A couple of huge trades in terms of the longest serving members of the Flyers occurred yesterday with Coburn and Timonen being shown the door. It was bittersweet for many of us as those 2 hold a very special place in recent Flyers’ history because they were blueline anchors. Kimmo actually made his season debut last night in case anyone overlooked that! He threw a hit and blocked 2 shots! Way to go old friend! Seriously though, if you’re not swallowing your pride and hoping for a Chicago/Tampa Bay final involving Timonen and Coburn you just aren’t a true fan of the game. They deserve the success Bobby Clarke and Paul Holmgren couldn’t quite give them.
Moving on to the Phantoms report, the trading of 2 veteran defensemen SHOULD have a pretty drastic effect on depth and thus the AHL affiliate, but it actually won’t be that bad. Kimmo was of course injured all year so he was basically free to give away. Coburn creates a big gap, but that can be filled at the NHL level since the Flyers have quite a few replacement level guys. With Grossmann injured there is actually still an extra body in the pressbox, the Flyers have 8 defensemen remaining so fingers crossed there are no other injuries and the Phantoms roster can stay intact. If not, there’s a good chance the Flyers could recall Manning or Alt which would be a tough loss for Lehigh Valley. It will however have a big effect on the top 6 or 7 defensemen next year for both Philly and Lehigh Valley..
Win (3-2) February 28th vs. Binghamton
Finally! Bucking the usual trend of a weekly loss to divisional rival Binghamton is a really big deal for Lehigh Valley. They almost blew this one too. Kevin Goumas scored his 5th of the season about halfway through the 1st period to give the Phantoms an early lead (assists Manning/Stortini). It was a total flub-shot by Manning, but Stortini did a nice job of dropping it off for a streaking Goumas. It was on a tee and Goumas ripped it top shelf. This was followed by a period and a half of fairly uneventful play (aside from a Cousins v. Dzingel fight). I gotta give Dzingel the win for Cousins’ turtle near the end, but overall a fairly even bout.
Maybe it wasn’t a great idea to fire up Dzingel though because the former Ohio State U star and 7th round pick by the Sens buried 2 in the 3rd period to get Binghamtn back in it and give them a brief lead. The first was a rather juicy rebound by Stolarz that Dzingel puts in from the slot, and the second was just a beautifully patient play by Dzingel. He waited out a sprawling Stolarz and slid a backhand along the ice. It was up to.. of all people.. Brett Hextall on the Powerplay to tie this game late in the 3rd (assists Pettersson/Rosehill). How those 3 get on the ice for a Powerplay late in the 3rd is beyond me, but they got it done and sent the game to OT.
In overtime it was Brandon Manning who played the hero, but the credit for the goal should be Oliver Lauridsen’s who is basically a human house. He set up shop in front of the Sens net and made it impossible for the Binghamton netminder to see the shot (assists Straka/Stolarz). Definitely a big win for Lehigh Valley to get, but they need more strong games like this (shots 35-27) in order to make a push.
Captain Manning Celebrates his winner in OT (via phantomshockey.com – JustSports Photography)
Loss (2-0) March 1st @ Hershey
While this loss is a loss, it looks much better if you examine it more closely. They were shutout, yes, but the shots were amazingly 37-16 in the Phantoms’ favour. A lot of that has to do with Hershey leading for a large portion of the game, but kept the pressure on the Bears for almost the entire game. After a scoreless 1st period that saw the teams exchange 2 PPs each and LV outshoot the Bears 13-7, Hershey finally found the back of the net in the 2nd. A tough one for Zepp as Dustin Gazley scored from the corner on an attempted centering pass to Newbury.
Philip Grubauer shut the door on the Phantoms the rest of the way including 6 Powerplay opportunities that were squandered. In the 3rd frame Stanislav Galiev buried his 21st on a magical feed from Chris Conner. Dude has eyes in the back of his head. Aside from that there was a fight as a frustrated Scott Laughton tangled with Connor Carrick in his first ever AHL scrap. Pointless, but nice to see some emotion from Laughton who has been a tad snake bitten since his demotion.
No point in sugarcoating it; the Phantoms are done. 9 points out and struggling with inconsistency, they had opportunities against bad teams in the last few weeks and just couldn’t win. Unless the Flyers send help in the form of veterans, or there are some wizards in Reading I don’t know about that are ready to be called up this season is over.
Stars of the Week
Manning – 1 goal and 1 assist as the only player to have 2 points last weekend.
Goumas – 1 goal and 7 shots; starting to make some noise.
Akeson – 10 shots, but nothing on the board.. tough 2 games for Lehigh Valley.
Flyers Prospects in the Professional Ranks
Scott Laughton (2012 – 1st Round)
A fight, as mentioned, and overall a pretty frustrating experience since his demotion all around. He hasn’t been able to score at the point per game pace everyone’s expecting of him. That’s what you get with young prospects a lot of the time and seeing as Scott is a more defensively oriented player it’s hard to blame him when the offense goes in the tank. Especially since he’s just 20-years-old.
