Nice win on Friday for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to open up their March slate. A 3-0 victory over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at PPL Center was not only an important two points collected, but it set a strong opening tone for the weekend and perhaps the month. Here’s a couple things I observed from the game…
1. Immediate Impact by Jeffrey
It took only the first period on Friday night – and to be honest, the whole 20 minutes wasn’t even necessary – to see the positive ways Dustin Jeffrey can affect the Penguins. Offensively, he gathered assists on both of Dominik Simon’s goals. His first helper was evidence of the ability and vision of the veteran forward. After Phantoms goaltender Anthony Stolarz mishandled the puck and was caught behind the net, Jeffrey didn’t rush a shot to the open cage from a bad angle. Instead, he was patient with the puck in the right corner and found Simon in front for the easy conversion. Additionally, Jeffrey was strong in the face-off circle and was noticeably responsible on defense and on the backcheck. Safe to say that Jeffrey made his presence felt in all three zones in his season debut for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
2. Effort Finally Equals Results for Jarry
If ever there was a Penguins player whose results in recent weeks weren’t commensurate with performance, it’s been goalie Tristan Jarry. He has been above average to excellent in net over his last six starts – including a stellar 47-save effort on Sunday in Providence – but was unable to put an end to a winless streak that had stretched to eight games. That all changed on Friday in Allentown. Almost from the get-go, you could tell the rookie netminder was on his game. He shined during a five-minute stretch in the first period, during which the Phantoms poured on the pressure. His best saves came in the second, denying Danick Martel on the backdoor before sliding across the crease to gobble up Kevin Goumas’ rebound bid. Jarry then made two stellar stops in the dying seconds of regulation to preserve the shutout – his fourth of the season. The 36-save performance allowed Jarry to get back into the win column with an exclamation point.
3. Simon the Benefactor
Some of Dominik Simon’s best hockey this season came while skating alongside veteran center Kevin Porter. With Porter in the line-up, Simon gathered 17 points (8G-9A0) in 16 games. It was a stretch that had the forward among the top rookie point-getters in the AHL and helped earn Simon a selection to the Atlantic Division All-Star Team. After Porter’s recall to Pittsburgh, Simon put up just one goal and six points in 17 matches. Paired last night with another experienced playmaker in Dustin Jeffrey, Simon lit the lamp twice for this third multi-goal game of the season. Could this pairing along with Kael Mouillierat see Simon pile up the points once again?
The Post Script
· Tom Sestito, Patrick McGrath and Jay Rosehill on the ice at the same time on Friday and not one dropping of the gloves? Can’t say I expected that.
· The season series this year between Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Lehigh Valley has been dominated by the road team. The Phantoms have won 3-of-4 at Mohegan Sun Arena this season, but Since PPL Center has opened in 2014, the Penguins have definitely enjoyed skating at Lehigh Valley’s new rink. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton now has a record of 8-1-1-1 in Allentown with five of those victories coming by way of shutout.
· Nick Hart and I will have an AHL Trade Deadline edition of the Penguins podcast early next week
· As always, tweet at us using the hashtag “#WBSPenguinsLive” during the games this weekend with your questions or comments (@MikeOBrienWBS & @_NickHart) and listen in to see if your tweet makes it on air.