HOCKEY NIGHT IN ALLENTOWN: “When the Levee Breaks”

“Cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good
Now, cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move”

–Led Zeppelin + James Patrick

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Video Recap:

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Looking Back

The 3/3 losses last weekend were tough.  I hammered the team earlier in the week, but I was right there watching online Wednesday night when the “Flood Gates” opened an the goals began to pour in versus Binghamton.  Last night at the PPL Center it was a full-on levee breach.  In the past two games, the Phantoms have scored 13 goals–by 10 different players.  Everyone is getting into the act, and the play has been sharp, and inspired, across the board.  The final score of last night’s game was Phantoms 7, Americans 1, in the first-ever visit by the Rochester team to the PPL Center.  Stoli was stellar in goal as the Phantom of the Arena haunted the Amerks all night.  Tonight, the Albany Devils come to town to face a very different Phantoms team than the one that won the last two games though…

Team Report

The Phantoms dead-last penalty kill allowed one goal in four chances last night.

The Phantoms power play, which I felt had a decided advantage versus the road kill unit of the Amerks, was 2/5 in chances.  Plus, they looked good, and organized in the “umbrella” formation.  Folks near me were yelling for “more skating” during the power play, but the fact that they could control the puck and get their formation set up was the thing that I was impressed with.

We had 8,000 plus last night for T-Shirt night.  The concourses felt as crowded as they’ve been all season as that number will certainly raise or season-average which already had us in third place.  Tonight will be even more crowded.  May as well get in line for the bathrooms right now.

Player Report

Coach Gordon trotted out the same exact 11F/7D formation he had from Wednesday night in Binghamton–scratching Rosehill after warm-ups in favor of the rookie defenseman Marti.  Discussion with d.E. during the game–we agree that the thought behind it is to get the young Marti ice time without the pressure of a regular shift if it isn’t needed or warranted.  Veteran defenseman Lashoff was also a healthy scratch.  The only other factor is that Marti took a puck to the neck late in the game.  He left under his own power–but I’m unsure of how that might impact tonight’s lines.

But the big news this morning was the call-ups:  Leier and Gostisbehere were called to the Flyers and should start tonight in Carolina.  The Flyers moved Streit and Umberger to the IR in order to clear enough cap room for the moves.

Colin McDonald continues to skate “non-contact.”  His return is getting closer, but still unknown.

Cole Bardreau was re-injured after returning last weekend.  His status is also unknown.

Aaron Palushaj was an injury scratch last night.  His status is unknown at this time as well–but with Leier called up, we could certainly see him back tonight.

Points Leaders

Cousins 15

Conner 13

Straka 11

Brent 11

Plus/Minus

Alt +9

Cousins +8

—–

Marti -5

Goulbourne -4

Alderson -4

Goalie Report

Stolarz 5-3 / 1.89 GAA / .930 SV%

LaBarbera 1-5 / 4.15 GAA / .855  SV%

Royal Report

After getting nailed in Wheeling last night 6-1, the Royals truck it home to face Norfolk tonight and tomorrow.  The Royals are 6-4-0-0 and remain in second place.  The Norfolk team coming in is tied for last–they join the ECHL as their AHL affiliation moved out west.

The response for our trip to Reading on Friday has been really poor.  C’mon folks, the Phantoms are out of town.  What else are you going to do on a Friday night?  Here’s the link again–buy some cheap tickets, enjoy a different arena and cheer on our guys.  We already know many of them:  Pettersson, Mathers, Ouellette, Comrie, etc.

GAME DAY!

The New Jersey Devils AHL affiliate from Albany comes to town for a Saturday Night Fight.  Former Phantoms netminder Yann Danis is their primary goalie having started 10 of their 12 games and the last five in a row.  He’s been playing very well, d.E. tells me.

It’s “Cub Scout Night” and the place will be packed.  Will it be rockin’ too?  That’s up to you!

