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Phantoms playoff report: The longer look-ers

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It’s wrap up time, everybody!

Toronto Star via Getty Images

Happy Friday, everybody! We’re rolling into it with our next section of Phantoms playoff wrap up, and Brad and I are back with more thoughts!

Last time, we talked about the handful of players who spent an extended period of time up with the Flyers during their season, and now we’re shifting gears to talk about a couple of guys we didn’t see up with the big club this season. Hextall said in exit interviews that these three would be getting longer looks in camp, so why don’t we hone in on their playoff performances leading up to that? That’s a pretty nice segue from article to article, right? We’re very proud.

Philippe Myers: 13 GP, 3 G, 4 A, 28 SOG

Brad: The best Phil in hockey. That Kessel guy? Yeah he’s got nothing on Myers. Only one of them played sixty six minutes in a single game while posting a +15.88% CF% rel and it wasn’t the Phil in Pittsburgh.

Maddie: The best Phil, indeed. I think my biggest takeaway from his playoff performance, even if he stagnated a little in the Toronto series, was that this dude is ready.

B: I wholeheartedly agree with that. He just needs to take fewer penalties, that’s his biggest downfall. His gap control is fine, his offense is evident, and when it comes to in-zone defense he’s in perfect position nine times out of ten. I think, after Lyon, Myers was their best player in the playoffs.

M: Unequivocal second star, for sure. I think, with regard to the penalty taking thing, it was something I was really worried about, but it turned out to not be as bad as I expected? I feel like we’ve been given this picture of him as this guy who rides the line, and sometimes jumps over it, but I didn’t really see that. He took a few boneheaded penalties, a couple for mixing it up after the whistle blew, but nothing really egregious or dangerous. So maybe that’s something. And if we can find a way to make his brain not make him Do That, we’re in the clear.

My other thing was, I had to remind myself a few times that he was undrafted, and I still don’t understand how the heck that happened. You laid it out perfectly, how well rounded his game is. And I do expect him to be an impact player in the NHL soon.

B: Yeah the problem never was malicious hits from him, rather the occasional reactionary and unnecessary penalty. Occasional might not even be a strong enough word there, he did take the most minor penalties on the team during the regular season.

M: Not ideal! Especially when you consider the fact that he was one of their better penalty killers. But, like I said, I think it’s fixable. I want to believe it’s fixable.

But that also reminds me—I don’t have a huge breakdown on this, but man was it nice to see someone actually defending the front of the net, clearing the porch, and not just letting guys get the inside on him to score for a change. I feel like I just accepted that as an inevitability, watching the Flyers. So, Phil, buddy, thanks for not doing that.

B: That was refreshing to see!

M: More of that, please!

Samuel Morin: 3 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 2 SOG

Maddie: I know, I know, his “longer look at camp” thing has been complicated, and it’s hard to evaluate on what, 2.25 games, but I wanted to include him for continuity’s sake

Brad: I’m not really sure what there is to say about Samuel. It’s just really a shame that he missed so much of this season and now is out until, what, February of 2019? Just brutal. I don’t think his first game went that well but he really stood out positively in his second game back.

M: I agree. That penalty kill rush where he got burned was ugly (even though Scott Gordon said that was a communication failure on his part), but I think otherwise he was effective. It’s a small sample, but I’d say he was just fine.

B: Yeah pretty much. If we assume that his timeline doesn’t change it seems likely that he’ll be back in Lehigh Valley on a conditioning stint sometime in February. It’ll be interesting to see how he plays then and if he actually gets into any NHL games that late in the season. Hard to imagine him getting time if the Flyers are in the middle of a playoff chase.

M: Yeah, timing is going to be critical, here, and you’d hate to see him stuck with another lost season.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel: 10 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 10 SOG

Maddie: /fart noise/

I kid, I kid. I have actual thoughts. And he wasn’t that bad.

Brad: These numbers are oddly aesthetically pleasing but other than that they’re not pleasing at all; in fact they’re quite displeasing. Given his regular season I think it’s fair to say that Aube-Kubel was the biggest disappointment during the playoffs. They really needed more from him.

M: I’m gonna be honest, I was so excited to see Aube-Kubel in the playoffs, because his numbers were so good in the regular season, and because Hextall had said he’d earned the longer look at camp. And I was just really underwhelmed.

It’s not like he was totally absent, though. I can think of a handful of times when he was on either a breakaway or a regular rush, was coming down the wing, and looked like he had the chance to generate a really good scoring chance, and then he either couldn’t get the shot off, or it sailed wide of the net. So, he was still doing something, but I also don’t know what to make of that.

B: For sure. To borrow something from my rough draft review of his season, it’s pretty wild that, after his longest pointless streak in the regular season was five games, he’d go ten in a row without a point. It’s not just numbers either, he looked like a different player and I don’t know what to make of that. If anything. At times during the regular season it felt like he was taking over a game himself, but that player didn’t make an appearance in the postseason.

M: That’s so tough. Because it’s not even like he was just a different player when he came back from the suspension, was shyer somehow (like we saw with Gudas), it was a whole playoffs thing. And there didn’t seem to be an obvious injury plaguing him, though maybe there was (but you hate to speculate about that kind of thing).

And who knows, maybe this was just a really, really inopportunely timed funk. I hope that’s all it was. I don’t want to go to aggressive on this, say that it means he actually still has to mature more and learn how to Show Up at the most important times, but I do wonder how much weight Hextall and co. will be giving this slump.

B: I definitely see the connection between him and Gudas in that sense. As for how much Hextall and co. will care about the slump in regards to him making the team next year, I hope not too much. I’d much rather them judge his 72 regular season games, but will they? Maybe! Maybe not! We haven’t really had a situation exactly like this where the GM straight up throws someone’s name out there as a potential NHLer next season only for them to end their season with their worst slump all year.

M: It’s a whole mess. And who knows, maybe he comes in and rocks development and training camp, and the playoff slump gets effectively erased by the new good work. But, as of right now, it’s a hard thing to just write off.

And that’s all for this installment! We’ll be back next week to talk even more players and tie up some loose ends. Enjoy your weekends, folks!