Monday's Catch Up & Links 1/19

Monday, January 19, 2015
The Phantoms and Bears rematch at PPL Center on Wednesday night.

The 2015 AHL All-Star Classic is just a week away, and three teams in the East Divsion are jostling for first place as the 2014-15 season passes its midway point. The three teams all within four points of each other in the division - Hershey in first, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in second and Lehigh Valley in third - are all housed in Pennsylvania.

The tri-state rivalry is sure to pick up in the second half of the season, what with the teams so close atop the division standings and seven meetings between the Penguins and Phantoms, for example, still remaining on the schedule.

The Phantoms and Bears clashed Sunday at Giant Center in a 5-2 win for the Bears, with a rematch in Allentown at the PPL Center looming on Wednesday night.

After the jump, a deeper look into the AHL Penguins' recent skid and all the latest roster news/notes including a suspension to Pierre-Luc Leblond and a Phantoms forward re-assigned to a Reading (ECHL).

Penguins Losing Skid Reaches Six Games

I mentioned this on Twitter last night, but does this Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins six-game winless streak seem familiar to a similar point in the season last year? It should.

The 2013-14 Penguins went on a six-game win-less streak from February 9th-22nd, going 0-3-2-1 in that six-game span. They ended that skid on February 25th against Hershey - the team that started their slide.

This year's Penguins team has now gone six games without a win, including five straight regulation losses. They host the IceCaps on Wednesday night before traveling to Norfolk for a pair of games against the Admirals - the team that started their regulation loss streak.

The Penguins have had trouble scoring goals for most of the season, 27th in the league out of 30 AHL teams (95 goals in 41 games, 2.32 per game average), but it's starting to become more apparent in the last six games (9 goals, 1.50 per game average).

The defense and goaltending, meanwhile, has been strong most of the season as the Penguins are tied for third least goals allowed (92 goals against in 41 games, 2.24 per game average). In the last six games, however,the Pens have allowed an uncharacteristic 18 goals - an average of three per game.

You can't place the blame on call ups, either. In the14 games prior to this six-game losing skid (Nov 29th to Dec 26th) the Pens went 9-4-0-1, averaging 1.93 goals per game and 1.57 goals against per game in that stretch. They knew they weren't scoring goals, but it wasn't necessarily a concern because they were still winning games.

The Penguins have been out scored a combined 18-9 during this six game win-less streak, but I still don't think it's time to hit the panic button just yet. The Pens didn't put forth a good effort on Saturday, but looked much better on Sunday. If the Penguins continue to give up four and five goals a game then maybe it'll be time to be concerned, but right now they are in the thick of things for first place in the East Division - a guaranteed top-three seed in the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Up Next

Wednesday (1/21) vs. St. John's at 7:05 ET

Friday (1/23) @ Norfolk at 7:30 ET

Sunday (1/24) @ Norfolk at 7:15 ET


Jeff Zatkoff got the start in both games over the weekend, but was pulled after the first period in his start on Saturday night against Worcester. Matt Murray came on in relief of Zatkoff Saturday and was the backup Sunday.

On defense, Scott Harrington was called up to Pittsburgh and Derrick Pouliot and Taylor Chorney returned to the AHL. They rolled with the same six defenseman in both games, with Alex Boak serving as the team's 7th defenseman and a healthy scratch this weekend.

Up front, Matia Marcantuoni and Pierre-Luc Leblond returned to the lineup Sunday after sitting out Saturday. Leblond was assessed a match penalty in the first period for a hit on Seth Griffith.

The AHL announced today that Leblond has been suspended three games for that hit and will miss the final three games before the All-Star break - Wednesday vs. St. John's and Friday and Saturday in Norfolk against the Admirals.

Jean-Sebastien Dea was a healthy scratch, while Bryan Rust was added to the injured list after leaving the third period of Saturday night's game with an apparent lower body injury.

The second line of Scott Wilson (2G-1A), Carter Rowney (1G-2A) and Jayson Megna (0G-1A) played a strong game offensively for the Penguins Sunday despite the loss.

The lack of offense had been a concern in recent games of the six-game skid, but the team in general plays a low-scoring, defense first kind of style which was not there in a six-goal second period against Providence Sunday.

Scratches: Alex Boak (healthy), Jean-Sebastien Dea (healthy), Bryan Rust (lower body), Anton Zlobin (out for season) and Adam Payerl (week-to-week).


