Penguins Battle Senators For East Division Title

Friday, April 18, 2014
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.

Tonight, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (WBS) take on the Binghamton Senators (BSens) at The Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena for a 7:00 p.m. ET face-off. Follow all of tonight's action live on Twitter with in-game updates at @H_P_Hockey.

The Penguins (42-24-3-5) look to take control of their own destiny in the East Division race and can do so tonight with a win, while the Senators (42-24-3-5) can clinch the division crown tonight with a regulation win.

Check back shortly following the conclusion of the game for a recap of events right here on Highland Park Hockey: The Town & Country Gazette's source for daily AHL coverage!

By The Numbers

WBS: 42-24-3-5 = 92 points, Second Place East Division (5th - East)
Last Ten Games: 7-3-0-0

BSens: 42-24-3-5 = 92 points, First Place East Division (3rd - East)
Last Ten Games: 4-3-2-1

WBS Leading Scorers: Tom Kostopoulos (22G-24A), Andrew Ebbett (12G-26A), Brendan Mikkelson (8G-30A)

BSens Leading Scorers: Cole Schneider (20G-33A), Chris Wideman (9G-42A), Matt Puempel (29G-18A)

Expected Starting Goaltenders

WBS - Peter Mannino (11-3-1, 1.35 GAA, .941 SV, 4 SO)
BSens - Andrew Hammond (24-19-3, 2.78 GAA, .910 SV%, 1 SO)

Again, for all the latest WBS Penguins news, updates, stats, scores and more be sure you're following Highland Park Hockey on Twitter at @H_P_Hockey.  

WBS Roster Notes

Pittsburgh sent defenseman Simon Despres (34GP, 5G-16A) as well as forwards Chuck Kobasew (11GP, 10G-1A) and Harry Zolnierczyk (56GP, 18G-18A) back to the WBS Penguins after a few guys got healthy on the NHL Penguins roster.

Pittsburgh also re-assigned forward Chris Conner to the AHL Pens on a conditioning stint. Conner will be in the WBS lineup tonight, playing in his first game with WBS since November 23rd. He's is not eligible to play in the AHL past this weekend, but can help the Pens to an East Division title this weekend. Conner has 11 points (6G-5A) in 15 AHL games this season.

The only eligible AHL Pens players left on Pittsburgh's roster now are Brian Gibbons and Jayson Megna. Gibbons is on Crosby's wing currently, so for now its safe to say he'll be with Pittsburgh for their playoff run. Megna was a healthy scratch for Pittsburgh in Game One vs. Columbus, but the Pens are carrying 14 healthy forwards currently.  

Brian Dumoulin will return to the lineup tonight after missing a few games with an upper body injury. Reid McNeill is out this weekend with a lower body injury but is expected to return for the postseason. Philip Samuelsson still has roughly another two weeks based on his original timetable to return.

The veteran scratches from head coach John Hynes for tonight's game will be Nick Drazenovic and Spencer Machacek. With the addition of Conner, the Pens are now two veterans over the maximum limit.

Expected Lines

Conner - Ebbett - Kobasew
Zolnierczyk - Payerl - Kostopoulos
Uher - Rowney - Zlobin/Wilson
Farnham - Sill/Carman - Leblond

Despres - Dumoulin
Mikkelson - Harrington
D'Agostino/Ruopp - Goers

Expected Scratches for WBS - Matt Murray (healthy-ATO), Reid McNeill (lower body), Philip Samuelsson (lower body), Clark Seymour (healthy-ATO), Harrison Ruopp (healthy), Matia Marcantuoni (healthy-ATO), Conor Sheary (healthy-ATO), Josh Archibald (healthy-ATO) and Jean-Sebastien Dea (healthy-ATO).


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