“Nothing will happen on Friday the 13th that cannot happen on Saturday the 14th.”
After a dreadful Friday night loss in Hartford last weekend, the Phantoms rebounded to win two at home and salvage 4 of 6 points on the weekend. Alex Lyon was the hot hand in goal after pitching a shutout Saturday night, so he got the second start of the weekend on Sunday against Utica.
The Bears arrive for the first part of a home-and-home which will concluded tomorrow, Saturday the 14th, at the GIANT center. They dropped all three of their games last weekend–although two were in overtime. They re-loaded this weekend as Liam O’Brien and Paul Carey were returned from the Capitals just in time for these two games with the Hamilton Street Heroes.
We’ll see if the bad luck of Friday the 13th haunts the Bears, or if they’re loaded for Phantom. And how will it follow tomorrow night in Hershey? Get ready for some hockey as we start an important stretch of Atlantic Division games in the “Dog Days of Winter.”
The Phantoms are currently the highest-scoring team in the American Hockey League averaging 3.59 goals per game. Lehigh Valley also enters the week having allowed the AHL’s third-fewest goals-against (2.56) on a per-game basis.
- No team in the AHL has more wins when scoring first this season (18) than Lehigh Valley. The Phantoms are an impressive 18-5 when netting the game’s first goal this year and are tied for the most first goals (23) in the league.
- Look for one–or two–moves from the Flyers later this weekend as they clear cap space to activate defenceman Mark Streit. D Andrew MacDonald and F Roman Lyubimov have been mentioned as possibilities. AMac would count as a veteran under AHL rules, but Lyubimov would not–if it comes to that.
- It appears Coach Gordon is going to be riding the hot hand while playing both Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz in goal. Expect Stolie to start tonight and Lyon tomorrow–but Monday in Springfield will likely go to the one who did best. A little intra-squad competition never hurt anyone.
- A little bit of line shuffle in practice this week as we see the possibility that F Corban Knight might slot in on the second line, with the youngster Aube-Kubel dropping down to the fourth.
Leier – Laughton – McDonald
Martel – Weal – Knight (Zengerle)
Carey – Miele – Conner
Bardreau – Fazleev – Aube-Kubel
Bennan – Hagg
Sanheim – Morin
O’Neill – Alt
The Royals split with Adirondack last weekend at home. They’re in Elmira for two starting tonight, and have an MLK-day matinee at the Santander with Elmira on Monday. The Royals are still in third place in their division; these three games in four days versus last-place Elmira represent an opportunity to move up.
The 12-game series with Hershey looks like this half way:
At PPL Center: Hershey won 2 in regulation; Phantoms won one by shootout
Here’s a great piece about the “best goal ever at PPL Center.”
Puck Drop: 7:05PM
Tickets: This game has gone ‘SRO.’ Procure your tickets before heading downtown tonight.
Media Kit (rosters): bears-11317
Promotion: T-Shirt Night!
Broadcast: The usual suspects: Service Electric TV-2; 1470-AM; Phantoms365 App; PhantomsHockey.com
Pre-Game: Radio 6:20PM; TV (live from Chickie’s) 6:30PM.
I’ll be at BrewWorks early for the release of their new Tripel: Devil’s Hearth. Ziggy will be my partner in crime tonight.
I avoided pre-game festivities last weekend for a variety of reasons. I still enjoyed the hockey–so there’s hope for me after all! 😉
What To Watch
- How will Stolie respond to this new goalie rotation?
- Watch our D-pairs: They’re going to have their hands full with Hershey attackers like Vrana, Galiev, Carey et al.
- Watch special teams: We’re one of the best squads on both sides, and it might be the key to winning this game tonight.
- Look for the team to come out with some jump–They shouldn’t be dumping the first game of the weekend and then having to chase it the rest of the series.
- Also look for Hershey to come out hot: They can’t be happy with losing all three last weekend.
- Watch the officials. Will they keep this game under control? The poor officiating last time the Bears were in town lead to some chippy play and Will O’Neill having to handle things on his own.
- Watch carefully away from the puck: This Hershey team will take some cheap shots when they think no one’s looking.
- Watch that second line–either Knight or Zengerle should add some veteran presence there and will likely lead to some nice chances.
- Watch Miele. He’s been really quiet. Partially because he hasn’t had to be the point-per-game guy on this team. But if we’re in a tight game tonight–and it’s likely we will be–let’s see if he can get “selfish” and get himself a goal.
- Watch that fourth line. It’s not a pure checking line as we’ve been preaching around here. Coupled with the hard-nosed Bardreau and Fazleev, Aube-Kubel might actually get some better chances than he did with the second-line veterans. Watch to see how he responds both offensively and in his own zone.
As mentioned above, this is an important stretch: Two with Hershey this weekend, then Wilkes-Barre, Providence and Hershey again next weekend, sandwiched around a matinee in Springfield. These six games could go a long way towards determining if we’re a top-2 team in this division or merely one of four.
For home games, we’re back at it next Friday with the Penguins.
See you at the arena,