Conor Sheary - Nick Drazenovic - Tom Kostopoulos
Scott Wilson - Carter Rowney - Jayson Megna
Bobby Farnham - Matia Marcantuoni - Josh Archibald
Pierre-Luc Leblond (suspended three games) - Dominik Uher - Tom Kuhnhackl

Taylor Chorney - Brian Dumoulin
Reid McNeill - Derrick Pouliot
Nick D'Agostino - Barry Goers

Jeff Zatkoff - Matt Murray

Phantoms Miss Opportunity To Climb East Division Standings

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms had a chance to make up some ground Friday night against Albany, making up one of four games in hand on then-division leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Instead, a frustrating 3-2 regulation loss the Devils left two points on the table.

They seemed to have rebounded Saturday with a big 5-1 win at home over Binghamton. Nick Cousins and Andrew Gordon have formed a nice duo along with linemate Zack Stortini. Cousins had six points (4G-2A) on the weekend and was edged out by Rochester's Mikhail Grigorenko (3G-4A) for the CCM/AHL Player of the Week.

On Sunday, another opportunity to tighten the standings with a game in Hershey and another regulation loss. A regulation win by the Phantoms would have tied them with the Bears for first place in the East Division, but instead they now trail Hershey by four points and remain in third place, just one point behind second place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Up Next

Wednesday (1/21) vs. Hershey at 7:05 ET

Friday (1/23) @ Syracuse at 7:05 ET

Saturday (1/24) vs. St. John's at 7:05 ET


Anthony Stolarz got the start in net on Friday and Sunday, while Martin Ouellette started Saturday night against Binghamton.

On defense, Mark Alt (broken hand) and Shayne Gostisbehere (recovering from ACL surgery in November) remain on the injured list.

With the injuries to Nick Schultz and Carlo Coliaicovo, the Flyers have recalled defensemen Brandon Manning and Oliver Lauridsen from the Phantoms. Jesper Pettersson, who had been the team's 7th defenseman for awhile, now figures to get back in the lineup on the third pairing. The moves leave the Phantoms with only five healthy defensemen.

Expect Maxim Lamarche to be the first defenseman called up from Reading (ECHL) if either of Manning/Lauridsen are needed in the NHL past tomorrow night's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Up front, Blair Jones (lower body) didn't play Saturday or Sunday after blocking a shot in the 3rd period of Friday night's loss to Albany. He didn't return to that game or play the rest of the weekend, so his status moving forward is in question.

Jason Akeson was called up to Philadelpia Saturday, and after being bumped off his flight and driven up to Buffalo from Wilkes-Barre, was re-assigned Sunday and joined the Phantoms in Hershey after more travel back from Buffalo overnight Saturday.

With Kevin Goumas and Brandon Alderson recently called up from ECHL Reading, Derek Mathers was re-assigned to the Royals earlier today.

The move leaves the Phantoms with 14 forwards on the roster, including injured forwards Darroll Powe (upper body) and Blair Jones (lower body).

Scratches: Mark Alt (broken hand), Jesper Pettersson (healthy), Shayne Gostisbehere (ACL surgery), Blair Jones (lower body) and Darroll Powe (upper body).


Zack Stortini - Nick Cousins - Andrew Gordon
Taylor Leier - Kevin Goumas - Jason Akeson
Petr Straka - Ryan White - Brett Hextall
Jay Rosehill - Austin Fyten - Brandon Alderson

Brandon Manning (called up by PHI) - Robert Hagg
Adam Comrie - Steven Delisle
Oliver Lauridsen (called up by PHI) - Brett Flemming

Anthony Stolarz - Martin Ouellette

Weekly Links

Friend Eric Majeski and his weekly "Talking To Myself" post over at Pensburgh. This week's post looks at Olli Maatta's shoulder, Ryan Suter's elbow to Steve Downie and the NHL Penguins' divisional woes.

Friend and colleague Ian Altenbaugh from Hockey's Future had his latest update on the Penguins prospects on Wednesday, and how injuries in the organization have opened the door for some of the Pens' top prospects like Derrick Pouliot.

Speaking of Hockey's Future, here's some of my other published AHL work from earlier this month. Stay tuned this week for more AHL-related features from HF:
Last week's Phantoms printed feature in The Home News reflected on the Phantoms recent road success and how four straight wins drew them back into the AHL playoff picture. Stay tuned for this week's edition of The Home News and my Phantoms feature on what they've been focusing on lately.


Post a Comment