“Guess who just got back today?
Them wild-eyed boys that had been away”
-Thin Lizzy/Philip Parris Lynott
The Hamilton Street Heroes return to the PPL Center for the first time in 20 days. It was six games ago when the Phantoms lost to the high-flying Toronto Marlies at a Sunday home game to cap a 1-1-1 weekend. Let’s take a look at the six road games that happened since then:
Wednesday November 8:
Phantoms 4 Bridgeport 2
Summary: In a rare morning game, the Phantoms don’t wake up until the second period, and notice they’re down 0-2. They come roaring back to win 4-2.
Notable: Goals by Varone, Martel, Lindblom and Goulbourne. Lyon with the win in net. PP and PK both 1/5. Phantoms sweep three stars: Lindy, Marty and ‘Roney.
Saturday November 11:
Hershey 6, Phantoms 1
Summary: Phantoms manage only 25 shots and allow Bears to convert on 2/3 PP. Lyon takes the loss in net. Carey adds lone Phantoms tally after game was out of hand.
Wednesday November 15:
Belleville Senators 6, Phantoms 2
Summary: The old Binghamton squad crushes Phantoms despite 46 shots by the good guys as Phan Nation looks on from Chickie’s and Pete’s. Sens able to convert on 2/3 PP opportunities and Lyon gets pulled in second after yielding three goals on 12 shots. In the last two games Phantoms lose by a combined 12-3 and talk begins of poor defensive play and the need for better goaltending. Speculation about Lyon abounds: Is he healthy?
Notable: Mike Vecchione scores twice for Phantoms to keep it close early.
Friday November 17:
Phantoms 5 Laval Rocket (St Johns) 2
Summary: Phantoms turn away five power play opportunities for a perfect penalty kill on the night. Better defense makes offense look better as Mike Vecchione gets two more goals and Phil Varone does as well. The other tally was Vorobyev as Dustin Tokarski got the win in net.
Notable: The Phantoms’ power play was able to go 3/5 while the PK held the Rocket to 0/5 for an excellent special teams evening, and a refreshing change from the previous two games. Vex and Myers got the top two starts. Are the Phantoms turning it around?
Wednesday November 22 (Thanksgiving Eve):
Penguins 4 Phantoms 2
Summary: The Phantoms allowed a goal 31 seconds into the game, but came roaring back for a 2-1 lead after the first period. They couldn’t keep up the intensity in the second as they got out-shot 18-7 in that stanza and yielded 2 goals in the penultimate period to go down 3-2. The fat little birds added an empty net tally to end the game. Lyon took the loss in net.
Notable: The Pens came in red hot having points in their last 11 games or something of that nature. Both teams were 0-fer on their respective four power play opportunities. Despite a rather close game, the Phantoms were swept in game-stars. Veterans Corban Knight and Greg Carey potted goals for the Hamilton Street Heroes. This was the first game without Martel as he and Morin were called up prior to the game. Alt returned, but Read didn’t make it in time for the game. Still, a decent effort if a bit uneven. Worries about defense and goaltending still calmer than immediately following the debacles in Hershey and Belleville.
Friday November 24 (Last Night):
Phantoms 6 Springfield 3
Summary: It was a back-and-forth game tied at 3 until the Phantoms took over in the final period. James de Haas had a coming out party for himself with the #1 star, game-winning goal, and an assist. Dustin Tokarski was in net for the Phantoms. It was a more complete game than the previous effort in Wilkes Barre.
Notable: Phantoms PK allowed 2/5 conversions, 40%, still an unacceptable level. The power play did convert twice, but had 8 opportunities and the second goal was an empty netter. de Haas’ game-winner was a shortie. It was a good team effort on the evening.
Summary: The Phantoms go 3-3 on the 6-game roadie and maintain their position in the standings. Although, Wilkes Barre pulls away a little bit given their recent win streak– snapped last night versus a depleted Syracuse team.
