The Phantoms were just 5 points out of 8th place at the conclusion of play last weekend, but this Tuesday it’s not looking so rosy. 3 losses in the last week, including 2 in overtime (gah.. my heart!), means Lehigh Valley is now floundering 7 points out of 8th. It doesn’t appear there will be a streak happening at the AHL level; unlike their NHL counterparts the Flyers who continue to win (or at least pick up points) despite winning probably not being in their best interest. I know it’s not a very honourable idea, but the Flyers wouldn’t be faulted at this point for trying to tank and icing the best team they could in Lehigh Valley. A playoff run at the minor league level doesn’t hurt the Flyers from a draft perspective and it would only help in the development of their prospects. As an added bonus they would develop an even stronger fan-base with a decent run into the Calder Cup playoffs.
Loss (4-3) February 18th vs. Binghamton
A loss to the Binghamton Senators is becoming a regular paragraph heading in these reports. The Phantoms are just 2-5-1 against the Sens this year which means wins against Lehigh Valley account for over one fifth of Binghamton’s points this season. That is an awful statistic and it’s exacerbated by the fact that 3 of those losses have come in February as Lehigh Valley try to push for a playoff berth.
In this particular game Zack Stortini and Petr Straka scored in the 1st to give the Phantoms an early 2-0 lead. Stortini’s 11th came from Cousins and Akeson just 1:29 into the 1st period as Lehigh Valley continued it’s trend of strong starts. Stortini is in the midst of his best professional season ever and it’s been hard to argue against his value as a net-front presence this year. Straka potted his 12th of the year at the 13th minute mark and the team appeared to be well on their way to 2 points (assists Manning/Powe).
As the game wore on though, you could feel the wheels starting to come off. Garrett Thompson scored in the 2nd and then he assisted on Darren Kramer’s tying goal in the 3rd as the B-Sens came back. Late in the 3rd Akeson appeared to give the Phantoms enough to win as he scored his 16th (assists Cousins/Alt), but it was not to be. With just 43 seconds left Colin Greening scored to tie it 3-3, and veteran defenseman Aaron Johnson netted the winner in overtime. Soul-crushing highlights of the loss here.
No powerplay goals for either side in this game as it was oddly decided at even strength.
Loss (5-1) February 20th vs. Providence
Sitting in 8th place the Bruins are a team Lehigh Valley would really like to catch so a win would have been fantastic. But everyone apparently left their jam at home for this game because Providence really took control of this game early outshooting Lehigh Valley 27-16 through 2 periods. The Bruins scored 4 times in the 2nd period as that middle bit of the game continues to be a huge problem for Lehigh Valley.
Ryan Spooner scored just 8 seconds into the 2nd as the Phantoms came out horribly flat, and he later scored on the powerplay as well. 2 of the 4 goals in the 2nd were scored on the man advantage as the Phantoms went 3 for 5 a man down, and failed to score on either of their 2 powerplays in the contest as Providence were quite disciplined. Anthony Stolarz was chased from the net with 3 minutes remaining in the 2nd frame as he gave up 4 tallies on 26 shots. Hard to blame him considering the shot advantage for Providence.
Lehigh Valley wouldn’t answer until 15 minutes had passed in the 3rd period as Straka scored his 13th of the year (assist Cousins), and by that point it was 5-1 with under 5 minutes to play.
Loss (5-4) February 21st vs. Hartford
On Saturday the Wolf Pack came to town to really crush Lehigh Valley’s playoff hopes by handing them their 2nd OT loss of the week. It really looked as though the Phantoms would pick up an early lead in this game as they outshot Hartford 7-3 in the 1st, but Ryan Bourque scored a shorthanded goal midway through the period for a 1-0 lead.
Bang Faces with Fists and Bang Pucks with Sticks – Stortini Everybody! (via Fimmano Photography)
Zack Stortini tied it early in the 2nd with his 12th goal (assists Pettersson/Cousins) and after a subsequent Hartford goal 22 seconds later he would tie is again on the PP with his 13th (assists Manning/Akeson). 2 tip-ins in just 1:06 for Sack! As mentioned earlier this is Stortini’s best statistical season as a pro he’s up to a surprising 13 goals and 10 assists for 23 points in 53 games. I don’t think anyone can look at that stat line without being astonished considering he’s also spent 122 minutes in the penalty box.
