WILKES-BARRE — The only thing certain about the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ goaltending situation is Tristan Jarry is going to play a lot while Casey DeSmith is on recall to Pittsburgh.
But who is going to back him up remains to be seen.
Monday’s move by Pittsburgh to place Antti Niemi on waivers had a ripple effect throughout the organization. Niemi was claimed by Florida on Tuesday afternoon, eliminating any chance that he could report to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to pair with Jarry. With DeSmith up, it likely means a promotion for either Sean Maguire or Colin Stevens. Maguire is battling an injury, however, so his status for a call-up is uncertain.
About all head coach Clark Donatelli could verify after Tuesday’s practice is Jarry will be relied upon heavily as the Penguins have two games this weekend.
“I’m pretty sure Jarry will go both games,” Donatelli said, adding he found out about Niemi going to Florida as he stepped off the ice after practice. “We got to get (Jarry) going and give him a lot of minutes.”
Donatelli said he assumed either Maguire or Stevens would be arriving to backup Jarry, but the decision hinged on the former’s health.
Jarry, meanwhile, has been the No. 1 goaltender in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the last two seasons. He said he’s looking forward to playing more during DeSmith’s absence.
“That’s great for my development and to move forward as a goalie,” Jarry said. “That’s a big thing for me. I always want to be the guy in the net.”
While DeSmith has been stellar this season, allowing just three goals in three starts and posting a .965 save percentage, Jarry has struggled. In his three games this season, Jarry has given up 12 goals and posted a 1-2-0 record. In his last start against Laval on Oct. 20, Jarry allowed five goals in a game the Penguins won in overtime.
Donatelli said he’s not worried about Jarry’s slow start and his track record over the last two seasons indicates he’ll turn things around.
As for DeSmith, both Jarry and Donatelli expressed pride in seeing him reach the NHL for the first time in his career.
“He’s worked tremendously hard and he got off to a really good start here,” Donatelli said. “He deserves it.”
Daniel Sprong’s five-game goal streak tied Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s franchise record for goal streak to start a season, set by Tomáš Surový in 2003.
Sprong leads the AHL in power play goals (5), is tied for the league lead in goals (7) and shots (29), and is tied for second in points (10).
Including the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs, seven of Sprong’s 12 AHL goals have come on the power play.
Casey DeSmith still has not allowed a goal at even strength this season, a streak that has lasted 117:45.
Tom Kostopoulos is three games away from his 700th AHL game.