“Haven’t changed that much to say
But man, I still think them cats are crazy”
-Thin Lizzy/Philip Parris Lynott
There have been some changes–injuries of course both here as well as in Philadelphia. In addition, general mediocre play by the Flyers has perhaps caused them to make some moves toward the future. As I predicted prior to the season, I think we’ll see a bunch of that this season. However, I also think there’s plenty of talent to go around these days, at the top two levels especially, and that as long as the Phantoms’ coaching staff has guys in position to succeed and ready to play, we should be fine on a night-to-night basis.
Here’s what you need to know:
D James de Haas (40) has been up from Reading, back down, and back up. Of late, he’s mostly been a healthy scratch until he broke out last night.
Our old friend D Adam Comrie was with us shortly on PTO, but has returned to Reading.
D Mark Alt (2) has been up and down from Philly. He’s currently back with us.
LW Matt Read (24) is back with the Phantoms
LW Alex Krushelnyski (39) has been called up from Reading. The Californian spent most of last season with Binghamton, but has seen time with Hartford and Norfolk in the AHL as well. He had 15 points in 14 games with Reading this season and tallied an assist in the Penguins game Wednesday.
LW Danick Martel, leading the AHL in goals, and D Sam Morin, the Penguin killer, were both called up to the Flyers prior to Wednesday’s game. Martel made his NHL debut, and Morin his season debut.
Here’s what the November transaction list looks like:
|2017-11-22||Mark Alt (D)||Lehigh Valley||ADD||Returned on loan from Philadelphia (NHL)|
|2017-11-22||Alex Krushelnyski (LW)||Lehigh Valley||ADD||Recalled from loan to Reading (ECHL)|
|2017-11-22||Danick Martel (LW)||Lehigh Valley||DEL||Recalled from loan by Philadelphia (NHL)|
|2017-11-22||Samuel Morin (D)||Lehigh Valley||DEL||Recalled from loan by Philadelphia (NHL)|
|2017-11-22||Matt Read (LW)||Lehigh Valley||ADD||Returned on loan from Philadelphia (NHL)|
|2017-11-13||Mark Alt (D)||Lehigh Valley||DEL||Recalled from loan by Philadelphia (NHL)|
|2017-11-13||James de Haas (D)||Lehigh Valley||ADD||Recalled from loan to Reading (ECHL)|
|2017-11-12||Mark Dekanich (G)||Lehigh Valley||DEL||Returned on loan to Reading (ECHL)|
|2017-11-10||Mark Alt (D)||Lehigh Valley||ADD||Returned on loan from Philadelphia (NHL)|
|2017-11-10||Adam Comrie (D)||Lehigh Valley||DEL||Released from PTO|
|2017-11-10||James de Haas (D)||Lehigh Valley||DEL||Returned on loan to Reading (ECHL)|
|2017-11-10||Mark Dekanich (G)||Lehigh Valley||ADD||Recalled from loan to Reading (ECHL)|
|2017-11-05||Will O’Neill (D)||Lehigh Valley||ADD||Returned on loan from Philadelphia (NHL)|
|2017-11-04||Adam Comrie (D)||Lehigh Valley||ADD||Signed to PTO|
|2017-11-01||James de Haas (D)||Lehigh Valley||ADD||Recalled from loan to Reading (ECHL)|
Other Roster News For Tonight:
A new problem: We’re now in a situation where we have too many “veterans” on the roster and one will need to sit. Last time Matt Read was in town, Colin McDonald was not healthy and we avoided this scenario. For now, the veterans on our roster are: McDonald, Conner, Read, Varone, Brennan, O’Neill. Corban Knight is the “tweener.” Chris Conner sat out last night as the veteran scratch.
Also last night, Reece Willcox did not make the trip to Springfield and his injury status is unknown. Cole Bardreau and Max Lamarche remain out with injuries. D Mark Friedman took a hard hit last night and his status for tonight is unknown. If he can’t go and the other defenders remain unavailable, you could see an additional call up this afternoon. I’ll update if I have the chance.
