Reid Gardiner was sent back down to Wheeling after being a healthy scratch, while Casey DeSmith returns to Pittsburgh which results in Adam Morrison being signed to another PTO to serve as the backup through the Canadian trip with some of the fathers coming along for the trip. Gage Quinney has returned from his day to day injury and Tom Kostopoulos appeared at practice in the week for the first time in 3 months. Christian Thomas also deserves some congratulations for making the Canadian Olympic Team.
Friday Night (1/12/2018)
Belleville Senators (Away) – 6-2 Win
Wydo and Quinney get into the lineup in place of Tiffels and Burton, and on defense Corrado and Taylor get in for Summers and Prow. The Baby Penguins got off to a great start with a Tinordi block of a point shot rebounded out to Zach Aston-Reese who fed Ryan Haggerty to get off to the races and wrist the puck on the rush over the glove of Hogberg in the Senators net 5 minutes into the game. Belleville didn’t hang around waiting to respond, tying the game just before the 10 minute mark after some questionable defensive work from Czuczman and certainly a goal that Anthony Peters would want back, and we entered the 1st intermission tied at 1. At 3:38 of the second period, Haggerty once again struck, this time pulling up just inside the Belleville blue line on the rush and once again using his deadly wrist shot to snipe his 2nd goal of the game over Hogberg’s glove once again. The Penguins then gave themselves a cushion 90 seconds later though some solid forechecking work by Adam Johnson winning the puck for Quinney who set up Canadian olympian Christian Thomas to snap a puck over Hogberg’s glove once again. Belleville did claw one back through some good PP work finished off by Colin White for his 2nd goal of the night as he shot a one timer from inside the dots. In the third period, Haggerty completed his hattrick as he skated in on the left hand side of the offensive zone, cut across the zone and shot from the right hand side to put the game at 4-2. Garret Wilson then scored from just off the goal line into the top corner for a 5-2 lead that put the game beyond any doubt for WBS. JS Dea added an empty netter with just under 3 minutes left in the game for a 6-2 WBS victory.
Saturday Night (1/13/2018)
Laval Rocket (Away) – 4-3 Win
Smith, Quinney and Wydo out up front for a new 4th line of Tiffels, Burton and McGrath. On defense, Prow, Summers and Spionzzi in with Taylor, Trotman and Corrado having a night off. Anthony Peters still between the pipes. Laval took an early lead through a goal a weak wrister from the blueline that somehow evaded the body of Peters, much to his dismay. Andrey Pedan, of all people, responded immediately, skating the puck from the defensive zone coast to coast and firing a wrister that looped into the net off the glove of McNiven in the Laval net. To start the 2nd intermission, Laval once again took a lead through a tipped shot by Cracknell to put the game at 2-1. This lasted all of 23 seconds as good work defensively by Summers freed the puck up for Blueger to backhand a breakout pass to DiPauli on the right half wall, who skated to the defensive blue line before chipping the puck off the wall and into the path of a streaking Johnson who pulled up, took a shot that generated a rebound in the slot that Blueger, who started the entire rush, followed up and deposited into the empty net for a 2-2 tie. Andrey Pedan, getting powerplay deployment, then added to the WBS side of the score making the game 3-2 from a point shot thanks to a Garrett Wilson screen with Laval equalling 4 minutes afterwards, also on the powerplay, after a point shot was knocked down and the rebound deposited behind Peters. The wild 2nd period didn’t stop there as the 5th goal of the period was Andrey Pedan’s hattrick goal (yes, you read that correctly, I know, I can’t believe it either), as almost a carbon copy of his second goal with Wilson providing the screen, and Pedan finding the back of the net through the obscured vision of McNiven. This put the game to 4-3 and this is how it finished through the relatively boring 3rd period.
1) Andrey Pedan had himself quite the weekend, getting a hattrick on Saturday and a two assist night on Friday for a 5 point weekend. I still don’t think there’s a lot of NHL upside there, but as weekends go, I don’t think you can ask for much better. Pedan has these moments where he looks amazing, his first goal against Laval being that where he went end to end on a rush and scored. If he could find some consistency, then he would be a legitimate prospect, but I’ve yet to see that.
2) With DeSmith up in Pittsburgh, Anthony Peters got to take over in the starters net again and keeps his run going of winning his last 5 starts. Not bad for a PTO goalie! He’s earned an AHL contract at some point, which unfortunately might not be with the Baby Penguins because of Leighton still being around, but depending on the outlook of the injury, he might end up here. He’s done well in his limited work.
3) Talking of streaks, WBS themselves are on a 7-game winning streak. As we talked about when they went through their downswing of sorts when they lost 8 of 14 games, there was always enough talent in the team to bounce back from that swing and go on a streak of their own and through this current winning streak, they’ve propelled themselves back up to the top of the Atlantic division and trail only the Marlies in regard to winning percentage in the Eastern Conference. There’s a lot of hockey left to play, but the Penguins are in a really strong spot.