It’s really only a matter of time now as the Phantoms await their ultimate mathematical elimination. It seems as though they’ve thrown in the towel losing 5 of 6 and being outscored 23-10. Lehigh Valley were outshot in all 3 games this weekend and they gave up 12 powerplays while receiving 10 of their own.
Each week I add up the PPs and some of you out there might say, “well they only gave up 2 more than they had themselves!” Yes, I agree that surrendering a 12-10 deficit in man advantages isn’t that big a deal. BUT it’s a whole different ballgame when you do that every single week. Eventually the percentages will even out and you will come out on the losing end; giving up more powerplay goals than you can score yourself. An argument can be made that a combination of injuries and the inexperience of youth derailed this season for the Phantoms, but nothing contributed to the sinking of this ship more than undisciplined play.
Loss (6-1) March 25th vs. Syracuse
An extreme rarity, the Crunch actually scored 2 goals shorthanded in this game. The scoring started with just that, a shorty from veteran defenseman Joey Mormina. It was a pretty great play by Crunch rookie Cody Kunyk who skated hard into the Lehigh Valley zone and threw the brakes on when it seemed as though he would drive the net. He shook his back-checker in the process and generally messed up the Phantom defense as a whole. Mormina was following the play and skated into a bomb of a shot as the puck was simply sitting on a tee for him. Tough one for Zepp here as it actually missed the goal and tipped in off of Mark Alt’s skate. The flood gates opened from here on out.
Delisle-Comrie pairing was pretty bad at preventing shots from dangerous areas in this game and they paid for it. 2 goals in the 2nd gave the Crunch a 3-0 lead and the Phantoms were on autopilot as the 3rd opened. Just over 2 minutes into that period they again surrendered a shorthanded goal, this time to Jonathan Marchessault (his 2nd and Syracuse’s 4th of the game). This was actually a pretty little backhand (although Hagg didn’t do much to stop him getting the opportunity) that ended Zepp’s night.
Stolarz would fare no better as just 2 minutes later we saw shoddy coverage from Comrie and Hagg. Laughton did an okay job isolating Swiss winger Joel Vermin (although he still got to the front of the net), but Hagg and Comrie both backed away from the driving Crunch forward and he and Justin Courtnall were free to get extra whacks at a rebound. That pairing is a result of a broken change, but come on.. you don’t just leave guys in the low slot.. Basic Defense 101. Ryan Martindale then added insult to injury burying a goal high short side on Stolarz who was down PRETTY early before the acute-angle shot. Hagg was also waving at this one like an idiot.
Blair Jones scored the lone Phantoms goal and it was off a ridiculous play by Adam Comrie who skated into a horrible situation on the PP where he was pressured by 2 Crunch defenders. He was lucky he didn’t give up an odd man shorthanded break to the Crunch, but it somehow ended up squirting over to Jones for a one-timer as the Phantoms broke Gudlevskis’ shutout.
Perhaps the best play by any Phantom was that of Captain Brandon Manning who took it upon himself to try and kick the living crap out of Kunyk after he boarded Mark Alt in the 2nd. I’m not a huge supporter of fights in hockey, but certain plays deserve a response and this was a straight up hit from behind. Manning also fought Tanner Richard who looked horribly awkward and probably shouldn’t fight.
Resident Dumpster Pirate Brett Hextall fought in this game as well! Whatever! (Fimmano Photography)
Win (4-1) March 28th vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
These 2 teams are not very friendly with one another as this game started with a staged fight; Hextall vs. Dominik Uher 5 seconds in. Midway through the 1st Scott Laughton popped his 8th on the PP. Once again I’m going back to the well and pulling out, “I’ve gotta commend Stortini on his screening ability.” The guy makes a great door I’ll give him that; hockey player? Well that’s another story, but ask him to be a door or wall.. he’s great. Very nice shot from Laughton here though, just a missile of a wrister high to the blocker side. Jesper Pettersson also scored in the opening period.. yes you read that correctly. Great feed from Straka here as he spotted Pettersson sneaking into the slot.
Assistant Captain Andrew Gordon leads the rush against former Phantom Danny Syvret (Fimmano Photography)
Delisle scored a weak goal on Matt Murray halfway into the 2nd as Akeson fed a nifty looking cross-ice pass from the opposite corner out to the point. Squeaker through the five-hole that Murray would want back. The only WBS goal was an Andrew Ebbett tally that Comrie and Delisle were on the ice for. Cole Bardreau was left to contend with Ebbett in front and despite his efforts following him to the net he couldn’t prevent the goal. Comrie was chasing and Delisle was off in no-man’s land.
Maxim Lamarche apparently impressed enough to get the nod during the WBS 3rd period push. He was out with Robert Hagg in the final minutes when Robert made a kneeling pad save on a wide open net. Zepp was out of position after a WBS passing play. Laughton potted the empty-netter.
