Phantoms : Offense Finally Shifting Into Gear
Although extremely popular with many of the PPL Center faithful for being unofficially unbeaten in every single American Hockey League fight to date, Lehigh Valley Phantoms winger Tyrell Goulbourne (# 12) is pointless in six games played so far this season and could be unsuited for this brave new highly technical world the Hamilton Street Heroes now find themselves skating in ….. (photo courtesy “Chocolate Hockey” website)
It will be noted for the historical record that, after having their character essentially called into question at the start of the week via the blog piece that asked when the team would be rising up in the American Hockey League standings, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms responded in no uncertain terms by embarking on a three-game winning streak which has vaulted head coach Scott Gordon’s club into third place on the Atlantic Division chart. Fittingly, it was rather resilient third period which saw the Hamilton Street Heroes overturn a two-goal deficit by scoring four times unanswered to defeat the visiting Springfield Thunderbirds 6-4 at the PPL Center on Saturday night that has capped off this recent run of favorable results. If only one thing is becoming more clearly evident with every passing contest, it is that emerging Phantoms really do possess one of if not the most potent offensive attacks in the AHLs entire 14-team Eastern Conference.
Even though Lehigh Valley continues to demonstrate that there is still yet work to be done in the defensive zone, the dramatic events of Saturday evening showed that sand in the transmission is obviously no longer a problem for the Phantoms nowadays. Indeed, the Philadelphia Flyers’ top farm club is now averaging 3.89 goals per outing after nine games, a figure which leads every other team in the AHL’s Eastern Conference including the powerful Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (3.70), the mighty Toronto Marlies (3.40) and the formidable Hershey Bears (3.40). As a matter of fact, the high-scoring Heroes have now tallied four or more goals in an admirable seven of nine AHL games played thus far this season — a far cry from last term, when Gordon’s Guys managed to score three goals or more in just 26 of 76 AHL games.
Exactly as this blog had projected before training camp even began, the recipe for success has been the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ ability to ice three complete lines all of genuine scoring quality. Lehigh Valley’s top marksmen so far this term such as off-season free agent signings Greg Carey and Mark Zengerle as well as returning leading goal shark Danick Martel have all been skating on separate units from one another this fall, a clear indication of the important balance that the Phantoms have been able to enjoy. Furthermore, no fewer than twelve of the fourteen total forwards that the head coach Gordon has dressed have each been able to score at least one goal so far this season plus versatile Russian rookie Radel Fazleev has contributed three assists even if unable to find the back of the net as of yet.
Competition for a place in the line-up this fall has been fiercer than ever before seen at the corner of 7th & Hamilton Streets in center city Allentown but, this weekend, the recent arrival from the Philadelphia Flyers of the rehabilitating Scott Laughton saw to it that fourth line right wing Corban Knight, the veteran off-season free agent signing who skated in 29 National Hockey League games for the Florida Panthers last season before netting two goals in his first eight AHL games for Lehigh Valley this fall, would be a healthy scratch against the Springfield Thunderbirds on Saturday night. Good ole’ Tyrell “One Punch” Goulbourne, the energetic winger who was the third round pick (# 72 overall) of the Flyers at the 2013 NHL Draft and appeared in 73 AHL games last season, has been a healthy scratch the past two games and could find himself being sent to the ECHL’s Reading Royals for the very first time in his albeit brief professional career. Of course, it must be remembered that Petr Straka, the inconsistent Czech winger who scored 19 goals in 64 AHL games for the Phantoms last season, has not been able to get a shirt even once all season!
Meanwhile, at least some in the Mecca Of Minor League Sports are not completely convinced that Laughton, who did manage an empty net goal versus the Providence Bruins on Friday night as well as an assist on captain Colin McDonald‘s game-winning goal for Lehigh Valley against Springfield the following evening, will be immediately recalled by the Flyers as advertised. While Philadelphia’s first round pick at the 2012 NHL Draft certainly did not play poorly at the PPL Center on Saturday night, it can not be said that Laughton necessarily stood out as much as a legitimate National Hockey League regular should have. Also to be taken into consideration are the twenty-three players already on the NHL roster plus the league’s salary cap requirements.
Categories: Phantoms Hockey