Lines: Lines changed a bit last night, again, following the call-up of Martel and the addition of Read. With the veteran rule now in effect, I’d predict things will continue to fluctuate as each takes his turn in the press box. I’d predict Chris Conner will return to the lineup tonight.
Bridgeport is in town for another in the division series. The Phantoms are 2-0 versus the Islanders’ affiliate this season, with a win both at home as well as on the road. Puck drop is at 7:05PM with the doors open at 6:00PM (as always these days as they did away with the 5:30 Saturdays.) A bunch of seats still remain for this game, but there may be a pretty good walk-up tonight for the holiday weekend. I believe there’s a cocktail event downtown this afternoon to stimulate holiday shopping.
It’s “Wrestling Night” for those who are fans of that form of entertainment. Some dudes will be at the arena. Jocularity from meLVin and Ben is anticipated.
Post-game jersey auction: Immediately following the game in the Club Sections.
- Fear was that they would sport some type of garish one-off for wrestling night. Evidently that is not the case.
- The jerseys to be auctioned will reportedly be the orange with the diagonal PHANTOMS on the front.
- I had been under the impression that most of those had been auctioned on the concourse last season. With all the new players, they must have had plenty of blanks to update for tonight.
- If they were going to go to all that trouble, why not wear them more than once? I’m not sure, but perhaps with the “white at home” prior to the new year they have limited opportunity to wear alternates due to league rules. I’m just guessing.
- Still, they’re super-nice sweaters methinks. I managed to snag a Sundher last season after he left the organization. I threw a minimum bid on it before the game and it somehow held up. No matter, I love wearing it. These days I ask myself two questions before getting involved in these auctions, both here as well as at the IronPigs: 1. Will I wear the jersey? 2. Will I display it in a case either at home or at my office? In this case, that orange shirt checks both boxes. Bid wisely.
- I assume they won’t have the all star patch on them. The location of the Capital Blue patch is also unique.
Stats, Rosters, and Game Notes:
What To Watch:
- Goalies and Defense: I started to hear some rumbling about coaching dissatisfaction with the play of the goalies over the road trip. The defense needs to be better, to be sure, but once in a while the goalies need to bail you out. The samples are large enough that I think you can look at the save pct and know that it needs to be better. On the bright side, I think that both guys–Tokarski and Lyon–are capable of better play. I speculated last time we were home, that Lyon might not be fully healthy. And it’s not like the team is forthcoming with injury information, anyway, so we have to watch for ourselves. At this juncture I can’t really say if that’s the case or not–but he has been pulled pretty quickly a couple times so either the coaches are trying to send a message or they’re trying to prevent further injury. In any case, I look for Lyon back in net tonight after Tokarski played last night. With the injuries and call-ups taking a toll on the defense, hopefully they play well in front of him.
- And that’s really the bottom line for this team right now: Play good defense and stop some pucks and the offense will take care of itself.
- Penalty Kill: The previously last-ranked PK unit is now up to 28/30 in the league. They’ll face a 22nd ranked Bridgeport power play for a chance to improve. Our power play is now at 16, facing an 11th ranked Sound Tigers PK.
- The lines and scratches should be interesting, so pay attention when they are announced or check your Twitter before the game.
- Last season, every game with a post-game event of any kind–auction, autographs, skate, etc.–was an easy loss. I’m hoping for a win tonight to make the auction that much better.
It’s good to be back! See you again on Wednesday…as the next six games are all at the PPL Center. Buy your “bears” for next Saturday.
See you at the arena,
PS: We’ve now raided Reading for a couple players and they’ve done well. That’s the sign of good system depth–it’s what carries Wilkes Barre through almost every season it seems. So I just took a glance at the ECHL standings, where the Royals are in second place by win percent, and have a couple games in hand (In first place the Penguins’ affiliate, Wheeling, of course.) Good for them, and hopefully the call-ups of dudes like de Haas and Krushelnyski–not to mention Comrie–allow other guys in Reading to get the opportunity to play and improve. Head down to Reading to support them if you have the change–I’m sorry I didn’t get down there over the past 20 days with the Phantoms out of town.