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Phantoms playoff report: Effectively Flyers

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It’s wrap up time, everybody!

Toronto Star via Getty Images

Hey, everybody! Are we all easing back into our weeks nicely after the long weekend? I’m assuming we all said yes, so that’s great!

The good news is that we just had a lovely long weekend. The bad news is that it was kicked off by the Phantoms being eliminated from the playoffs. Which was… well it was a pretty serious bummer.

But, this considered, it means that it’s time that we shift gears--no more talking about game to game action, it’s wrap up time! Brad and I (I being Maddie, if you didn’t read the byline) sat down and have collected our thoughts on the playoffs as a whole, and some of the individual performances, therein. And we’re sharing them with you! Because we’re so nice! You’re welcome!

First up: the group we’re calling “effectively Flyers.” These are guys who played (or dressed for) at least 20 games with the Flyers before they were sent back down to help the Phantoms’ playoff push. And, oh, there’s only three of them. It’s a short list, then. Let’s get right into it.

Oskar Lindblom: 11 GP, 4 G, 7 A, 24 SOG

Maddie: Those are some numbers for our pal Oskar! A point per game in the playoffs is not too shabby.

Brad: Not bad at all! He started hot but I didn’t notice him too much in the Toronto series, but hey when you get swept almost nobody stands out positively.

M: This was my thought, too, that the jump in his performance felt sort of front-loaded. I mean, I was thinking a lot about that, how it’s hard to pick out really anyone who had a great series against Toronto, but Lindblom in particular did seem to be flying under the radar (though I did still find him to be effective on the PK pretty much across the board). What do you make of this? If anything?

B: I’m not sure, it was surprising to say the least. It was only four games so maybe it was just a lull in his game. He wasn’t too effective in the NHL playoffs either, and with the Marlies pretty much being a borderline NHL team themselves, maybe there’s something there? I do think their speedy defense gave a player like Lindblom trouble. It’s hard to get in on the forecheck when players like Dermott and Liljegren have the puck.

M: Absolutely. I think it’s something he can adjust to—and he’s going to need to, if we expect him to make the Flyers’ permanent roster next season (which I do)—but it was for sure giving him trouble.

But to switch gears a little, I know this is a theory that was kicked around a bit at the end of the Flyers’ playoff run, that he was just out of gas, he’s never played this many games before. I don’t know how much weight I give the tired theory, myself. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t something that’s occurred to me.

B: Oh yeah, that exact thought crept up on me as well. I could see there being some truth to it. It’s hard to say.

One thought I had was that maybe he just doesn’t do well against fast paced teams. I don’t know if this is me making something up but the Marlies’ play style of constantly attacking offensively really made it feel like I was watching the Penguins at times, would you agree with that? Although I’m probably making too much out of four games.

M: It’s a relatively small sample, yeah, but I do think there might be something there. But like I said earlier, I’m willing to give him a bit of the benefit of the doubt--if this was a wake up call, that this style of play isn’t really going away, and he’s going to need to figure out how to hang with it if he wants the be successful at the next level, so be it. And I believe he can. I have faith.

Travis Sanheim: 7 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 11 SOG

Maddie: I feel like, even though we’re leading with these numbers, they’re not really telling the whole story.

Brad: Yeah, I agree, especially not with a defenseman.

M: I feel like we hit a couple of plays where he would just go end to end, skating around guys like they were standing still, and I just laughed. I think on the list of “players who are obviously too good to be here” Sanheim was really at the top for me.

B: Oh yeah for sure! I think he hit a wall during the Toronto series and he really wasn’t as effective. He struggled throughout most of Game 3 and Game 4, but prior to that he and Phil Myers were straight fire. It didn’t seem to affect his skating at all but I do have to wonder if some of his poor (ish) play was in part due to lingering effects of his knee injury.

M: I’m sure it certainly didn’t help. From what I can tell, he didn’t have availability at break-up day, or at least video hasn’t trickled out from it, but I really wish that someone had been able to ask him just how serious the knee injury really was. And if it was still plaguing him.

