Tuesday, January 31

Waiver Claim

The Atlanta Thrashers have claimed forward Rico Fata from re-entry waivers on Tuesday.

In other waiver action:

  • The Boston Bruins claimed former Binghamton Senators winger Josh Langfeld off waivers from the San Jose Sharks.
  • The St. Louis Blues claimed former Norfolk Admirals goaltender Craig Anderson off waivers from the Boston Bruins and also placed goaltender Patrick Lalime on waivers.

Trade rumors and travel troubles

  • Ric Jackman has asked Pittsburgh Penguins GM Craig Patrick for a trade if he continues to be a healthy scratch. He said he loves Pittsburgh and wants to play, but will move on if he isn't going to be part of the lineup.
  • Noah Welch and Dany Sabourin had some travel issues in getting to Manitoba for the All-Star festivities tonight and tomorrow. Their flight out of Allentown was cancelled, so they had to drive to JFK in order to catch a different one. All is well, however, and they both made it in time for the game.
  • Matt Murley may end up having season-ending shoulder surgery. More to come on this one later.
  • Check out this article from The Sault Star on Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native and current Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguin forward Rico Fata.

Monday, January 30

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton receives three

Goaltender Andy Chiodo and forward Daniel Carcillo were returned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton from Wheeling of the ECHL today, along with forward Maxime Talbot, who was demoted from the Pittsburgh Penguins. They will join the team for their next practice, Thursday night after the all-star break.

Penguins 3, Senators 2

Stephen Dixon (10) braces for a hit from Senators defenseman Philip Novak (4) during Sunday afternoon's game. (Credit: KDP Photography)

Penguins 3, Senators 2

For a description of yesterday's game, see the description of Saturday's game minus the extra frame and the shootout. The Penguins came out extremely flat and gave up two first period goals to the suddenly surging Senators. The tide turned, however, in the second period. The Senators took a few foolish penalties and the Penguins capitalized. Rico Fata used speed to his advantage and scored his 8th goal of the season on a feed from Ryan Stone and Matt Hussey. From there, Noah Welch scored on a power play slapshot from the right circle that sailed over Binghamton goaltender Kelly Guard's shoulder.

Late in the second period, Senators defenseman Jan Platil tried to spark his team by fighting with Ryan Stone, with whom he had been exchanging words all game. Platil hit Stone at the blueline, and they came together at center ice. Platil threw off his elbow pads and helmet (getting the game misconduct in the process) and started throwing wild punches at Stone. None of them landing, Stone came back with a few of his own, tagging Platil with a few in the process. That seemed to turn the tables, and the Penguins never looked back. They capitalized on sloppy defensive play in the third, with Matt Hussey scoring to put the Penguins up 3-2 with under two minutes left and sending Binghamton back up interstate 81 shaking their heads.

A few notes:

  • Goaltender Andy Chiodo and forward Daniel Carcillo may be on their way back to Wilkes-Barre in time for Thursday's practice after the all-star break.
  • Chris Kelleher had successful sports hernia surgery and will be out for two months. I'm expecting defenseman Drew Fata to be recalled in his place.
  • Rico Fata, who has been stellar lately, may get a callup to Pittsburgh sooner than later. If that is the case, either Shane Endicott or Konstantin Koltsov will be coming down in his place.

Sunday, January 29

Penguins 4, Admirals 3 (SO)

The Penguins’ Dennis Bonvie and Norfolk’s Shawn Thornton trade punches during the first period of Saturday night’s game at Wachovia Arena. (TIMES LEADER STAFF PHOTO/AIMEE DILGER)

Erik Christensen is a shootout specialist. There is no denying that. Christensen scored on his first shot in the shootout on Saturday night with a beautiful move that froze Norfolk goaltender Scott Reid. Dany Sabourin was solid in net once again, stopping 4 of 5 shots in the shootout while he led his team to a 4-3 win.

The Penguins started out extremely slow and sluggish, giving up two power play goals in the first period, both the result of lazy penalties and poor defensive coverage. In between periods, whatever was said must have worked, because the Penguins came out with fire for the second. Speed was a factor as the Penguins simply outworked Norfolk to tie the score at 2 off of goals from
Matt Hussey and Jonathan Filewich.

