Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach John Hynes gives his three impressions from the bench of the Pens’ 2-1 Game 5 loss to the Manchester Monarchs.
1. They certainly get off to good starts. I thought we had a good start tonight, but somehow, someway it found a way into the back of the net.
2. (Switching goalies) was important for our team. At that point there was still a lot of time left in the game. The team had a good response. Jeff (Zatkoff) looked like he was ready to go. I thought he came in and gave us a little bit of life, particularly in the second period. He made some big saves. I think that generated some life on our bench. He did a nice job.
3. For the most part I think we played a solid game. We had opportunities to score. The puck didn’t go in for us. I don’t think you can fault the effort of our team. We made a push in the second and third period, had quality opportunities to score. Unfortunately, the puck didn’t go in for us.
Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the media level.
1. Slow starts hurt the Pens in this series. Twenty-four hours after Manchester scored just 42 seconds into Game 4, the Monarchs struck just 2:02 into Game 5. That’s the third time in five games against Manchester WBS conceded the opening tally within the first two-plus minutes, and that just can’t happen – especially against a high-powered offensive team like Manchester.
2. Matt Murray has been absolutely brilliant for WBS all season long, but head coach John Hynes pulled the rookie goaltender after the Monarchs made it 2-0 with just over four minutes left in the first period to try and spark his team, as they responded yesterday in a similar situation. It certainly wasn’t an ideal situation for Jeff Zatkoff to come into with the Pens trailing by two goals in a must-win elimination game, but he was up for the challenge. Zatkoff was impressive as he didn’t allow a goal and kept WBS in the game.
3. While it was a disappointing finish, my biggest takeaway from this trip to Wilkes-Barre is that the future is bright as there were so many tremendous prospects on their roster. In addition to guys that Pens fans are already familiar with like Taylor Chorney, Brian Dumoulin and Scott Harrington, a lot of the young players that have been in the Pens system for a few years now – like Matt Murray, Derrick Pouliot, Bryan Rust and Scott Wilson – all made the transition to professional hockey this season and impressed with their play. Other players that stood out were free-agent signee Conor Sheary, who was WBS’ biggest star these playoffs as he recorded at least a point in all eight of their postseason games and finished with five goals and seven assists, and 2014 first-round draft pick Kasperi Kapanen, who had three goals and five points in seven appearances. It will be interesting to see if any of these players can make an impact in Pittsburgh next season.