To continue on the subject of what kind of strategies and tactics the Lehigh Valley Phantoms will be using on the power play this season, it should be noted that head coach Scott Gordon was still able to give the fan base a glimpse of what he is planning despite the lopsided 6-1 scoreline versus the visiting Charlotte Checkers at the PPL Center on Friday night.
Keen observers had to wait until the start of the second period for the Phantoms to have their very first experience with the man advantage and needed to be rather alert, as well. This because Lehigh Valley’s first power play of this new 2016/17 campaign lasted all of eighteen seconds thanks to a fine play by rookie Travis Sanheim. The 20-year-old defenseman who was the first round pick (# 17 overall) of the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2014 National Hockey League Draft, skated down the right wing side and then centered the puck perfectly for off-season free agent signing Greg Carey. Carey is the 26-year-old left wing from St. Lawrence University who fired 26 goals in the American Hockey League while skating for the Springfield Falcons last season. Perhaps the most noteworthy development of the whole episode, which would be confirmed when the Phantoms had subsequent chances with the man advantage later in the game, was the fact that Lehigh Valley deployed a traditional power play formation with two defenseman stationed on the blue line.
To be more specific, the Phantoms’ number one power play unit on Friday night featured T.J. Brennan, the 27-year-old off-season free agent signing who has been voted the AHL’s Best Defenseman two times in the past three seasons, and the promising youngster Sanheim. As was noted in the “Phantoms : Power Play Ponderings” article published earlier, it appears as if Lehigh Valley are going to have at least three quality offensive defensemen to work with this season in Brennan, Sanheim and Will O’Neill. O’Neill is the 28-year-old off-season free agent signing who was named a Second Team AHL All-Star last term with Wilkes-Barre. So, again, this observer will not be the least bit shocked if the Lehigh Valley Phantoms are not using the “umbrella” power play alignment, featuring four forwards on the ice operating in a loosely-shaped box down low in the offensive zone, when the regular season gets underway.
There were very, very few positives from the home team’s perspective to take away from Friday night’s AHL exhibition game at the PPL Center but it should be pointed out that Sanheim, who was a member of Canada’s squad at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship last winter, showed an awful lot of potential in terms of rushing the puck as well as getting involved in the Phantoms’ attack in the Checkers’ offensive zone.
Categories: Phantoms Hockey