During the regular season and playoffs combined, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were shut out four times in 11 games against the Syracuse Crunch — twice by goaltender Cedrick Desjardins.
In the last two games alone, the Penguins have only generated two goals and averaged 21 shots against the Crunch defense in the Eastern Conference Final. The power play has produced three times out of 17 chances after scoring at a 25 percent clip in the previous two series (13-for-51).
So are the Penguins concerned about a power outage as they look to even the series in tonight’s Game 4?
“If we weren’t getting the chances, then that would be something to worry about,” forward Brian Gibbons said. “We have a lot of guys in the room that can score goals. They’ve proven that in the playoffs. The last two games the pucks didn’t go in, but a lot of times you give those guys the chance again and they’ll go in.”
Leading scorer Trevor Smith (5-8-13) said the recent drop in goal production — the Penguins scored four times in Game 1 — has more to do with a lack of offensive zone time and an inability to get pucks deep.
Despite that, he said, the opportunities are still there.
“I don’t think there’s much to worry about,” Smith said. “If we possess the puck down there we’ll get some scoring opportunities around the net.”
As for the four shutouts… well, in all fairness it was achieved by three different Crunch goaltenders. Besides, Smith said, credit should be given to Desjardins and the Syracuse defense for Wednesday’s 2-0 shutout.
“(Desjardins) played well and he was big in net for them. Kudos to them for the shutout,” Smith said. “We need to do things a little better in our system to generate opportunities.”
On top of it all, Penguins coach John Hynes said that while Syracuse was the highest-scoring club in the regular season, it’s a misnomer to view them as just an offense team.
This team can play well defensively, too — something the Penguins were well aware of.
“They play well on both sides of the puck and we knew that,” Hynes said. “We weren’t looking at this team as an offensive juggernaut, we were looking at this team as a real good two-way hockey team that plays the right way.”
Like his players, Hynes isn’t concerned about the Penguins offense or the four shutouts.
“Doesn’t matter what happened in the regular season, or last night,” he said.
It’s the playoffs and goals are hard to come by for both teams.
“It’s a situation where there’s not a lot of free space out there either way. It’s not a concern, it’s a challenge for both teams,” Hynes said. “They’re really tightly contested games. We have to do a better job in certain areas offensively to create scoring chances. That’s the challenge every team faces in the playoffs.”
• Hynes said 2012 first-round pick Derrick Pouliot won’t be available to play in tonight’s game. Olli Maatta — another 2012 first rounder, along with 2011 second-round pick Scott Harrington — could see ice time in a deep defense that Hynes said is “fluid.”
“We do have different options and different styles of players, which is nice to have,” Hynes said. “There could be changes.”
• The Penguins didn’t take to the ice on Thursday and held meetings in the morning. D Dylan Reese and C Jayson Megna are still considered day-to-day.