As the Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins board the bus tomorrow morning for a pivotal game in Norfolk with the smell of playoffs in the air, you have to wonder what will be going through their minds. If the Pens can manage a win tomorrow they will clinch a playoff spot. Their record at Scope Arena hasn’t been the best but according to WBS Pens beat writer Jonathan Bombulie, “The one thing I got from all of them was that winning back-to-back games in Norfolk two weeks ago has dramatically changed how this team feels about visiting The Scope. They don’t necessarily dread it anymore.” (Penguins Insider). Mark Letestu also attests to that saying, “I enjoy playing in Norfolk not sure why but I always seem to do pretty well in that building” in a recent interview with Pens Universe. Norfolk though has recently received a little boost to their line-up with the returns of Paul Szczechura, Mark Parrish, Vladimir Mihalik and Matt Lashoff as well as their coach Jim Johnson.
So say the Pens unfortunately lose to the Admirals on Wednesday, then what? Well then they would have to rely on their lucky number 4. Any combination of points the Penguins get or that Norfolk doesn't get that adds to 4 will allow them to clinch, which is very doable for the Pens. After Wednesday their final three games are against the Albany River Rats, and a home and home with the Binghamton Senators. Norfolk’s final stretch isn’t so pretty, though their last three are at home including this Wednesday’s against the Pens, the Admirals will finish the season against the Hershey Bears.
With this on their minds, I would think we would see a little pep in their step on Wednesday. Especially coming off a not so great game against Binghamton that ended in a 6-2 loss. “We have to look at what happened tonight and take what we can from it. Binghamton had to win to stay in the playoff picture at all and we let them set the tone and dictate the play. That’s not our style.” WBS defenseman Chris Lee, (Times Leader). Getting back to their style of play shouldn’t be hard for the Pens if the urgency is there. From personally watching this team play, the will to win is there, just ask Deryk Engelland, Brad Thiessen or Chris Conner. The question is will it shine through on Wednesday? I believe it will.