The third period was no different, as the Penguins were crashing and banging everything that wore red.
Ryan Stone scored early in the period, with Rico Fata picking up his second assist. From there, it was all Penguins, controlling the play until mid-way through the period, where the Admirals got a beautiful goal from Matt Keith to tie the game at three.

The game was even the rest of the way, with play going back and forth into each end. Keith seemed to hurt himself when going for a hit in his defensive zone, he skated off slowly and did not take another shift. Overtime was mostly uneventful, until there were about 5 seconds left and Norfolk had a great scoring chance. Penguins defenseman
Noah Welch hauled his man down, and referee Chris Ciamaga ruled that it wasn't enough for a penalty shot, so the game went to the shootout. Christensen and Kenny Corupe scored for the Penguins, and that was all Dany Sabourin needed to earn the victory with 4 saves in the shootout.

  • Fans were upset at the fight between Dennis Bonvie and Shawn Thornton in the first period. It was a back and forth battle with both guys landing a few shots, but they seemed to tire late in the fight, and allowed the linesmen to step in. The sold out Wachovia Arena crowd met that with a chorus of boos. Click here for an interesting poll from the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader.
  • Pittsburgh head coach Michel Therrien and assistant coach Mike Yeo were in attendance last night after their game in New York earlier in the day. The rest of the NHL Penguins stayed in New York City for their annual rookie dinner.
  • Is Sean Collins really 5'9"? He played well last night, and should see more ice time tonight.
  • It seems that Arpad Mihaly has fallen out of favor with coach Joe Mullen, he barely saw the ice in the third period after taking a few penalties.
  • Daniel Carcillo took three penalties in Wheeling last night, each time taking someone from the other team with him. That's all coach Mullen is looking for.
  • Tonight's game with Binghamton starts at 5:05pm, and the Senators come in to the game after losing their last four games by a margin of 19-7. The referee will be Jeff Smith, with Jim Harper and Dave Brown on the lines.

Saturday, January 28

Saturday Pregame

Members of the Penguins wait for their turn to practice shots on goal prior to the game with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (TIMES LEADER STAFF PHOTO/DON CAREY)

The Pittsburgh Penguins are currently tied at 1 with the New York Rangers at the start of the second period. Marc-Andre Fleury is standing on his head for some of his saves, and Sidney Crosby has the goal for the Penguins. Just a few things before tonight's tilt with the Norfolk Admirals:
  • Trade Rumor ALERT: Eric Cairns to the Los Angeles Kings for Noah Clarke? Stay tuned.
  • Lyle Odelein was placed on the injured reserve by GM Craig Patrick yesterday, meaning no one will be sent down to Wilkes-Barre.
  • Sean Collins will make his AHL debut tonight, most likely skating on a line with Dennis Bonvie and Kurtis MacLean.
  • Dany Sabourin is expected to start both weekend games for the Penguins, barring any injury.
  • It was confirmed by coach Joe Mullen that the demotion to Daniel Carcillo was done for disciplinary reasons. It was said that until he keeps his cool on the ice, he'll have to learn his lesson in the ECHL.
  • Tonight's referee will be Chris Ciamaga with Jim Harper and Aaron Lundbohm on the lines.
  • Binghamton defenseman Brad Norton will miss tonight's game in Hershey due to an instigator penalty he received in last night's game. He will return on Sunday to play the Penguins.

Friday, January 27

Morning Wrap-Up

Sidney Crosby carries the puck into the zone against the New York Islanders (credit: Kathy Willens / Associated Press)

  • Latest rumor on a demotion from Pittsburgh with the new faces from Edmonton arriving is Lyle Odelein. Not sure if he'd report or not.
  • Word out of Wilkes-Barre is that Chris Kelleher had surgery on his abdominal injury and will be out for a few weeks.
  • Andy Chiodo and Daniel Carcillo are expected to spend the weekend in Wheeling before being recalled in time for the Penguins games against Bridgeport and Rochester on February 3rd and 4th.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins dropped their game 4-3 in a shootout on Long Island yesterday. Former Bridgeport Sound Tigers goaltender Wade Dubielewicz stopped all three shots he faced in the shootout to pick up the win.
  • Penguins scratches were Matt Murley (shoulder), Andre Roy (hand), Jocelyn Thibault (hip), Ryan VandenBussche (neck), Lyle Odelein (healthy) and Konstantin Koltsov (healthy).

