Archive for February, 2013

Some Positive Roster Indications

February 26, 2013

I thought the Whale might be losing players early this week, but as it turned out they gained Christian Thomas back Monday.

There seemed to be dire news coming out of Montreal on Saturday, as, in addition to the parent club losing 3-0 to the Canadiens, word came that both Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi had left the game due to injuries.

The update Monday out of Gotham, though, was that Girardi was not expected to miss any time, with neither a foot nor a hand problem proving to be major issues, and Michael Del Zotto, who missed the Montreal game after getting banged up Thursday in Ottawa, was also back practicing.

In addition, Darroll Powe, who had missed three games with a concussion, practiced and was pronounced “good to go” by Ranger head man John Tortorella.

Darroll Powe

Darroll Powe (NewYorkRangers.com)

New York needed a roster spot for Powe, who had been on Injured Reserve, and that prompted the reassignment of Thomas, who one would think would be energized by the impression he made in his first career NHL game Saturday, not that he wasn’t playing with real good energy before the surprise callup.

If Powe can play, that at least gives the Rangers 12 healthy forwards available for Tuesday night’s home game against Winnipeg, even if Aaron Asham remains out.  And assuming Girardi is OK, the big club probably shouldn’t have to call up a defenseman.  They would have seven available, counting Del Zotto and Stu Bickel, six even if Del Zotto can’t go.

On the Whale side, the roster was down to 16 healthy bodies Sunday in Syracuse, but Benn Ferriero took the full practice Tuesday and sounds as if he is close to returning, and while Blake Parlett did not skate Tuesday, indications seem to be that he is no worse than day-to-day.

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Depleted Whale Battle Hard

February 24, 2013

From somewhere on Interstate 90 on the way back from Syracuse…

The Whale left for their trip to Wilkes-Barre and Syracuse Friday with only 18 healthy skaters, after the recall to New York earlier that day of Steve Eminger.

By the time they got to Wilkes-Barre, word had come down that the Rangers needed Christian Thomas, so the Whale played one skater short in Saturday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Penguins.  Unfortunately, Blake Parlett got hurt in that game, and that put the Whale down to 16 for Sunday’s date with the Eastern Conference-leading Crunch.

Christian Thomas

Christian Thomas

That could have set the table for a big blowout, but the Whale played Syracuse, a team that had won six straight games, tough.  The Crunch won 4-0, but the game was much closer than the score indicated, particularly considering the Whale’s depleted roster.  Connecticut had a couple of breakdowns on the penalty kill and hurt themselves with a low-percentage exchange inside the offensive blue line that led to another Crunch goal, and the other goal-against really resulted from a bad bounce in the defensive zone.

The Whale were outshot 38-28, but had their share of chances.  They were unable to finish anything behind Crunch goaltender Cedrick Desjardins, who rang up his second shutout in three games since coming over to Tampa Bay organization in a trade with Montreal, but they forced him to scramble to make some saves, and matched Syracuse’s in-your-face intensity.

The night before was a real grind-it-out affair, with neither team yielding much in the way of scoring chances.  Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is the best defensive team in the league in terms of goals-against per game, and the Whale were right with them as far as playing it close to the vest.  Under most circumstances, the standings point they got in that game would have been classified as a pretty good point to get, but the Penguins happen to have been the team just ahead of the Whale in the Eastern Conference standings, so their getting the extra point was a big blow.  Still, it was a good road battle.

I thought Andrew Carroll stood out in both games with his grit and willingness to mix it up, and Nick Palmieri’s game Sunday looked to me like his best performance since joining the Whale.  Jyri Niemi was forced to play more than he had been, with Parlett missing Sunday’s game and Logan Pyett playing up front Saturday with Thomas gone, and Niemi was up to the challenge.  Dylan McIlrath, too, looked like he was happy to be saddled with more responsibility, and his down-low play against the hard-forechecking Crunch was key to keeping the Whale in that Sunday battle.

It’s going to be interesting to see what the organization does this week personnel-wise, with both Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi having gotten dinged up in Saturday’s 3-0 loss in Montreal and Micheal Del Zotto hurting as well.  Hopefully Parlett isn’t hurt too badly, as he certainly would have been a candidate for a recall if the Blueshirts need a defenseman, and who knows, they may need a couple.