Jason Akeson (Free Agent)
10 shots for Akeson and that usually means he should have scored once of twice. It wasn’t a great weekend though as he was scoreless; 35 points in 37 games is certainly something to be proud of though.
Nick Cousins (2011 – 3rd Round)
Just 3 shots in 2 games for Cousins over the weekend. If he, Akeson and Manning are shut down the Phantoms aren’t winning. Still he’s had 48 points in 55 games this season, tough to argue with that.
Robert Hagg (2013 – 2nd Round)
7 shots for the Swede in the 2 weekend games, but he’s still been unable to notch anything on the scoresheet. The points will come for Hagg as he matures, and at this point no one is expecting him to have a huge point total in his rookie AHL season. So from here on out he should just be focusing on playing good solid defense for a Phantoms team that’s dropping out of the race.
Petr Straka (Free Agent)
One of the rare forwards to register a point, Staka made a nice drop pass to Manning for the OT winner. It speaks volumes that coach Murray has Straka on the ice in overtime. He’s looked pretty good lately, and while he may not have a mountain of points he’s certainly gained the confidence of the organization.
Taylor Leier (2013 – Round 4)
Leier had 5 shots in the game against Hershey, but like the rest of the team he couldn’t beat Grubauer. The developing shutdown winger has endured pointless stretches this season that have lasted a long time.
Mark Alt (Free Agent)
Found himself out of the line-up again thanks to illness. He and Blair Jones were both out due to what I believe is the flu. Just can’t stay healthy this year, and that’s not good for his future with the Flyers or Phantoms.
Oskar Lindblom (2014 – 5th Round)
2 points in 3 games last week as Lindblom is up to 8 goals (13 points) in 36 Swedish League games.
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)
Pointless in 2 games for North Dakota. 31 points in 33 games.
Radel Fazleev (2014 – 6th Round)
Struggling offensively with 2 points in 6 games for a road-weary Hitmen team. Calgary are amazingly 5-1 on this road trip (which will last another 5 games!), but you have to figure that luck will run out eventually. Seems as though Fazleev had been demoted to a checking unit, but hey he’s already done as much as I would have expected in terms of offense this season.
Travis Sanheim (2014 – 1st Round)
Elkhorn, Manitoba native has been silent despite Calgary’s winning ways. He hasn’t registered a point in 4 contests. Strange, but hopefully he bounces back as he’s still in the hunt for hardware.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel (2014 – 2nd Round)
4 points in 3 games since last week as he now has an even 70 in 53 QMJHL games. Amazing considering he’s a guy scouts think of as a defensive forward.
Tyrell Goulbourne (2013 – 3rd Round)
Just a handful of points over the last few weeks for Tyrell. Kelowna are gearing up for a run at the WHL title and it appears Goulbourne will be sliding in on a 3rd or even 4th line. At the junior level he should be getting more ice time, but the Rockets are stacked. 38 points in 55 games.
Sam Morin (2013 – 1st Round)
Picked up 2 points in 3 games after going pointless for 3 in a row. 25 points in 29 games for the defender. With Coburn and Timonen gone, Morin stands a great chance of finding a spot in the Flyers top 7 or 8 defensemen for next season.
Mark Friedman (2014 – 3rd Round)
Scoreless in the last 2 games for BGSU; 17 points in 34 games now. It’s been a solid rookie season for the Toronto native who was overlooked by the OHL. Hopefully the signs of a successful college career to come.
Merrick Madsen (2013 – 6th Round)
Nope, still hasn’t started for Harvard.
Adam Comrie (AHL/ECHL Contract)
9 points in 24 games; needs to put up some points if he wants to stay with the AHL club and have a chance at the big-time.
Brandon Manning (Free Agent)
Despite the rest of the team struggling to put any offense on the board this weekend, Manning chugs along. 41 points in 53 games means Brandon has gotten himself into the conversation for who ends up on the Flyers’ roster next year. It’s going to be an interesting camp for sure.
Nick Luukko (2010 – 6th Round)
No points in 2 games for UVM – 12 in 34 games now. A probable to slide into Lehigh Valley’s top-6 next year.
Reece Willcox (2012 – 5th Round)
Still out with an injury, hasn’t been in Cornell’s line-up for a month. 4 points in 21 games.
Terrance Amorosa (2013 – 5th Round)
Is at least dressing lately (which is more than earlier this season) as he’s now gotten into 15 games as a Freshman. 1 goal and 2 assists.
David Drake (2013 – 7th Round)
No points in 8 and counting for Drake as he sops up big minutes for a sloppy UConn team. He’s only a Freshman so it’s just great that he’s played big minutes in 30 games.