Before the 2nd was up the teams would again exchange goals as Akeson would score shorthanded midway through the period (assist Laughton). The other Bourque brother, Chris, would score 26 seconds into the 3rd and Cousins would answer for Lehigh Valley on the PP (assists Manning/Akeson).
The Phantoms would never lead this game as the 2 sides exchanged goals 4 times until Oscar Lindberg buried the OT winner. LV were in this game right up until the end and for all intents and purposes they held the advantage in play as they led 34-23 in shots and went 2/5 on the powerplay. They also did not surrender a goal in 4 Hartford man advantages, and Jason Akeson even scored a shorthanded goal.
Stars of the Week
Stortini – 3 goals on 4 shots.. what?
Cousins – 1 goal, 4 assists, 8 shots. Closing in on point-per-game ratio; 48 points – 53 games.
Akeson – 2 goals, 3 assists, 13 shots. Speaking of.. 35 points – 35 games.
That Nick Cousins 6th-in-League-Scoring-Warm-Up-Attitude-Swag-Helmet-Strap-Undone Yeahhhh.. that’s how kids talk nowadays right? (via Fimmano Photography)
Cousins and Akeson both have 10 points in their last 6 games as they continue to pile goals into opposing nets. Brandon Manning also picked up 3 assists giving him 8 points in 6 games, and Petr Straka deserves a pat on the back for picking up another 2 goals and trying hard to turn his disappointing season around.
Flyers Prospects in the Professional Ranks
Scott Laughton (2012 – 1st Round)
The unlucky recipient of linemates who aren’t Cousins or Akeson, Laughton has struggled to put much on the board offensively since returning to the AHL. In fact aside from the Cousins/Akeson/Whomever line the entire Phantoms team has struggled in most facets of the game. That’s not such a bad thing when you know Laughts is picking up some tough checking assignments with linemates Taylor Leier and Andrew Gordon.
Robert Hagg (2013 – 2nd Round)
The only mark he’s made on the scoresheet recently (aside from minuses) was a hooking penalty against the Bruins. Hasn’t recorded a point in 6 games and is a -5 in goal differential since then at even strength. Hagg has played 1 really solid week since the calendar turned (he had 4 assists in 3 games at the end of January), but for the most part he’s looked a bit tired. Perhaps his first professional season has taken its toll on the young Swede physically.
Taylor Leier (2013 – Round 4)
Had removed Leier from the report for a while because he made me mad with his inconsistency, but he reads our posts! So here’s a prospect report on him by Matt Bernot that Taylor himself tweeted about!
This past week was a bad one as he had no points and was a negative in goal differential. Thus, he must be due for a good week. That’s how these things work right? 26 points in 50 games so far for the defensively-minded forward.
Petr Straka (Free Agent)
After a recent demotion to the checking units with Laughton returning things didn’t look great for Petr, but he’s actually bounced back with the change of linemates and picked up 2 goals over the course of the week. There’s still a chance he could finish strong and inject some life into his stat line.
Mark Alt (Free Agent)
1 goal and 5 assists in 24 games now, but it’s clear Terry Murray (Phantom’s Head Coach) considers Alt a top-4 AHL defender as that’s where he consistently plugs him in. Alt has been injured for half the season so it’s been tough for fans and analysts to see him that way.
Oskar Lindblom (2014 – 5th Round)
Picked up a point recently to give him 11 in 32 Swedish League games. Here’s the most recent goal I could find him scoring.. wow.. dirty hands.. but in all seriousness, what the hell are the Djurgardens defenders doing here?
Valeri Vasiliev (2012 – 7th Round)
No games since last time – 5 points in 35 KHL games.