Loss (3-1) March 29th vs. Manchester
Very little time spent on the man advantage for either side in this game as whenever there were penalties they mostly offset each other; 2 PPs each. Scott Laughton was feeling a little dandy in this game as he danced out from below the goal line early and roofed a backhand on Patrick Bartosak. This goal happened because of bad coverage by the Monarchs, but it’s a very good sign that Scott is feeling a little more comfortable (he should after notching 3 goals in 2 nights). The Laughton that flopped his way through February and March wouldn’t have made such a confident drive to the net-front.
Now we get to this game’s 1st star; Paul Bissonnette. Yeah.. that Paul Bissonnette. The big take away from this game was of course his Gordie Howe hat trick, and that starts right here with a missed assignment from who else but Delisle. Bissonnette pressures Delisle on the boards, Rosehill can’t make a play at the half-wall and the puck gets to Ryan Horvat at the point. Comrie is boxing out former Flyers’ flaming trash can Josh Gratton, but Delisle is still floundering in the corner while his man Bissonnette drives towards the net and tips in a pretty nice goal that he helped create and finish. Hats off to Paul as this was a well executed play by any grind-line’s standards.
Early in period 2 Bissonnette dropped the mitts with Lauridsen and it was kind of a so-so fight. Both guys clearly afraid of the other and for good reason, it was mostly fought at arms length although Bissonnette got in one or two that staggered the big Dane. The second Manchester goal was a terrible play by Jay Rosehill who looked to almost be out of Lehigh Valley’s defensive zone, but then thought about ham sandwiches for a second and forgot he was playing hockey. The puck fell right off his stick to Bissonnette who shoveled it over to Horvat and before Zepp could really get set it was in the net. Boo Paul.. Boo Rosehill.. Boo Gordie Howe Hat Tricks. Just when the Goumas-Fyten-Rosehill line was going to get away with a well played weekend they pull out a couple of smelly plays against the opposing 4th line.
Let’s see, the final goal was an empty netter for Monarch’s forward Michael Mersch. Delisle put a whoopin’ on Kevin Raine.. Raine was also a victim of an absolutely filthy deke by Scott Laughton in the 3rd, but Taylor Leier was unable to find the net after Scott passed it in front. As I was saying about Laughton’s confidence.. yo.
Flyers Prospects in the Professional Ranks
Nick Luukko (2010 – 6th Round)
Made his professional debut on Saturday against WBS as he was paired with veteran ECHLer Maxim Lamarche. Yup that’s about it. Didn’t register anything on the scoresheet and that’s probably not a bad thing. Not going to be a big scorer so if he plays a quiet defensively-responsible game I’d actually be pretty happy. Didn’t play Sunday as coach Murray opted to stick freshly-returned Alt and Lauridsen right back into the line-up.
Cole Bardreau (Free Agent)
Joining Hextall and Straka on the 3rd line he certainly wasn’t a liability and Straka looked pretty dangerous so you’d assume he contributed to that. Is at the very least responsible enough defensively to play center in a checking role.
Scott Laughton (2012 – 1st Round)
Scott Laughton celebrates a goal, he had 3 this weekend and got his offensive game back on track (Fimmano Photography)
With his play suffering since being sent down by the Flyers we finally saw Laughton break out of that funk as he and Leier were placed on a line with Jason Akeson. Laughton ended up with 3 goals and an assist in 2 weekend games and was scoreless Wednesday. A little bit more take charge attitude resulted in some strong drives towards opposing nets and quite a few shots from dangerous areas that either missed the net or were blocked.
Jason Akeson (Free Agent)
Rough week last week was brushed off by Akeson who got back to his puck distributing ways with 4 assists in 3 games. All he does is put up points. Too skilled to be in the AHL.
Taylor Leier (2012 – 4th Round)
Hard to be mad about his play as Akeson and Laughton were both very successful on the scoresheet. Lately it appears Leier is the one driving the net, making the dirty plays so the other 2 can have a little more space. He didn’t register a point and had just 4 shots himself, but he did hit a post. Good all around play, but come on Taylor toss in an assist or something! Sheesh!
Nick Cousins (2011 – 3rd Round)
Nick has now played 5 games in his young NHL career, but has yet to find a point. He’s been getting some offensive time with guys like Voracek, but it’s been very limited. Maybe a shift or 2 a game if Berube thinks he’s played well enough for an extra 30 seconds of ice time or so. For the most part in the last couple games he’s been on line 4 with White and Rinaldo.. blechhh.. As a result he’s playing against some pretty weak competition in his small sample, but he’s come out pretty much even. Not a bad result for a guys trying to crack a roster.
