The WolfPack of Hartford take up residence in the PPL Center for the next two nights. Here’s what you need to know to get ready for the first of the two games:
A fine Friday night victory one week ago at the PPL Center, over the St. John’s IceCaps cost the team another player to injury. A closely contested game the following night resulted in a Phantom loss and continued their puzzling Saturday swoon–and another blowout at the hands of the Penguins on Valentine’s Day has the team in a two-game slide for the first time since the end of October.
The Tuesday night loss was particularly troubling given that the Phantoms once again failed to be competitive. Couple that 5-1 loss with the previous 7-1 loss to the Pens and you have yourself a combined 12-2 dominance. Still, the 12-game series is tied 2-2 with each team holding serve at home, and the Pens coming to town next Saturday—so we’ll get back to that, then.
It might be just about time to concede the division to the Penguins. But with injuries and roster fluctuation for both teams, the Phantoms need to just concentrate on playing consistent, non-sloppy hockey and getting two points whenever they can. A bad weekend here and a couple teams can leapfrog the Hamilton Street Heroes:
The Phantoms are currently the highest-scoring team in the American Hockey League averaging 3.65 goals per game. Much of Lehigh Valley’s production has come in the third period where the Phantoms have produced a league-best 74 goals and are outscoring their opposition 74-39 in the final frame of regulation.
- Lehigh Valley is 29-4-2 when scoring three or more goals this season. Meanwhile, the Phantoms are 30-4 when allowing three goals or fewer this year.
- The Phantoms have allowed just one power play goal against over the team’s last four games. Lehigh Valley’s penalty kill is an impressive 13-for-14 during that stretch.
[Editor’s Note: Kram’s 1700-word diatribe about why he should be entitled to better injury information has been deleted and replaced with the following quote and some bullet points]
“Just tape four Tylenols to it.”
-Boris Mironov, on how to deal with a sore ankle
- F Boyd Gordon got his knee crushed a few games ago. Don’t plan on seeing him any time soon. (Not official information.)
- F Scott Laughton left last Friday’s game after taking a hard hit from friendly fire. The nature of the injury is unknown, but some have speculated that he could be in the concussion protocol. Nevertheless, he’s reportedly skating independently and we look forward to his return soon.
- F Taylor Leier does not have an injury. He’s dealing with a “lingering issue.” We don’t know what it is but it could be something like a blister. I’ll stop short of making stuff up and waiting to be corrected, so that’s not really it, but it could be. He’s been held out waiting for things to get back to 100%. Probably not a bad idea in the grand scheme of the season, but I’m sure he’s not pleased that this comes at the same time there was a need for a Left Wing on the Flyers. He’s also been skating on his own, for whatever that is worth.
- F Jordan Weal is playing Left Wing for the Flyers. If he stays up for 30 days or more, he’ll have to clear waivers again to come back down to help us with the playoffs. I mean assuming we don’t blow this. He was also injured last night and unable to return to the game. We’ll monitor his status, but keep in mind he can’t be returned to the Phantoms until he’s healthy, I don’t think, so that could keep him in Philly for the 30 days–and cost the Phantoms another call-up. Stay tuned.
- F Steven Swavely and C Chis McCarthy are up with the Phantoms now to replace the unavailable Gordon, Laughton, Weal, and Leier. Swaves and McCarthy are wearing sweater numbers 11 and 24 respectively.
- D Sam Morin has been suspended by the league for tonight’s game as well as tomorrow. This stems from a questionable hit he dished out in Wilkes Barre Tuesday night. The Pens deemed the hit “dirty” and
whinedsent the tape to the league. Wilson will be out 4-6 weeks, so that almost certainly played into the punishment. Morin could have ended Wilson’s season–or career–on the play if he was truly dirty (see also: Parks, Michael, and what the Pens did to him in Wilkes Barre last season.) It was a sloppy, ill-advised shove in a game we were losing. Not smart. And, penalty-worthy (he was). But not dirty.