Other Flyers Prospects in College or Junior
Michael Parks (2010 – 5th Round)
Still clipping along at a point-per-game, Parks has been super consistent this season with 31 points in 31 games for UND. 12 goals and 19 assists. Here he is banging in a wrap around last week against Denver, and adding another on a great feed.
Radel Fazleev (2014 – 6th Round)
Just added a single point in 2 road games this week as the Hitmen go on a massive road swing which takes them up to March 15th! Junior hockey schedules are nuts. 42 points in 58 games for Radel.
Travis Sanheim (2014 – 1st Round)
Finally scratched his way above a point-per-game with 55 points in 54 games! This puts Sanheim in a tie for the lead among WHL defenders with Joe Hicketts. Get excited people, Sanheim might win some hardware this year because his game is really heating up.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel (2014 – 2nd Round)
2 points in 2 games seems pretty tame for the Val d’Or winger considering he’s now at 66 points in 50 Q games. He had been producing at Godly levels for the last couple of months so it’s okay if he took a week off.
Tyrell Goulbourne (2013 – 3rd Round)
Hasn’t seemed to benefit from the addition of Draisaitl as I thought he might. I believe Goulbourne’s ice is probably being trimmed which was probably Kelowna’s plan all along. He’s not great, but 37 points in 52 contests is pretty decent for a pest.
Sam Morin (2013 – 1st Round)
Pointless in 2 games for Rimouski. 23 points in 26 games now, but his relative success this season will come down to whether or not he can carry the Oceanic in the approaching playoffs as elite-level junior defensemen can.
Mark Friedman (2014 – 3rd Round)
Toronto native hasn’t played since the last update – 17 points in 32 contests for BGSU.
Merrick Madsen (2013 – 6th Round)
Move along.. maybe he’ll have started a game by the end of the season.
Adam Comrie (AHL/ECHL Contract)
..did I mention he’s ravishingly good looking? (via phantomshockey.com)
A New addition to the column I figured it was time I mentioned Adam. He’s bounced around the pairings since being called up from Reading, but he’s made the most of his AHL opportunity by posting 9 points in 22 games. He’s a 24-year-old so he’s getting close to make-or-break territory in terms of latching on to an NHL club, and it’s obvious he’s a better hockey player than the likes of Jesper Pettersson or Oliver Lauridsen. He crushed the ECHL with 28 points in 21 games before his call up, and at 6’4″ he’s big enough to handle just about any power forward in the game. He’s not dead weight so if I were the Flyers I’d be handing him a contract come June and shoveling off someone else.
I’d removed Captain Manning from the column for a time because I don’t really consider him a prospect. My thoughts on Brandon at the start of the season were, “okay this guy has pretty much plateaued at top-4 AHL defender”. At this point in the season though, with 39 points in 51 games, and really earning those points as he hasn’t had a whole lot of help on the back end.. I’m not sure. He’s increased his offensive output in each of his AHL seasons, and he’s playing well beyond his years during this campaign. I think there’s a ray of hope that Manning might become a bottom pairing NHL defenseman who maybe isn’t a waste of space like say a.. Niklas Grossmann.
Marcel Noebels (2011 – 4th Round
2 assists in his last 2 DEL games gives Marcel 7 goals and 10 assists in his 33 games.
Nick Luukko (2010 – 6th Round)
Picked up another assist, now has 12 points in 32 games as a Senior for UVM, and a rather tidy looking 10PIMs while pulling some large defensive minutes.
Reece Willcox (2012 – 5th Round)
Hasn’t played since injury vs. Harvard near beginning of February, 4 points in 21 games.
Terrance Amorosa (2013 – 5th Round)
1 goal and 2 assists in 13 games for Clarkson U. Hasn’t made enough of an impact to get into the starting 6 as a Freshman.
David Drake (2013 – 7th Round)
Freshman and his entire UConn team have given it the ol ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ lately. No points in 7 games for Drake (1 goal and 4 assists in 29 games) as the Huskies have lost 4 in a row by a combined score of 25-3! If you take into account their last 6 games they’re 1-5 scoring 5 goals and allowing.. drum roll please.. 35 goals!