Introduction: Hockey (and all sports) is entertainment, and as a sports blog, this is the same. You can argue what I have labeled as “myth” below, but each has a modicum of truth in that I’ve seen a version of it online somewhere or heard it in person at the games. This is all for fun, but if you have strong feelings, please be civil and use the comment section below as not everyone uses Spacebook or belongs to the same groups. Thanks, and enjoy.
Myth: The Phantoms don’t fight enough.
FALSE. This team wasn’t built to fight. They were build to score goals and win hockey games. They were build to provide a winning and competitive atmosphere for highly regarded prospects in the Flyers’ system. I did note last night as we watched the away game on TV, though, they do seem to fight more on the road for some reason. Good job my Miele last night for the win. But don’t come to the games expecting to see a fight every night. And the AHL rules changes don’t help in that regard, either, fight fans.
Myth: The fourth line is the “checking” line.
FALSE. This team rolls four scoring lines, and while AHL does not distribute ice time information, rest assured the fourth line gets plenty of minutes. Just take a look at who scored the goals last night. Take a look at the point totals for players often on the fourth line. They’re out there plenty and they contribute, umm, “bigly.”
Myth: The young defencemen are “soft.”
FALSE. Morin, Sanheim, and Hagg–and to a lesser degree Willcox–are being asked to work on certain facets of their game(s) and improve in certain areas on a game-to-game and week-to-week basis. We don’t get to know what their focus is any particular night, but sometimes it slips out in interviews. Lately, a couple of them have been challenged to be more assertive physically, we’ve heard–and we’ve seen it.
I saw Hagg totally wreck a guy Monday night. A couple weeks ago I saw Morin literally (yes, literally literally) pick a player up and bounce him off the ice. Last night I saw Sanheim assert himself around the net. Good stuff. They have a special coach they brought in specifically to work with these young prospects on defense (Kerry Huffman). They’ll get there. Oh, and one more thing: Try to remember that Rob Hagg is only 21 years old, despite the fact that he’s been with us for 3 seasons now.
Myth: The Phantoms are all veteran free agents and that’s the only reason the Phantoms are winning.
FALSE. The AHL has a “veteran rule” which prevents teams from stacking their rosters with talent to the detriment of development. It’s a “developmental league” per the AHL. Last season, we had players scratched regularly because we had too many “veterans” by the AHL standard. That has not been a problem at all this season. This biggest difference has been the quality of the free agents acquired, and the increased system depth with the addition of talented prospects such as Aube-Kubel and Sanheim. Not to mention the experience of some of the more established youngsters such as Leier, Martel, Bardreau, Morin and Hagg.
Myth: Those veterans are taking ice time away from prospects; the Phantoms shouldn’t be trying so hard to win games because nobody cares.
FALSE, FALSE AND FALSE. Nobody’s taking time away from anybody. Trust me, the coaching staff is under the constant watchful eye of Philadelphia and if players need to play, they’ll play. They’ll be put in positions they need to be in–to either challenge them or to have them feel success.
But do you want them learning how to win or learning how to lose? You want them in competitive games with a chance to win in front of an arena full of fans–that’s what you want. This roster was constructed by the Flyers personnel department not to lead the league in penalty minutes, but maybe to lead the league in scoring. Take a look at those ranks sometime soon.
Oh, and I think you’d like them to have playoff experience, too, wouldn’t you Mr. Flyers fan? How many prospects over the last seven seasons have had that opportunity while wearing a Phantoms sweater? Right.
Myth: Stolarz is better than Lyon.
Myth: Lyon is better than Stolarz.
I don’t know. That’s the point here. Remember, even though Lyon seems like the “new guy” he’s actually slightly older than Stolie because of his time at Yale. At times, he’s looked very good this season. At other times maybe not so much. I know he leads the league in wins right now, but remember that he has the top scoring team in the league in front of him–along with some very talented defensive prospects and some quality veterans on the blue line.
I know Stolie has done well at times, too. Fantastic, even. I’m a fan of his and I’ll always pull for him. But the truth is I’m not sure how good he really is. A lot of the future is yet to be written here. I would caution anyone from trying to make too many assumptions right away.
Heck, some of you guys can’t even agree that Mason is a good goalie. Let’s let the kids play and perhaps things will get sorted out more clearly.