Thursday, January 26

Comings and Goings

  • Penguins ship defenseman Dick Tarnstrom to the Edmonton Oilers for Jani Rita and Cory Cross. Reported by Sportsnet.ca and Hocky Buzz.
  • Former Wilkes-Barre and current Pittsburgh defenseman Ryan Whitney was fined $1,500 by NHL's disciplinarian, Colin Campbell for his spear on Washington forward Alexander Ovechkin in last night's game.
  • Tonight's radio show guests at the Arena Bar and Grill on Coal Street in Wilkes-Barre will be Kurtis MacLean and Andy Schneider, who will replace Andy Chiodo. Great seats are still available by calling 970-8829!
  • The AHL announced today that Binghamton Senators defenseman Philip Novak will be replacing Peoria forward Peter Senja on the PlanetUSA All-Star team.
  • Also announced, David Clarkson of the Albany River Rats has been suspended for one game for a high sticking match penalty he received last night against Lowell. He'll miss Albany's next game, January 29th against Binghamton.

Ups and downs.

Pittsburgh Penguins' Mark Recchi, right, celebrates scoring his first goal against the Washington Capitals, with teammate Michel Ouellet during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2006, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh won 8-1. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

A few quick things:

  • The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have recalled goaltender Andy Franck and forward Sean Collins from the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL, it was announced Thursday by Penguins CEO Jeff Barrett. Both Franck and Collins played in last nights ECHL All-Star Game in Fresno, CA. Additionally, goaltender Andy Chiodo and left wing Daniel Carcillo have been reassigned to Wheeling by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
  • Chris Kelleher's abdominal injury is still under evaluation, no change in his condition.
  • Bridgeport released G Nick Boucher today, which means Cody Rudkowsky is good to go for the weekend.
  • Pittsburgh had scouts from the Edmonton Oilers at the game last night, and they'll be there again tonight. The rumor i'm hearing right now involves Dick Tarnstrom and Jani Rita.
  • The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim have announced they will be changing their name and team colors soon. What i'm hearing is green and orange.

Penguins fall in overtime.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Arpad Mihaly moves in on net as Bridgeport goaltender Frederic Cloutier looks on. (image credit: KDP Photography)

Sound Tigers- 4, Penguins- 3 (OT)

After being shut out 7-0 on Saturday night by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, the Penguins had a much improved showing, but that was still not enough to take two points in the standings. Goaltending made the difference, as Sound Tigers' netminder Frederic Cloutier made 41 saves on 44 shots to pick up the win. The Bridgeport penalty-killers also made a difference, holding the Penguins to one power play goal on nine chances, which included a few two-man advantages.

Sean Bergenheim opened the scoring for Bridgeport, lighting the lamp with less than two minutes left in the first period. Penguins defenseman Daniel Fernholm left his position to check a Sound Tigers forward, which left Bergenheim an open lane to receive a perfect feed from Robert Nilsson to put his team up 1-0. The Penguins then scored after Paul Bissonette took a feed from Rico Fata and dished it back to him. Fata put the puck in the back of the net to tie the score at one in the second period.

Nilsson did some scoring on his own with a highlight reel goal to put Bridgeport ahead by a 3-1 margin. He took the puck at the side of the net with his stick, and shoveled it in the net past Dany Sabourin. The puck bounced out and Wyatt Smith put the rebound in. Referee David Banfield signaled goal, and gave credit to Nilsson on the original shot.

Rico Fata then scored his second goal of the night to bring the Penguins within one. Then, Andy Schneider's power-play goal late in the third period tied the score at 3-3. With time winding down, Ryan Stone took a tripping penalty to put his team down by a man going into overtime. The Penguins were able to kill off the penalty and even stage an attack of their own, which was snuffed out by Sabourin.

The game came down to a shootout, and the Penguins got off to a good start, with Sabourin making saves on the first two shooters, and Erik Christensen scoring for the home team. From there, it was all Cloutier. He stopped the next four shots he faced, including an excellent move from Penguins forward Kurtis MacLean, and earned the win in the process. Robert Nilsson and Jeremy Colliton scored for the Sound Tigers, helping them pick up two points in the standings, and sending the Penguins fans home shaking their heads.

