Five years ago I hated the Wednesday games. I mean, I was fine going to them, and I enjoyed the $2 beer specials. At the time, I felt like it was a disadvantage to the team–both on the ice as well as in the attendance rankings–to have to host a disproportionate number of mid-week contests compared with Hershey and Wilkes-Barre. Since then I’ve changed my mind. Some of the scheduling was an anomaly for the first year, as the powers-that-be desired to keep some weekends free for event bookings in the brand new arena. Up to this day, I think the team still wants to avoid Sunday home games during football season, too.
But anyway, I now look forward to Wednesday games over all others. The hockey fans are still out strong to support the team, and there’s much less chance the person in front of you waits until AFTER the ice scrape to get up and wander around. Wednesday games also allow the team to avoid 3/3 weekends as much as possible. For myself, Wednesday is my short day in the office, so I often have the opportunity to head straight downtown and relax for a couple hours before the game. Trust me, the Wednesday home games are circled on my calendar: We had none in October, our one for November is tonight, December has two, January has two, February has none, and March has one. It averages out to about one per month and there are none in April after baseball starts.
So I’m really ready to get that two points back from Charlotte tonight!
Here We Are
You’ll recall, from October 20 to November 2, the Phantoms spent six straight games away from the PPL Center. Over that stretch, they gathered 8 of a possible 12 standings points. We now find ourselves at the end of four straight home games, with a possible 8 standings points. A win tonight in the rematch of Saturday’s game will give us 6 points, a loss will leave us with 4, and of course a 1-point loss would result in 5.
|2||Bridgeport Sound Tigers||15||9||5||1||0||19||0.633||8||57||54||5-0-0-0||7-3-0-0||255|
|4||Lehigh Valley Phantoms||13||7||4||1||1||16||0.615||6||55||49||0-1-0-0||5-3-1-1||171|
|7||Hartford Wolf Pack||16||5||8||1||2||13||0.406||5||45||61||0-1-0-2||2-6-0-2||208|
(does not include results from morning game today)
Again, not to necessary post the standings every single game, but it is interesting. I don’t follow the division as closely as some, but I do keep an eye on things in the periphery. This season it seems like a lot of teams haven’t really decided what they are, yet. We know Charlotte is good. They’re in first place for a reason, and haven’t really had many hiccups thus far this campaign. They do have the most difficult travel schedule, I think. Hartford is probably the team I’m least impressed with–I don’t think they’re very good and I don’t think their parent club will do them any favors, either, as the season goes along. Everyone else–us included–can look very good on one night, then not good at all the next night. Providence are last in the standings, but have played more games and have really held their own lately. Hershey might not be any good, but as we saw last season, there could always be a trade or some talent coming down from Washington which may turn things around for them. Wilkes-Barre has been pretty inconsistent as well. They’ll look like their usual world-beater self one night, but then fail to show up for a game in Providence the next. Bridgeport has been red hot lately, but they’ll need to bend to the whims of their parent from time to time. Springfield, I think, isn’t as good as their standings stature, but we’ll see as things keep moving along.
Roster and Lines
- Rubtsov was a scratch Saturday night. We now know he has some sort of injury from Friday’s game. He also missed practice on Monday and may miss tonight’s game.
- Goulbourne had a nice fight Saturday. He switched to the left hand and caught his foe off-guard and dropped him right there. Unfortunately, he was guilty of a slew-foot infraction and subsequent fisticuffs in the last minute of the game. He will serve a two-game suspension tonight and Friday following the match penalty. Goulbourne, for his part, has been quoted about the incident, and says that the leg contact which caused the dangerous play was accidental.
- Leier returned with a vengeance Friday night, and should stay in that left wing spot on the second line for the foreseeable future.
- James van Riemsdyk is expected to return to his forward position for the Flyers as soon as tomorrow. The Flyers are not expected to send a player down to the Phantoms as they currently have no reserve attackers. Phantoms alum Nic Aube-Kubel received good marks for his play in last night’s NHL contest; we hope he continues to see ice time going forward.
10 Carey-26 Varone-9 Bardreau
23 Leier-15 Vorobyev-13 McDonald
38 Kaše-21 Vecchione-22 Conner
12 Goulbourne-19 Fazleev-24 Twarynski
43 Brennan- 37 Friedman
6 Samuelsson -5 Myers
7 Palmquist -44 Willcox
34 Alex Lyon (41 Anthony Stolarz)
2 James de Haas
17 German Rubtsov (injury?)
25 Connor Bunnaman
31 Carter Hart
Thoughts: I was somewhat surprised to see deHaas without a hat for both games last weekend. The “advanced” numbers seem to suggest he’s been playing some good hockey. Perhaps it’s just a numbers game. I know the “third” pair of Palmquist/Willcox has had good marks from the statisticians as well. The Flyers are playing lean with 12 healthy forwards, but expect to get vanRiemsdyk back perhaps by the tomorrow or Saturday. I’m looking to see Bunny get Goulbourne’s spot tonight, perhaps flopping sides with Carsen, with Fazleev staying in for Ruby, and perhaps deHaas can get out there on the ice as well. As for goalie drama, this might be the spot where Stolie finally gets a start. However, if they’re really being aggressive with Carter Hart’s development, they’ll have him out there tonight.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have now scored five or more goals in six of their 13 games this season. The black and orange are currently tied for the second-highest number of goals scored this season with 55 as a team, producing at a rate of 4.23 goals per game.
The 200 Club
Lehigh Valley forward Taylor Leier played in his 200th game at the American Hockey League level this past Friday night against Springfield. Soon to join him will be fellow forward Cole Bardreau, who is currently sitting at 199 AHL games and should reach that milestone Wednesday night against the Charlotte Checkers.
