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Just when Colin McDonald thought he would get a few days off like the rest of his teammates in Wilkes-Barre, he gets the nod to the NHL to join Pittsburgh when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight.
McDonald got on the score sheet in the AHL All Star Game last night, recording an assist in the 8-7 shootout loss the the Western Conference. Now he gets a chance to prove himself at the NHL level again after getting a two game stint with the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this season.
With McDonald getting the recall to Pittsburgh, expect Nick Petersen to rejoin the WBS Penguins, after Wheeling plays Elmira tomorrow night.
WBS is off until Friday, so the next update might come after practice on Thursday if no other news breaks like the statement from Pittsburgh on the status of Sidney Crosby.
|WBS Penguins fans could be seeing #47 back at the Mohegan Sun Arena soon.|
While most Penguins fans are interested in the return of Sidney Crosby to the ice at the Consol Energy Center, I took note that defenseman Simon Despres took to the ice in full gear this afternoon along with injured forward Jordan Staal.
Despres, who sprained his MCL back on January 10th vs. the Ottawa Senators, was placed on the IR with an original timetable of 2 to 4 weeks before returning to action. Well, three weeks into that and Despres is back on the ice today for the first time since the injury, skating with Pittsburgh's strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar.
Despres took part in approximately a 30 minute on-ice workout according to Penguins beat writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dave Molinari. Since the Penguins don't allow injured players to talk to the media until they have practiced with the team, there is no set timetable for Despres to return to game action just yet.
That could change if Despres practices with the team today, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. EST.
I would imagine that when he is ready to play that Despres will be re-assigned to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins (AHL). Despres was originally named a starter for tonight's AHL all-star game but the injury he suffered earlier this month has prevented him from joining teammate Colin McDonald in the festivities.
Here's to hoping for a full and speedy recovery for one of the organization's top prospects.
Expect Scott Munroe to be between the pipes tonight as Brad Thiessen picked up the 3-2 overtime win last night against the Connecticut Whale.
Healthy scratches from last night, Philip Samuelsson and Brian Gibbons, could slot into the lineup if someone is banged up from last night's game. I wouldn't be surprised if Steve MacIntyre or Brandon DeFazio was the healthy scratch at forward. Carl Sneep could be the odd man out on the blue line. He did miss the last 11 games prior to last night so letting him ease back in wouldn't be a bad idea.
Binghamton (40 pts) won their game last night 3-2 over the Albany Devils, and are looking to get out of the East Division basement. The Penguins (58 pts) are in first place with a three point lead on the Hershey Bears and Norfolk Admirals (55 pts). The Bears and Admirals face off again tonight in Norfolk at The Scope. The Admirals were able to pull off a 2-1 win in regulation.
Follow the blog on Twitter for live in-game updates from Binghamton tonight! Recap will be up later tonight as I have to travel home from New York.
Jason Williams scored with 53 seconds left in overtime to give the Pens their ninth straight road win, a 3-2 decision over his former team the Connecticut Whale. The Whale are now 0-5-3-2 in their last ten games.
The Penguins did all of their damage on the power play tonight, going 3-for-7 with the man advantage.
The Pens took a 1-0 lead in the first period when Ryan Craig tapped home a puck past Johnson after a great pass from Eric Tangradi. Bryan Lerg also got an assist on the power play goal at the 8:16 mark.
The Whale tied the game up early in the second period on a miscue by Carl Sneep, who fell down and left Sean Avery alone on a breakaway. Joey Mormina tried to skate down to catch up but Avery beat Brad Thiessen.
Avery wasn't done there, he attacked Mormina and started a big scrum right after his goal, resulting in four minutes for roughing and a ten minute misconduct. He didn't see the ice for another shift after that play and didn't even move from his spot at the end of the bench next to back up goalie Cameron Talbot the entire third period.
The Whale took a 2-1 lead early in the third period when Jonathan Audy-Marchessault slammed a rebound into an empty corner, but Robert Bortuzzo tied it up with a power play slap shot from the point 58 seconds later. Jason Williams and Eric Tangradi got the assists.
Steve MacIntyre and Pavel Valentenko would collide along the side boards of the Whale bench and MacIntyre would get a major for boarding and was tossed from the game. The hit happened literally right in front of me and it was clearly a shoulder to shoulder hit. The referee did not see the play, but saw Valentenko laying on the ice bleeding. MacIntyre got two minutes for a legal check and three more and a game misconduct for being the enforcer on the ice.
