“The next time I want to criticize a referee, I’ll give ten of my players $1,000 each and get them to do it.”
From the notebook of a sportsblogger who doesn’t respond well to disappointing losses…
I’m really trying to do some post-game stuff this season, but man I don’t play nice after a loss–OT or otherwise–and just go to the “if you can’t say anything nice” department. So I’ve got a bunch of stuff from my notebook from last weekend I’ll try to dump here, where appropriate.
But first, I wanted to post a poll. Service Electric had a poll about which player(s) you’re “most looking forward to seeing” in an opposing uniform this season. Indeed, some of our “old friends” will be back to battle the Hamilton Street Heroes in enemy colors this season. But, as we say in the FB Comments section, “I’m here for the hockey.” And, with that in mind, I won’t be posing for pictures or reminiscing over cups of Timmies with any of these guys. I really want my team to win, so with that in mind (Winning Hockey Games) I’ve re-done the poll. So with a nod to TV-2 for the idea, click on one, won’t you?
None are really “revenge game” material, per se. No one left on bad terms as far as I know (shout-out to Will O’Neill) but there’s one guy who left without even a say in the matter, sacrificed a year of his career riding the bench (but got paid), and might return and kill us just because he likes us? That dude might just drop a hattie on us for old times sake.
- Last Saturday the Phantoms lost an OT contest to the hated Hersey Bears. Travis Boyd ended it on a laser to the back of the net, past Bérubé, on the 4-on-3 power play. Goals were scored by Farabee, Sushko, and Ratcliffe as the young guns out-contribute the veterans again. I think Boyd got called up today, so hopefully he sticks and we don’t have to deal with him any more in the American League.
- I was going to do a “track the referees” thing this season, but thinking about refs just makes me sad. Still, they played a key role in calling the OT penalty on a play very similar to a “let them play” decision that was made not a minute before. It’s a lack of consistency is what I’m saying. So peg Hanrahan/Ross, Goodman/Loftus as an inconsistent crew. The whole game was uneven, if less glaring than the overtime, if you ask me.
- We had our first fight, and as predicted it was Gabriel with the fisticuffs:
- It was called a draw on hockeyfights.com, but I think Gabriel edges him out. I really don’t like Liam O’Brien.
- Hershey’s first goal was a shorty, and I fear that will happen more unless we can get the power play formation straightened out. That “umbrella”-type stuff has that risk–as well as the inability to hold the zone with the puck. I know it’s early, but the Phantoms are currently in last place with a 0.0% PP. That’s not good unless your name is Mr. Blutarsky.
- You know, I’m not happy with the home white jerseys. Yeah, I said it last season, but I still feel like the design has gotten tired, and the black numbers look weird. I’m OK with the black/relief name plate, but the rest of it is so meh.
- Speaking of jerseys, do you have a “bad luck” one? I’ve got one that I think is something like 1-12-4 when I wear it to games. I know, I know. But it’s a good jersey and a new season so I thought I would give it a try again. And historically, it’s been a “Friday” jersey, so I thought try Saturday. Nope. So, I washed it. We’ll see I’ll give it a few weeks off and then try again. Tonight would have been a good night to wear it, too, but we need wins so I’ll look elsewhere.
- But maybe it wasn’t the jersey: The loss Saturday continued the rich tradition of team loss on post-game event nights (photos, autographs, jersey auctions etc.)
- Our old friend d.E. has been checking in–see comments and responses to the previous ‘Hockey Night’ post.
- Welcome defenceman Andy Welinski. He’ll wear #3. He’s a right-hand shot, and was healthy enough to be sent down from the Flyers through waivers.
Welinski, 26, signed a one-year contract with the Flyers on July 1, 2019 after spending the previous three seasons in the Anaheim Ducks organization. Welinski played 26 games for Anaheim during the 2018-19 season, notching a goal and three assists. He also played 27 games for the San Diego Gulls of the AHL, posting eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points..Originally drafted in the third round (#83 overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft by the Anaheim Ducks, Welinski has played 33 career NHL games for the Ducks, and scored a goal and three assists. He played in 146 games for San Diego, totaling 24 goals and 59 assists for 83 points and 59 penalty minutes. He was named to the 2017-18 AHL All-Star game..A native of Deluth, Minnesota, Welinski played four years of college hockey at University of Minnesota-Duluth from 2012-16. In 154 college games, Welinski put up 77 points (24 goals, 53 assists) and was named to the NCHC Second All-Star team in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
- No transactions apparent as of WordPress-Time, but it might behoove them to send James deHaas to Reading to get some ice time. He’s been a healthy scratch for two of the first three games. Then again, with the “veteran problem,” perhaps it’s good to have the extra body here.
