“Rise up! gather round
Rock this place to the ground”
–Def Leppard (coming to the PPL Center in February, 2016!)
A massive game-day post to get you ready for hockey tonight at the PPL Center. The next four games are here in the Queen City, so RISE UP PHAN NATION…
The Phantoms were on the road last weekend, and into last night. And what a long, strange trip it’s been.
It started out well enough, as the Future-Fly-Guys took care of business against an over-matched Falcons team in Springfield Mass. The 4-1 game featured goals by Conner, Martel, Straka and Goulbourne. The Phantoms went into the game without Captain Colin McDonald, who was injured in the opening night loss to Syracuse.
The win may have been somewhat costly, though, as Danick Martel was hit in the wrist with a shot, Robert Hagg and Andrew MacDonald were banged up as well. The team went into the Mohegan Sun in Wilkes Barre the following afternoon already short-handed, then lost Michael Parks and Cole Bardreau during the game. A 3-0 lead over the home-opening Penguins on the shoulders of goals by Straka, Rosehill and Brent turned into a 6-4 loss after sloppy play and penalties allowed the Pens to capitalize over and over again. Nick Cousins added a late goal for the good guys. Were the penalties and subsequent PK failures due to being short-handed? Or is it the “same old Phantoms?” Those were the questions being asked as the Phantoms re-loaded (see below for roster information) and headed to Providence last night,
where the Phantoms dominated play, but still lost by a 5-3 tally. A late Morin double-minor was a penalty that just couldn’t be killed, and lead to the winning goal. The Bruins added an empty netter. LaBarbera was in goal.
For more observation on the last couple games, see the comment sections of the Springfield Post and the Wilkes-Barre Post where d.E. provided some nice analysis–as well as below, where we preview tonight’s affair.
Video highlight packages from the first two games:
Rosie was a “veteran scratch” last night, as the addition of Lashoff keeps the Phantoms above the “veteran maximum.” For this reason, the Phantoms dressed 7 D / 11 F last night. See below for further notes:
The Phantoms were forced to raid the Reading roster to re-stock players in light of injuries to McDonald, Bardreau, Martell, Hagg, and Parks. It’s thought that Andrew MacDonald will be available for this weekend’s games. McDonald will be out a few weeks, and Parks a few more. Hagg will be evaluated after this weekend’s games, and the exact status of Martel and Bardreau is not clear–although with both being listed as “day-to-day” I’ve now heard they will both be out 2-3 weeks. Injury information is tough to come by in the hockey world, and it seems head coach Gordon is not going to make it easier on us.
Old friends Kevin Goumas, Brandon Alderson, and Derek Mathers joined the team on Tuesday in preparation for this weekend. With 3-in-3, it’s thought that a defenseman (Luukko?) could be called up at some point as well if needed. The Royals are home Saturday night as well. Matt Lashoff continues on his PTO, but we expect him to be officially added soon.
Morin 8 PIM
Straka 5 PIM
Alt 4 PIM
Lines from the first two games of the road trip have been supplanted by the new lines after the fill-ins have joined. Here’s what we saw last night, as far as I could tell:
23 Leier – 37 Brent – 16 Palushaj
24 Straka – 25 Cousins – 22 Conner
12 Goulbourne – 27 Padakin – 19 Alderson
(8 Pettersson) – 17 Goumas – 29 Mathers
14 Gostisbehere – 26 Lashoff
5 Drewiske – 2 Alt
3 Morin – 47 Andrew MacDonald
30 LaBarbera (41 Stolarz)
The Reading Royals are 2-1 after splitting a series in South Carolina, and getting a 5-1 win in Elmira last night. Because they were so far away from home last weekend, the Phantoms didn’t have a chance to get any reinforcements from them until they returned. The Royals open their home season tonight at the Santander Arena in Reading, versus the Elmira Jackals on their own home-and-home.
Wanna go to a Reading game? Details still haven’t been worked out, but save the date for Friday November 20. The Phantoms are away all that weekend, and we may have discounted tickets. You’ll have to find your own ride, but stay tuned for more details.