Subsequently, Andre Deveaux suddenly grew the courage to take shots at Penguin players after whistles and got caught for a roughing minor 12 seconds after MacIntyre's exit.
Tough third period for the Penguins who had to kill off a 5-on-3 for 1:44 to keep the game tied at 2. But they managed to escape unscathed and Carl Sneep redeemed himself by drawing a tripping call on Ryan Bourque in the overtime session. It was Bourque's first penalty of the season, but a bad time to take a penalty.
It was Brad Thiessen vs. Chad Johnson in net. Carl Sneep returned to the lineup after missing time with an upper body injury and replaced Philip Samuelsson (healthy). Brian Gibbons was a healthy scratch at the forward position for the second game in a row.
The team left immediately after the game for Binghamton where they will battle the Senators tomorrow night. Guess what? Highland Park Hockey will be in Binghamton tomorrow night for more live coverage of your favorite team, the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.
The Penguins and Whale haven't played each other since the Pens' 2nd game of the season, a 1-0 shootout loss back on October 9th, but they will butt heads tonight at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut at 7:00 p.m.
Highland Park Hockey is following the Penguins on their road trip this weekend and will have exclusive live coverage on the blog's Twitter feed. We will also be updating our Facebook page too. Be sure to show your support of the blog and follow us on both!
For the Whale, be on the lookout for Kris Newbury, Mats Zuccarello and pest Sean Avery, who is currently in the AHL. Newbury leads the Whale in goals (15) and assists (24). Zuccarello is an AHL all star with 23 points (8G-15A) in 19 games. Avery has registered a goal, an assist and 25 PIM in six games with the Whale this season.
For the Penguins, Carl Sneep might be able to play tonight. That would make one defenseman a healthy scratch (Samuelsson or Wild). Brian Gibbons was the healthy scratch at forward on Wednesday night. Expect Brad Thiessen to start in net tonight, after Munroe was pulled Wednesday night. Here's what the lineup looked like Wednesday and should look like tonight:
Paul Thompson - Ben Street - Colin McDonald
Eric Tangradi - Bryan Lerg - Jason Williams
Ryan Craig - Zach Sill - Geoff Walker
Brandon DeFazio - Matt Rust - Steve MacIntyre
Robert Bortuzzo - Brian Strait
Cody Wild - Alex Grant
Joey Mormina - Philip Samuelsson
Trailing 3-1 heading into the third period, the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins managed to make a comeback and send the game to overtime. But the Penguins fall short in overtime to the Providence Bruins tonight by a score of 4-3.
The six game win streak is over, but the seven game points streak continues. The point gained tonight has put the Pens in sole possession of first place in the East Division, one point more than the idle Hershey Bears. The Bears do have a game in hand.
The Penguins travel to Connecticut to take on the Whale Friday night, before traveling to Binghamton for a Saturday night match up with the Senators. Highland Park Hockey will be going on the road with the Penguins, giving you exclusive coverage of this weekend's road trip. Stay tuned right here this weekend for that!
The win gives the Penguins five in a row, including two straight at home. The Penguins will take an impressive seven game road winning streak up to Syracuse for a rematch tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m.
Colin McDonald was flying out there tonight, and gave the Pens a lead they would never look back on. McDonald made it 2-1 WBS with a nice assist from Paul Thompson, who is quietly playing well in the top six right now. McDonald's second goal gave the Pens a 3-1 lead at the halfway mark of the opening period.
Zach Sill gave the Pens a 4-1 lead late in the first period on a nice deflection and that would be all the scoring tonight. Brad Thiessen looked good minus the first minute of the game, stopping 29 of the 30 shots he faced.
The win gives the WBS Penguins four in a row and five out of their last six. Pittsburgh won in a shootout tonight for their 5th win in a row. The organization is getting healthy and starting to get on a roll. Let's hope that continues tomorrow night when the AHL Penguins start a home and home series with the Syracuse Crunch.
LETS GO PENS!
The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins were back at Coal Street this morning for a 90 minute session.
On a personnel note here's what I gathered about the team that took the ice today:
- Steve MacIntyre did indeed report to WBS this week and practiced today on the 4th line with Matt Rust and Brandon DeFazio.
- Missing from practice with injuries were Boris Valabik (hand), Carl Sneep and Alexandre Picard.
