“And we’ll drink and dance with one hand free
And have the world so easily”
-Lyrics Will Jennings, Back in the High Life Again, Steve Winwood 1986
Let’s Go Streaking
We covered this prior to Wednesday’s game: I’ve been known to look for “turning points” and the like during a season. And, this five-game home stand really feels like it was set up to be that. Lose these games on top of the horrific stretch that lasted from December through the turn of the calendar and we can put to bed any hope of playoffs and the like. But, win a bunch of games, get some confidence back and start playing together better, and perhaps we can start climbing out of the hole.
The rousing win Wednesday against the high-flying Crunch was the third in a row on this long week of hockey. It was a fun game. The return of Danick Martel and the wide-open style of hockey that Syracuse plays made for a nice evening at the PPL Center.
But the hole is a deep one. The Hamilton Street Heroes still trail Scranton by five standings points for sixth place. A playoff spot is 10 points above us. We need to keep stacking points.
Prior to Wednesdays game, we were right in the middle of some roster gymnastics by the Flyers for the purpose of calling up goalie Alex Lyon. The Flyers needed to have Lyon up emergently, and were forced to send Joel Farabee “down” for their own Wednesday game. Yesterday, Farabee was quickly recalled from the paper move, while veteran winger Chris Stewart passed through waivers and now has been assigned to the Phantoms. He should be available this weekend and has been assigned jersey number 55. He’s a tough guy, and has been known to drop them when necessary, which should earn him some quick fans in the Lehigh Valley. He’s also a veteran, which means we’ll have to scratch two of them now, TJ Brennan and another. Stewart last played in the ‘A’ for Lake Erie in the ’09-’10 season.
Speaking of TJ Brennan, folks have been asking about him quite regularly. And, it’s kind of what we thought. We could see his game was dropping off a bit of late, and although we’re all big fans of his, we also want to see the team win and the younger players develop. The combination of his play plus the veteran issue has him in the press box quite regularly. Read more about it in this Dave Isaac piece from Wednesday, which suggests he could be traded: READ
Today, D David Drake and F Gerry Fitzgerald were assigned to ECHL Reading. The Drake move suggests injured defenceman Andy Welinski could be on the mend. F Carsen Twarynski is injured, thought to be more week-to-week.
It’s racing weekend, and we’ll be sporting snazzy racing-themed warm-up jerseys both tonight and tomorrow. The Phantoms race car and race truck will be in the house, along with a driver and a tire-change demo.
Tonight we’ll face off against the Binghamton Devils, AHL affiliate of the New Jersey Devils. The Devils are in seventh place in the AHL North, but have won eight in a row coming in–perhaps the hottest team in the league right now. They’ve been alternating their goalies which should have us facing young Swiss netminder Gilles Senn. Binghamton’s special teams units are rather middling, but perhaps have been playing better of late, explaining their streak. Still, the road penalty kill is atrocious, so perhaps we can get our power play going tonight. Senn does not have gaudy numbers, but you can always run into a hot goalie.
We beat Binghamton 4-1 in October at the PPL center, while they beat us in the Southern Tier 3-1 in November.
Referee Corey Syvret (#42)
Referee Anthony Tapper (#9)
Linesman Jesse Marquis (#86)
Linesman Jonathan Deschamps (#84)
Five Things To Watch Tonight
- As always, watch to see who starts between the pipes. You have to think Swedish prospect Felix Sandström, up from Reading to replace Alex Lyon, will get either tonight’s game or tomorrow. Rochester tomorrow looks to be the tougher match-up, but you already know about the Binghamton win streak.
- Watch Morgan Frost. He’s a special talent, and I agree with why he’s here right now with respect to his development and the role he needs to play for the Flyers. But, he won’t be here for long.
- Watch to see if Stewart gets in the game tonight, and how he looks if he does. On the baseball side, when guys come down they often take their time finding their way into the lineup, and even when they do they often “big league” it, not looking like they’re playing very hard. Here with hockey, guys usually relish the chance for more ice time and the leadership role they can play in “the room.” They look at it as an opportunity, and the AHL team can benefit from their presence.
- Keep watching Ratcliffe. I said Wednesday, I think he’s playing with more confidence and has been a little stronger on the puck as well. I’m hoping his name shows up on the score sheet tonight.
- Choose carefully which hat you wear to the games just now. With Frost around, I think our chances for a hat trick are greater than normal and you don’t want to have to sacrifice a good hat.
Back at it tomorrow, weather and all. Rochester is home tonight versus Cleveland, and as long as they can make it here (they should) and the officials are here, we’ll play. Those racing warm-ups will be auctioned off after tomorrow’s game.
See you at the arena,
Lyrics used for educational purposes.