The Providence Bruins are the AHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins. Our preseason discussion on that team is HERE. For a more updated look in advance of last night’s game, go HERE. And here’s what d.E. sent me after following last night’s action:
The Providence Bruins finished sixth in the AHL’s 15-team Eastern Conference last season and always did figure to have a solid nuclear of returning players to build on. Now, head coach Bruce Cassidy’s club have had their share of injury troubles and still must carry on without top shelf goaltending prospect Malcolm Subban, the 1st round pick of the Boston Bruins at the 2012 NHL Draft who has already put in two very productive campaigns at the AHL level, as well as a trio of forwards including the small but skillful rookie Austin Czarnik (4 ga, 1 go, 5 pts), the 22-year-old center from the University of Miami (Ohio) who had such a productive collegiate career (159 ga, 46 go, 123 as, 169 pts) for the RedHawks. Nevertheless, against the Phantoms on Friday night in Rhode Island, the P-Bruins demonstrated they really do have a potent power play while confirming the fact that there is still plenty of time left in the season for the AHL club to get their injured players back and properly whip themselves into Calder Cup playoff shape.Case in point would be Seth Griffith, the 22-year-old right wing who skated in 30 NHL games (6 go, 10 pts, 6 pen, – 2 def) on behalf of the Boston Bruins last term but has been out of action for the past month after injuring his knee during a training camp exhibition contest against the New Jersey Devils. In making his first appearance at any level since the start of this new 2015/16 season, Griffith assisted on the P-Bruins’ first three goals against the visiting Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday night..P-BRUINS TO WATCH AT PPL CENTER TONIGHTThe Danger Man … # 13 – Alexander KHOKHLACHEV22-year-old center / right wing was the 2nd round pick (# 40 overall) of the Boston Bruins at the 2011 National Hockey League Draft also represented his native Russia twice at the annual IIHF World Junior Championships, winning a silver medal in 2012 and a bronze medal in 2013. Spent the first half of the 2012/13 campaign with Spartak Moscow (26 ga, 2 go, 7 pts) in the crack Kontinental Hockey League as a 19-year-old teenager before returning to the Windsor Spitfires in the Canadian junior system. Skated in three NHL games for the Boston Bruins last season and, overall, has participated in a total of four NHL games while leading the Providence farm club in scoring during each of his first two seasons as a professional here on the North American continent. Known as a very good skater with both excellent vision and creativity, the lethal Khokhlachev, who also had three assists against the Phantoms on Friday night, a is off to another good start in the AHL this fall (6 ga, 2 go, 10 pts).The Rookie Sensation … # 49 – Frank VATRANO20-year-old left wing who was signed by the Boston Bruins organization as an undrafted free agent from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst has taken the American Hockey League by storm this fall. Vatrano, who has already registered 21 shots on goal in just six AHL games thus far, leads the entire 30-team circuit with eight goals and is also joint top scorer on ten points along with his linemate Khokhlachev. Was a member of the United States junior national team that won the gold medal at the 2012 IIHF U-18 World Junior Championships (where he was teammates with current Hershey Bears Connor Carrick and Riley Barber). Initially enrolled at contemporary powerhouse Boston College but sat out the entire 2012/13 NCAA season and later transferred to UMass proper, where he scored plenty of goals in the crack Hockey East last season (36 ga, 18 go, 28 pts, 28 pen, – 15 def) despite skating for a less than dominant Minutemen side.The $ 800,000 Man ….. # 2 – Matt IRWINSoon-to-be 28-year-old defenseman, who also comes by way of the University of Massachusetts – Amhert, was surprising demoted by the Boston Bruins organization after registering an unsightly – 5 defensive rating in his first two games of this new 2015/16 NHL season. This, of course, after the Bs had already signed Irwin, who has been a regular performer in the NHL with the San Jose Sharks for the past two and a half seasons, to a one-way free agent contract this summer. The Canadian legionnaire, though, seems bent on a quick return to Beantown and has posted five points in his first four AHL games on the blueline for Providence thus far, including the game-winning goal versus the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday night..
