“The report card helps give us a focus, and it frames the dialogue for moving forward.”
Back In Black
We’re back! It’s back to hockey after a reasonably long hiatus here at the PPL Palace with team wearing black tonight! The Hamilton Street Heroes were in the north country last weekend, and it didn’t go great. After splitting with a difficult Charlotte team here at home at the end of December, the Heroes headed for Canada to challenge the Marlies–the top team in the AHL North. Behind 1-0, the Phantoms battled back for a 2-1 lead but couldn’t hold it and eventually succumbed in the shootout for the 1-point loss. The next evening they headed for Rochester, NY to face the #2 team in that division and the game didn’t go as well on the scoreboard. And, they were playing without Corban Knight, who was injured in Toronto, and Tyrell Goulbourne who was up with Philly. The final was 3-1, but reports from the coaching staff following the game were positive: They liked the puck possession and puck movement and effort playing short a forward.
Ha! Readers should know that I mostly detest such things. After all, who am I to pass such judgement at a somewhat arbitrary point in the season? Here’s all the report card you really need, so let’s go outside and play (umm, outside hockey next weekend, remember?)
Just finish in the top four and get into the tournament. Then let the chips fall where they may. Since I’ve been following this, the top seed doesn’t seem to be so much advantage that it’s worth stressing over. Certainly, they’ll need to keep winning games because this division is a viper pit. Even last place Springfield, whom we’ll be facing off with tonight, has won more than they’ve lost over the past 10 games! There are no easy games and no nights off. So let me frame the dialogue that way: It’s pass/fail for the playoffs. Everybody passes. Now let’s do that hockey.
There’s a turnstile to the trainer’s room; it seems like some exit and others go in. As mentioned above, stalwart forward Corban Knight is on the shelf for the foreseeable future with an unknown injury. I think it’s a bigger deal than some may think. As you know, he’s one of my favorite players for all he brings to this team. Also out with no return in sight is F Misha Vorobyev
Tyrell Goulbourne was back. He had a chance to make his NHL debut after battling clogged toilets and customs from Toronto back to Philly in a planes and automobiles kind of scenario, to boot. We’re tremendously happy for Gilly here at the blog. With the Flyers going through a light portion of the schedule, it’s thought that he was down just to practice. Or, maybe to make sure other forwards were healthy.
Krushelnyski played a game in Reading mid-week. Scored the winning goal. Now he’s back.
F Matt Read, F Cole Bardreau and D Sam Morin have been practicing fully and are expected to be available for tonight’s game. F Colin McDonald and D Phil Myers had already returned.
The event starts at 7:05PM tonight for the anticipated 7:20PM puck drop. A smattering of decent seats still remain for this contest.
It’s cap night as the first 6,500 should get nice, gray phantoms caps courtesy of our friends at Service Electric. Photos suggest it’s a nice twill–better quality than the cotton that we’ve had the past three seasons. My advice is to use the main entrances tonight in order to assure the giveaway.
Springfield is in town, AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers. As mentioned above, they’ve been playing some good hockey lately and will not be an easy opponent tonight. The Phantoms should be in black tonight as we change over the solid/white routine for the second half of the season. There’s a non-zero chance Bobby Farnham throws down with somebody tonight, but with Morin just returning from injury, Bardreau also protecting his injured hand, and Gillz back up in Philly, I don’t know with whom. McDonald perhaps? If necessary?
The Phantoms 20th ranked home PP will face the Thunderbirds 15th ranked road PK unit.
The Phantoms 3rd-ranked home PK will defend against the Thunderbirds 30th ranked road PP.
Referee Corey Syvret (#42)
Referee Guillaume Labonte (#35)
Linesman Jud Ritter (#34)
Linesman Matt McNulty (#26)
What To Watch
- After three straight games in net, Lyon gave way to Tokarski last game in Rochester. Both have been playing reasonably well. It’s 3-in-3 this weekend. I’m thinking back to Lyon tonight at home in the den.
- Watch how those lines shake out without Corban Knight.
- Watch to see how the PK looks–ranked highly at home in front of Phan Nation–without Corban
- Watch to see if all three of Bardreau, Read and Morin make it back. We could have a veteran problem again with the return of Read–Knight was the tweener. Watch to see if there’s a veteran scratch. If we need all the forwards with Goulbourne’s recall today, look for maybe O’Neill or Brennan to get the night off. More likely, they’ll delay Read’s return to tomorrow in that case, though, especially with Krusher back in town.
- Watch the ice. I believe it’s newly installed following the car racing last weekend. Should be in good shape though; we have an excellent ice staff and it’s not like it’s been warm out.
- With the whole week off after travel to/from Toronto and Rochester, look for the energy level early to see if they’re ready for this game. That hasn’t been a problem this season, but it’s always something I’m looking for.
Hershey is in town tomorrow for the first half of a home/home to close out the 3-in-3. The attendance will be interesting tomorrow with the Eagles playoff game ending as the puck drops or about that time. The Phantoms will be testing out their “color rush” jerseys tomorrow–the same ones they’ll wear at the Outdoor Classic in Hershey next weekend. They will be auctioned in late March after they wear them a third time.
Wednesday the team will be in Wilkes Barre for a game with the Penguins. I’m headed up so I’ll try to give you a report if I have the chance.
Friday night is the alumni game in Hershey, outdoors, while the team is off in preparation for the outdoor matchup with the
Browns Bears the following night.
See you at the arena,