Breaking Down Pens & BSens - Part Two

Saturday, April 27, 2013
The 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs began with four games in action Friday night. The Penguins begin their quest for the AHL's championship trophy Saturday in Game One of their first round best-of-five series with the Binghamton Senators.

I'll have a full preview and a look at the head to head matchup tomorrow afternoon but after the jump, Part Two of Breaking Down Pens & BSens focuses on the Penguins.

Taking A Closer Look - Wilkes/Barre Scranton Penguins

Regular Season Notes

42-30-2-2 = 88 points
3rd Place East Division
5th Place Eastern Conference

Leading Scorers: Chad Kolarik (31G-37A), Trevor Smith (23G-31A), Riley Holzapfel (21G-30A), Derek Nesbitt (26G-21A), Brian Gibbons (8G-22A)

Contrary to their first round opponent, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins didn't start red hot right out of the gates. They got their first win in their fifth game of the season and went a modest 17-17-2-1 before the lockout ended in mid January. They are the case of a team catching heat at the right team, entering the playoffs winners in seven of their last nine games and 25-13-0-1 post lockout.

The regular season saw the departures of Brian Strait, Robert Bortuzzo, Simon Despres, Carl Sneep, Mark Eaton and Joseph Morrow on defense and forwards Beau Bennett, Tom Kostopoulos, Eric Tangradi and Benn Ferriero up front. Two more forwards, Phil Dupuis and Tom Kuhnhackl, had their season end due to injuries back in the winter months of the year.

To counter all of this the Penguins brought in quite a few guys. They acquired forwards Chad Kolarik mid-season and Derek Nesbitt at the AHL's trading deadline, as well as brought back former Penguin Chris Collins. Bobby Farnham, Christiaan Minella and Chris Barton were also added via PTO's at one point this season, with Farnham earning an AHL contract on December 2nd.

On defense, Cody Wild rejoined the Penguins on a standard player contract on January 16th, coming up from the Wheeling Nailers on defense. Peter Merth (PTO) and Reid McNeill (entry level contract) were added to the roster towards the end of the regular season.

If you take a look at the numbers, it wouldn't take much for you to notice that the Penguins were a team built on strong team defense. Goaltenders Jeff Zatkoff and Brad Thiessen combined for nine shutouts and received the AHL's Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Award for allowing the fewest team goals this season. The team won 13 games this season when the team put up two or less goals.

I know the cliche saying is that defense wins championships, but I'm also a believer that timely goal scoring can propel a team into a deeper post season run. Here's something to keep in mind - The Penguins enjoyed much success in the regular season when they scored at least three goals in a game this season, going 29-2-1-1 in those games.

I'll leave you with this. Can the Penguins survive a best-of-five series against an East Division opponent? Can they continue to play that low-scoring, well rounded team defense the team enjoyed success with in the regular season? Can the Penguins score those "timely" goals? Does the outcome of the consistency and balanced scoring on offense seal the Penguins fate this post season?


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