Three Stars of the Game (awarded by Tom Grace, Penguins radio broadcaster):
  1. F. Cloutier (Bridgeport) [41 Saves/43 Shots, Win]
  2. R. Fata (Wilkes-Barre) [2 goals, +1]
  3. A. Schneider (Wilkes-Barre) [1 goal]

For an Audio replay of the game, visit: http://www.futuremediaworld.com/tigersarchive.htm

Wednesday, January 25

Odds and ends

Penguins defenseman Dick Tarnstrom awaits a faceoff during a regular season game. (Credit: pittsburghpenguins.com)

A few quick morning notes:
  • Word out of Edmonton this morning is that the Oilers are looking into acquiring some defense. Names thrown around include Ric Jackman or Dick Tarnstrom from the Penguins. Possible trade bait is toughguy Georges Laraque.
  • Also overheard yesterday is the possibility of the Pittsburgh Penguins sending defenseman Ryan Whitney to Wilkes-Barre. His game has dropped off recently during the Penguins slump, and many think he needs a boost of confidence. Also working in the Penguins favor is the fact that he does not have to clear waivers to be sent down. More on this situation later.
  • Former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward, Martin Sonnenberg, has been traded to the New York Rangers, and in exchange, the Phoenix Coyotes will get center Jeff Taffe.
  • Tonight's game in Wilkes-Barre between the Penguins and Sound Tigers will feature a giveaway of 'game used jersey' cards. Also, the referee for tonight's game will be the same as Saturday's game, David Banfield.

Tuesday, January 24

Former Penguin to visit on Wednesday

According to Bridgeport's beat writer Mike Fornabio, former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins netminder Nick Boucher has been signed by the Sound Tigers. Boucher has been playing with the Elmira Jackals of the UHL this season, and has played in 22 games, with a 3.60 goals against average and a .901 save percentage. In those 22 games, he is 5-12-4. No word as of right now if he'll see any action or not.

Lemieux retirement made official.

Mario Lemieux announced his retirement today at 2pm EST at a press conference in Pittsburgh, citing two reasons. He said that he simply couldn't compete at the level he's used to. Lemieux noted that the young guys are the future of the NHL, and it's time to step aside and let them shine. He then said it's best for his family because of his health problems.

He thanked Ken Sawyer, Craig Patrick, and all of his teammates, the staff and trainers, the Penguins fans and also fans throughout the NHL and Canada. He also thanked his wife and children for supporting him through it all. He told the young guys to 'enjoy every moment of it' and that 'your career goes by very quickly'.

Lemieux then talked about learning the game and playing with Wayne Gretzky, Ray Borque, Mark Messier, and Paul Coffey. He went on to say how frustrating it was to play at a lesser level than he was used to, and to not be able to keep up, which was a huge part in why he retired.

He mentioned that he had an 'episode' last night, but his health has been fairly good lately. He's looking into surgery in the future. Lemieux again mentioned the young kids in the Pittsburgh organization, and said they will carry the future of Penguins hockey. He also stated how he will 'always be a Pittsburgher' and how great the city has been.

Lemieux stressed his retirement has nothing to do with the new arena situation and the teams struggles. He said he thought about what's best for his health and family, and started thinking about the decision after a game with Buffalo where he first experienced heart problems.

Rudkowsky sidelined

Bridgeport Sound Tigers' goaltender Cody Rudkowsky, shown here making a save for the Reading Royals. (Credit to RoyalsHockey.com for the Photo)

--Quick note on tomorrow's game. Bridgeport Sound Tigers netminder Cody Rudkowsky, who was also scheduled to appear in the ECHL All-Star Game representing the Reading Royals, suffered a knee injury on Friday. He's expected to be out for two weeks, also missing the ECHL All-Star Game. The team is currently working on signing someone to backup Frederic Cloutier.

--Also, some changes made to the AHL All-Star Game: Donald MacLean, Junior Lessard, Yann Danis, Aleksander Suglobov, Dustin Penner, and Vitaly Kolesnik will replace Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Tomas Surovy, Michel Ouellet, Matt Greene, David Hale, Tim Thomas, and Josh Harding.

Lemieux announces retirement

From a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mario Lemieux will announce his retirement from the NHL today. More to come....

Monday, January 23

From bad to worse....

