PHANTOMS AND OTHER FLYERS PROSPECTS – 4/7/15

Perhaps the biggest storyline in terms of Flyers’ Prospects as of right now will be Michael Parks and the University of North Dakota getting ready for a Frozen Four showdown with Boston University on Thursday. Others include Sanheim, Fazleev, Morin, Aube-Kubel, and Goulbourne all having advanced in their Junior playoffs while Danick Martel’s Armada were eliminated.

But first the Phantoms are still playing.. I guess.. if you want to call it that.

Win (3-2) April 1st @ Norfolk

The Phantoms didn’t lose to the Conference-worst Norfolk Admirals, but they came pretty close. The start was definitely a good one as Andrew Gordon tallied his 18th of the season just 4 minutes into the game (assists Straka/Jones). If you’re a fan of zone entry tracking.. hoo boy this was a good one. Blair Jones just lackadaisically strolls into the zone, gets to the corner and feeds it back to Straka who’s trailing. The shot towards the net is picked up by Gordon and he spins it past veteran netminder LaBarbera. Textbook play. Looked so easy. The 2nd Phantoms’ goal would find its way in just 4 minutes after that on a horrible turnover by Norfolk defenseman Josh Manson. Taylor Leier gets credit for the forecheck, Laughton picks up the loose puck and finds Akeson busting through the slot for his 21st. There are 3 Norfolk defenders rolling around in that slot, but somehow none of them pick up this pass.. which was not very hard..

The Admirals got 1 goal back at the end of the first on an Antoine Laganiere roof-job. Seriously this was a great job of keeping and taking a shot on a 2-on-1. No scoring until late in the 2nd when the game was tied after Max Friberg banged home a rebound on the Admiral PP. Couldn’t really blame anyone on this goal as it was a straight one-timer and crash the net type of goal. Scrambly. I guess I will blame Oliver Lauridsen though.. because once again we find him flopping about on the ice like a fresh halibut at a fish market.

An oldie here, but a goodie. As is tradition Lauridsen flopping around on the ice doing something weird.. (via phantomshockey.com)

An oldie here, but a goodie. As is tradition Lauridsen flopping around on the ice doing something weird.. I swear he does this multiple times a game and it looks terrible (via phantomshockey.com)

Not to worry folks, Scott Laughton was on point in this game. Quite literally. He was on the point on the Powerplay. He’s looked good recently as the trigger man coming off the half-wall. Another Zack Stortini screen, patent-pending. Norfolk hit a post late and scared the crap out of everyone but Lehigh Valley held on for the win.

Loss (4-3) April 3rd @ Binghamton

Ahh the Senators. This team has easily been Lehigh Valley’s nemesis down the stretch. There are always a ton a fights and somehow the Phantoms just cannot come away from these games with wins. Had this team performed better against Binghamton this season they might have actually been in the fight for the last few playoff spots.

Predictably this game started with a fight between Derek Mathers and Guillaume Lepine. Staged, meh, whatever. These 2 guys are complete wastes of space even at the AHL level. The Senators first goal came on the Powerplay 12 minutes into the game. A little passing play through the middle of the slot and some sloppy coverage from Pettersson result in rookie defenseman Troy Rutkowski’s 2nd career goal. Zepp made some fantastic saves early, but couldn’t keep Derek Grant’s tip out of the net as Binghamton left with a 2-0 lead after the 1st. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that both goals were scored on the Pettersson-Lauridsen pairing which had to be some sort of cruel punishment designed by Terry Murray to infuriate an already slightly-unruly Lehigh Valley fanbase.

Climbing back into this game, Jason Akeson made a pretty little pass from behind the net to a driving Blair Jones who potted his 8th (other assist Leier). We then saw Senators forward Danny Hobbs take a bit of a run at Akeson a few minutes later. Adam Comrie was quick to answer the bell as he jumped on Hobbs and took him to the ice. A few shots thrown here as the linesmen broke it up, but no real damage done. Unlike the Mathers-Lepine circus I don’t have a problem with a fight after a hit that looks kind of shady.

