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Penguins

Tallas stepping up play between pipes

Jonathan Bombulie
| Sunday, Dec. 29, 2002

WILKES-BARRE —At times over the past season and a half, the Penguins would have been in big, big trouble if a serious goaltending injury would have come their way.

That's because veteran Robbie Tallas and prospect Sebastien Caron were shaky more often than not for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Caron remains inconsistent, but Tallas has emerged as a reliable performer for the Baby Pens in recent weeks.

In the first month of the season, that wasn't the case. Tallas struggled so mightily that coach Glenn Patrick gave him only three starts in the team's first 21 games.

In those starts, Tallas posted awful numbers —a 5.99 goals-against average and .824 save percentage.

When Tallas finally worked his way back into the lineup early this month, he began his best extended stretch in a Baby Pens uniform.

He has started seven of the team's last 11 games and put up sparkling numbers —a 2.31 GAA and .934 save percentage.

Tallas attributes his turnaround to a turnaround in the team's fortunes in general. After starting the season 4-10-1, the Baby Pens are 9-4-1-3 in their last 17 games.

"I think every team's going to go through highs and lows," Tallas said. "It takes time to feel what team we're going to be. We're definitely putting it together now and playing well. I think everybody on the ice is starting to gain confidence now. I think that's important."

INJURY REPORT

The Baby Pens are going to be without their fastest two forwards for the foreseeable future.

RW Eric Meloche broke his right foot last Sunday when he blocked a slap shot while killing a penalty. He is out indefinitely.

LW Konstantin Koltsov has been trying to play through a groin injury but missed two games this weekend and is awaiting the results of an MRI before he returns to the lineup.

POWERFUL PERFORMANCE

In one respect, the Baby Pens have mirrored the parent Penguins through the first three months of the season — they rely heavily on a potent power play.

The Baby Pens are fifth in the AHL with a 19.1 percent success rate with the man-advantage. Almost half of their goals (42-of-97) have come on the power play.

Patrick attributes most of that success to the emergence of winger Matt Murley as a capable point man.

"Murley has done a good job with his smarts. He knows the game," Patrick said. "He's been a big difference."

SLAP SHOTS

RW Tom Kostopoulos has 10 points (5 goals-5 assists) in his last nine games. … Kostopoulos, C Toby Petersen and D Brendan Buckley are the only Baby Pens to appear in all 32 games this season. … LW Tomas Surovy has 13 points (4-9) in his last 12 games. … D Francois Leroux and D Mike Wilson have flexed their muscles lately. Both have two fighting majors in their last three games. … The Baby Pens gave out Leroux bobblehead dolls last Sunday. "I thought it was awesome," Leroux said with a laugh. "I taped one to the dashboard of my truck."

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