“Well, they were the only two I had.”
-Terry Crisp, Lightning coach, on why he used two goalies in a 10-0 loss
It’s been two full weeks since the last Phantoms’ Hockey Night–and it was a Wednesday night tilt with Binghamton. I was worried about the surging Senators that night, but d.E. was not, and sure enough the Hamilton Street Heroes came away with a decisive 7-2 victory. That win, along with the previous Sunday in Hershey where they won 5-1, completed a 2-game series where the Phantoms won by a combined 12-3. I just want to leave that there.
All Star Friday the Phantoms were in the Southern Tier to complete the home-and-home with the Baby Sens and won again–this time more narrowly 2-1. Weal with a goal and Aube-Kubel with the winner. Alex Lyon with a strong game in net.
All Star Saturday the Phantoms shuffled off to Bridgeport and lost 3-2. The Sound Kitties continue to give the Phantoms problems. Stolarz in goal, markers by Scotty Laughts and Will O’Neill in the loss.
Coming back from the break, the Phantoms were in Albany–next year’s Binghamton–last Friday, and came from behind to win 4-3 by continuing to run up their 3rd-period goal advantage. Scotty Laughts, Corban Knight (subbing for the injured Taylor Leier), and Chris Conner had goals. Andy Miele had the winner, and Alex Lyon got the win in goal.
The next night–a Saturday–the Phantoms stopped off in Wilkes Barre on the way back from Albany and forgot to play hockey. A 7-1 beat-down by the Pens seemed to signal to the AHL blog-osphere that the Phantoms were not worthy to be considered one of the top teams. This caused me to go off on a bit of a rant. Are the two recent bad losses (9-1 to Providence, 7-1 to Wilkes Barre) troubling? Yes. Do the Phantoms win as many blow-outs as they lose? Also, yes–even more considering the Phantoms beat Providence 7-1 only a couple weeks previous, and still lead the season series with the Penguins 2-1. The Saturday night .500 record is troubling, too. But this is still a very good team.
And now we’re right back here with Binghamton at home on a Wednesday. Can the “Heroes” win again on the rebound?
The Phantoms are currently the highest-scoring team in the American Hockey League averaging 3.62 goals per game. Much of Lehigh Valley’s production has come in the third period where the Phantoms have produced a league-best 70 goals and are outscoring their opposition 70-38 in the final frame of regulation.
- Lehigh Valley is 27-3-2 when scoring three or more goals this season. Meanwhile, the Phantoms are 28-4 when allowing three goals or fewer this year.
- The Phantoms have scored at least one power play in 10 of their last 13 games. Lehigh Valley’s man-advantage has produced 17 man-advantage markers during that stretch. The Phantoms lead the Eastern Conference with 52 power play conversions and their man-advantage is fourth overall (first in the Eastern Conference) at 23.6 percent.
F Taylor Leier missed both games last weekend with what’s being termed a “minor injury.” He is not expected to play tonight, but could return Friday versus St John’s. Corban Knight has been skating in his spot on the top line.
F Colin McDonald was nicked up late in the game with Wilkes Barre Saturday. He did not practice earlier this week, but does have a chance to return tonight. F Mark Zengerle was in his spot on the top line at practice.
F Travis Konecny is out 4-6 weeks in Philadelphia. The Flyers play tomorrow, and a call-up is expected. I don’t even want to speculate who, at this point. It really should be Leier I guess, but the injury puts a monkey wrench in that plan. I guess what I’d do is call up a guy that doesn’t need waivers so that you could flip with Leier once he’s healthy. I think they could probably do that with Boyd Gordon because he already passed through waivers–but I’m not positive how that works.
Expected Lines Tonight:
Knight – Laughton – Zengerle
Martel – Weal – AubeKubel
Carey – Miele – Conner
Bardreau – Gordon – Fazleev
Brennan – Hagg
Sanheim – Morin
O’Neill – Alt
Since we were last here, the Royals have gone 6-0, including a 6-3 smack-down of division-leader Manchester. They have climbed to 2nd place in the standings and trail Manchester by 5 points with two games in hand.
Our old friend Kevin Sundher left the team for a better opportunity overseas.
The Royals are home tomorrow for South Carolina, and then again Saturday and Sunday for Norfolk.
The Sens return to town playing .500 hockey over the past 10 games. Former Phantom Jason Akeson continues to be the guy to watch for the team who will soon depart the Southern Tier for a location closer to their parent club.
Puck Drop: 7:05PM
Tickets and Parking: Good seats still remain on the primary and secondary markets for this mid-week contest. No parking issues to report of late.
Media Kit: binghamton-2817
Broadcast: TV-2; AHL-Live; AM-1470; Phantoms365; PhantomsHockey.com
Pre-Game: Radio 6:20PM; TV 6:30PM.
The last Wednesday hockey night I stopped by Cork and Cage to sample a brew I’d been wanting to try. Really knowledgeable and open-minded beer staff in there if you’re looking for something in particular or just want recommendations. They usually have something on tap, and large and normal-format bottles and cans which can be purchased singly and consumed on-site if desired. Hang around long enough and you might get a sample or two as well. They are affiliated with grain. next door. I then did happy hour at Hook before the game.
Over All Star weekend, I spent a couple pre-games at Bell Hall. Food and draft beers top notch, as per usual.
Tonight, there’s a Dogfish Head tap takeover at grain from 5-8PM. But, if I want to stick to my diet I’ll be back at Hook. We’ll see; I don’t think I can do both, but…
What To Watch
Plenty to think about tonight:
- I’d think it will be Lyon tonight in goal. If Stolie was the clear 1, then you’d maybe want him back on the horse, but in this case we need to find the 1 vs 1a and get some consistency. I know the recent blowouts were not all goalie-related–consider that they each had one.
- Watch to see if the Captain makes it back for the game. If not, will someone else take the ‘C’? Will they stick with Knight/Zengerle alongside Laughts on the top line? I think I would.
- It’s time for Boyd Gordon to step up. I know he’s on the fourth line, but he’s supposed to be the NHL guy and both of these bad losses have happened since he arrived. Add in that the Flyers are probably going to call someone up, and tonight might be the night to shine. He doesn’t need to score a goal even–just do enough to get noticed out there.
- It’s time for TJ Brennan to calm down. His recent turn of penalty-taking is hurting the team. I know there’s a time to be physical. I know there’s a time to fight. I know you need to stick up for teammates and be a leader. But, he’s an All Star and it doesn’t help the team to have him in the box so much. Get your revenge on the score sheet TJ!
- Watch for big-time motivation tonight–the embarrassment of the loss the other day coupled with the prospect of a call-up after the game and a home-town week-night hockey crowd hungry for a win–should be a good one but they have to want it. Apparently.
St. Johns is in town for two this weekend: Friday night is T-Shirt night and Saturday is post-game autographs.
“Hockey Night” will appear pre-game for Friday, but will be on hiatus Saturday and return the following weekend.
See you at the arena,