Six thoughts for six Phantoms regulation wins in a row.
1. It’s fun to look at the standings again.
The Phantoms are now in second place in both win-percentage as well as points. It’s tenuous, of course, but it’s nice to see the results of this six game win streak in black and white. In first place, of course, is the Penguins. We’ll get our first look at them on Wednesday at the PPL Center. More on that in a minute.
2. Speed and size are important, but so is skill.
Reports out of Wilkes Barre following their crushing 0-3 loss to Toronto Friday night were frightful. Toronto was featuring a big team who could all skate. Penguins fans worried about how their squad matched up–despite having the best record in the entire AHL. I was certain it was a bad match-up for the Phantoms the next night in Allentown as well, because of the difficulty we’ve had with Bridgeport thus far this season. Indeed I was wrong, as the Phantoms rang up the Marlies to the tune of 7-2. I’ll await in-person observations from der Eishockeyzuschauer before I draw any further conclusions, but the win was impressive nonetheless.
3. Goals are good.
I believe the Phantoms are leading the league in per-game scoring. The Penguins are built on defense and goal-tending, as per usual. Something has to give here Wednesday night, but there is one thing that can be said with absolute certainty: If I’m the owner of Big Woody’s I’m looking to renegotiate that 3-goals for free pizza promo as the Phantoms are averaging over 4 goals per game. That’s a lot of free slices!
4. System depth is good.
der Eishockeyzuschauer pointed it out to me last season. I wrote about it in the off-season: The depth of talent all through the Flyers system would need to improve before the Phantoms would be competitive. Indeed, this is just what the Flyers organization has provided. In any other year, I’d be worried sick if our top-line center was injured (and of course no one will say what the injury is to Miele, or how long it will last). In any other year I’d be terribly concerned with the loss of a goalie (Stolarz will spend the next month or two with the Flyers, it seems.) But this team and this organization have the depth of talent now to withstand these changes without catastrophe–or at least it would seem so given the six-game win streak and the recent strong play from rookie goalie Alex Lyon. And not to mention:
5. Fare thee well, Mr. Straka.
The depth prevented F Petr Straka from even seeing the ice in a regular season game this year. And, over the weekend he was dealt to the Devils organization for a conditional low-round draft pick. Straka was a favorite of some–and I promoted him heavily during his All Star snub last season–but suffered from inconsistent play at times. He never seemed the same after returning from injury last season, and this year couldn’t seem to crack the current lineup which features four lines capable of scoring at any time.
6. I’m starting to like Wednesday games–and this week even more.
Our first season downtown I bemoaned what I thought was an excess of mid-week games. I was of the feeling that it put us at a disadvantage with regard to the attendance ranking, as weeknight games are always less crowded. What I understand now is that weekday games allow the facility to be available for other events during the weekends. Also, less crowded isn’t always a bad thing for us regulars. Finally, Sunday games aren’t much of an advantage with football on TV and other commitments on a school night. So now I kind of look forward to the Wednesday games. I’ll mosey over after work and have a drink somewhere downtown, maybe grab some dinner, and be all ready once the puck drops. All nice and relaxed-like. And this particular Wednesday should be a good one, with the first-place Pens in town and the win streak and everything. I know we see that team 36,000 times per season, but this first one should let us know where we stand with them, and set the stage for the many rematches.
And we’ll see if the 2016-17 Pens still own the PPL Center–because they have thus far since we move in.
See you at the arena,