B: That would certainly be nice to know! I doubt it though because if it was actually worse than the organization led on I’d like to believe that the Flyers would have stepped in and had him sit out. So maybe it was just a stretch of shaky play.

M: That would be the best case scenario, yeah. He did still look very mobile when he first came back, so I’m airing on the “stretch of shaky play” side, myself.

But now for the fun or maybe mildly horrifying exercise—you’re Hakstol. You were watching these games. You saw him objectively dominating for most of his playoff time. Do you still not trust him?

B: Definitely mildly horrifying.

M: I’m sorry to do this to you.

B: I honestly don’t think it changes his view of him at all. Let’s be real, if Hakstol would end up taking anything away from those playoff games it would be the negatives that we just touched on a bit. But, yeah, I’m certainly leaning towards those games barely moving the needle, if at all, when it comes to him trusting Sanheim. What do you think?

M: That’s not the answer I want to hear Brad! But, yeah, I agree. I want him to trust Sanheim, because he is legitimately very good, but we know how Hakstol operates. Maybe his future role grows organically (with Manning likely not being resigned, and a vacancy needing filling) but this should have given him a little bump, if we’re looking at how well he played, across the board. But, whether this actually happens is the big question mark.

That said, Dave, do the right thing.

Alex Lyon: 11 GP, 25 GA, .944 SV%

Brad: So we both agree that Alex was the team’s MVP throughout the playoffs, right?

Maddie: Oh my god, absolutely. I mean, we could take out the fact that he put up that monster performance in the 5 overtime game (woah, did you hear the Phantoms just played the longest game in AHL history?! Did we miss this news?!) that, on paper, the Phantoms had every bit of business losing, and he was still the unequivocal MVP. I think that Charlotte series as a whole was a real high point for Lyon—things could have gotten a lot uglier, gone a lot differently, if Lyon hadn’t positively stood on his head for them.

B: Oh yeah! They don’t get by Charlotte if he doesn’t play as well as he did. He stopped close to 98% of the shots he faced! That’s otherworldly. I think he only really had two bad games in the playoffs, Game 2 against Providence and Game 1 against Toronto. Man now I’m just remembering how he was ejected for kicking later in that series. That was something else.

M: That was a whole mess. That was the same game Misha Vorobyev got ejected for being mean to the ref. I think the officials were just having a night. Somehow we slipped into the Twilight Zone, and all the weird calls were happening. I don’t even know, dude.

But anyway, yeah, I think it’s hard to pinpoint too many goals that Lyon allowed that you can look at and go “yeah, that’s a bad goal, that’s on him.” There was a lot to be desired, in terms of support in front.

B: I think I had that moment once during the Providence series, but I can’t recall a single time after that! He was legitimately great for the entire playoff run.

M: You mentioned it earlier, that the Marlies are basically an NHL team, and I agree—they’re the closest to NHL competition that they could have faced. That said, what does Lyon’s performance against them say to you? I think he was still good, and I wonder if it doesn’t give him a little bump up, in the organization’s eyes.

B: That’s an interesting thought, and it’s certainly plausible. Before this playoff run I thought there was a decent chance that they’d look to trade Neuvirth and go with Lyon as Elliott’s backup, and now it almost feels more likely than not.

M: I think there’s still a chance of that happening—Neuvirth made it pretty clear at exit interviews that he felt like his position with the team was sort of tenuous, and with the draft coming up, I guess anything could happen. And, even if it doesn’t, you can kind of pencil him in as an injury call-up at some point next season, yeah?

I think a lot was made of the 5 overtime game, and a lot of people looked at Lyon after that one and went “well, he’s obviously an NHL player.” But I think what he did elsewhere spoke even louder than that one game. I get there are still doubts about his ability to play the full number of NHL backup games, but I do think he deserves a shot. He’s won me over.


And that’s all for now, folks! Brad and I will be back over the next few days with some more groups of players. We’ve got a lot to talk about, let me tell you. Until next time.