Wanna learn more about the Devils team we face tonight?  It’s a tougher squad than Binghamton or Rochester.  Here’s the der Eishockeyzuschauer scouting report:

The very formidable Albany Devils, currently in second place in the North Division of the AHL’s Eastern Conference having garnered 66.7% of all available points from their first dozen games this season, arrive in Allentown looking to defeat the second-year Lehigh Valley Phantoms for the fifth time in as many all-time meetings.

Scott Wedgewood, the 23-year-old who was the 3rd round pick of the New Jersey Devils at the 2010 NHL Draft, was first choice for Albany last season (36 ga, 2.74 avg, .903 svpct) and posted three wins against the Phantoms while proving himself to be a hard man to beat in those three matches (only six goals conceded with a .938 save percentage). It was Wedgewood who made 35 saves in the last meeting between these two teams, a 4-1 triumph by Albany at the PPL Center in Allentown. But Wedgewood suffered an ankle sprain prior to the AHL season opener and has not appeared for the Devils even once this fall.
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Instead, the Albany Devils have turned to Yann Danis, the extremely well-traveled 34-year-old out of Brown University who was the number one netminder for the Adirondack Phantoms in their last season a few years back. Danis does have 53 NHL games (2.75 avg, .909 svpct) for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers under his belt and has also appeared in 342 career AHL games (2.63 avg, .911 svpct) for a variety of different clubs, as well. The diminutive French-Canadian (5’11” 180 lbs) still wound up with solid numbers last season (35 ga, 2.70 avg, .918 svpct) despite splitting the term between the Norfolk Admirals and the Hartford Wolf Pack and has been outstanding for Albany (10 ga, 1.99 avg, .923 svpct) thus far this fall.
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The Devils are also fortified by a strong defensive corps that feature a number of players with a good amount of experience at the AHL level. Perhaps the most effective shut down defender for Albany is Seth Helgeson (6’4″ 215 lbs), the 25-year-old from the University of Minnesota who was the 4th round pick of the New Jersey Devils at the 2009 NHL Draft and skated in 22 NHL games for New Jersey last season. One pleasant surprise this season has been the play of undrafted rookie rearguard Vojtech Mozik (9 ga, 1 go, 6 pts, 8 pen, + 10 def rat), the 22-year-old who arrived this summer from HC Plzen after making 20 appearances for the national team of the Czech Republic the past two seasons (although none at a major international tournament).
Marc-Andre Gragnani, the 28-year-old Canadian defenseman who played with Swiss club SC Bern and Czech side HC Lev Prague the past two seasons before returning to North America this summer, is tied for the Albany team lead with eight assists but has been out of action the last two games — not sure if Gragnani is injured or a – 7 plus/minus rating is keeping him out of the line-up.
Mike Sislo, the undrafted 27-year-old right wing who was teammates at the University of New Hampshire with Lehigh Valley Phantoms center Kevin Goumas, is off to an excellent start for the Albany Devils with seven goals and twelve points in 12 AHL games this season; Sislo, the fifthy-year pro who scored 20 goals in 65 AHL games last season and skated in 10 NHL games for the New Jersey Devils last season, features on Albany’s top line at the moment with surprising rookie center Joseph Blandisi, the 6th round pick of the Colorado Avalanche at the 2012 NHL Draft who has five goals and ten points in 11 AHL games this fall, as well as undrafted rookie left wing Matt Lorito, the 25-year-old from Brown University who skated in a dozen games for Albany last spring (11 ga, 3 go, 12 pts) and has continued to produce at essentially that same pace for the AHL club again this fall (11 ga, 2 go, 10 pts).   
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Reid Boucher, the 22-year-old American-born left wing who was the 4th round pick of the New Jersey Devils at the 2011 NHL Draft, is yet another Albany player to watch at the PPL Center tonight. Boucher, who has already been demoted by New Jersey twice after the start of this new 2015/16 AHL season, has notched goals in five of his last six games for Albany, including two in the Devils’ 4-2 win over the Providence Bruins last night in New England. All told, Boucher, who harvested 22 goals in 56 AHL games two season ago but managed to light the lamp just fifteen times in 65 AHL games last term, has six goals and eight points in just seven AHL games for the Albany Devils this fall.  

