“Gloom, despair, and agony on me
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all
Gloom, despair, and agony on me”
-Buck Owens & Roy Clark
Did you ever play Jenga?
You know, you pull those little blocks out. And, the tower keeps standing. But then you get to the breaking point. You get to the point where you can’t pull anything else out without the whole thing crashing down.
With the Phantoms battling an epic swoon right at the most significant point of the season, the fear is that the whole thing will come tumbling down to the depths of the 2011-2016 teams. Here’s what we’ve lost:
Goalie Anthony Stolarz: injured with Flyers–could return next week
Goalie Carter Hart: top prospect–should remain with the Flyers for on-the-job training
Forward Danick Martel: Never made it as far as the Phantoms–claimed on waivers by Tampa
Forward German Rubtsov: Rookie, former first round pick, a pleasant early surprise–injured and out for the season
AHL MVP F Phil Varone: Promoted to Philadelphia–should remain after team dumped F Jordan Weal
RADEL FAZLEEV HAS LEFT THE COUNTRY!
Forward Corban Knight: Made Flyers out of camp–injured since start of season, could return soon, but expected to be a Flyer
Forward David Kaše: Started to flash, but injured for past month–could return soon
Forward Cole Bardreau: Re-injured hand/wrist originally hurt on dirty Marlie. –It’s gonna be a little longer.
Coach Scott Gordon: Assumes NHL role following front-office and coaching shake-up in Philadelphia
So you see, a lot of pieces have been removed from our mighty tower. Now add in the flu, the holidays, and nine games in 15 days, and here we are, nursing a three-game losing streak and without a regulation win since Friday December 28. It’s a 1-6 stretch with the win coming in overtime.
So is it time for me to ‘rage quit’ on this team? In their current iteration, are they talented enough to be competitive on a night-to-night basis in the AHL-Atlantic? Or do we just find a way to reboot this thing and wait for help? Could part of it be bad luck? Are the Foundering Flyers a distraction? Maybe, on all counts.
Remember, though, it wasn’t over when the “German’s bombed Pearl Harbor…”
Yesterday, F Dale Weise was put on waivers by Philadelphia (again–they did this early in the season but he was saved by the Corban Knight injury). While some Flyers fans are ready to give him a ride to the airport, he has been universally complimented by his teammates–especially some of the younger players–for his help and support. He cleared waivers at noon, and while he’s eligible to be sent to the Phantoms, the expectation is that he’ll remain in Philly as they already have open rosters spots if they need them for trade or call-up, and otherwise have only 12 healthy forwards.
A lot of the lines and pairings of recent vintage have been impacted by the two 3/3 weekends. D James deHaas and F Mike Huntebrinker have had some ice time, but haven’t really been impactful at all. F Taylor Leier missed a game and many of his teammates have been battling cold and flu symptoms of late, as well.
F David Kaše could be close to returning to the ice. I don’t have a time frame, but it would be good to get the youthful Czech player back out there. F Cole Bardreau will be a little longer, as I initially expected before some other reports threw me off.
The Royals remain in third place in their division despite the adversity of the Flyers filtering all the way down to their roster. They’ve been 4-4-1-1 their last 10 games. If you wanna head down there, maybe cheer on our old friend Kevin Goumas, their next home date which doesn’t overlap with the Phantoms home schedule, is this Friday, the 18th, against 6th place Brampton.
Tonight we welcome the Springfield ThunderChickens. They currently sit in third place in the AHL Atlantic, one point ahead of the Phantoms, making this an important game. They’ve been a tough out for the Hamilton Street Heroes this season, let by F Harry Zolnierczyk, F Ryan Horvat, and the hated Bobby Farnham. Young goalie, #1, Samuel Montembeault has been their chief netminder 13-7-5-1, 2.93GAA, .904Sv.
Phantoms special teams have been a mess of late, but here’s how things theoretically match up with Springfield:
Springfield’s #4 ranked road power play will face off against the Phantoms #12 home PK.
Phantoms #18 home man-advantage will be defended by Springfield’s #25 road PK.
Overall: Phantoms #1 PK; #10 PP–Springfield #28 PK; #1 PP
Referee Beaudry Halkidis (#48)
Referee Andrew Wilk (#57)
Linesman Tom DellaFranco (#71)
Linesman Tom George (#61)
If You’re Going
Tickets should be readily available, as Wednesday Night is for the Hockey Fans. If things get out of hand early, there’s always trivia at BrewWorks at 8PM. Remember, 8th Street is closed between Walnut and Hamilton, take a look at this map:
And then there’s this:
New Items at the Food Truck Concessions Stand
Pork Shoulder Pernil Rice Bowls
Pork shoulder, spanish rice, pinto beans, pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, sour cream and a St. Lucifer salsa verde
Ancho Brisket Soft Tacos
Brisket, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, avocado cream, shredded cheese on soft flour tortialla
Sofrito shredded Chicken burrito
Chicken, spanish rice, pinto beans, shredded lettuce, shredded cheddar, salsa picante and an avocado crema wrapped in a flour tortilla
Five (or more) Things To Watch Tonight
- Goalie: Alex Lyon is our main guy, and despite playing in all three games last weekend, I do expect him in net tonight. Watch to see if the blue-liners can keep the high-danger shots off him tonight. That, plus the daunting schedule, has worn on Lyon a bit of late, I think.
- Special teams: If we’re not playing well, it doesn’t really matter what the rankings are, but Springfield is the team that kicked our PK butt early in the season. By standings ranks, we should have an advantage when on the power play. Can we capitalize, or will we piss it away?
- Pace. Watch to see if the team has any jump in their skates tonight. The schedule’s been horrible, of course, and there’s been the cold and flu to battle as well. But we’re better and faster than most teams. Can we play that way tonight? Or, will this be another game where it looks like we’re skating through peanut butter?
- Watch for surprise roster changes. I’m not really expecting anything, but I’m ready to handle Wiese showing up, or Kaše back on the ice, or Komm in net or Aube-Kubel called up or anything along those lines.
- Orange. I’m expecting them to come out in orange tonight, and I’m wearing my traditional Wednesday white–a throwback that I haven’t worn yet this season hoping it will jump-start the good luck.
The team will be in Hartford on Friday night and back home here at the PPL Center on Saturday for Rochester. Saturday is Star Wars Night with a poster giveaway. The team will be off on Sunday to set up an afternoon game in Wilkes-Barre on Martin Luther King Day, Monday the 21st. If you’re going, keep in mind that they have some new security procedures there at the Mohegan Sun.
See you at the arena,