Happy Thanksgiving, Phan Nation. Here’s hoping one and all had a relaxing and fulfilling time with family and friends, with all traveling safely, this weekend. A somewhat abbreviated preview today, and likely on hiatus tomorrow, for my own commitments.
Thanksgiving Eve on Casey Plaza did not go so well. The Phantoms got “stuffed” 2-6, although some bad luck and a questionable call when Lyon lost his helmet may have contributed to the game.
Still, the almost complete absence of a power play puts the team at a severe disadvantage every game, it seems. The wins have been unnecessarily close, and the overtime/shootout contests have been excessive. The 1-goal games could be more comfortable. They were 0-for-3 on Wednesday while the flightless birds were 2/5.
In Philadelphia, it sure seems like we’ll not see the likes of Farabee and Frost ever again. Myers, too, probably. However, there have been some recent signs that Nolan Patrick is improving in his battle with migraines, so we’ll wish him well and perhaps that could push a player to the Phantoms eventually. Or, not.
Thus, on the Phantoms side, help is only on the way in that players may start to return from injury. F Isaac Ratcliffe returned Wednesday night in Wilkes-Barre. However, F Andy Andreoff, fresh back from Philadelphia, appears to have joined the ranks of the injured.
Real quick, let me update you on what I know–which as usual isn’t much:
Steven Swavely: Healthy Scratch
Andy Andreoff: Unknown Injury, hopefully short term. Could possibly have been veteran absence Wednesday.
German Rubtsov: Re-injured surgically-repaired shoulder. Could be long-term, but he is skating, per reports.
Connor Bunnaman: “Ankle” was expected long-term, and he’s been out a while, but he’s already skating and that’s an excellent sign.
Chris Bigras: Concussion protocol. Course unknown with concussions, and he’s been out a while following a set-back.
Kyle Criscuolo: Unknown. Has already missed a few games. Hopefully back soon.
Andy Welinski: Unknown. Missed Wednesday, and as Andreoff is presumed injured. Hopefully short-term. Both would not have needed to scratch due to veteran rule at the same time, so we presume injury. Hopefully mild.
Others battling: All players battle through things, of course. I have heard that Greg Carey and Tyler Wotherspoon have had some tough ones, but that they haven’t had to miss time yet.
It’s the rematch from Wednesday, hopefully with better refs. There’s no promotion tonight, but there are some ticket package deals that could save you some fees and get you a bobblehead. Ticket availability appears quite plentiful for tonight’s game, but walk-up could be significant on this retail holiday known as Black Friday. I’d advise securing your seats before heading downtown.
Pre/Post Game: Downtown restaurants and bars are likely to be busy pre-game; leave a little extra time for pre-game festivities today. As per usual on a Friday, there’s a DJ in The Dime following the game.
Parking: I continue to try to update my out-dated parking post, but things change downtown seemingly more quickly than I can type. The important note is that, when parking in a deck, you now MUST park head-in. I knew the change was coming, but did not write about it because I was under the impression that it would be phased-in, and more clearly marked. It has not, and many folks received tickets when backing in or pulling through. I don’t like the policy, because when leaving a large event–especially one where kids are present–I always feel safer pulling straight out rather than backing out–even with my backup camera. I believe the new policy is in place so that they can check license plates in an effort to close one of the parking loopholes present in their current “park free but not on event nights” promotion. More on this later.
Referee Reid Anderson (#49)
Referee Jeremy Tufts (#78)
Linesman Ryan Knapp (#73)
Linesman Michael Magee (#41)
*Anderson and Knapp were part of that questionably officiated game Wednesday night.
I’ll skip the details here, but remind you that we take a significant disadvantage on special teams both when giving and receiving power-plays. The goalie match-up tonight should be the alternate of the Lyon/DeSmith battle from Wednesday, so Berube/Tokarski has been penciled in by those in the know on both sides of the equation.
Five Things To Watch
- I don’t think Lyon necessarily played poorly Wednesday, athough his GAA will likely take somewhat of a hit. A greasy goal, a fluky one off his shoulder, one when his helmet had been knocked off, an empty-net goal (no impact at all) and one when the game had already been determined. Chalk it up to a bad night, but I’m hoping Berube can come out and perform tonight versus Tokarski, who probably isn’t as good as DeSmith.
- Go ahead and watch that power play. The new personnel and the injuries and call-ups have certainly played a role in their poor performance. Bad luck has occurred on occasion. All given. And, I do expect things to turn around, but I haven’t seen signs of it yet. Not at all.
- Then, watch the PK. It’s all about discipline and effort if you ask me, and we’ll need that versus the Pens.
- I wrote the other day that I didn’t think the Penguins looked as crisp and refined in their play as they had other years. However, they’ve certainly been able to score goals and win games recently. It was during the power play, and late in the game when the effort seemed to drop, that they started to look like their old selves, last time they were in town. I think they can be broken down if you play hard and fast enough. Can we?
- Watch for the Phantoms to make things difficult at the net-front for Tokarski tonight. Reports have this as a recent point of emphasis with the team. And, it could help with the power play, as well, to get better traffic in front of the net.
Back at it tomorrow with our first look at the first-place Hartford Wolfpack. As I wrote the other day, I think they’re ‘paper champions’ and I don’t think they’ll be around later. But, I haven’t seen them, and I could be wrong. Let’s see what they look like on the ice, huh?
Unfortunately, it’s poster-giveaway night and post-game auctions tomorrow. The “Post Game Player Event Curse” needs to be broken, and it could happen when I’m not there. Or, it might not happen at all. We need to break that curse eventually, though.
There likely won’t be a ‘Hockey Night’ post for tomorrows game. The Phantoms will be in Springfield on Wednesday, and return to the PPL Center on Friday December 6, vs Hershey for ‘Pink in the Rink’ and a ball-cap giveaway sponsored by Service Electric.
See you at the arena,