Hartford's lackluster 4-0 loss to the W-B/S Penguins earlier tonight didn't give much to talk about, so I'll try not to dwell on it too much.
Pissing and moaning about the officiating never accomplishes anything, but it doesn't just happen that the games that are the least fun to watch generally suffer because poor officiating. That was the case tonight, as Jamie Koharski made one befuddling call after another. 10 of the first 13 minor penalties called went against the Wolf Pack, and then it swung the other way, with 5 straight whistles going against the Penguins. All in all, Wilkes-Barre scored 2 power play goals (in 12 attempts), with the Wolf Pack going 0-for-9 on the power play.
The chance to check out talked-about Oilers prospects Rob Schremp and Alexei Mikhnov was one reason to stay awake during this game, and Schremp represented himself well enough, with 2 third-period assists and a selection as the third star of the game. Alexei Mikhnov isn't easy to miss on the ice, being 6'-5", but he didn't seem to get very much ice time, having just been sent down by Edmonton a few days before. Still, Mikhnov assisted on the first W-B/S goal.
Darius Kasparaitis was back to his usual disruptive self, dishing out some good hits including a beauty of a hip check that catapulted one Penguins player (I didn't catch his number) end-over-end onto the ice. At the end of the second period, Dane Byers missed a good scoring opportunity and then immediately afterwards was boarded into the glass by Marc Pouliot, leading to Byers trying to pummel Pouliot and drawing two roughing minors for his trouble. That was one of the only interesting moments in the game for the Wolf Pack side, besides the very end of the game, when a puck fired at Al Montoya well after the whistle led to some pushing and shoving, including both goalies (Montoya and Andrew Penner) trying to stare each other down from behind their respective blue lines.
Dale Purinton again played at forward in this game, and it's been said that the Wolf Pack have also signed Chris Ferraro (another forward). Meanwhile, Mark Lee and Zdenek Bahensky continue to fritter away down in Charlotte.
UPDATE 11/9/06 - Some quotes from today's Courant article:
"I hope Koharski didn't get paid for that game," a Pack player said.
Wolf Pack coach Jim Schoenfeld said, "The official saw them one way, and we thought some could have been not called... right at the end of the second period we thought they probably had the worst hit of the game (on Dane Byers), and instead we ended up short-handed and they score."
Captain Craig Weller said some "pretty suspect" calls helped exhaust the Pack.
"We thought they could have got five minutes on the hit on Byers," Weller said. "It's hard to play a game like that because you have to use certain guys to kill penalties, so you wear out parts of your lineup."
Schoenfeld said defenseman Darius Kasparaitis is expected to play the two weekend games before the Rangers decide his future. If he's placed on waivers and not claimed, he could remain in New York or return to Hartford.
UPDATE AGAIN -Even the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader seems to feel Koharski got it wrong:
The second period ended with Pouliot drilling Hartford’s Dane Byers into the boards from behind. Koharski could have given Pouliot a major penalty for boarding. Instead he gave Pouliot a minor and Byers a double minor for roughing Pouliot after the play.
After that, Koharski seemed to realize just how out of whack his calls were because he immediately called five straight penalties on the Penguins.