It’s been a month since the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins had a road trip that took them out of the state.
And it’s been two weeks since they faced an opponent that wasn’t in the East Division.
This weekend all of that will change as the Penguins travel to Connecticut to face the Northeast Division foe the Hartford Wolf Pack. Tonight’s game will be the first of the season between the two teams, and the Penguins have only faced the Wolf Pack 10 times over the last five years.
“The last stretch here it’s been teams that are in our division, so it’s nice to get a different look this weekend with two non-division opponents,” said head coach John Hynes after Thursday’s practice at the Mohegan Sun Arena. “It’s good to have that variety right now.”
After Hartford tonight, the Penguins continue their three-in-three hosting Manchester on Saturday and Binghamton on Sunday. The busy weekend kicks off a January that sees the Penguins playing 14 games with road trips each of the next four weekends.
It’s a busy time that the Penguins are looking forward to.
“January will be a big month for our team,” said captain Tom Kostopoulos. “It will be a grind and we’re going to need every guy. The hard part of the season schedule starts this weekend and it will be nice to get out on the road with the guys.”
Hynes said it helps that the busy month is sandwiched between the Christmas break and the all-star break in February.
“We have a lot of games and a lot of travel, but then there’s a break again in February which is good,” he said. “Now is a good time for us to really make a push.”
- Rookie netminder Eric Hartzell wasn’t bothered by being pulled in the first period of Tuesday’s 5-2 win after allowing a pair of goals on three shots. It was the first time Hartzell got the hook as a Penguin.
“I don’t take it personally and coach thought it was the best thing to do to help the team win, and he was right,” Hartzell said. “No one likes to get pulled in a game, but it’s something that can make you stronger and better. You have a little extra fire the next day in practice.”
- Tuesday’s five-goal outburst broke a scoring drought that saw the Penguins score only six times in the previous five contests. Hynes said the lack of offensive production during the stretch wasn’t a huge concern.
“For us it’s about finding a way to win, not so much about the scoring,” he said. “Through that process of finding a way to win we look at ways to create more offense, but it’s never like we’re not scoring enough goals so we can’t win.”
- LW Bobby Farnham practiced in full on Thursday and will be ready to go tonight, Hynes said.