As for Thomas, it sounds like he made quite a good account of himself in his NHL debut Saturday, earning 7:21 of ice time in the third period after playing a total of 5:25 in the first two.  The rookie had two shots on goal and three hits, and had this to say to the media after the game, “Obviously, I was nervous.  The first shift, going out there for the anthem, it was crazy. I’ve never played in front of so many fans who were wild like that. It was surreal. I’m glad I got the first couple of shifts over with, I got the jitters away and then I played the way I like to play.

“I got some more opportunity in the third, I played with Richie (Brad Richards) for a bit.  I felt more comfortable as I went on. The third period, I felt like it was just kind of another game out there. It was hard to get stuff going, Montreal was playing well defensively but it was a great experience.”

Humbling End to Hot Streak

February 21, 2013

Well, if the Whale had any illusions that they had become an unbeatable juggernaut, those certainly were erased in last night’s 5-1 throttling by the St. John’s IceCaps at the XL Center.

Granted, the Whale were missing two players, recalled winger Brandon Mashinter and injured defenseman Mike Vernace, who had been huge contributors to the five-game winning streak, and 8-1-1-1 run, that the team had been on, but that still should not have made such a huge difference in the team’s play.Action Shot for Blog - 02-21-13

I have to say, this looked like a “trap” game to me going into it.  It was a weekday game, after the recent weekend crowds had been really good and really energized, the Whale had been riding high, the IceCaps were struggling, and in the two games between the Whale and St. John’s up in Newfoundland two weekends ago, almost everything had gone Connecticut’s way.

And sure enough, the Whale had a big letdown, allowing the IceCaps to dictate the play and beat them to almost every puck right from the start.  For about a 10-minute stretch in the second period, seemingly sparked by an Andrew Carroll fight against Patrice Cormier, the Whale found some jump, and the only goal of the second came off of the stick of Connecticut’s other Andrew, Yogan, but any momentum that might have been generated was quickly snuffed out when the IceCaps scored twice in the first 2:36 of the third frame.

Now, after playing 10 of their last 12 at home, the Whale hit the road for a tough pair this weekend, visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Saturday and Syracuse Sunday.  The Crunch have won five in a row to move into first place in the Eastern Conference, and  are only two points behind Texas for first place overall.  The Penguins enter the weekend one point behind the Whale in the conference playoff race, and play Adirondack at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Friday night before hosting the Whale.

Both Mashinter and Chris Kreider made the trip with the parent Rangers to Ottawa, where New York will battle the Senators tonight.  The Rangers head on to Montreal after that.  Doesn’t sound like Rick Nash traveled, so it would seem doubtful that the Rangers would be sending anybody back to the Whale for Connecticut’s two weekend games.

And, as if last night wasn’t wonderful enough, Jason Missiaen, who played the last two periods in goal in relief of Cam Talbot, did not practice today.  Does not sound like anything serious, but Scott Stajcer has been summoned from Greenville to join the Whale for the road trip.

Whale at .700 Since January 1st

February 18, 2013

OK, don’t look now, but the Whale are one of the hottest teams in the AHL.

Since the first of the year, the local AHL entry has played .700 hockey, going 12-4-2-2 in 20 games.  That has raised them from a tie for last in the Eastern Conference, and four games below .500, to sixth among Eastern Conference teams, and a season-high four games above the even mark (25-21-4-2, 56 points).  That’s after a sweep of this past weekend’s three home games gave the Whale a season-best five-game winning streak and at least a point in six straight (5-0-0-1).

The organization has had a pretty good record over the years of doing this, starting to play its best hockey when the games are most important, and also of getting great mileage out of its hardest-working players, which has been a hallmark of this recent run.

Kris Newbury has been a constant all year, and is up to a tie for seventh in the league in points (17-27-44 in 50 games), but Brandon Segal has been monstrous during the Whale’s streak, Brandon Mashinter has been a terrific acquisition, Christian Thomas seems to have turned a big corner, and defensemen Mike Vernace and Blake Parlett have supported the attack at levels beyond anything that could have been expected.

Segal had a seven-game point-scoring streak, which tied a Whale season best, snapped in the Whale’s 4-1 win over Portland Friday, but rebounded with three huge plays in the weekend’s other two games.

