 2-0 win.

More after the jump.

Game 66 Preview: WBS @ Manitoba

The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins defensive core took a hit early this morning when the team announced that Corey Potter and Steve Wagner were recalled to the NHL Penguins, who are in Ottawa tonight. With the NHL Penguins off until Sunday after tonight's game and both clubs in Canada today, it is likely that one or both of these guys will be sent back for tomorrow night's game against Manitoba.

Meanwhile the WBS Penguins made a move of their own calling up defenseman Alex Grant from Wheeling of the ECHL. This gives the Penguins 5 healthy defensemen in Robert Bortuzzo, Brian Strait, Jason Desantis, Alex Grant and Andrew Hutchinson. Carl Sneep (hand/arm) didn't make the trip and Joey Mormina (upper body) hasn't played since last Tuesday's game against the Whale.

With 13 healthy forwards on the roster right now, it looks like David Marshall will be back in the lineup tonight if Mormina is unable to play.

A quick preview of what to look for in tonight's game after the jump.

WBS Comeback Falls Short, Lose in Shootout

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Down 4-2 with under two minutes left, the Penguins pulled goaltender Brad Thiessen for the extra attacker. And did it ever pay off. The WBS Penguins stormed back with two goals 46 seconds apart to send a 4-4 game into overtime and eventually a shootout.

The complete turnaround fell short in the shootout though, as Ales Kotalik beat Thiessen and everyone else was stopped. The WBS Penguins did pick up another point though and still sit six points ahead of the second place Hershey Bears with three games in hand.

Quick recap after the jump.

Game 65 Preview: WBS @ Abbotsford - The Rematch

Saturday, March 12, 2011
The WBS Penguins look to sweep the season series with the Abbotsford Heat when they take to the ice in western Canada tonight at 10 p.m. EST.  The Pens would like a repeat performance of last night's game, in which they won 4-0 and got balanced scoring from all four forward lines.

Coming off a 26 save shutout, I would imagine Brad Thiessen will get the start again tonight in his return to his neck of the woods.

Players to watch:

The WBS Pens second line of Keven Veilleux, Ryan Craig and Geoff Walker have been impressive since being paired together in March.

Ales Kotalik of the Abbotsford Heat has been scoring at a point per game average and with more than 500 career games of NHL hockey under his belt he knows how to play the game of hockey.

Thiessen Returns Home, Earns 7th Shoutout for WBS Penguins

After one of the more disappointing performances on the season Tuesday night, the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins put together one of their most impressive performances together tonight in Abbostford.

In a homecoming of sorts for Ryan Craig and Brad Thiessen, the WBS Pens gave Thiessen’s cheering section quite a show.  Thiessen got his league-leading 7th shutout of the season, stopping all 26 shots he faced in a 4-0 win for the Pens.

Still in the driver's seat in the East Division, the win puts the WBS Pens seven points ahead of second place Hershey with three games in hand.

A quick recap after the jump.

Game 64 Preview: WBS @ Abbotsford

Friday, March 11, 2011
The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins begin their road trip in Western Canada tonight when they face the Abbotsford Heat at 10 p.m. EST.

Season Series: 2-0 Penguins
12/15 - 2-1 OT, Penguins
12/17 - 5-2, Penguins

After the jump, a look at both teams and what to expect in tonight's game.

About Highland Park Hockey

Thursday, March 10, 2011

For those of you who don't know me, I'm Tony Androckitis, a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University since the Spring semester of 2011 with a B.A. in Journalism along with an A.S. in Kinesiology.  I have written for numerous publications including PensBurgh and DraftNasty on various sports topics ranging from the NHL, AHL, NFL and NCAA.

I started this blog back on March 10th, 2011, to give hockey fans (specifically Penguins fans) a place to read up on hockey news about their favorite teams, the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL and their AHL affiliate the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.

Being that I'm originally from the Wilkes-Barre area, this blog will have in-depth original coverage of the AHL Penguins with breaking news, player profiles, game previews & recaps, interviews with players and coaches and much more. I will also keep readers up to date with important news on both the NHL Penguins and the ECHL affiliate Wheeling Nailers via outside sources as well as with some of my own insights.

A note to readers: I hope you enjoy reading Highland Park Hockey and spread the word to other hockey fans to join in the conversation.  This blog is open to structured non-abusive debate, but any kind of personal attack or foul language is strictly prohibited.

I have been covering the WBS Penguins over at PensBurgh. Check out my work from this past season if you would like here.