Just 11 seconds into the 3rd Mark Alt walked in a buried a wrister high blocker on Chris Dreidger and all of a sudden it was a tie game (assists Akeson/Hagg). With things looking up early in period 3 it was a Stephen Delisle High-Stick that gave Binghamton a PP and Shane Prince his 25th of the season. Rocketship-one-timer, no chance for Zepp. At this point in the game Mathers and Lepine renewed acquaintances which got them both tossed. Thankfully. LV again tied it up midway through the 3rd on a dandy behind the back pass from Goumas, a toe-drag by Akeson and a wrist shot over the shoulder of Dreidger (other assist Johnston). Bad play by BNG defender Fredrik Claesson who waived at Akeson but didn’t really attack him.

It was all for not however as despite the comeback Robert Hagg got turned around by Ryan Dzingel on a turnover and Dzingel made no mistake burying the winner with just under 2 minutes to play. This one hurt as Hagg tried to play a rolling puck and it just disappeared through his stick. A heartbreaker for the rookie. At least this game was exciting.. which is more than you can say for the next..

Loss (3-0) April 4th @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 

An extremely tame game the Phantoms were handicapped because of personnel issues; they dressed just 10 forwards and 7 defensemen. The result of no Goumas (injured), and more importantly no Mathers or Rosehill in the line-up (both suspended).. no fights.. odd. Jesper Pettersson played forward a bit and uhhh yup he had 3 shots.. probably a career high so there’s that. He’s done this previously this year and there’s no way he could be worse at forward than at defense so I say dress him instead of Mathers/Rosehill from here on out. Screw it.

The Pens went to work in this game outshooting the Phantoms 38-21. This was the only bad loss last week and it was a stinker. I guess only having 10 forward may have something to do with it, but I can’t see that having a huge effect. 4th lines have such minimal impact on games I can’t see that mattering all that much.

WBS rookie Scott Wilson scored 2 goals in the 1st period; which was basically a death sentence for LV. Adam Comrie was on the ice for both, and while he did a surprisingly good job defensively on the 1st Wilson goal he was victimized on the 2nd. Veteran Tom Kostopolous fed Wilson a breakaway pass through Comrie’s legs and he finished with a backhand top corner on Zepp. The only other goal in the game came on a broken Pens passing play down low that ended up floating out to the point and was hammered by Brian Dumoulin.

Flyers Prospects in the Professional Ranks

Scott Laughton (2012 – 1st Round)

Had a goal and an assist on Wednesday night and was then held scoreless over the weekend on just 3 shots in 2 games. It’s clear that Laughton wasn’t quite ready for big time minutes in the AHL especially on such a young team as this is in Lehigh Valley. That said he shows flashes of being a way better player than he’s been this season.

Jason Akeson (Free Agent)

Tough to keep off the scoresheet; 2 goals and 2 assists on 9 shots in 3 games. He also had a partial break and another couple of A-quality chances that wouldn’t go in for him.

Taylor Leier (2012 – 4th Round)

Couldn’t get himself on the scoresheet as of late, but finally got off the snide with a pair of assists. The one that came on Wednesday was a picture perfect example of pressuring a defenseman trying to leave the zone. Up-and-down year offensively for Taylor with 30 points in 66 games, but as a rookie that’s a decent amount. His play has obviously been elevated with Scott Laughton being his center, but I don’t think Scott’s carried him all that much.

Nick Cousins (2011 – 3rd Round)

Nothing on the board in 8 NHL games to this point. Can hardly blame him playing with Rinaldo and White. 58 shot attempts for and 69 against according to NHL.com.. playing with Remaldo.. that’s wonderful. He even buried a goal in the shootout by making Cam Ward commit and come too far out of his net. Ward isn’t what he once was, but hey this was nice. Very nice.

Welcome to the NHL Nick Cousins! (via nj.com)

Welcome to the NHL Nick! My name’s John-Michael nice ta meet ya! (via nj.com)

Robert Hagg (2013 – 2nd Round)

Another blunder on Friday against the Senators cost the Phantoms the game. He had been flying under the radar, playing good defensive hockey and not really producing much offensively, but he’s made some glaring missteps lately. He may not be as NHL ready as some people hope.

Petr Straka (Free Agent) 

Has been put in an almost permanent 3rd line role lately as Terry Murray basically had enough of him not producing in the top-6. To his credit he’s looked pretty okay with Bardreau and Hextall on the 3rd line. They’ve had some dominant performances against other team’s depth units.