Puck Drop:  7:05PM

Doors:  5:30PM  (remember, this is the only day we get the early start–I like it)

Tickets and Parking:  Tickets are going to be difficult tonight.  This game went “SRO” yesterday or before–meaning enough of the seats were sold that the arena was willing to sell Standing Room tickets.  We’ve seen that the standing room tickets are now labeled for which area you’re supposed to stand–It is not yet known if the arena/ushers check the tickets and make you stand in one area, or not.  It is my belief that it is more for their own regulation, in case one of the areas has been booked as a group they can just remove or modify that option under their SRO allotment.  Also, they can measure popularity.  Please note too, there are still a bunch of seats available on the secondary market–StubHub et al–so that is always an option if you need to get in tonight.  My advice is to secure tickets before heading downtown and paying for parking.

Tonight’s a good night to use the real time parking availability, in order to check the lots and decks before you arrive downtown–in case some of them are sold out.  Follow the parking authority on Twitter for real-time updates about full lots.

Broadcast:  In addition to the SETV-2 and AHL-Live feeds, tonight’s game will also be available on WFMZ-69 locally.  Radio broadcast is AM-1470–audio online at phantomshockey.com or via the IHeartRadio app on mobile.  Inside the arena use FM 89.9 for the real-time call.

Promotion:  Boy Scout Night.  No giveaway.

Pregame:  TV pregame is TV-2 only at 6:30PM, LIVE from Chickie’s and Pete’s.  Radio pregame is 6:20PM.

Junior finally relented last night.  “I’m getting kinda tired of Chickie’s,” he says.  Thank goodness.  We need to expand his horizons for the pre-game meal, and I wasn’t going to force him with DiPro bagging out.  Tonight is different–Kram3 is set to join me and DiPro should be around as well.  One quick review:  Had the new Yuengling “IPL” last night.  It was very tasty.  Give it a try if you like lager and wish it had more hop bite.

What To Watch

  • Until I can figure a pattern, you’ll still have to watch for who starts in net.  If it were me, I’d stick with the hot hand as we start to stack wins.  Stoli.  I hope.
  • Watch the forwards–the wings in particular–dig those pucks out of the corners.  Watch the speed and physicality of our defenders.  We’ve scored 13 goals in two games not because we’ve been lucky–they’ve been good goals off quality chances earned through hard work along the boards and hustle on the ice.  It’s been a pleasure to watch; hopefully it keeps up tonight given the roster shake-up.
  • Watch the lines–with the call ups, things may get shaken a bit.  Some guys could be ready to return, and we face a more difficult team in the Devils.
  • Watch for heavy traffic on the concourses and long lines at the rest rooms between periods.  This is gonna be a crowded one.  Lines at concessions will probably be long as well–groups of boy scouts won’t necessarily be going to Shula’s to eat beforehand, if you know what I’m saying.
  • Watch to see if Yann Danis gets the start in goal for the Devils.

Looking Ahead

The Phantoms will be on the road for the next four games.  They have 3/3 in New England next weekend, followed by a trip to Utica on Thanksgiving-eve.  Thanksgiving weekend Friday and Saturday they’ll be home for Hershey and Providence–games I’ll miss due to a prior commitment.  However, blog previews will still be available.  Another road trip to start December, and my next home game will be Wednesday December 9, versus Hershey.  Oh my.

This is why we need to take trips to Reading (11/20) and Hershey (Phan Club bus trip 12/5) and such!

See you at the arena,

@Kram209

(cover photo by Cheryl Pursell)



Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Phantoms Hockey

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