Go Shorty, It’s Your Birthday
Fifth-year professional Cole Bardreau scored his second shorthanded goal of the season this past Friday night against Springfield. Those two markers lead both the team and have him tied for first in the league in that category.
Phantoms by the Numbers
2: Greg Carey is just two goals away from being the all-time goal-scoring leader in Lehigh Valley Phantoms history. The record is currently held by former Phantom Danick Martel with 68.
5: Lehigh Valley is currently 5-0-0-0 when leading after two periods of play this season.
8: The Phantoms posted eight goals on Friday night against the Springfield Thunderbirds, that is only the third time they have accomplished that feat in the past three seasons.
9: Lehigh Valley currently has nine players with multiple multi-point games this season (Brennan: 5, Varone: 5, Carey: 4, Aube-Kubel: 3, Friedman: 3, Kase: 3, Rubtsov: 3, Conner: 2, Leier: 2).
300: Chris Conner tallied his 300th AHL assist in Friday night’s game against the Springfield Thunderbirds.
800: Chris Conner is slated to play in his 800th professional contest on Friday, November 16, against the Providence Bruins. As of Tuesday, he sits at 798 games played.
The Phantoms look to get “revenge” for Saturday’s loss as the Charlotte Checkers return for another dose of orange hockey. The AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes might try to exact their own retribution following the events in the waning minutes of the Saturday game which cost them two players to injury, and could have impacted their performance in Bridgeport on Sunday:
So Charlotte shuffled up to Bridgeport on Sunday while we were watching football. They lost 4-2 to the surging Sound Tigers, but not before their social media department could take a swipe at the Phantoms. The other interesting game note is concerning the fall-out from the “Slew Foot” late in Saturday’s game. Tyrell, of course, won’t be playing tonight. But, might another Charlotte player try to exact some revenge? The player who went down was their captain, and the player who defended him are both said to be out “long term.” What effect does that have on their play tonight and going forward? They didn’t win that Sunday contest, remember. However, they do get Valentin Zykov tonight on a conditioning assignment; he led the AHL in goals last season.
It’s Military Appreciation Night, as area businesses have sponsored seats for area veterans. Indeed, I was told that the sponsorships were sold out when I inquired about getting my business involved.
It’s a week night, so not much going on downtown tonight other than hockey. You’ll likely get a table or a seat at the bar with more ease tonight compared to weekends. Traffic and parking should be easy, but seats are going fast–buy them before you head downtown, despite the ticket fees, to make sure you get them. This game could go SRO by game time.
Referee Michael Markovic (#47)
Referee Jeremy Tufts (#78)
Linesman Ryan Knapp (#73)
Linesman J.P. Waleski (#14)
MEDIA KIT (rosters, stats, and details about tonight’s game)
Five Things To Watch
- Watch to see if Stolie finally gets a start. Charlotte is kind of relentless, so playing under control against them is a big deal. No only controlling rebounds the best you can, but also putting yourself in position to make that second save. That’s what got Lyon a couple times Saturday night, when he was unable to maintain his position following the first save in an onslaught. Hart does a pretty good job with his control and positioning, but the rebounds give me angina.
- Control. Speed kills, as we showed Friday night versus Springfield. However, Charlotte was able to match that speed and when they did we couldn’t control pucks and set things up as well. I’m not looking to slow things down, just to make sure we’re not haphazard about the game.
- Kids. Ruby might not play tonight due to injury, but keep an eye on Kaše. Not just to see how well he plays, but to start to project what kind of game he might be able to bring to the NHL, eventually. Kaše isn’t huge–can he be physical enough? Or, is he going to suffer the same limits as Danick Martel as far as size and physicality? He’s kind of in-between as far as his measurements are concerned. Twarynski and Bunny are a bit bigger. But, how do they use their size? How will that translate?
- Bardreau. I love Cole. But I’m not sure he’s the right guy to play the wing on the Carey/Varone line. Perhaps it’s just time, and I don’t have any specific criticisms right now–but I’ll be watching him if he’s out there in that spot again in 5×5.
- Step Up. Tyrell had to drop them twice with Charlotte the other night. He won’t be out there tonight, so who will take up that mantel? Cole? Colin? As mentioned above, will a Charlotte player try to exact some revenge? On whom?
Hit The Road
The Hamilton Street Heroes will head out on the road this weekend with Providence and Springfield Friday and Saturday, respectively. We’ll be back here Black Friday for Hershey, followed by a rematch with Providence Thanksgiving Saturday. Charlotte has two more road games before they can finally head home–they have a double dip at the Wyoming Valley Mall on Friday and Saturday.
November will end–and December begin–with the Hamilton Street Heroes taking a 3-game tour of Canada, the Phan Club in tow!
See you at the arena,
PS: Hey friends. I need your help today. Remember, none of these posts are behind a pay wall, and we don’t sell advertising around here. I pay for my own game tickets as well as food and drink at the games and all the web fees and so on. I don’t ask for much, and I usually don’t get anything for free–no free press box meals for me. Lately, though, a giant roadblock has impacted my ability to provide quality “Hockey Night” preview columns, as I’ve done for 99% of all professional hockey games ever hosted at the PPL Center. It would be easy to just stop. After all, I do this for fun because I’ve got a passion for the game–it’s not a career move in any way. However, I know how many clicks I’m getting and how many readers I have. I appreciate the feedback both online and in person around the arena and I’m not ready to give up that easily. If you could do me the favor of sharing, liking and/or retweeting today’s post/link, I’d really appreciate it as it might help remove the roadblock. Twitter, Facebook or however you get your link. Thanks. Now, let’s do that hockey!