- I had a nice little chat with Keven Veilleux today, who was sporting a bright orange hooded sweatshirt and a big knee brace. I asked how his rehabbing was going and he said he was started to feel better. He was shooting pucks off ice with gloves on and a stick against a wall for a few minutes then walked back into the locker room area.
- Philip Samuelsson and Nick Petersen both practiced today after missing parts of this past week's road trip.
- Petersen wore the red no-contact jersey and participated in most of the drills but I didn't see him leave the bench during the 5v5 drill at the end of practice.
- Samuelsson had what appeared to be a stitched up lower lip at practice this morning, it was cut up in St. John's over the weekend. He was mixed in with Cody Wild and Alex Grant on the blueline today.
- Some changes to the lines from over the weekend with new faces and new linemates, most notable switch up is Gibbons and McDonald swap places on what looks like the top two lines, with Walker staying on an energy line with Sill and Craig:
Colin McDonald - Ben Street - Paul Thompson
Ryan Craig - Zach Sill - Geoff Walker
Steve MacIntyre - Matt Rust - Brandon DeFazio
Ryan Schnell - Cody Chupp
Robert Bortuzzo - Brian Strait
Alex Grant - Cody Wild
Joey Mormina - Peter Merth
Brad Thiessen - Scott Munroe
- Three guys that people were suggesting might be on their way to Wheeling are still here. That being defenseman Peter Merth and forwards Ryan Schnell and Cody Chupp.
- Terrible news to hear coming out from Nailers beat writer Shawn Rine last night that the team is up for sale and this could be the last season for the Nailers in Wheeling. All this after 20 seasons.
- On the Pittsburgh front, it looks like Malkin was given a maintenance day and Asham is day-to-day. Also, Letang hasn't been ruled out and could play Thursday or sometime this weekend according to head coach Dan Bylsma.
|Lerg seems to be getting back on track.|
Ben Street added the game winner in overtime, his 14th of the season. Bryan Lerg scored his 15th of the season in the first period. Jason Williams finished with two assists.
Scott Munroe was back in action after a brief stint on the injured list, stopping 37 of 40 shots he faced. Munroe has won six of his last seven appearances in net.
I was stuck at work and unable to live tweet the game, but I figured I'd post a quick recap of the Pens' successful road trip. More updates to come as I plan on attending WBS Penguins practice tomorrow if they skate at the Coal Street Rink.
It was a shooting gallery in the third period, but the Penguins came out on top thanks to three shorthanded goals tonight. Penguins win 6-4, and have won six straight road games. The Penguins road record so far this season is quite impressive: 15-3-0-2.
Ben Street scored a penalty shot goal shorthanded in the second period and added an assist, while Bryan Lerg scored two goals and an assist.
It was Brad Thiessen vs. David Aebischer in net tonight. Colin McDonald returned from Pittsburgh and Joey Mormina returned from an injury. Ryan Schnell and Peter Merth were the healthy scratches. Nick Petersen is out of the lineup and is day-to-day.
Tonight was the first trip to St. John's since January 2003, and the first ever meeting between the Penguins and Icecaps.
Recap after the jump.
|The WBS Penguins will certainly welcome back leading scorer Colin McDonald.|
First, Colin McDonald has been re-assigned to the AHL Penguins. His stint in the NHL was brief, as he only appeared in two games for Pittsburgh, going scoreless with three shots on goal, five hits and a plus-1 rating. McDonald should be in Newfoundland to play in the WBS Pens games against the St. Johns Icecaps this weekend. Good news for WBS, as they get their leading scorer back for two games against
McDonald might not be the only forward making a return to the AHL. Steve MacIntyre has cleared waivers and
Another thing I mentioned on the Twitter side yesterday, Simon Despres was put on the injured reserve in Pittsburgh and is scheduled to miss 2-4 weeks with a sprained knee. Bad news for Despres, who was named an AHL All Star last week. He will miss this year's event. The injury to Despres leaves Pittsburgh with just six defensemen, which makes curious minds wonder whether or not WBS might be losing a defenseman by the name of Brian Strait or Robert Bortuzzo for this weekend's games.
Stay tuned. Live in-game coverage of the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins weekend trip to Canada right here on Highland Park Hockey: Your source for all Penguins hockey news.
|A career night for Paul Thompson tonight.|
Full recap after the jump.
|Patrick Killeen continues to back up Brad Thiessen but Scott Munroe did make the trip.|
The Penguins lost another forward to Pittsburgh after Jordan Staal (knee) and James Neal (foot) left the lineup with injuries. Craig Adams also reaggravated a knee injury as well, but luckily Arron Asham and Steve MacIntyre are ready to play and only Eric Tangradi was recalled.
