The Penguins are back, and the Phantoms are ready. They’re on a collision course which will culminate tonight at the PPL Center. Here’s what you need to know to get ready for the game:
The Phantoms are rested and ready: They’ve had the week off and are fresh off a 5-game road trip in which they gathered eight of ten available standings points and won three games in regulation, 3-0-1-1.
The Baby Pens were one of those wins–but they’re back to full strength now and not to be trifled with. It’s a collision course, and the showdown is tonight.
For more on the road trip, and roster news and trades and such, read Wednesday Night’s Post.
The Phantoms are above .500 now, sporting a 17-16-2-1 record. It’s too soon to talk playoffs and such–but it’s time to see if the Phantoms can continue to move in the right direction with continued consistency and good play. Or, is this just a lucky New Year streak which won’t amount to much at season’s end? Stay tuned.
The PK unit was playing very, very well on the road (I won’t even write the streak for you–just know that they did well) but are currently ranked 21/30 at home. The Pens road PP is 13/30.
The PP is ranked 12th at home; they’ll face the Pens 3rd ranked road PK unit tonight.
Click on the link above to view the player news from the past week or two–I’ll supplement below.
The AHL All Star roster was announced yesterday. The good news it that our guys Stolie and Cousins were named–and rightfully so. The bad news is that the leading goal scorer in the entire AHL was snubbed. I went off on a rant about it yesterday.
- It’s early, but Chris Conner skated full contact yesterday, by reports. He could be available this weekend, which would be great.
- I was under the impression that Andrew MacDonald was back at full practice after getting some supposed “maintenance time.” However, latest reports have him out all week and somewhat questionable for the weekend, citing a “nagging injury.”
- Petr Straka–the snubbed one–was hit in the knee late in the win versus Portland on Sunday–He had some time off, but was back at practice regular jersey yesterday.
- Christian Marti is back skating full contact, and ready to play. With the crowded roster, he was sent to Reading yesterday in order to assure he gets maximum ice time. I’m sure we’ll see him back at some point.
- Ghost was injured last night. We don’t have updates yet–I don’t think. AMac is nicked. An Alt call up? We’ll see.
Straka 17 (Leads entire AHL)
Stolarz 12-7-1; 2.18 GAA; 0.925 SV
LaBarbera 4-7-0-1; 2.91 GAA; 0.903 SV
Alas, I didn’t get down there last weekend. The Royals are currently 16-12-2-3 but remain in fourth place out of five in their division. Three with our old friends Adirondack last weekend had them losing a shootout, winning, then losing outright. Their roster continues to shuffle with Marti and Padakin down from Allentown, Reid off to Hershey for a PTO, and the signing of Forward Joey Sides.
The Pens are back in town–and at full strength after getting both netminders back and some reinforcements from Pittsburgh. Read a more detailed “Enemy Lines” preview from d.E.
The Pens only have two this weekend–tonight in Allentown and tomorrow home for Utica. I’m thinking we see all-world goalie Matt Murray tonight, and they give Jary the game tomorrow. But it hardly matters–both have shut out the Phantoms in the past.
Puck Drop: 7:05PM
Tickets and Parking: Limited seats remain for this game. It hasn’t gone ‘SRO’ yet–but might by the time you read this. Please secure tickets before making the trip downtown tonight. There are a few tickets available on the secondary markets as well–check there, too, if you need seats.
Arena “north” deck will be “pre-paid pass” only–use Parking Authority facilities as per usual.
Media Kit: pens 182016 (Hey, it’s game #500!)
Printable Rosters: I believe it’s page 11 and 12 from the Media Kit–select those and print away!
Broadcast: SECTV-2, AHL-Live, AM-1490, FM-89.9 (in arena, real time call)
Promotion: Oddly, none.
PreGame: TV pregame goes live at 6:30PM from Chickie’s on TV-2. Radio a bit earlier at 6:15PM or so.
As for pre-game meal–I’m Chickie’d out. Even Junior is getting tired of it now. DiPro’s the only one still hanging on. For tonight, I’m sad about Shula’s closing. Yes, I know it’s expensive, but it was the only real “big city” steakhouse in the Lehigh Valley. You know, like Ruth’s Criss or Morton’s or Del Frisco’s. I love those places. Great cuts of meat and a nice wine list… Anyway, I’ll probably just pace back and forth out front of Shula’s before the game tonight…
What To Watch
- Watch to see who leads the Phantoms onto the ice for pre-game warm-ups–that’s your starting goalie. Barbie really shut down the Pens last time we faced them, so some are assuming it will be him. It’s a 3/3 weekend, though, so that would likely give him two starts. Would they rather have Stolie get two starts? We’ll see.
- Watch to see if any of the wounded are ready for tonight. I’m thinking neither Straka nor Conner are fully ready. If it’s close with AMac he may simply sit because of the “veteran rule.”
- Watch that vet rule stuff: With Gagne now, I think we’re up to three in the press box. Probably Conner tonight, Rosie, and either AMac or Lasher.
- Watch to see if we can solve their goalies. We’re gonna need some shots on net; that’s for sure.
- Watch to see if our PK can continue its very solid play. They’ve been really, really good of late.
- Watch to see if we look ready to play as the game begins. It’s been good on the road–we can’t afford to come out soft against this team.
- Watch Gagne. He’s wearing #89 and he’s a legit NHL player. He’s been getting better and better with consistent playing time the last three games, and could go nuts tonight. We’ll see, but the dude did have 8 points in one game in the NHL once.
- Watch for the guys to play extra hard: The thinking is that Hextall will be in the house to see how things are going. Guys like Gagne, AMac and/or Alt could be headed to the NHL soon, depending.
The Hamilton Street Heroes are on the bus after the game, headed up to Albany, NY. The Devils and that dreaded “left wing lock” stuff usually shut us down pretty good. I won’t be able to watch, but it should be interesting at least–if boring.
We’re right back here on Sunday, though, for Star Wars Night. No giveaway as far as I know, but plenty of costumed characters to take photos with on the concourse. Bring the kiddos, it’s a 5PM start as long as you don’t mind missing playoff football on TV. But, there are monitors in the loft as well as Chickie’s if you need to check in on the game. Tickets are tight again for Sunday, I think, so grab them ahead of time–even before Sunday to avoid the “day of game” surcharge.
See you at the arena,