The Adirondack Phantoms have played only eight games this year, but they are going to give coach Greg Gilbert and their fans a lot of gray hairs. Six of the eight games have been decided by one goal. The only two goal win for the Phantoms included an empty net goal. The root of this problem appears to be what everyone thought was going to be this teams strength, its offense, more specifically the lack of a power play.
The Phantoms have managed a league low 19 goals through eight games this season. They currently rank 19thin the league with only 8 power play goals in 35 chances. Not much better is the penalty kill, which also ranks 19th in the 29 team American Hockey League. Captain Jared Ross has only one goal and two assists. This after having 20-plus goals each of the last two seasons. Jon Matsumoto and David Laliberte both have just started showing their offensive capabilities over the past weekend.
With all of the problems on offensive, many have not noticed how solid the team's defense has been. What is a very young group of defensemen has become a solid unit. Johan Backlund has played very solid in goal for the Phantoms. He has appeared to have made the transition from the larger European rinks to the smaller NorthAmerican ones with ease. Nic Riopel got the start last Saturday against Albany and played a very solid game. None of the three goals he allowed could be blamed on him. This was a surprise start to most, but Gilbert never mentioned why Backlund did not start a game between two first place teams at the time.
It will be interesting to see how the defense now responds with the loss of Randy Jones. He was a very solid defensemen, as expected with NHL experience, and added credibility to a young core of defensemen. Jones also deserves some credit for never openly complaining about his time in Adirondack. He was one of the most approachable guys on the team.
Get ready Philadelphia! Stefan Legein appears to be the real deal. His energy last Friday and Saturday was something this team seemed to lack. He stepped in and was playing on both the power play and on the penalty kill. He had three short handed opportunities on Friday, hitting the post on one. He did score in the Albany game. There is just something about him, that you can tell he will not be an AHLer for long.
The Phantoms are once again carrying three goalies. Michael Teslak was recalled from Elmira of the ECHL. Teslak was 3-0 with a GAA just over 3.00 for the 5-0 Jackals.
The Phantoms are currently in 4thplace in the East Division with a 4-3-1 record, good for 9 points. They play Friday in Toronto and on Sunday, at home versus Syracuse. Syracuse handed the Phantoms their worst loss of the season, 6-1, on October 10th.