Brandon Segal

Brandon Segal

Saturday night’s tussle with Norfolk was a give-no-quarter border war, and regulation time was devoid of scoring finish except for a 3:03 stretch late in the first period, in which both teams scored.  The extra standings point available in the overtime was huge for the Whale, as Hershey lost their game that night, affording the Whale an opportunity to jump past the Bears in the conference standings with two points.

It was Segal who would nail that down for the team, scoring in a rare three-on-three situation in the extra session when he got two tries at his own rebound, after being set up by a combination of Sean Collins and Logan Pyett.

Then on Sunday, it was looking like the Whale, despite playing a creditably hard game, were going to lose a close one to the Manchester Monarchs, who entered the game five points behind the Whale in the conference playoff race.  On back-to-back sequences late in the third period, though, Segal set up Steve Eminger and Mashinter for goals only 16 seconds apart, and the Whale pulled out the regulation win.

The winner was a great finish by Mashinter, who received his second Ranger summons Monday afternoon, and he has been nearly a point-a-game player (5-6-11, including two game-winners, in 14 games) with the Whale, after struggling to only two goals and five points in 30 games with Worcester before being traded.

Thomas had two more howitzer-type goals in the three games, and added a Brad Smyth-like second goal in Friday’s game, throwing the puck out of the corner off the back of the goaltender’s skates and in.  Perhaps even more importantly, he continued to fly around the rink like a man possessed, backing defensemen off and hitting holes all over the place.  This, clearly, is what Ranger scouts saw out of Thomas in the Ontario League, leading the parent club to spend a second-round pick on the 5-9, 170-pounder.  His speed continues to mesh well with the grit of Micheal Haley, as each seems to be rubbing off on the other.

The one downer of the weekend is that Vernace was lost to an injury in the third period of Sunday’s game, and the way he has been playing, that would leave a big void if he is out for any length of time.  In fact, since the turn of the year, Vernace is not only second only to Newbury in points on the Whale (Newbury has 17, Vernace 16), but is fifth in the league in plus/minus, with a team-leading +11.  Not bad for a guy who was struggling to stay out of the press box back around Christmas time.

Parlett and Sam Klassen have firmly established themselves as the Whale’s top pairing, after being hard-pressed to crack the top six last season.

Parlett has nine points in the last 11 games and 23 points on the year, and seems to have boosted his offense by picking up his physical play.  Not that he was ever a shrinking violet, but he looks like he has focused on initiating more hitting and taking the play to the opposition, and that has led to being more active all over the ice.  He’s starting to remind me a lot of Terry Virtue, ol’ number 3 in a Wolf Pack jersey and a two-time Calder Cup champ.

Three home games in three days is a lot of hockey for the home fans to take in, but the fan base of Metro Hartford really responded this weekend.  A good Friday-night house of 4,441 was followed up by an excellent crowd of 5,825, the fifth-largest of the year, on Saturday, and Sunday’s attendance of 5,143 was the biggest I remember for a Sunday in quite a while.

The Whale are playing exciting, winning hockey right now, and the fans deserve credit for taking notice.

In addition to Mashinter’s callup, the official announcement came today of Cam Talbot’s contract extension.  Capgeek.com has it as a two-year deal that becomes a one-way in the second year.  Nice pat on the back for a guy who has become one of the more reliable backstops in the AHL this year and, like the rest of the team, has really heated up lately.  He is 4-0-1 in his last five decisions, with a 1.39 goals-against average and a 95.1% save percentage in those five games.

Eminger Brings 457 Games of NHL Expertise to Whale Backline

February 13, 2013

The Whale had some serious NHL experience added to their blueline, albeit on a short-term basis, Wednesday, when tenth-year pro Steve Eminger was dispatched to Connecticut on a two-week conditioning assignment.

Photo courtesy of newyorkrangers.com.

Photo courtesy of newyorkrangers.com.

Eminger, a veteran of 457 NHL games in his career, 111 of them in three years with the Rangers, has been caught in a numbers game in the Blueshirts’ defensive rotation, battling Matt Gilroy and Stu Bickel for the last spot in the lineup.  The 6-2, 207-pounder had been a healthy scratch in seven of the Rangers’ last eight games, and had averaged only 5:53 of ice time in the four games he did play.