It seems the 1.5 hour doors will continue for the foreseeable future. I do like it. Tomorrow it’s just 1-hour, though.
As of this writing, seats are still available, but going fast. Please secure your tickets in advance for this game.
Pre-purchase parking for the arena garage is no longer available for this game. You may also pre-purchase parking via the Allentown Parking Authority web site for the Trans Center and Spiral garages, but I’m not sure if you can do that on the day of the event. Otherwise, parking as per usual–but remember that arena-district meters are double rate, and all meters are checked until 10PM! If needed, read the parking knowledge base HERE.
Television/Video: Service Electric TV-2 and AHL-Live. This Saturday game is also featured on WFMZ Ch. 69.1!
Radio/Audio: AM-1470, Phantomshockey.com, IHeartRadio App; FM-89.9 in the arena.
Magnet Schedule giveaway for first 8,500 fans through the main entrances and Chickie’s.
Junior and I settled in at Chickie’s for the last home game on opening night–his choice. The service was good and they were hoppin. The early gates seemed to get folks out of the restaurant and allow for more seating prior to the game. The menu is mostly unchanged from last season.
Kram3 and I are planning on checking out Bell Hall at 612 Hamilton prior to today’s game. Don’t keep us from getting a seat, but read more about the restaurant here.
What To Look For In Tonight’s Game
- Look to see who gets the start in goal. Stolarz has looked like the stronger netminder thus far this season. Barbie looks a little slow; perhaps the years are catching up with him. However, the veteran can still find his way around the crease, and knows all the tricks. LaBarbera got the start last night, so I’d expect to see Stoli tonight.
- Look for the “Reading Three” to stay out of the box. We don’t need Mathers, Alderson and Goumas to score all the goals tonight. We just need them to back-check and stay out of the box. Kill some minutes and let the top lines score the goals. Stay in the “plus.” They succeeded in that regard last night.
- Look for the new overtime. I don’t know if we’ll go to extra time tonight or not, but remember the new rule this season is 3-on-3 right from the jump, after regulation. Then, and only then, penalty shots.
- Look to see which sweaters they have on. We saw a new black jersey in the pre-season, with an orange, reverse-type name plate. In the home opener, we wore the alternate-orange from last season, and on the road we’ve worn the regular road-blacks with the orange trim. Will we see whites tonight? Will they be new?
- Is it time for Ghost to start scoring goals? Look for a Ghost snipe tonight!
- Watch to see if Providence’ young goalie Subban plays.
- Break out your umbrella: Watch to see how the power play works. Do they get good chances? Can they keep the puck in the zone for multiple shots? What about the second unit. I’m not ready to panic or quote statistics yet–it’s a small sample and they’re still learning the strategy. However, we need to capitalize on opportunity, so…
- There will be a fight: Any time you play the same team two nights in a row, scores have time to get settled. Some chippiness last night may lead to a fight or two tonight. Plus, if both Rosie and Mathers are active, that’s double the possibility.
- The PK worries me: The scoring percentage on the PP is not good at all. However, two times on the road trip, goals were scored immediately as time expired. I think it will work it’s way out–and I’d like to see the defensemen get involved a bit more. Nevertheless, it’s the kill I’m concerned with: we’re allowing entirely too many goals and I’m not sure why. Poor teamwork? Poor goalie? It’s something to watch tonight.
The 3-in-3 concludes tomorrow as Toronto comes to town for a 5PM cross-division tilt. Get uptown early to hang at Chickies as they’ll often have some drink specials for the football games on all the TV’s. Or, head out to get a bite after the game. Kiddos will get replica jerseys tomorrow!
The home stand then continues on Wednesday and Friday as St John’s will be in town for two. Hey, if they’re gonna come all that way, may as well play two! Stay tuned for “hockey night” posts before each game!
See you at the arena,