“The…thing was, we won the game, so I was happy. You hate to lose your teeth and the game, too.”
-Bill Barber, about losing his teeth in a game.
The Phantoms did manage to salvage last weekend, after a poor showing on Friday night at home versus the Wolfpack, they rebounded and beat–and beat up–the ‘Pack the following night. On a Saturday, to boot! They headed up to Utica and won a wild one on Sunday afternoon with multiple goals from TJ Brennan and Robert Hagg.
Last night in Springfield didn’t go as well in a 5-3 loss. I didn’t see the game but really felt like poor defense to me. A quick look at the box score to see which D-pair was responsible showed maybe it’s the offensive guys not contributing in their own end. Maybe. Stolarz was in goal.
Nevertheless, as Pittsburgh and Flyerdelphia face off at Heinz Field on the North Shore of Pittsburgh, their AHL affiliates continue on their collision course, tonight meeting once again in Allentown.
The Penguins affiliate have lost four straight, including last night in Utica. Providence beat Bridgeport last night in regulation, and Hershey won in Hartford.
The Phantoms “magic number” for the playoffs remains at 40. It can be reduced each time the Phantoms gain points as well as when the 5th place team–in this case Hershey–does not win in regulation.
- F Jordan Weal and F Travis Konecny are both on the mend in Philadelphia. Weal may return tonight in the outdoor game, K-nex in a week or 10 days. When they’re both healthy, we could get a forward back. Maybe. And not saying whom.
- F Taylor Leier remains out of action with what’s now being reported as concussion symptoms. It has not been confirmed by the team, but makes perfect sense. I have a bunch of thoughts here, but we’ll save them for another post, perhaps.
- F Steven Swavely has been out with an injury as well.
Possible lines and pairings for tonight; I’m expecting Lyon in goal:
Mark Zengerle – Scott Laughton – Colin McDonald
Danick Martel – Corban Knight – Nic Aube-Kubel
Greg Carey – Andy Miele – Chris Conner
Radel Fazleev – Chris McCarthy – Cole Bardreau
T.J. Brennan – Robert Hagg
Will O’Neill – Mark Alt
Sam Morin – Travis Sanheim
Reading has lost two in a row after dropping a contest in Glens Falls last night. They play tomorrow at the Santander and will finish their suspended game in Elmira on Tuesday.
The loss last night drops the Royals all the way back to 4th in the standings, but it’s a tight group–and Manchester in first looks vulnerable now, as well. The Royals are one point back of second and third place, and three back of Manchester in first.
The Penguins limp in having lost four in a row–including last night in Utica and all three contests last weekend. Just as we’ve had injuries (Leier, Laughton, Swavely) and call-ups (Weal) they have as well. Their vaunted defense has been decimated by their parent club, and they lost an attacker in Kristo to a trade this past week. Kristo was a point-per-game guy previously in the AHL, but just didn’t click in Wilkes-Barre.
In the series, the Phantoms took the first two contests of the season, both at the PPL center. Since then, they’ve lost two to the Pens by a combined 12-2 at Casey Plaza. The 12-game series is tied 2-2 headed into tonight’s game, with each team holding serve at home.
Puck Drop: 7:05PM
Doors: 5:30PM (Saturday)
Tickets: This game may be a complete sell-out. Despite the fact that many folks are headed to the ‘burgh to see outdoor hockey tonight, there are very few tickets left. Acquire some by any means necessary prior to heading downtown.
A quick look at fees once again: I needed an extra GA for tonight, so I quick tried to buy one online yesterday afternoon–because tickets are more expensive on game day. The single $17.50 ticket was $26.25 after fees–including $3.00 for “will call” without the option for me to print the ticket myself. That’s a 50% premium in fees! So I headed downtown and paid $19.00 for the $17.50 ticket at the window. I took the money and spent it downtown at a non-arena establishment. In the coming years, when they’re begging folks to buy tickets to stuff, keep this ticket fee gouging in the back of your mind when you’re trying to figure out why.
