February 25, 2010

Portland Pirates Weekend

— Despite winning five of their last seven game, the Pirates, embarking on a four-game road trip, remain in the AHL's Atlantic Division cellar, just four points behind fourth-place Springfield in the highly competitive, eight-team division. The return of Brad Larsen, a veteran forward who has missed 18 games because of a broken bone in his left foot, and Marc-Andre Gragnani, a veteran defenseman who has missed 13 games because of an injury to his right leg, should provide a lift. Veteran forward Mark Mancari and rookie center Tyler Ennis rank among the AHL's top 20 scorers with 19 points each. Forward Nathan Gerbe, a second-year pro, has a team-high 13 assists.


WHO: Pirates at Hartford Wolf Pack

WHERE: XL Center

NOTES: Hartford has converted on 26 of 101 power plays and leads the AHL with a 25.7 percent success rate. Center Corey Locke leads the league with eight power-play goals. While starting 10 of the last 11 games, goalie Chad Johnson has compiled a 1.20 goals-against average with three shutouts. Hartford is an affiliate of the New York Rangers.


WHO: Pirates at Lowell Devils

WHERE: Tsongas Arena

NOTES: During the past month, Mike McKenna, a former Pirate, has alternated in goal with Jeff Frazee, posting a 2.87 goals-against average in his last eight starts. Defenseman Matt Toamina leads the Devils with five power-play goals, while right wing Vladimir Zharkov has a team-high 14 assists.


WHO: Pirates at Springfield Falcons

WHERE: Mass Mutual Center

NOTES: Left wing Charlie Linglet starts the weekend with seven goals and a team-high 17 assists to rank third in the AHL with 24 points. With goalie Devan Dubnyk temporarily up in the NHL with the parent Edmonton Oilers, Aaron Sorochan, a rookie with four AHL games under his belt, will likely get the nod. The Falcons' Kip Brennan leads the AHL with 108 penalty minutes.


-- Paul Betit

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