- F Andy Miele has been one of Lehigh Valley’s most consistent offensive producers in recent weeks having tallied 25 points (4 goals, 21 assists) over his last 25 games.
- F Greg Carey currently leads all Phantoms and is third in the AHL with 22 goals this season. He also leads all Lehigh Valley skaters and the entire AHL with 14 power play markers this season.
- F Chris Conner has been on a tear in recent weeks having recorded at least one point in 12 of his last 16 games. Conner has compiled an impressive 16 points (7 goals, 9 assists) since January 7.
- Blogger Kram has a “lingering issue” as well, and is considered “cranky” for tonight’s game. It’s only two losses in a row, but it’s a “lingering issue” because this team hasn’t made the playoffs in almost 8 years–and more than half of the teams make it so you really have to be bad to [REDACTED]
The streaky Royals followed a winning streak with a losing skid, but righted the ship Valentine’s Day in Glens Falls with a shoot-out win. They face the lowly Elmira Jackals three times this weekend–tonight in Elmira, NY and then Saturday and Sunday at the Santander. Go down Sunday for the 4PM start if you wish!
The Royals are still in second place in their division following their win Tuesday night, but need to continue winning to hold that spot.
Hartford is in last place in the division, and are 4-5-0-1 in their last 10. They’ve been off since losing to Hershey last Saturday. I’ll check with d.E., but if it’s Hellburg’s turn in goal, he always seems to play well against us. The Phantoms are 2-2-1-0 while the WolfPack are 3-2-0-0 head-to-head this season–those records change to 2-1 Phantoms/1-2 Hartford if we throw out the Saturday games because we don’t really play on Saturdays:
Lehigh Valley 1 @ Hartford 2 (Jan 6 2017)
Hartford 3 @ Lehigh Valley 1 (Nov 26 2016) (*Saturday Game)
Lehigh Valley 4 @ Hartford 0 (Nov 2 2016)
Lehigh Valley 5 @ Hartford 1 (Oct 28 2016)
Hartford 5 @ Lehigh Valley 4 (Oct 22 2016) (OT) (*Saturday Game)
Puck Drop: 7:05PM
Tickets: Plenty of good seats remain for this game.
Promotion: meLVin’s Birthday Bash! Expect plenty of guest mascots! It’s a great game to bring the kids.
Media Kit: hartford-21717
Broadcast: AM-1470 or the Phantoms365 App for audio. Service Electric TV-2 for TV.
Pre-Game: Radio 6:20PM; TV 6:30PM.
We hosted a small group from out of town last Friday at Bell Hall. Good food and service as per usual! I’m thinking about the Dime tonight…Bunch of “Beer Week” stuff to check out prior to tomorrow’s game.
What To Watch
- Watch for McCarthy to get the start against his former club, the Wolfpack
- Watch for plenty of fine mascots to join meLVin for his birthday tonight. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing Ferrous and FeFe with baseball season right around the corner, and I’m hoping if Tux makes the trip down from Wilkes Barre that maybe he brings some hockey luck with him.
- I don’t have a strong feeling about the netminders. If we can’t play defense it matters little. It’s Lyon’s turn FWIW.
- Watch the defenders. They need to mind their lanes and defend the blue line a bit better. The whole team needs to do a better job keeping the puck in the zone on offense.
- How will the team look without Morin? He hasn’t missed a game–for any reason–since he got here. Will the pairings change? Willcox with Sanheim or will they jumble it?
- The team needs to cut down on the turnovers, and play physical without losing their cool. Hartford is a “simple” team–no need to put yourself at a disadvantage. They will play physical, though. Reminds me of a fair few Phantoms squads if we look back on previous seasons…
- On the power play, they need to be careful not to give it back by committing sloppy penalties. Hartford has a decent power play themselves, but their PK is near the bottom of the league.
Right back at it tomorrow night for a rematch against the same Wolfpack squad in a dreaded Saturday-night rematch. Sunday, the team will complete 3/3 by heading to Utica. Friday they’ll be in Springfield before coming home next Saturday to once again face the evil Penguins on the 25th.
See you at the arena,