Mike Carman admits that he and his Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguin teammates feel like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders. That’s because the team’s six-game winless streak was erased by Tuesday’s victory over the Hershey Bears.
But now, he said, it’s time to start a new streak.
“We can’t relax too much. We had been so frustrated with not being able to get a win, but it was just one game,” Carman said. “Now we need to string a bunch together.”
The Penguins will look to make it two straight wins tonight in Syracuse against a Crunch team that they’ve beaten five out of seven times this season.
Aside from doing away with the burden of losing, head coach John Hynes said his team is in a good spot heading into the weekend.
“We like our mentality right now and where our game is at,” Hynes said. “We learned some lessons last week, but even before we got the win we felt we were playing well enough to win. We put it all together.”
After tonight’s game against Syracuse, the Penguins will travel to Atlantic City to face the Albany Devils, who are battling for first place in the Northeast Division. The Devils also lead the Penguins by a point in the conference standings.
• After being pulled early in four of his last six starts, Hynes said the organization is still considering ways to break goaltender Eric Hatzell out of his February slump. One of those options could be some time in Wheeling to get Hartzell’s game in order.
“It’s something we discussed,” Hynes said.
In Wheeling, goaltender Peter Mannino, who had been suspended for much of the season for refusing to report to the ECHL after being demoted by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, has been playing well. In six games with the Nailers, Mannino has a 2.29 GAA and a .926 save percentage.
Hynes said Mannino’s strong play could factor into any goaltending decision the club makes.
“There’s always consideration,” he said. “We have to make some decisions, and the good thing is we have players available and good situations, whether it’s here or Wheeling.”
• Forwards Anton Zlobin and Tom Kuhnhackl have been healthy scratches of late, the result of what Hynes said are tough lineup decisions down the stretch.
“It’s not easy to sit anyone. Right now it’s trying to find those mixes and matches,” Hynes said. “We got to win some games here. It’s about putting together a lineup at this point to remain strongly competitive in the playoff race.”
• Defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who has been out with a lower body injury, has resumed some hockey activity and is considered day-to-day, Hynes said. Injured center Zach Sill, who has been out with a cut on his forearm, has also started skating but is not close to returning.