The WBS Penguins made a few roster moves of their own too. They called up forward Cody Chupp, who began the season with the AHL Penguins. They also sent forward Brian Day to Wheeling, probably for conditioning purposes. Day was injured in the preseason and has missed the entire season up to this date.
Brad Thiessen vs. Dustin Tokarski in net. Nick Petersen a surprise healthy scratch. Cody Chupp, Ryan Schnell and Peter Merth in. Live updates on Twitter. Recap on the blog shortly after the game.
|Despite allowing four goals, Thiessen played better tonight.|
I liked the efforts of Paul Thompson, Geoff Walker, Brian Gibbons and Matt Rust tonight - four guys making their case for a more prominent role in the WBS lineup. Overall, a good effort by the Penguins, but not finishing their chances cost them tonight.
Robert Bortuzzo, who was re-assigned to Wilkes-Barre Scranton, played his first game back in the AHL and looked pretty good. He was physical in his own zone and had some good passes out of the defensive zone.
Ex-WBS forward Luca Caputi tallied an assist on both of Syracuse's second period goals, but other than that he was basically non-existent on the ice.
The Penguins are off until a trip to Norfolk on Tuesday and a game at the Scope. They then travel to St. John's for a pair of road games next weekend. Highland Park Hockey will have full coverage of next week's road games so stay tuned!
|Bortuzzo is back!|
A familiar face should be taking to the ice tonight for the Crunch. Luca Caputi, a former WBS forward who was traded to get Alexei Ponikarovski a few years back, has been traded again this year to the Anaheim organization and is in the Mohegan Sun Arena for tonight's game.
Should be Brad Thiessen vs. Iiro Tarrki in net tonight. I would expect the same lineup for WBS even though Pittsburgh re-assigned Robert Bortuzzo today. I know he's been skating in Pittsburgh this week but I don't think he'll be ready for game action tonight. I could be wrong, so I'll update the blog's Twitter feed during the warmups and get the full lineup for WBS.
Penguins need another win and hopefully get rolling again. Recap of the game on the blog shortly after the game.
The Penguins were wearing a pink promotional jersey tonight, but they didn't play like school girls. Right off the jump the Pens brought pressure and really dominated the play after 20 minutes, but Rochester snuck out of the first period with a 1-0 lead.
Jason Williams had a big night tonight, earning the game's first star. Williams tied the game at one with a wicked wrist shot, then set up Alex Grant with a power play slap shot goal to give the Pens a 2-1 lead after two periods.
The Amerks tied the game just 1:12 into the third period and took the lead after Brad Thiessen coughed up the puck in the corner. The shorthanded goal made it a 3-2 deficit for WBS. But Eric Tangradi played hero tonight, tying the game at three and scoring the eventual winner in the shootout.
Pens win 4-3, and both rival teams Hershey and Norfolk blew leads and lost. A good hockey night for WBS Penguins fans.
It was Brad Thiessen vs. Drew MacIntyre in net. Colin McDonald was called up to Pittsburgh and Alexandre Picard was injured. Brandon DeFazio and Peter Merth took their spots in the lineup, respectively. Ryan Schnell was the healthy scratch.
Well the Penguins had a relatively full lineup for one game, a 5-1 loss to Norfolk on Wednesday. Not the case tonight as Colin McDonald has been called up, while Alexandre Picard is out with injury. Bryan Lerg's status is also uncertain for tonight after being crunched into the boards from behind by Radko Gudas.
So it looks like Ryan Schnell might get a chance to get back in the lineup. Brandon DeFazio was a healthy scratch on Wednesday as well as Peter Merth. If Lerg can't go tonight, then both forwards are in with Merth replacing Picard's spot in the lineup.
Live in-game updates on Twitter. Recap on the blog shortly after the game. GO PENGUINS!
|Tangradi played well in December but was it enough to nab our player of the month award?|
Record in December: 7-4-0-0
The Penguins were a streaky team in December, winning four straight at one point and dropping three straight right after that. While the defense was ravaged by call-ups and injuries, the forward core remained relatively intact as only 15 different forwards suited up for the Penguins this past month.