Media Kit (Rosters and match-up info): penguins-22517
Broadcast: In addition to the usual suspects, tonight’s game is also simulcast over the air on FMZ-69, where available. As a weekend contest, it will be on AM-790. FM 89.9 if you bring your radio to the arena.
Promotion: Faith Night
PreGame: FMZ-69 won’t have the pregame, but TV-2 will, as will radio. The NoiseNation contingent will be camping out in Chickie’s starting very early this evening…
What To Watch
Plenty of story lines for this game, and a lot to watch if you’re into it:
- Phantoms goaltenders: It should be Lyon tonight as they continue to rotate. I’m thinking as we get deeper into March I’d like someone to seize this job full time to get us ready for the playoffs. I’m thinking that might be Lyon. He’s played well against the Pens in the past, too.
- Phantom defense: The combined 12-2 deficit over the past two games against this team is utterly unacceptable. The orange team needs to challenge the Pens attack at the blue line and force difficult shots from the outside.
- Phantoms offense: Of course they need to score more goals than 2 in 2 games–but they need to be responsible in their own zone as well. Note that the more defensive minded line of Bardreau-McCarthy-Fazleev were the guys with the ‘plus’ rating last night in Springfield.
- Penguins defense: They’ve been tapped by their parent club, but were so deep and talented to begin with that it’s difficult to know where they are right now. Plus, they always seem to have guys up from Wheeling who can play. The Hamilton Street Heroes need to keep the pressure on this group and not allow them to feed the charge too easily creating good chances for the black and gold team.
- Penguins offense: Since they beat the Phantoms 5-1 on Valentine’s Day, the Pens have lost all their games and are averaging 1 goal per game. They’ll be anxious to remedy that situation, and the loss of Kristo this week shouldn’t hurt too much–in fact it could even be “addition by subtraction” we’ll see.
- Penguins goalies: Jarry lost last night and has lost three of the four on their losing streak. DeSmith is decent, though, so I don’t see any clear advantage should we see him, which I think we might.
- Phantoms versus Saturday Night: The Heroes did manage a win last Saturday following a disappointing Friday, so perhaps that’s the new pattern. Still, it is somewhat puzzling and troubling that we have one of the best teams in the AHL but are somehow a sub-.500 team on Saturdays.
- Watch JS Dea. That dude kills us, particularly at PPL Center. I don’t care which line he’s on.
- Watch out for overtime. I have a feeling this one is going to need a few extra minutes.
- Watch for fights. We’re not really a fighting team, but things have been a little quarrelsome lately. The Pens may still be angry about the Morin hit on Garrett Wilson (Morin was penalized for the shove, and suspended two games last weekend). Watch to see if someone takes a run at Morin tonight–Sestito would be the prime candidate.
- Watch the monitors: You may want to catch a piece of the Penguins/Flyers game during the timeouts and intermissions.
For the team, they’ll be off until next weekend when they travel to Springfield/Hartford/Providence in a weekend on the road (Monster Jam at PPL). They have a rematch at the Mohegan Sun with the Pens on Wednesday the 8th to complete four in a row on the road. They return to the PPL Center on Friday, March 10 for Hershey.
Season Ticket Holders will gather for the annual Carnival tomorrow that the PPL Center from 11AM-3PM. Check with your rep if you have not received tickets.
Phan Club will be on their big road trip next weekend supporting the team in Hartford and Providence! I believe the trip is sold out. Mark your calendars for Wednesday March 22: There will be a “watch party” at Chickies for the away game in St John’s. I think the game starts 6PM our time, so keep that in mind. All are welcome to come and watch the Phantoms on the road–no cover charge but you’re responsible for your own food and drink. The club will have some raffles and a 50/50 I believe.
Here on the blog you’ll start to see more and more baseball, as well as some pre-season Steel FC soccer and the start of the SteelHawks season. Stay tuned!
See you at the arena,