Back to back games at the PPL Center concluding tonight, for the first time since the two preseason games versus Charlotte. Oh, and by the way, that’s who’s in town tonight.
Last night, the Phantoms dismantled the visiting Springfield Thunderchickens to the tune of 8-2. As I wrote about last night, I don’t think Springfield looked very good–perhaps a bad night but also could have been a reflection of how the Phantoms are playing right now as well.
|3||Lehigh Valley Phantoms||12||7||3||1||1||16||0.667||6||51||42||2-0-1-0||6-2-1-1||138|
|4||Bridgeport Sound Tigers||13||7||5||1||0||15||0.577||6||48||48||3-0-0-0||6-3-1-0||216|
|7||Hartford Wolf Pack||15||5||7||1||2||13||0.433||5||44||57||1-0-0-2||2-6-0-2||194|
I wouldn’t normally put up the standings two days in a row, but with last night’s result, the Phantoms pull into a tie for second place with those very Thunderfowels.
Guessing The Lines
10 Carey -26 Varone -9 Bardreau
23 Leier -15 Vorobyev -13 McDonald
24 Twarynski -21 Vecchione -22 Conner
12 Goulbourne -17 Rubtsov -38 Kaše
43 Brennan -37 Friedman
6 Samuelsson -5 Myers
7 Palmquist -44 Willcox
31 Carter Hart (B: 34 Alex Lyon)
2 James de Haas
19 Radel Fazleev
25 Connor Bunnaman
41 Anthony Stolarz
Discussion: Bardreau returns to the top line after Kaše had a couple cracks at it. He had the shorty last night on the PK and his line-mate Carey had star of the game. I like the combo of Leier and Misha on the second line, and Conner helping the third line has Captain McDonald on the second, which is really fine. Vecchione returns to his more natural center position; I thought he looked very active last night, although I wish he was a little faster. That’s a nice place for Twarynski, too, to try to get his game going again. The fourth line is a nice group, too, with Ruby and Kaše working together and T-Gillz to bring the energy. I’d like to see deHaas in there; I think he’ll be playing tonight. I might flop Samuelsson and Palmquist, but that’s a very minor quibble.
Aside: I know my readers are smarter than this, but some of the vitriol from Flyers fans about these lines is completely uncalled for. This isn’t the NHL and the order of the lines means relatively nothing. They also don’t give us ice time, so you can’t assume who’s on the ice and who’s not. With Hextall in the building for most games, you can bet your butt the prospect players are getting on the ice. Unless you’re in the building for the games you shouldn’t be commenting on Twitter about lines and playing time. To me, the combinations mean much more than the order, which is why I’m writing about it so much this season. Also, with a lineup like this, we’re running four scoring lines which is a lot different from having a checking line or a “bottom six” like you might on some NHL rosters. End rant.
As The Goalies Turn
Days of Our Goalies
All My Goalies
The Goalies and the Restless
OK, now is the part where we talk about goalies. Carter had a pretty good game last night. It’s something to build on and he can feel good going forward. Lyon was the backup, and as we recently learned, has the inside track to go to Philadelphia should they need to add to their stable of three goalies. That leaves Stolarz….where? I’m not sure. I think you’ll see Lyon tonight because they need to keep him sharp, and Stolarz backing up. Wednesday will either be Stolie or Hart. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
It’s Boyscout night at the PPL Center tonight. It’s not clear whether they are giving away free Boyscouts or if you’re supposed to bring one with you to donate at the boxes in the lobby. Good seats are still available.
I braved the construction over at the Community Deck on 6th last night in order to avoid getting too wet going to Bell Hall. It worked out fine, but any malfunction in the card readers or automated payments system would have had me trapped. It makes me nervous. Without the rain I would have parked elsewhere and walked.
Referee Sean MacFarlane (#46)
Referee Peter Tarnaris (#17)
Linesman Tyler Loftus (#11)
Linesman Jud Ritter (#34)
Five Things To Watch
- Speed Kills: The coaching staff last night praised the Phantoms for playing at a speed that couldn’t be matched by Springfield. Charlotte is a difficult opponent. Can they match the Phantoms’ speed? Can the Phantoms repeat last night’s performance from a speed standpoint?
- Lines: As I said above, I’d like to see James deHaas slot in, perhaps for Willcox. While I liked last night’s lines a lot, I don’t know if they want Fazleev and Bunnaman sitting for any extended length of time, so we may see them in there tonight.
- Checkers Goalie: 30 Alex Nedeljkovic has been the horse in goal for them this season. He’s 8-2, 2.51, .905. Will he be in net tonight? Will the Phantoms be able to solve him?
- Checkers Horses: 22 Andrew Poturalski and 23 Janne Kuokkanen have been the heavy lifters for the Checkers on the score sheet, but they get good contributions up and down the roster. The Phantoms will need to be on the details tonight.
- Stortini: I don’t know if he’ll have a hat tonight or not. Remember, when he shoots out onto the ice for warm-ups, that’s the fastest he’ll move for the entire game. I kid. Anyway, he has a history with Goulbourne, as we all know, so that might be something to watch. Also, check out the disparity in penalty minutes in the above standings chart–something to watch for their whole team.
The Checkers came in today having lost in Binghamton last night. They’ll head to Bridgeport tomorrow while we get to rest, and then they return here on Wednesday for a rematch of tonight’s game. Such is the life of the team with the most travel problems.
See you at the arena,
Cover image by Cheryl Pursell