“If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas”
|2||Lehigh Valley Phantoms||33||20||9||2||2||44||0.667||19||122||111||4-0-1-0||7-2-1-0||400|
|5||Bridgeport Sound Tigers||30||15||12||2||1||33||0.550||14||94||87||2-0-0-0||3-5-1-1||474|
|6||Hartford Wolf Pack||32||13||13||3||3||32||0.500||10||94||114||0-1-0-0||6-1-1-2||416|
The Team Aggrieved
If you watch enough sports and are loyal enough to your team(s), you’ve been on both sides of it.
The refs done you wrong. A post-game filled with “if only” and “what about” and obsessing over that one play there. And the deflated balls and the fire alarm in the team hotel and all other manners of cheating.
Fans can always come up with excuses about why their team didn’t win–but at the end of the day I’d rather be the team holding the trophy than the team making excuses. Fans can wear the excuses like a badge of honor if they want. But that’s all they have.
I’d rather be winning. Give me all the wins for my team.
(disclaimer: Fair-Weather fandom doesn’t count. And I hate the Patriots.)
The Hamilton Street Heroes last left the PPL Center following an overtime defeat to the Hartford Wolfpack on the Wednesday before Christmas. They then traveled to the Wyoming Valley for a Christmas Eve Eve rendezvous with the Penguins. They managed a 3-2 win in that contest on the strength of another third-period comeback and a stellar effort by goalie Dustin Tokarski. Oscar Lindblom had a three-point night and was named #1 star of the game. Following the holiday, they reconvened on Casey Plaza for the rematch on Wednesday. The Phantoms again prevailed by a one-goal tally, 5-4. Tokarski again owning the Penguins as Tyrell Goulbourne notched a Gordie Howe Hattie but couldn’t seem to break into the stars of the game as the Penguins grow tired of our company for the holidays.
The Phantoms are now 4-2-1 versus the hated Penguins on the season, and are 8-2-2 overall since the calendar turned to December. The squad is accomplishing all of this without their #1 goalie, and with a sizable injury and call-up list (updates below). Last home game I wrote about the job the coaching staff is doing this season, check it out if you didn’t get a chance to read it. I’ve been critical of them in the past, but credit where due, as always. Make no mistake, injuries and call-ups and World Juniors are impacting all rosters right about now. The Penguins and Comets have it particularly bad. But we haven’t gone unscathed.
D Sam Morin is still a ways away from returning from his injury. I’ve speculated that it could be a concussion in that he’s attempted to come back a couple times and had difficulty–only now to be shut down. But I’m forced into that speculation by an organization with disdain for its fans and media.
F Mike Vecchione returned in the game Wednesday Night in Wilkes Barre and notched a goal to boot.
D Phil Myers returned prior to the holdiay.
F Cole Bardreau remains sidelined with a hand injury and subsequent infection following a battle with a germ-riddled Marlie. He’s on the mend and hopes to return soon in the New Year.
Veteran forwards Colin McDonald and Matt Read are nursing injuries of unknown severity. Their statuses are unknown.
F Misha Vorobyev has been out with an unknown injury.
G Alex Lyon has returned from the Flyers having not had a chance to play in weeks.
D Mark Alt is on waivers for the purpose of returning to the Phantoms. We’ll have to wait and see how that works out given the injuries and call-ups around the NHL.
Muse and Comrie have returned to Reading, with Coms then headed out to Utica on a PTO to play some forward. Wow. de Haas, Krushelnyski, and Swavely all remain with the Phantoms for now. Friedman was the healthy scratch the other night. The Phantoms do have a veteran problem should Read and McDonald both return from injury.
“By the Numbers”
Forward Phil Varone enters the week leading all Phantoms and is third among all AHL skaters in scoring with 34 total points (9 goals, 25 assists). The AHL’s assist leader (25 assists) notched another three points last week (all assists) and enters the week having tallied 26 points (7 goals, 19 assists) over his last 21 games.
Forward Danick Martel continues to lead all Phantoms and is now second in the AHL lead with 17 goals this season. The third-year winger is second among all Lehigh Valley skaters in total scoring (25 points) and is also second on the team with a plus-13 rating.
- Lehigh Valley’s hottest point producer in recent weeks has been forward Corban Knight who registered another two points last week and has now compiled 18 points (6 goals, 12 assists) since November 22 (15 games).
- In just 32 games this season, forward Nic Aube-Kubel has already produced 22 points (9 goals, 13 assists) and in doing so has already passed his 71-game point total from a season ago (9 goals, 18 points). He enters the week as Lehigh Valley’s leader with a plus-14 rating.
Lehigh Valley is 19-1-2-1 when scoring three or more goals this season and is 16-1-0-1 when allowing three goals against or fewer.
- Lehigh Valley is 20-0-0-0 when scoring more goals than the other team.
- The Phantoms are 10-1-1-1 when scoring first this season. What’s more, Lehigh Valley is 10-1-1-1 when leading after the first period this year and is 13-0-1 when leading after two frames. What’s more, the Phantoms are tied for the AHL lead with four victories when trailing entering the third period (4-9-0).
- The Phantoms enter the week as the AHL’s third-highest scoring offense averaging 3.66 goals per game. What’s more, Lehigh Valley ranks second behind just the Manitoba Moose with eight 20-point producers to this point in the season.
Remember that the puck drop will be at 7:20PM or so following the show opening at 7:05PM. Doors always open 1-hour prior these days, so 6:00PM tonight. Seats are limited for tonight’s game; expect big crowds and procure your seats early.
Charlotte is in town tonight for the first of two, back-to-back to save on travel. They are a formidable opponent who beat up on us pretty good in the preseason and whom we split with on a recent trip to North Carolina. They split two with Hershey at home last week before losing in Binghamton on Wednesday. The Checkers are the AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes.
There is no promotion tonight, as we look forward to ’80s “Throw Back” night and special jerseys tomorrow. They wouldn’t surprise us with them tonight, too, would they? The laundry staff tells me: no.
Referee Peter Schlittenhardt (#12)
Referee Brandon Blandina (#20)
Linesman Jud Ritter (#34)
Linesman Bob Goodman (#90)
(Phan Nation: you know what you have to do.)
MEDIA KIT: Checkers 1229
What To Watch
- Lyon should get the start in net tonight. Will he look rusty? I couldn’t blame him if he did. The Flyers should have found a start for him during his time up there.
- Will any of the injured players return? Will they continue to roll with three scoring lines and an “energy” line, or go back to what amounts to four scoring lines?
- Will de Haas continue to earn a spot on the blue line? How does Myers look these days? Will Friedman be back out there?
- Charlotte is good, but might be vulnerable–is this a chance to climb in the standings by finishing up a great December with two more quality wins?
- Will I blow this by wearing my famously unlucky jersey tonight? Or, will I go back to my good-luck Miele which I traditionally wear on Fridays?
- How are the wings at BrewWorks? I haven’t been in a while. They have a new beer out, so I might find my way there tonight for pre-game. Look for me at the bar if I’m solo and you wanna talk hockey.
- Dress warmly. It’s cold and that wind whips up through the concrete canyons pretty fiercely.
Let’s do that hockey,
see you at the arena,
Cover photo by Cheryl Pursell. Looks like a Goulbourne goal to me.