Jeffrey putting it all together at Wilkes-Barre
After flourishing as a checking-line center as a rookie and a scoring-line winger as a sophomore, Dustin Jeffrey seems to have combined the best of both worlds for his third professional season.
He leads the Baby Pens in power-play points (2 goals-5 assists) and shorthanded points (2-1) six weeks into the season.
It’s hard to imagine he won’t add to his career total of 15 NHL games soon.
“He’s been playing great,” coach John Hynes said. “He’s a very talented player. He’s got great hockey smarts. He can score goals. But the difference in him right now is his work ethic. If you look at the drive he’s playing with, not only with the puck but without the puck, that’s why he’s been so dominant. I think that’s been the biggest growth in his game. He has the drive he’s going to need to play in the NHL.”
Coming into this weekend, the Penguins were tied with Anaheim for the most fighting majors in the NHL with 22. The Baby Pens, meanwhile, were tied for 19th in the 30-team AHL with 14 fights.
Last year, those numbers were flipped. The Baby Pens led the AHL with 99 fights and the Penguins were 16th in the NHL with 48 scraps.
“We have a great mentality where guys will take a cheap shot and let us go out on the power play and take advantage of it,” veteran heavyweight Jesse Boulerice said. “Worry about redemption later. Or scoring a goal is our redemption. Or winning the game. We don’t want to start big brawls. That’s really not accomplishing what we want to accomplish.”
Top prospect Eric Tangradi scored a third-period goal as the Baby Pens beat the Albany Devils, 4-1, on Tuesday to break a four-game scoreless streak and five-game goal drought. Tangradi had two goals and an assist in his first eight games after being sent down Oct. 25.
Due to minor injuries to Brett Sterling and Nick Johnson, Tangradi was bumped up to the top line with Jeffrey and right wing Tim Wallace. He’s been playing on the top power-play unit pretty consistently since arriving in Wilkes-Barre.
Unable to find a suitable landing spot in junior hockey, 2008 fifth-round draft pick Alexander Pechurskiy has signed with the Mississippi River Kings of the Central Hockey League. Pechurskiy, 20, stopped 75-of-83 shots and went 1-1 in his first three appearances with the team.
On the rise
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) — Goalie
5-foot-11, 171 pounds
Through October, Thiessen and John Curry were neck and neck in the race for the No. 3 spot on the organization’s goaltending depth chart. Both started 4-0 and shared AHL goalie of the month honors.
Since then, Thiessen has pulled away. Curry dropped consecutive decisions, while Thiessen won four more in a row to improve to 8-0. He’s among the AHL’s top five in goals-against average and save percentage.
Thiessen isn’t the kind of goalie prospect that wows scouts because he’s neither big nor supremely athletic, but he’s quick, poised and swallows up shots like a much bigger netminder.