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Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pens keep ticking along

Last night the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins ran their record with Miroslav Satan in the lineup to 2-0 with a 3-2 shootout winner against one the rivals, the Philadelphia Phantoms. Even though Satan scored a SO goal, he wasn't the story of the game. North American rookie Janne Pesonen scored both regulation goals and scored in the shootout as well.

Overall, as usual, the Baby Penguins have had another solid regular season. Despite going on there third coach in less than a year, they currently sit tied in second place in the ultra-competitive Eastern Division with a 43-22-2-2 record. They're only one point behind powerhouse Hershey Bears (though Hershey does have two games in hand). WB/S is second in the whole AHL with 241 goals scored (behind only those Bears) and they're also second in the AHL's Eastern conference in goals allowed with 184--Bridgeport has allowed just 176.

Individually Pesonen, last year's scoring champion in Finland, is now 5th in the AHL in scoring with 70 points (26 goals, 44 assists) in 56 games with WB/S. Why isn't Pesonen in Pittsburgh given the chance to do the same in the NHL? There are always guys that feast in the AHL (Darren Haydar, Brett Sterling and John Slaney come to mind) that are great AHL point producers but can't do it in NHL where there is less time and space to operate. Most of these guys tend to be the smallish ones that can't play a role in the NHL outside of the top 6. But that is a different debate for a different day.

Jeff Taffe is 11th in the AHL with 66 points (22g, 44a) in 64 games. Chris Minard has spent significant time in Pittsburgh but in his 45 games with Wilkes-Barre he still set a franchise single-season goal scoring mark with 31 goals, good for 3rd place in the league. John Curry has been lights out, going 28-13 with a 2.44 GAA and a .914 save percentage. Curry recently became the all-time wins leader for the WB/S franchise, which seems odd since this is his second season, but given the turnover on a AHL club and how good the Pens (and Curry) have been the past two seasons, maybe it shouldn't be a surprise.

Enforcer Paul Bissonnette has kept honing his craft too, getting 22 fighting majors. The folks at has scored him 5-3-3 in those fights for where there's enough evidence to judge.

Mark Letestu might be the most improved player in the entire Penguins organization. Last season he scored just 18 points in 52 AHL games, this year the 24 year old Letestu has 54 points (20g, 34a). For a twenty year old rookie, Luca Caputi's had a solid rookie campaign too, registering 41 points (16g, 21a) in 59 games. The problem for Caputi has been getting in trouble off the ice. Defensemen Ben Lovejoy is another guy who's a key contributor with 7 goals, 21 assists and an astounding +41. Wipe your eyes and read it again, Lovejoy is a +41. Teammate (and usual partner) Joey Mormina is a +36, and other than that no one in the league is better than a +25.

So even without Dan Byslma behind the bench, Wilkes-Barre has kept ticking towards another successful regular season and set themselves up for a chance for a deep playoff run. With offensive firepower like Satan, Taffe and Pesonen that WB/S didn't have last playoffs around, this team could be as dangerous as their NHL counter-parts come the second season.