Robert Hagg (2013 – 2nd Round)
Hagg was beaten wide on at least 1 goal this weekend and there were a handful of other grade-A chances which were a result of him getting turned around as well. Skating may be an issue for him moving forward as he’s looked pretty slow to me recently. Early in the year I wasn’t noticing as many defensive lapses. Could be just wear-and-tear has taken its toll on the young Swede in a rookie season where he’s probably taken on a bit too much responsibility.
Petr Straka (Free Agent)
A few dangerous looking shots in the Wednesday game against Syracuse (6 total) including a partial break.. couldn’t find the back of the net. Great feed to Pettersson for a rare goal. Seems like Straka can turn players like Fyten, Hextall, etc. into a legitimate checking unit that can outmatch other AHL 3rd lines. Trust me that is an accomplishment.
Mark Alt (Free Agent)
Partnered with Manning on Wednesday he was one of the rare Phantoms that looked pretty good in terms of positional play. Alt and Lauridsen were both recalled by the Flyers on an emergency basis on Saturday. Mark Streit was out with the flu and he’s since actually flown to Switzerland to be with an ailing family member. So there are minutes to be had because Schenn is already shut down with a lower body injury. Alt was pretty solid, but ended up a minus which won’t get him bonus points with Berube. Both he and Lauridsen looked okay in sheltered minutes although I’m pretty sure I saw Lauridsen flopping in his own crease at least once.. Oli does what Oli does.
Adam Comrie (Free Agent)
Comrie and Delisle looked pretty atrocious in the 6-1 loss to Syracuse, not that the rest of the defensemen on the team looked much better. Comrie was caught stargazing a few times this weekend, and when he was watching the play he was feebly trying to chase it. Seriously. Just watch the highlights and keep an eye out for plays that wrap around the Lehigh Valley net. Comrie is almost always the defenseman that is involved when the opposition is nearly on top of Zepp or Stolarz. That is a worrying tendency to note; if he can’t keep forwards out of those dangerous areas his offensive flair may not be enough to keep him on an AHL roster.
Kevin Goumas (Free Agent)
I hate to toot this horn again, but why Terry Murray continues to roll Goumas out with garbage players like Fyten and Rosehill is beyond explanation. To his credit Kevin actually made a few highlight worthy net-drive plays that his linemates were unable to finish.
Other Flyers Prospects in College or Junior
Danick Martel (Free Agent)
Martel had the lone Blainville goal against Gatineau in the playoff opening loss, and added another goal and assist in game 2. He and Jevpalovs will lead the Armada into enemy territory for game 3 tonight and game 4 tomorrow as they play back-to-backs.
Michael Parks (2010 – 5th Round)
UND returned to form beating #11 Quinnipiac and #13 St. Cloud both by a score of 4-1. That means the team is back on top with a #1 rank heading into Frozen Four a match-up with #2 Boston University. This will be a huge test for Parks who will come up against phenom Jack Eichel and will likely get his line as a checking assignment.
Radel Fazleev (2014 – 6th Round)
Fazleev has turned up the heat in the playoffs again. He has 4 assists in 2 games – 3 of them are primary assists – 3 of them are on the PP. His 7 points in 6 playoff games last season were a big reason the Flyers gambled on him with a late pick.
Travis Sanheim (2014 – 1st Round)
Sanheim hasn’t registered a point just yet in 2 WHL playoff games, it’s tough to be on the offensive when you’re going up against Sam Reinhart consistently. Calgary are tied 1-1 with Kootenay.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel (2014 – 2nd Round)
A goal and assist in the opener as Val d’Or won 6-2 at home, but was held scoreless in Rouyn-Noranda’s 8-3 romp in the rematch. 1-1 series.
Tyrell Goulbourne (2013 – 3rd Round)
No surprises here as the Rockets are up 2-0 in their series against Tri-City. The Americans have yet to score against Kelowna who have 9 goals from 8 different scorers. One of those scorers is Rourke Chartier who scored on a play from Goulbourne. Just the 1 assist thus far, and well he fought Max James but he wasn’t the aggressor. James picked up a misconduct and the instigator in the scrap.
Sam Morin (2013 – 1st Round)
Morin factored into 2 late Oceanic goals in game 2 of his first round series against Victoriaville. Rimouski are up 2-0 and Sam continues to play big minutes. He’s been on the ice for more goals against than goals for, but a lot of that has to do with heavy usage and penalty kill time.
Merrick Madsen (2013 – 6th Round)
Eliminated by #9 Nebraska-Omaha on Saturday, Madsen will get a chunk of starts next season I would imagine. He barely got a sniff of the net behind Michalek this year for the Crimson. He’s likely a long term project behind Stolarz in Lehigh Valley anyhow. No rush.