Mark Alt (Free Agent)

Scored his 2nd of the season Friday night. Season has been a bit of a wash for Mark because of injuries, but he’s been dressed for roughly half of the Phantoms games now. We’ve started to see the Mark Alt of last season coming out as the season winds down. I suspect that’s because he never really got into game shape until the last little while. He (combined with Gostisbehere) was a big reason the defense was as ramshackle as it was this season. He’s easily a top-4 D at the AHL level.

Nick Luukko (2010 – 6th Round)

Hasn’t really had much action since signing his Try-Out contract. I’d wager his minutes per game are something like 12-15 or maybe lower which is not much for a defenseman. 3 games and pretty much nothing on the score sheet. The plus about that is we haven’t seen any horrible gaffs from Nick yet; he hasn’t been the direct cause of any goals that I’ve picked up on.

Cole Bardreau (Free Agent)

He’s formed a solid checking line with Straka and Hextall although the lines have been somewhat fluid lately as far as the bottom 6 is concerned. In his audition I’ve noticed he’s always backchecking and trying to pick up a late man. He’s going to be a good depth player at the pro level. Will he end up in the NHL as a checker or in the AHL as a guy that could probably lead a team? That remains to be seen. He’s come as advertised thus far. Responsible.

Adam Comrie (Free Agent)

Comrie has looked putrid defensively as of late. He’s in definite need of some positional coaching. Continues to pick up the odd assists though because he has worked his way onto the PP. No question he’s probably more offensively gifted than most of the Phantoms D, but he’s rough around the edges.

Kevin Goumas (Free Agent)

Sat out Sunday’s game with an injury which was one of the reasons Lehigh Valley were so shorthanded. Since Laughton came back he hasn’t had much time in an offensive role and with Bardreau on his try-out it means even less time for Kevin. The fact that he’s managing to put some shots on the board playing with guys like Mathers is impressive.

Other Flyers Prospects in College or Junior

Michael Parks (2010 – 5th Round)

Hasn’t played since the last update, but North Dakota (1) have a HUGE semi-final game coming up against Boston U (2) on Thursday. This game will be on ESPN2 and TSN2 7:30 ET. Definitely one to tune in and watch as Parks will play a big role in trying to shut down phenom Jack Eichel.

Parks and company off to face Boston University (via undsports.com)

Parks and #1 UND off to face #2 Boston University in the NCAA’s Frozen Four (via undsports.com)

Danick Martel (Free Agent)

Martel (7 points) and Jevpalovs (6 points) weren’t enough to carry Blainville past Gatineau. With that Martel’s junior career is over and with a contract signed for next season we’re likely to see him on a try-out basis at Lehigh Valley in the next couple of days. He was however nursing an injury at the end of the season (and likely playing through it in the playoffs) so maybe he decides to shut down.

Radel Fazleev (2014 – 6th Round)

1 goal and 1 assist in Calgary’s 6-2 game 7 win over Kootenay on Monday. Fazleev loves the playoffs. 9 points in 7 games combine that with last year’s total and he has 16 points in 13 WHL playoff games which is well above his regular season average of 0.69 ppg. Seems like he thrives on pressure situations and that is never a bad quality.

Fazleev having another great playoff season (via hitmenhockey.com)

Fazleev having another great playoff season (via hitmenhockey.com)

Travis Sanheim (2014 – 1st Round)

The Hitmen are on to Round 2 to face the Medicine Hat Tigers. Sanheim was silent offensively in this series for the most part. Don’t let his 8 points in 7 games fool you as 5 of those came in Calgary’s 8-7 win. 3 points in 6 games is a much better picture of how he’s contributed offensively.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel (2014 – 2nd Round)

Val d’Or needed 6 games of their 1st Round series against bitter rival Rouyn-Noranda to win. Nicolas played a huge part with 10 points in series and was a driving force in the 9-2 deciding victory with a hat trick. On to Round 2, but no opponent announced just yet as they wait for series to complete.

Tyrell Goulbourne (2013 – 3rd Round)

The Rockets have advanced past Tri-City and will face Victoria in the 2nd Round, Goulbourne didn’t play in games 3 or 4 of the sweep but I’ve been unable to find out if he was injured or not.. hmm..

Sam Morin (2013 – 1st Round)

Rimouski absolutely crushed Victoriaville in their 1st Round series and while Morin hasn’t factored into the offense (4 points on 21 Oceanic goals) he’s logged big minutes against the top lines Les Tigres could throw at him. He’s on to the 2nd Round to face that same Gatineau Olympiques team that eliminated Martel’s Armada.

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