- Speaking of the veteran problem, I had read that it was Welinski that would push us over the edge. That was wrong, I should have counted them myself. So here we go (apologize for any math or counting errors–and these are prior to this season):
- Cal O’Reilly 858
- TJ Brennan 698
- Nate Prosser 481
- Andy Andreoff 393
- Tyler Wotherspoon 385
- Greg Carey 326
- Kurtis Gabriel 302 (“tweener”)
- So, one has to sit each game, and it can’t be Gabriel. It’s not a great problem to have, really, but at this point in the season the depth is good so we’ll see.
- By way of injuries, we’re still awaiting the season debut of F David Kaše, whose injury is officially listed as “nicked up.”
- From the rumor mill department, this came across my desk this morning:
But during the editing process this comes across:
So, we’ll wait and see…. Buns with wear #25 BTW.
UPDATE: Connor Bunnaman will not play tonight, but will play tomorrow. A call-up for the Flyers for tomorrow is not planned; it’s been reported that they’ll go with 12 F for tomorrow’s home game vs the Stars.
Lines (pre-game Saturday)
10 Carey – 9 O’Reilly – 28 Farabee
8 Strome – 23 Frost – 16 Aube-Kubel
51 Criscuolo – 17 Rubtsov – 15 Sushko
19 Ratcliffe – 24 Vorobyev – 29 Gabriel
43 Brennan – 7 Myers
27 Bigras – 14 Friedman
5 Wotherspoon – 39 Prosser
Scratches: 12 Andreoff (veteran), 21 Fitzgerald, 38 Kaše (injured), 2 de Haas, 44 Willcox
Reading opened on the road, and is 1-1-1 as well. They’ll open their home schedule tomorrow with a block party. They also have a game on Sunday with some Kid’s Club festivities, special pricing, and a post-game skate. It’s a 4PM start if you’re looking for additional hockey this weekend.
Our first look at the Binghamton Devils this season, and the return of #22 Chris Conner (see poll above). He scored a goal in Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday haunting one of is other former teams. The Devils are 1-2-1, good enough for 7th place in the AHL North. They had the lead in Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday, but coughed it up in the third period for the regulation loss.
No promotion tonight.
Referee Beau Halkidis (#48)
Referee Mike Sullivan (#89)
Linesman Tyler Loftus (#11) (a returnee from my note above)
Linesman Bill Lyons (#27)
MEDIA KIT (rosters, stats, and game information)
Five Things To Watch
- I’m expecting Alex Lyon in net again tonight–It’s his turn. Would they go back-to-back with him and only two games this weekend? I doubt it, as they’ll get both guys work.
- Watch the veterans. I know it’s early. But seriously, I’m expecting more out of O’Reilly, Andreoff, and Carey who are all established point scorers. At this juncture they’ve been taking a back seat on the score sheet to some of the younger players. I know Prosser isn’t a point guy but at -2 on the +/- he hasn’t been stellar. I don’t need a ton of points out of TJ Brennan at this point if he can play good defense, but the power play he leads has been pretty bad (see below). So keep an eye on these guys tonight and see how they’re playing. Again, caveats: It’s early, New Team, “Systems” etc.
- Watch special teams. Out of 31 teams the Phantoms rank 29th with 0.0% success on the power play. Penalty Kill is 29th with 69.2%. If you want a clue why the talent on this team is only 1-1-1 at this juncture, that’s a good reason why. We’ve been home this whole season so far, and off since last Saturday. I trust we’ve worked on this. It’s something to keep an eye on tonight. I’d recommend a more conservative power play strategy to start–quantity over quality maybe, but at the very least holding the zone will put pressure on the other team and perhaps lead to a goal following the power play rather than endless instances of TJ Brennan chasing the puck down the ice and re-setting.
- Watch the ‘Left Wing Lock.’ The Devils and their affiliates are known to employ this strategy of moving into a three-man defensive posture. It may require Coach Gordon to attack it in a manner slightly different from their normal offensive systems.
- Watch zone entrances/exits. Along with “the lock” it’s something that sometimes give the Phantoms trouble, especially early in the season. And again, with a whole week to prepare for this game, I’m expecting we’ll be ready. But, it’s something to watch.
- (Bonus) Watch the centers. Buns may not be here in time for the game, but how do Ruby and Misha look? Would they be the ones who might go up? Myers is killing it, but I think they might wait a bit before making that move, thinking it more of a permanent one rather than and up-and-down look-see thing. Will Flyers’ brass be here to observe in person?
Back at it tomorrow with “go green” night featuring the Eagles Cheerleaders and our first look at Springfield. Next weekend the team will head out on the road for the first time with the long hike to Charlotte for Friday and Saturday back-to-back.
See you at the arena,
PS: Fun with polls. If you’ve made it this far, let me know what time you’d like this traditional pre-game post to appear. Keep in mind that the earlier it is, the more likely late-breaking info won’t be included–and if it’s updated you might not make it back to see it.
Featured image by Jack Mitroka