Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Report from the Farm: Unsettling times

Overall, things are pretty well balanced for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at first glance. In 6 games played; 3 up and 3 down. 19 goals for, 19 goals against.

But there's some unsettling news: Uber-prospect Kris Letang (0g, 5a, 5p) was scratched for the last game, despite averaging a point per game. Guys who are having their pro prospects fade, Ryan Stone and Jonathan Filewich have spent a lot of time of the 4th line, in the doghouse and even in the press box for a night. Though Filewich did score 2 goals last game, so maybe he's turned the corner.

Chris Minard, hailed in these parts as maybe even a NHL caliber prospect has been bad since his opening night hat trick. "Invisible" was the word used by their beat writer. Minard too, spent some time in the press box, instead of on the bench.

But that's how things go in the American Hockey League. It's a constant rollercoaster of highs and lows, wins and losses. Instability from the young players is to be expected, but given how things are shaking out it's a little concerning right now, especially for Stone, Filewich and Letang. Hopefully they get the wakeup message that head coach Todd Richards is clearly sending.

One bright spot has been the offense of Jeff Taffe. He might never make it to the NHL, but he's putting up some great numbers, 7 goals and 2 assists in 6 games. So he has 9 points and the Penguins have 19 total.

The Penguins blueline (Bobby Scuds in particular) has played above expectations, especially in the past few games. There is no need to promote Letang in the forseeable future. So he needs to settle down, realize he's going to be in the A for a while, and just work on his game in the pros; particularly in his own end.

Forwards wise, Georges Laraque's having a nagging groin injury, but Adam Hall and Jarrko Ruutu have been sensational at grinding, hitting and cycling (now if Ruutu could only stay out of the penalty box!). So it doesn't look like Pittsburgh is in need of any forwards either at the moment.

This is all adding up to a lot of bus riding in the future for most of the Penguins closest prospects to the NHL. So close, but so very far.

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