WBS Penguins Gameday: Penguins vs. Admirals

Last Game Recap:
Ben Lovejoy put the Penguins on top in the first period, but it was not enough to survive the extra frames as the Hershey Bears put up a 2-1 shootout victory on Sunday.

After Lovejoy scored with 1:33 left in the first period, Kyle Wilson put the Bears on the board halfway through the second period with his 20th goal of the season. The teams then played a scoreless third period and overtime to reach the shootout.

The Penguins decided to shoot first, with Mark Letestu and Wyatt Smith both getting on the board in the first two rounds. Brad Thiessen denied Kyle Wilson in the first round, but allowed goals from Keith Aucoin, Alexandre Giroux, and Mathieu Perreault. Chris Conner, Konstantin Pushkarev, and Dustin Jeffrey were denied by Bears goaltender Semyon Varlamov to allow Hershey to win the game.

Three Stars of the Game:
3. Ben Lovejoy (WBS): regulation goal, +1
2. Brad Thiessen (WBS): 32 saves/33 shots
1. Semyon Varlamov (Hershey): 30 saves on 31 shots; shootout win

Wade Brookbank
Ryan Bayda
Keven Veilleux

Pens Record: 30-27-1-2 (63 points; 4th in East)

News and Notes:
Chris Conner was named the AHL Player of the Month for February. Conner had hat tricks in two consecutive WBS home games and tallied. He had 19 points (10+9) in 12 games in February.

Luca Caputi was traded to the Maple Leafs for Alexei Ponikarovsky on Tuesday (analysis to follow).

Next Game:
Who: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins vs. Norfolk Admirals
When: Wednesday March 3, 2010 at 7:05 p.m.
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

About Norfolk:

NHL Affiliate: Tampa Bay Lightning

Key Statistics/Rank in AHL:
: 33-26-3-1 (70 points; third place in East)
PP away: 14% (23rd)
PP overall: 13.4% (26th)
PK away: 86.8% (1st)
PK overall: 86.3% (3rd)
Goals for/against: 170/166

Last Game: 3-2 win over Syracuse on Sunday. Norfolk won their second straight game after defeating Binghamton 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday.

Last WBS/Admirals Meeting:
Nate Guenin scored two goals and Joe Vitale put up two assists, but the Penguins were sunk by the Admirals by a score of 5-3 back on February 10. Justin Keller had a hat trick to lead the way, while Matt Fornataro scored the game’s opening goal at 1:57. It was Guenin’s last game as a Penguin, as he was traded to St. Louis for Steve Wagner the next day.

The Penguin Connection:
Adam Hall played 46 games for Pittsburgh in the 2007-2008 season. He had six points that year.

Admirals to Watch:
Juraj Simek has four points in his last two games (2+2) and a +3 rating.

Vladimir Mihalik has a +6 rating in Norfolk’s last four games and leads the Admirals with a +10 rating this season.

Ali’s Analysis:
The Caputi Trade
: First of all, as a disclaimer, this is about how this trade affects WBS. After all, I am a WBS blogger. With that said…

Trading away Caputi was a mistake considering he is one of the reasons WBS has been able to bounce back after some early and midseason struggles. He was a big part of the power play, scoring roughly half of his goals on the PP unit. He was also on a steady point streak prior to his trade. He came to WBS for the 2008 playoffs and seemed to fit right in and earned two call ups to Pittsburgh; both of which were successes in my opinion. He will be missed by the Baby Pens and it will be tough to fill his spot on the power play.

Tonight’s Game: With Norfolk making an amazing jump from seventh to third place, and WBS finally starting to be competitive, these two teams are a little more evenly matched. The Pens played a tight game against Hershey on Sunday, but as evidenced by their last game with Norfolk, playing well but not well enough to win will not be good enough.

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