Sunday, May 25, 2008

Congrats Baby Pens

Understandably lost in the shuffle with that other Penguins team going far in the playoffs, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have won the AHL's Eastern Conference. So they win the prestigious Richard Canning trophy (props to JB for that).

The Baby Pens won a game seven against Portland by defeating former Pen (and not a Sweater Ted favorite) Jean-Sebastien Aubin. Aubin is a great goalie at the AHL level and made 37 saves on 40 shots before an unstoppable bid by Tim Brent won it. That alone would be impressive, but consider that Aubin missed the previous four games with an undisclosed lower-body injury and spotted in a walking cast. Tip of the cap to him.

Brent has been one of the stars of the AHL playoffs, he leads the league in goals (11 in 17 games and is tied second in points (20). Similarly awesome has been rookie Alex Goligoski who is also in that tie for second place in scoring (Golly has 3 goals and 17 assists in 17 games). Goligoski also leads all defensemen in playoff points.

The opponent in the finals is the always dangerous Chicago Wolves. They are Atlanta's farm team and seem to always stock up on the experienced players that are good at the AHL level but don't have much NHL aspiration. Of Chicago's top eight playoff scorers just one (Brian Little) is under the age of 25. The Baby Pens, by comparison, have five of their top eight scorers (Brent, Goligoski, Ryan Stone, Connor James, Mark Ardelan) coming in under 25 years old.

Since Ty Conklin's callup, Wilkes-Barre has relied on two very young and untested goalies (John Curry and Dave Brown). Curry, an undrafted player in his second year with the Pens organ-eye-zation, emerged as the man and has played like it; boasting a 12-5 record, 2.48 GAA and 90.8 save percentage. One area Chicago is young at is the goaltending position where Ondrej Pavelec, a 20 year old former second round pick, is the 'tender.
We don't follow the AHL that closely, so we haven't (and won't) be making a prediction. And with the Pens in the Stanley Cup finals, the Calder Cup isn't on our radar that much. However it's good to see the success on the farm and hopefully the boys can keep it rolling.

No comments: