Pirates stop Rats, 5-3

Instead of writing up a long-winded recap of my own, I thought it best to steer you to our good friends at Maine Hockey Journal for a rundown of last night's pre-season victory by the Pirates. Pirates push past Albany in pre-season action
Fitchburg, Mass. – Marek Zagrapan scored two goals and an assist for the Portland Pirates as they battled past the Albany River Rats, 5-3, at the Wallace Civic Center on the campus of Fitchburg State College in Fitchburg Massachusetts. Zagrapan, who arrived in Portland late Saturday, was playing in his first action since being sent to the Pirates on Friday, but despite being demoted he was still excited to get on the ice. “I think we have a bunch of young and fun guys,” said Zagrapan. This was just our first day together as a team; hopefully we’ll have all week to practice and get together and try to have a good start (of the season).” After a scoreless first period, the Pirates found themselves down 1-0 on a goal from Matt Murley at 8:07 of the second period, but just a little over three minutes later Zagrapan tied the game for the Pirates when he found puck at his feet for the easy tap-in at the left post, beating River Rats goaltender Justin Peters At 14:52, the Pirates made it 2-1, as Nathan Gerbe, Buffalo’s 2005 fifth round draft pick, was in alone on a breakaway, beating Peters with a forehand-backhand deke. Tim Kennedy would receive an assist on the play. Just 38 seconds later, the game was tied at 2-2 when Mike Angelidis found the back of the net on Adam Dennis, who replaced Jhonas Enroth after the first 30 minutes of play. Enroth played exceptionally well in his first AHL action. In 30 minutes of play, Enroth stopped 14 of 15 shots including an amazing paddle save, while on his stomach.
Felix Schutz also scored a short-handed goal on a breakaway in the third period. There's more meat to the MHJ article, including:
Line Combinations: Colton Fretter – Marek Zagrapan – Mathieu Darche Derek Whitmore – Tim Kennedy – Nathan Gerbe Jimmy Bonneau – Felix Schutz – Mark Mancari Josh Vatri – Dylan Hunter – Colin Murphy Chris Butler – Paul Baier Marc-Andre Gragnani – Mike Kostka Tyler Bouck – Mike Card Jhonas Enroth Scratches: Mike Funk (injury)
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Anonymous
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Monday, October 06, 2008 ×

I take it Gragnani was on defense because Funk was injured?

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Anonymous
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Monday, October 06, 2008 ×

***scratch that, read the part about Bouck taking Funk's place on the blueline. But will Bouck remain on defense when funk comes back & Gragnani move back to LW?

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Mark
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Tuesday, October 07, 2008 ×

I believe Gragnani would stay back on defense before Bouck would. Bouck is a natural forward, while Gragnani has played both. However, if Weber is demoted to the AHL he would take a spot on the defense.

And it's good to hear about Zags finally playing up to his potential. Zagrapan could step up and fill the second line center role next year if he continues this inspired play. The young guys are really impressing me thus far.

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Anonymous
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Tuesday, October 07, 2008 ×

I hope Weber stays up in place of Paetsch & I'd like to see Gragnani excel on defense because that's the position we drafted him for. Wouldn't mind saying bye bye to Connolly if he gets remotely injured this season, making room for Zagrapan to move up. Shuffling up the lines constantly because Connolly can't stay healthy is just getting old and disruptive. I expect a lot of new faces on the Sabres over the next two years. I know the season hasn't started yet, but I have a bad feeling about The Sabres until guys like Kotalik, Max, injury-prone Connolly, and lazy "Toni Turnover" are off this team. Lydman & Max combined have to account for at least 50% of our turnovers & minor penalty minutes. Every time I observe Kotalik on the powerplay he screws up, whether it's getting pushed off the puck, giving a bad pass, or not accepting the pass well. Our inconsistency last year was a result of these inconsistent players.

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Anonymous
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Tuesday, October 07, 2008 ×

...the argument would be that Weber would get more icetime in Portland if he sits the bench like Paetsch did. But Weber somehow needs to see more NHL icetime this year.

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Kris Baker
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Wednesday, October 08, 2008 ×

Even though Grags was a defenseman at the time of his drafting, I don't think they need to force the issue with him at D. Above all, I think they drafted him as a solid skater with good eyes and slick stick.

He showed up and played inspiring hockey when he moved up front last season. It seemed to be a good fit, since the Amerks/system were in dire need of a capable winger, and he was awful defensively. However, I don't see that being a two-way street if they move him back to D out of necessity. Maybe he's set-up better to play D with a season under his belt (he does look bigger and stronger compared to his rookie season), but I'm not sold on that being the way to go. His three favorite players are all forwards, and he plays like it.

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