Eminger had to agree to the conditioning stint for the assignment to be made, so he is clearly serious about getting some quality action in and playing his way back on to the Ranger radar screen, and from the other side of the table, the Rangers still think enough of him that they didn’t risk losing him on the waivers that would have been required for a regular assignment.  So there is a carrot for Eminger to chase during his two weeks in the AHL, a time period that includes six Whale games, and a strong motivation to play hard.

It will be the first AHL action for Eminger since the last lockout season, 2004-05, during which he spent the year with the Portland Pirates, posting 20 points in 62 games.  In 103 career AHL games, Eminger has totaled 3-21-24, with 80 penalty minutes.

Whale Make Most of Newfoundland Trip

February 11, 2013

Some travel hiccups for the Whale Monday, with the team’s originally scheduled flight out of St. John’s getting cancelled, but other than that an almost totally positive weekend sojourn to Newfoundland.

The Whale scored 4-1 and 7-3 victories over the IceCaps, whom they had never beaten before these two games, improving their record above .500 for the first time since December 1.  Also, by increasing their season point total to 50, they elevated into a tie with Worcester for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Ken Gernander & Co. came up with a good line combination in slating Kelsey Tessier, who had been playing a lot of right wing in the previous couple of weeks, at center between Micheal Haley and Christian Thomas.  Haley is the giant of that line, at 5-10 and 204 pounds, but the vertically-challenged trio was dogged on the forecheck throughout the weekend and accounted for five of the 11 goals the Whale scored in the two games.

Tessier got the trip off to a good start with his third goal in four games a little over five minutes into Saturday’s game, and Thomas had his first three-point game as a pro in that one, with a goal and two assists.

Haley, meanwhile, chipped in a goal and an assist Saturday and then scored the first two goals of Sunday’s game, both on rebounds and both within the first 4:03.  The hardscrabble winger now has points in five of his last six games, with four goals and three assists for seven points over that span.

Even more than the stats, the way the line scored its goals was impressive, especially considering its lack of size.  Thomas, all 5-9, 170 pounds of him, was not only flying up and down the ice throughout the two games, but was conspicuous in his physical play, winning a number of puck battles with players significantly bigger than he is, a description that matches most of the other players on the ice.

Tessier and Haley did a fine job, too, of finding open space in the slot in the offensive zone, as none of the goals the line scored, save for Thomas’ empty-netter from just inside the blue line in Saturday’s game, were from further than about 15 feet out.

Photo by Michael Pardy

Photo by Michael Pardy

Defenseman Mike Vernace also came up with some key production, scoring a power-play goal in the first period Saturday and chipping in a pair of opening-period assists Sunday, as the Whale jumped out to an early 4-0 lead.  Vernace was in the doghouse not long ago, to the point where he was a healthy scratch in four games in a span of eight, but lately has been an point machine.

The veteran D-man had all of one goal in his first 36 games of the season, but his tally Saturday was his fourth in a span of six games, and he now has at least a point in seven of his last eight, totaling four goals and six assists for ten points.  That has him up to 5-17-22 in 43 GP on the year, just one point behind Logan Pyett for the team points leadership among blueliners.

The Whale haven’t had too many easy wins on the year—in fact, going into the weekend, they had enjoyed only two victories all season that were by more than a three-goal margin.  They did themselves a favor by jumping out quickly in both games in St. John’s, and the outcomes never seemed seriously in doubt, but not to be overlooked is the goaltending of Cam Talbot.

Talbot was named the First Star of Saturday’s game, in which the Whale were outshot 38-20, but I didn’t think the shots disparity was really indicative of how the game went.  Thirty-seven saves is 37 saves, though, and an argument could be made that the Connecticut ‘keeper actually did even better work in Sunday’s game, albeit working with a bigger lead.  After the Whale got up 4-0 Sunday, play got a little ragged at times, and Talbot was forced to come up with some flurries of fending off second and third-chance opportunities.  He did that successfully, eliciting some public commentary from IceCap head coach Keith McCambridge comparing his netminders’ work unfavorably to that of Talbot.

Some different offensive sources got into the act in the Whale’s seven-goal Sunday outburst as well, with Andrew Yogan striking for his first multiple-point game of the year with a goal and an assist, Kyle Jean contributing a goal and a helper and Jyri Niemi with his first-ever AHL multi-point game, also bagging a goal and an assist.