Highland Park Hockey's Player of the Month Award goes to...
Season Stats: 33 games played, 8G, 20A, +15, 12 PIM
December Stats: 11 games played, 3G, 7A, +11, 8 PIM
McDonald has consistently been on the score sheet for the Penguins all season long, which is why it's no surprise that he leads the team in scoring and is Highland Park Hockey's player of the month for December. McDonald has been on the top line with Bryan Lerg, seen time on both the power play and penalty kill and has been on the ice during all kinds of situations each and every night. His recent All-Star nomination was well deserved as he has been a solid two way forward for the Penguins this season. Hopefully Lerg's recent injury doesn't prevent McDonald from continuing to be productive in all facets of the game.
The WBS Penguins are back at it again tomorrow night as the Rochester Americans come into town. We will have everything you'll need to know about the matchup tomorrow morning with the pregame post.
The rest of the forwards Grades for December after the jump
The Norfolk Admirals scored early and often tonight in route to a 5-1 victory over the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.
Nothing good came from the loss. Bryan Lerg was slammed into the boards from behind by Radko Gudas late in the second period and did not return. Gudas was given a major penalty for boarding as well as a game misconduct. I'm sure the Penguins will be calling the league tonight and seeking further discipline. Definitely a hit that is worthy of a suspension.
The lone Pens goal came in the middle frame with the Penguins trailing 3-0. Kind of a flukey goal, but Philip Samuelsson nudged a puck ahead to Ryan Craig who came in 2-on-1 with Nick Petersen. Petersen was able to push the puck across the goal line with a Norfolk defender on top of the puck. A weird play, but it resulted in a goal for the Pens nonetheless. It was Petersen's 6th of the season from Craig and Samuelsson just 2:16 into the second period. But there would be no comeback tonight.
It was Brad Thiessen vs. Dustin Tokarski in net tonight. Ryan Schnell, Brandon DeFazio and Peter Merth were the healthy scratches for the Penguins. Still out with injuries are Boris Valabik, Joey Mormina, Carl Sneep, Brian Day and Keven Veilleux.
Colin McDonald - Bryan Lerg - Geoff Walker
Eric Tangradi - Ben Street - Jason Williams
Nick Petersen - Zach Sill - Ryan Craig
Brian Gibbons - Matt Rust - Paul Thompson
Alexandre Picard - Brian Strait
Simon Despres - Philip Samuelsson
Cody Wild - Alex Grant
First off, I want to congratulate Simon Despres and Colin McDonald on their all star nominations. The AHL All Star Rosters were released today. Despres had just been sent down from Pittsburgh, but a top notch prospect that certainly would have had better numbers in the AHL had he stayed in WBS all season long. McDonald, on the other hand, is the Penguins' leading scorer.
Now for tonight's game, another East Division battle as the third place Penguins (41 points) host the second place Norfolk Admirals (42 points).
Should be Brad Thiessen vs. Dustin Tokarski in net as Penguins beat writer Jonathan Bombulie reported yesterday at practice that Scott Munroe is out of the lineup with what coach John Hynes described as "a minor lower body injury."
With Simon Despres back the strength of the lineup is probably the best the Pens have had all season. Should look something like this tonight:
McDonald-Lerg-Walker, Picard-Strait Tangradi-Street-Williams, Despres-Samuelsson
The bottom half of the lineup is interesting because two forwards will have to sit as healthy scratches. I would expect the two will come down to Paul Thompson, Ryan Schnell, Nick Petersen, Brian Gibbons and Matt Rust. Peter Merth should be the 7th defenseman tonight.
In-game updates on Twitter tonight as usual with the recap on the blog shortly after tonight's game.
|Is Brad Thiessen still the #1 goalie right now?|
The depth of the defense has been tested and guys like Alex Grant, Philip Samuelsson and Cody Wild who were probably penciled in for ECHL duty at the beginning of the season have been regular AHL defenders so far this season. The Penguins even needed to dip into the ECHL when the injuries mounted, adding Dan Henningson (Chicago Express) and Peter Merth (Wheeling) for a few games.
But the biggest question mark I have defensively is goaltending, which was very inconsistent in December to say the least. Who would have thought at the beginning of the season that there would be any debate at all with who the number one goalie on this team is. But after the last month, the competition between Brad Thiessen and Scott Munroe has certainly picked up and I believe Munroe has earned the starts he has been getting.
Grades for the defensemen and goalies after the jump.