Myth: If the Phantoms can just get more shots on goal than the other team, they should win all their games.
FALSE. I know I’m guilty of this. I like to see pucks on net. I like the chances they provide and the secondary chance for a rebound or a greasy goal. But that doesn’t mean I want Jason Akeson skating around by himself lobbing wrist shots at the goalie’s chest. Remember, this team was built from skilled players, several of whom are established scorers. They are talented enough to put themselves in position to get a higher percentage shot. I need to remind myself of this before I yell “SHOOT!” next time.
Myth: The Phantoms are a dirty team.
FALSE. This is a highly skilled team which is tied for the most wins in the league and also leads in scoring last I checked. If Will O’Neill takes a poke at one of your players, Hershey, it’s probably because he deserved it. He’s been in the AHL a while, and if he was dirty we’d have known it by now. Heck, he was with Wilkes-Barre last season, whom we saw a bunch of times, and I never thought he was a dirty player. There are no Stortini’s or Rosehill’s on this team–and we’re near the bottom of the league in penalty minutes. Not a dirty team at all. Indeed, not the “same old Phantoms.”
Now Hershey on the other hand, was a pretty chippy team last visit. They’re to be watched carefully from now on.
Myth: The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are better than every other team in the AHL.
MAYBE. We don’t really know, do we? They don’t lead in scoring per game, do they? And, they’ve only played us once. Who won that game? OK. Eleven more tilts and then we’ll know.
Look, they’re playoff history is impressive. In many ways, that’s the franchise to model after, despite the bad taste that might leave in your mouth if you’re a Flyers fan. But which team has won a Calder more recently? They don’t usually give out hockey cups in December. This should be fun to watch going forward.
Myth: The Phantoms are a finished product.
FALSE. Again, this is a case where the future is yet to be written. There were times the past two seasons when I felt like Mark Alt was the best defender on the ice–and he hasn’t played yet. He’ll be back soon. Players are still developing, and we’ve still got to deal with the trade deadline. Stay tuned.
Myth: The playoffs are a certainty at this point.
FALSE. While we certainly hope so, let’s not make plans for “playoff parties” just yet. Do not under-estimate the ability of Philadelphia to screw this up for us. I don’t think they would have assembled this team thusly just to yank the carpet out, but you never really know. Injuries happen, too. Let’s be happy with what we have and resist the urge to jump the shark. We’ve got a good team to watch; let’s enjoy the ride.
Myth: A shot that hit’s the post but doesn’t go in is like “half a goal” because almost.
FALSE. “It’s 2-1 but the one team had two shots off the post.” Yeah, you know what those are? Not a goal. This isn’t horseshoes or hand grenades; they score goals by the pucks that go into the net. No partial credit so don’t even bring it up. Oooh and ahhh if you must. But it’s still not a goal.
Myth: Overtime is the most horrible thing in hockey.
Myth: Overtime is the best thing in hockey.
NEITHER. I know it’s not perfect. I don’t like that three standings points are available in an overtime/shootout game and only two in a regulation game. I know you wouldn’t play 2-on-2 basketball or 5-on-5 soccer or 4-on-4 baseball to decide a game.
But look, it’s five minutes. And, it’s exciting. If it weren’t, why would they be doing it at the All Star Game? Even the shoot-out is preferable to PK’s if you ask me. And I wouldn’t really mind a tie, either.
But, if I were getting in free at the games, and getting free food, and getting to talk to the players after the game, I don’t think I’d be complaining about an extra five minutes out of the day. It’s not like the internet closes; you can still file your story. So zip it. Come to a 16-inning baseball game some time–and I won’t even mention that the bar has been closed since the top of the 11th.
Myth: Phantoms fans don’t know anything about hockey.
FALSE. I know there are still problems. We still have fans who think it’s appropriate to wander around in the aisles while the puck is in play. And, I feel like I learn or observe something different at every game, still.
But if you weren’t there, you should have seen the turnout last night at Chickie’s and Pete’s for the “away game viewing party.” The place was almost as packed as a regular game night. All just to watch a mid-week December game against a non-division foe on a sometimes questionable AHL-Live feed. It was an impressive showing by Phan Nation last night, and a sign of good things to come for this franchise, in the fan support department.
Hey, I’ll see YOU at the arena,
Cover photo by Cheryl Pursell