The Whale needed good mileage out of their ECHL additions, with Marek Hrivik and Ryan Bourque still hurt, Benn Ferriero not able to make the trip and J.T. Miller showing no signs of returning from the NHL any time soon, and they got it.  In addition to Niemi’s contributions from the backline, Andrew Carroll got his first Whale point with a second-period assist Sunday and Mike Pelech acquitted himself well throughout the weekend, centering the fourth line.

It will have been a long day of travel for the Whale by the time Monday is over, but the crew can hardly complain, having missed all of the snow, and digging out, that their home state went through over the weekend.  Sounds like Tuesday will be a day off from practice, and no action until Friday, when the Whale starts a rare three-game home weekend with a battle against Atlantic Division-leading Portland.  The two games in St. John’s were the only road games in a stretch of 12, and the Whale now need to get the home-ice play squared away, having gone their last three home outings without a W.

Whale Ready Themselves for Back-to-Back with IceCaps

February 9, 2013

The Whale have been enjoying quite a bit of home cooking lately, as they are in the midst of a stretch of the schedule that has the club playing ten out of 12 games at home.

The two away games in that segment, though, comprise the Whale’s furthest road trip, which is currently underway and has them holed up in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

The Whale and St. John’s IceCaps go at it twice this weekend, tonight and tomorrow afternoon, at Mile One Centre in downtown St. John’s, and even though the Whale still have almost 30 games left in their season, these two tilts with the IceCaps have heavy playoff implications.

The Whale come into tonight tied for tenth in the Eastern Conference at 46 points, one point ahead of St. John’s, which is deadlocked with Albany at 45 points apiece.  The Whale are currently only three points out of the last playoff spot, but they already have to climb over three teams to get in, and if the IceCaps were to jump ahead of them it would be four teams.

Especially with the conference-centered schedule, every additional team that you have to get past makes the task that much tougher.

Head Coach Ken Gernander talked Friday about approaching the two games against St. John’s as a kind of mini-playoff series, and Whale veteran forward Kelsey Tessier addressed that at the morning skate Saturday.

“We had that talk (about a playoff approach) yesterday, right after practice,” Tessier said.  “It’s two games in a row, that’s how playoff works.  This is big points for us, we need these four points, to get away from them (the IceCaps) but also to build us up, to make a place in the playoffs.  We don’t want to just make the playoffs, we want to make sure we get in and we’re safe.  We’re a little more than half the season in, but you’ve got to want it, you’ve got to really want it, and that’s what we’re trying to do here.”

Kelsey Tessier scores a shorthanded goal against Albany's Keith Kinkaid.

Kelsey Tessier scores a shorthanded goal against Albany’s Keith Kinkaid.

The Whale have been headed in the right direction, with at least a standings point in 11 of their last 15 games (7-4-2-2), but went winless in the last three games of their six-game homestand, with a regulation loss, an overtime loss and a shootout defeat.  The team has been working some new faces into the mix, with the likes of Nick Palmieri, Benn Ferriero, Brandon Mashinter and most recent arrival Mike Pelech, and Tessier pointed out the value of getting the team together on the road to help build chemistry.

“Definitely when you’re on the road it’s more team bonding,” he said, “airports, buses, or even team events like meals and stuff, really brings the guys in and makes them more comfortable with the new guys, get a couple of laughs in, mess around a little bit, to keep them happy and be like, ‘Oh, this is a fun group.’  So it’s real fun, and you can’t get a better spot than St. John’s here.  It’s a beautiful city and people are nice here, they all greet us well.”

A fringe benefit for Tessier, who hails from the Maritime province of New Brunswick, is that his parents were just able to beat the weather and make it up to St. John’s to see him play.

“They got the last flight out, so they’re lucky,” Tessier laughed, “they’re stuck here with us.”

Whale Bring in Reinforcements for Newfoundland Journey

February 8, 2013

The Whale found their way successfully to Newfoundland Thursday, without Benn Ferriero and with two new roster additions.

Jyri Niemi, who played five games with the Whale earlier this year, and a total of 54 over the first two seasons of his career, was reassigned back to the Whale from Greenville of the ECHL, and Michael Pelech, a 6-3, 210-pound forward, was signed to a PTO from the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones.

Jyri Niemi

Jyri Niemi

Ferriero was injured in Tuesday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Albany Devils, and did not skate in practice Wednesday or Thursday.  Marek Hrivik also remains out, having missed the last 13 games after producing 22 points in the season’s first 32 tilts.

