Thursday, April 17, 2008

Baby Pens doing some winning too

Pittsburgh's NHL squad isn't the only team in the organization off to a good post-season start. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are up 1 game to none over one of their rivals the Hershey Bears (Washington's AHL team).

Wilkes-Barre is in a unique situation; since Pittsburgh had so many injuries it pulled many of their players away. Eight players in the Baby Pens lineup for Game 1 (Chris Minard, Tim Brent, Connor James, Alex Goligoski, Alain Nasreddine, Nathan Smith, Jonathan Filewich and Ryan Stone) saw NHL action this season, combining for 62 games played "in the show". And this doesn't even count contributors like Jeff Taffe, Tyler Kennedy, Kris Letang who've all graduated to the NHL. Or the only goaltender with experience, Ty Conklin. By contrast only 2 of Hershey's players (Sami Lepitso and Chris Bourque) played with the Caps and they combined for just 11 games. We should point out they did graduate Quintin Laing and Eric Fehr and Coach Bruce Boudreau to the NHL.

Regardless of the higher level experience, the Baby Pens face two large hurdles: 1)having two rookie goaltenders on their roster (compared to the seasoned Freddy Cassivi that Hershey has) and 2)generating consistent offense.

Wednesday night they only got 2 goals (from James and Minard) but it was enough for a 2-1 over-time winner.

This series will be interesting to keep an eye on. Both of these AHL clubs are no stranger to post-season success, and very fimiliar with one another. If the Baby Pens goaltending stays strong and they can find a scoring spark they should have no problem advancing deep into the Calder Cup trophies....Just like the other team in the organization.

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