“You find that you have peace of mind and can enjoy yourself, get more sleep, rest when you know that it was a one hundred percent effort that you gave – win or lose.”
As we chug along towards the NHL trade deadline on February 25, things in Phantoms-land continue to fluctuate. While the Phantoms continue to post .500-like numbers, we need to be cognizant of the rest of the AHL Atlantic, where that might not be good enough. Earlier in the week, Phantoms Notebook took a look at some of the personnel changes since the All Star break. Updates follow below.
Last night in Utica, after a scoreless first period, the Phantoms jumped out to a 2-0 lead behind back-to-back goals from Justin Bailey and Philippe Myers. One from the Comets and it was 2-1 Phantoms at the second break. Then, the wheels fell off–not something that usually happens to the orange and black of Allentown. Four more goals from Utica and the Phantoms come home dragging a 5-2 loss. The advanced stats folks say it wasn’t that bad, and those with eyes on the game kind of agree, which puts this loss at the feet of veteran netminder Mike McKenna.
So, there’ll be days like this, and it’s always a team loss. Unfortunately it puts the pressure on for the rest of the weekend. Enter last-place Hartford tonight (and tomorrow afternoon). These aren’t just games the Hamilton Street Heroes should win–they are now games the team really has to win. And it’s not just because of the points they represent, but the fact that the rest of the division is taking free points from the Wolfpack and we need to get ours as well.
Highlights from last night (interestingly, it appears based on this that the Phantoms didn’t score at all in the game):
Players and Lines (Updates from Notebook)
TRADE ALERT! Flyers organization gets D David Schlemko and F Byron Froese from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for F Dale Weise and D Christian Folin. Froese is a centerman, and was captain in Laval, and we may remember him from Toronto. Meanwhile Schlemko had passed through waivers and was also with Laval. We’ll await their assignments, but word is they’ll head to Phantoms first. Their availability for tonight is unknown, and to me, not really expected. Laval was home last night for Belleville, so there’s not just the distance but the customs and all of that to get to the Phantoms. Note as of below, we’re adding to our veteran limit here.
D Philippe Myers has been reported to be on his way to the Flyers. With Folin’s exit, this makes perfect sense now, and the Flyers need to know what they have in the young Myers as they plan not only for the rest of this season, but going forward.
Trade thoughts: Folin and Weise were obviously not in the Flyers’ plans going forward. We’ve already anticipated that the NHL club will want to get some of these younger guys some experience prior to the off-season. To me, this trade represents the “back-fill” to supply the Phantoms with quality players anticipating not only the Myers call-up, but perhaps additional moves. We don’t know exactly where the two new guys will end up–it could be the Flyers want to test them as well–but they should be eligible to join the Phantoms directly from Laval. Guys like Corban Knight and Phil Varone would need to pass through waivers in order to be reassigned, so there is some risk there that we’d lose out on them. This AHL depth seems favorable for us. That Froese cat is GOOD, and Schlemko’s an experienced, solid veteran. I like it a lot.
C Jori Lehterä passed through waivers and came in on the rails from Philly on Thursday, but not in time to make the trip to snowy Utica. He should be on one of the lines tonight wearing #20. Like Dale Weise before him, Jori should enjoy more ice time than he was ever getting in Philadelphia–but if he’s tired he may need a blow from time to time.
C Connor Bunnaman returned to game play last night after missing a couple weeks with an unknown injury.
D TJ Brennan missed last nights game without an explanation, that I heard. Perhaps just planning ahead for the busy weekend and still getting full hockey strength back from his bout with a winter illness.
F Justin Bailey is wearing #28. Reports out of Philly suggest he’s being considered for a call-up, as I anticipated in yesterday’s Notes column. Nothing yet, but stay tuned. (Might need Froese to come on board first, as well as Knight.↓)
F Corban Knight is on waivers. He’ll be assigned to the Phantoms if he passes through unscathed. He’ll count towards our veterans, though. With no ‘conditioning’ assignment, it makes it risky for other teams to immediately pick him up for NHL action, as he’s been out since October with a shoulder.
Experience Counts–against us: We’re now in veteran rule territory, but with Weise’ exit we’ll await any future impact but should be OK for tonight. But pay attention if/when the new guys join, as well as Corban.
With the traded guys out and the new guys not in town yet, I’d expect Lehterä to slot in at center/forward, and TJ Brennan to return to the defense from last night’s lineup. MacDonald could also be in the mix. Here’s how it looked last night:
10 Carey -25 Bunnaman -18 Weise
28 Bailey -21 Vecchione -22 Conner
12 Goulbourne -27 Huntebrinker -13 McDonald
24 Twarynski -11 Swavely- 36 Krushelnyski
6 Samuelsson -5 Myers
2 deHaas- 37 Friedman
7 Palmquist -44 Willcox
56 McKenna (33 Komm)
Discussion: I think I’d slot Lehterä in for Hunty, and maybe move Carsen onto that line. Maybe T-Gillz up top and Hunty on the last line? We’ll see.
The lowly Wolfpack come in on an 0-7-1-1 streak and 1-7-1-1 in their last 10. By a lot, they’re the worst team in the division. But they own a winning record against us, and there’s hidden vigorish in that losing streak–they’ll break it at some point. We need these four points tonight and tomorrow whether they come by regulation or otherwise. It’s not an automatic and the pressure is on.
Old friend Dustin Tokarski has been suffering some of the losses in net. I’ll often quote out the special teams, but tonight it matters little: The Phantoms should have the advantage in every situation and it will come down to how they play and how they respond to last night.
No promo for tonight–we’ve got a wall-cling giveaway for the kiddos at tomorrow’s matinee.
This game has gone ‘SRO’ as of this writing. Please grab your tickets before you head downtown and pay for parking. Eighth Street remains closed between Walnut and Hamilton (1-way northbound) but may re-open one lane after this weekend. Stay tuned.
Referee Beaudry Halkidis (#48)
Referee Tim Mayer (#19)
Linesman Jud Ritter (#34)
Linesman Patrick Hanrahan (#19)
MEDIA KIT (rosters, stats, etc. nobody’s reading these, are they?)
Five (or more) Things To Watch
- As usual, we’re watching for who leads the Phantoms onto the ice for warm-ups. Alex Lyon is said to be a possibility for this weekend, but he availability will depend on his balky groin, I hear. If he can’t go, Branden Komm could get the call, or Mike McKenna trying to improve on last night.
- Watch for the new guys. Like I said, I don’t think it will happen, but we’ll see. Keep an eye out around the arena for these cats as well as Corban as they could be in town, but in street clothes.
- Watch Justin Bailey. He’s making friends and gaining influence, fast. And, I don’t know how much longer we’ll have him here.
- Watch Lehterä. Will he give max effort to prove he’s better than this? Or, will he “big league” us?
- Watch the effort. I’m thinking the team will have some ‘kick’ tonight right from the jump. However, you never know with these things and the last thing we need is to play down to the competition. I am not confident at all in winning these two games–pressure is all on us. But, players have to see all the roster flux, too, and want to make a good impression for both the Flyers as well as any scouts or eyeballs from other NHL teams.
Matinee tomorrow, a repeat of today. Doors at 2PM tomorrow in advance of the 3:05PM start time. Use main entrances and be on time to get the wall clings for the kiddos. It’s a great day to bring the kids out to the arena.
Another 3/3 next weekend, but we start Friday at the PPL Center for Bridgy, then to Hershey Saturday and complete the home/home 5:05PM next Sunday (note start time different from tomorrow) for meLVin’s birthday at the PPL Center.
See you at the arena,