Prior to being assigned to Greenville December 28, Niemi had been hurt for 18 games, the result of a check November 11 by Bridgeport’s Colin McDonald that caused Niemi to be carted off the ice on a stretcher.  The Finnish-born blueliner had produced well for the ECHL Road Warriors, chalking up six points, a goal and five assists, and going +8, in 14 games.

Pelech had a stint earlier this year with Worcester, during which he got a chance to play with his older brother Matt, who was a first-round pick by Calgary in 2005 and now is in his second year with the San Jose organization.  Michael Pelech was drafted in the sixth round by Los Angeles in 2009 out of the Ontario Hockey League, but has played mostly in the ECHL in his four-year pro career.  He had one assist in his three games with Worcester and sported numbers of 10-27-37 and 63 penalty minutes in 44 games with Cincinnati, good for tops on the team in assists and second in points and PIM.  And that’s on a team that was ten games over .500.  Last year with Cincinnati, Pelech was a point-a-game guy, with 60 points in 60 games, and had 98 penalty minutes.

And what a game tonight in the NHL for J.T. Miller.  The 19-year-old Ohio native had his first two NHL goals, and was First Star, in a 4-1 Ranger win over the Islanders.  He also earned the following evaluation from Coach John Tortorella, “Miller, what is he? 19?  He has a lot of puck poise for such a young kid….He’s got some bite to him and I’d rather have a guy that you need to tame a little bit as he’s learning to be a pro then to get someone to play with some spunk like that. I like the way he carries himself, he’s got some good strut to his game.”

 

 

 

Tough Tuesday Night for Whale, Rangers

February 6, 2013

The Ranger organization went up against the Devils in both the AHL and NHL last night, and the double-bill did not go well for the Ranger crew.

The Devils, in fact, swept both contests, with Albany getting by the Whale in a shootout, 4-3, at the XL Center and New Jersey besting the Rangers by a score of 3-1 in Newark.

Both the Ranger and the Whale coaching staffs were distinctly perturbed by how their respective squads performed, and both groups of players felt their mentor’s wrath, the Whale more physically and the Rangers more on the verbal side.

Ken Gernander put the Whale through an arduous practice at Champions Skating Center in Cromwell, a session dominated by hard skating that left most players dragging as they came off the ice.  John Tortorella, meanwhile, fired several direct shots at his roster through his words to the media.

Tortorella said of Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller, the latter of whom was making his NHL debut, “They’re probably going to take some people’s jobs….  We have guys that look scared to me and tentative….  I’m not waiting, we have some guys that are very tentative, very careful and we don’t play careful hockey.”

Kreider, who had missed the previous five games due to an ankle injury, and Miller started the game on the fourth line and were on the power play by the end of it, and Kreider scored the only Ranger goal of the game, his first career NHL regular-season tally.  Miller got 14:25 of ice time and had two shots on goal.

J.T. Miller, in his NHL debut Tuesday night in New Jersey ((Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

J.T. Miller, in his NHL debut Tuesday night in New Jersey (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Whale, for their part, were up against an Albany club last night that came into the game only two points behind Connecticut in the Eastern Conference and Northeast Division standings, with four games in hand on the Whale.  And the home club seemed to come out with very little urgency, giving up a goal on the first shift and falling behind 3-0, before salvaging a point in the standings with a three-goal surge in the final 10:42 of regulation.

With the shootout defeat, the Whale went 0-1-1-1 in the last three games of their six-game homestand, after winning the first three, continuing the pattern of marked inconsistency that has defined their season so far.  And in addition to losing the game, the Whale were without Benn Ferriero for the third period last night, after just getting him back from the Rangers, and he did not practice today, and Shayne Wiebe found out that the injury that knocked him out of Tuesday’s game-day morning skate was a torn ACL, meaning that he will have to have season-ending surgery.

So the Whale will have to put in a call for some lower-league reinforcements as they get ready to leave tomorrow for their only Canadian road trip of the year, a two-gamer up to St. John’s, Newfoundland.  With Wiebe out and Ferriero questionable, Ken Gernander’s squad could be down to as few as 16 healthy skaters at this point.

On the positive side for the organization, reports on Ranger captain Ryan Callahan’s progress in recovering from a shoulder injury were encouraging, as Callahan took contact for the first time since the injury today and reported no problems.