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December Phantoms report: Things are looking up

Folks, they’re 5th in the league!

Kate Frese / SB Nation

Following a .500 November, the Phantoms bounced back in a huge way this month. A dominating 7-2 victory over the Hershey Bears opened up December, a month that saw the Phantoms go 9-3-2 and out-score their opponents 54 to 43 at all situations.

December 5-on-5 Trends

Metric November December Trend
Metric November December Trend
GF/GP 2.09 2.86 0.77
GA/GP 2.65 2.00 -0.65
GF% 44.23% 58.82% 14.59%
CF% 49.65% 51.29% 1.64%

Given their record, their improved 5-on-5 play isn’t exactly surprising. Through the first three months of the season this was far and away their best offensively, scoring close to an average of three 5-on-5 goals per game.

December 5-on-5 CF%

Player GP CF CA CF% CF% Rel
Player GP CF CA CF% CF% Rel
Mark Alt 1 16 8 66.67 4.55
Mikhail Vorobyev 6 67 41 62.04 10.53
Frank Hora 3 43 29 59.72 4.43
Nic Aube-Kubel 14 199 140 58.70 10.89
Mark Friedman 12 163 118 58.01 9.25
Danick Martel 14 194 149 56.56 7.83
Will ONeill 13 193 157 55.14 6.10
Corban Knight 14 159 130 55.02 5.20
Colin McDonald 5 43 37 53.75 1.05
Adam Comrie 8 90 78 53.57 3.57
Matt Read 9 90 86 51.14 -1.05
Radel Fazleev 11 90 87 50.85 -0.01
Steven Swavely 8 62 60 50.82 2.13
Oskar Lindblom 14 127 123 50.80 -0.51
T.J. Brennan 12 189 190 49.87 -1.83
James de Haas 13 149 151 49.67 -3.02
Alex Krushelynski 9 57 59 49.14 -1.29
Mike Vecchione 8 78 81 49.06 -1.78
Maxim Lamarche 7 88 96 47.83 -2.03
Chris Conner 13 125 145 46.30 -7.67
Tyrell Goulbourne 14 94 111 45.85 -6.57
Greg Carey 14 143 170 45.69 -7.71
Phil Varone 14 149 179 45.43 -8.24
Reece Willcox 10 135 163 45.30 -8.38
Sam Morin 1 7 9 43.75 -19.15
Philippe Myers 4 35 48 42.17 -5.53
Nick Luukko 1 10 20 33.33 -15.00

Martel line continues to drive play

More than anything else this month, I found the duo of Martel and Aube-Kubel to be the most intriguing. They were re-united with their usual center, Mike Vecchione, back on December 1st, but that line would last just five games due to Vecchione’s injury. In his absence, Corban Knight took over, and in an elevated offensive role, went on to lead the team in points in December.

Friedman sticking at the top

It’s been an interesting rookie season for Mark Friedman, a season that is comparable to that of Travis Sanheim’s rookie season in Philadelphia. Not only do they have a similar style of play, their numbers are close to identical.

Friedman vs Sanheim

Player GP 5v5 CF% 5v5 CF% Rel 5v5 GF% +/-
Player GP 5v5 CF% 5v5 CF% Rel 5v5 GF% +/-
Friedman 32 54.77% 4.97% 39.53% -13
Sanheim 34 54.72% 7.77% 40.54% -9

So what’s the problem? Are they allowing too many high quality shots? In Sanheim’s case, the data points to a resounding “no”, and in a small amount of shot quality data I have on Friedman, I’d lean towards that not being the issue there as well. With the lack of data available at the AHL level I cannot calculate Friedman’s PDO, but I’d be willing to bet that it’s similar to Sanheim’s team-low 95.6. Both players seem to be battling a case of bad luck, and once their on-ice shooting percentages and on-ice save percentages regress to the mean, their results should see some improvement.

Vorobyev dominate in limited viewings

Okay, he only played six games, but Mikhail Vorobyev is 20 years old and he drove play better than any other forward on the team. His 12 points in 27 games this season won’t stand out to anyone, but 10 of those are primary points. He’s been one of the Phantoms’ best play drivers all season, with a +6.64% CF Rel.

3 Stars of the Month:

1. Corban Knight

There couldn’t be a more obvious choice for the #1 spot. Knight had 5 goals and 11 assists for 16 points in 14 games, had the second best 5-on-5 goal differential with a +7 rating, and a 1.23 average Game Score, the best on the team. Centering the Phantoms’ most dominate line saw him also drive play this month, something he hadn’t done in October or November. His +5.20% CF Rel was the 6th-best this month, and his 9 primary assists led the team. His points and strong 5-on-5 play came while also logging huge minutes as the top penalty kill forward.

2. Oskar Lindblom

Lindblom had a brilliant month of December, scoring 7 goals and assisting on 6 others for a total of 13 points in 14 games. He was about an even Corsi player this month with 50.80% and just barely negative relative to his team at -0.51%. Lindblom also had the best penalty differential this month, drawing 7 and only taking 1. His 0.94 average Game Score was the 3rd-best this month, and along with all the great numbers, his month had a few highlight reel moments like the one below.

3. Greg Carey

I thought about choosing Nicolas Aube-Kubel here due to his team best +10.89% CF Rel, but how could I snub someone who scored 8 goals in 14 games this month? Carey’s 8 goals and 3 primary assists put him second to only Knight in primary points this month, and his 47 shots on goal were the most of any Phantom. His +5 5-on-5 goal differential was the 5th-best on the team, and his 0.83 average Game Score was the 6th-best.

Highlight of the Month:

12/29/2017: Greg Carey scores against the Charlotte Checkers.

The actual goal itself isn’t too pretty, but you’ve got to love that transition game. The entire 5-man unit joins the rush and they’re rewarded with a goal.

Quick Notes:

  • Tyrell Goulbourne drew 8 penalties this month, the most on the team.
  • Phil Varone is 3rd in the league in points with 38 points in 35 games.
  • Goaltending has improved, with Tokarski, Muse, and Lyon posting a combined .902% save percentage which, while not great, is still better than the .877% last month.
  • The best performance via Game Score this month was from Nicolas Aube-Kubel on 12/8 with a 3.00 Game Score. He had three primary assists and CF% of 75%.

All stats via Phancy Stats, Natural Stat Trick, and TheAHL.com