Pittsburgh Penguins' Shane Endicott, left, and Philadelphia Flyers' Mike Richards fight after their NHL hockey game Monday, Jan. 23, 2006, in Philadelphia. The Flyers won, 4-2. (AP Photo/George Widman)

The Penguins had it handed to them once again. They lost, but it was not for lack of effort. The veterans, such as Mark Recchi and John LeClair turned it up after the first period. They rolled four lines, with Max Talbot and Guillame Lefevbre contributing. The only downside to the night was the play of Josef Melichar, who failed to play any sort of physical game. He couldn't clear guys away from the front of the net, and paid for it by letting in a goal. Oh well, tomorrow's another day.

Update on Tonight's Game

A few quick things before tonight's Philadelphia/Pittsburgh game at the First Union Center:
  • Andre Roy has been placed on the IR by the Penguins.
  • Kim Johnsson missed the game at Pittsburgh on Saturday after sustaining a head injury vs. Boston on Thursday...Is on a day-to-day basis and will not play tonight.
  • Flyers recalled defenseman Alexandre Picard from the Philadelphia Phantoms.

Around the NHL

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Robert Esche, right, stops a shot by Pittsburgh Penguins' John LeClair in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2006, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

A few notes before the Pittsburgh Penguins/Philadelphia Flyers game tonight:

  • Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defenseman Chris Kelleher was examined today in Pittsburgh for his abdominal injury, and could miss some significant time. (Jonathan Bombulie)
  • Former AHL Penguin Zenon Konopka will miss tonight's game between the Kings and Mighty Ducks due to a high ankle sprain.
  • Mark Recchi, John LeClair, and Sergei Gonchar all missed yesterday's practice without a reason given. That's very telling of their work ethic and commitment to the team. The young guns will sure learn a thing or two from them. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • Flyers C Peter Forsberg will play, D Joni Pitkanen is a game time decision, and G Antero Niittymaki will start tonight against the Penguins. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • The Philadelphia Flyers traded LW Jon Sim, who was instrumental in the Phantoms 2005 Calder Cup Run, to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a 2007 sixth round pick. (AP)
  • The St. Louis Blues lost Aaron Downey to the Montreal Canadiens through waivers.
  • The 2007 NHL All Star Game will be held in Dallas, TX.

Around the East Division

Tomas Fleischmann of the Bears has control of the puck against Portland's Simon Ferguson. - Gary Dwight Miller/Patriot-News

The most significant of those is Brandon Bochenski's return to the AHL Senators. He should bolster that lineup, and along with Martins, Hamel, Pecker, and Norton should be a force to reckon with next Sunday afternoon when they visit the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza.

The Bears, after losing to Philadelphia, pulled out a great victory over Portland, which gives them 3 points on the weekend and helps them remain right on the heels of the Penguins.

Dumas' Penalty Parade

After a nice night in Binghamton, I had time to reflect on the wonderful officiating of #44, Harry Dumas. Now, for those of you who don't know, Dumas is the son-in-law of NHL officiating 'legend', Kerry Fraser. That basically explains why the man still has a job.

He had a really rough night in Binghamton, and if you were lucky enough to witness it firsthand, you'd consider it a miracle that he made it out alive. The Senators fans were calling for his head....just look at this boxscore. However, with the poor refereeing aside, let me comment on some of the Penguins performances in the 6-2 victory:

  • Rico Fata - Kept his legs moving all night, held up on a few potential hits, but was always hustling and converted on the first penalty shot in team history.
  • Kurtis MacLean - Was always where he had to be, made some crisp passes and looks like he is a pure assist machine.
  • Dennis Bonvie - Also made some nice passes, put his team up by avoiding Brett Clouthier's advances long enough to get him off the ice. Throw Daniel Carcillo's name in there too, for playing a clean game and avoiding any of the rough stuff.
  • Noah Welch and Daniel Fernholm - Held the blueline well and jumped into the play offensively. Both had teriffic games.
  • Dany Sabourin - Key saves at key moments in the game, especially shorthanded. Continues to be solid.

I spoke with many Senators fans, and it seemed to be the consensus that "Bonvie is a rat, Sabourin is stellar, and the defense is airtight." I can live with that. The 6-2 win in Binghamton was sweet. I was unable to make the game on Saturday night against Bridgeport, but it seems like I didn't miss much. Poor Andy Chiodo, someone needs to put him out to pasture. He will be successful in the future, just not in Wilkes-Barre.