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Phantoms playoff report: Closing out

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It’s wrap up time, everybody!

Toronto Star via Getty Images

Well everybody, it’s been a nice run, but all good things must come to an end. After two weeks of chatting, Brad and I are back with our last installment of the Phantoms playoffs wrap up series. It’s been real!

To close out, we’re touching on some more noteworthy performances that just refuse to be categorized. We’re tipping hats and doing analysis in all directions here, folks. Let’s get weird.

Mike Vecchione: 12 GP, 3 G, 4 A, 28 SOG

Brad: Honestly I was a bit surprised that he had that many shots on goal. I don’t really think of him as a shooter, more-so a passer.

Maddie: Agreed. And to be completely honest, I forgot he ended the series with seven points. We’ve got some pretty good numbers here, but somehow he flew under the radar for me. Seven points and he still ends up in this section, not in the sleepers or something? I don’t know. He just didn’t really flash for me. And he was (presumably?) healthy scratched for the last game.

B: I believe it was reported that he had an injury that had been bugging him throughout the playoffs and it eventually got to a point where they had him sit out that game, although I can’t remember for sure.

I feel the same way that you do in that he really flew under the radar for me as well. I felt that way through a lot of the regular season as well to be honest. I wouldn’t notice him all that much but he was always on the score sheet. I thought it was weird then and I think it’s even weirder now that we share that sentiment.

M: Another moment when I wish the Phantoms ran exit interviews like the Flyers. I want to know everybody who was hurt! Please clarify, pals.

But to your last point, it’s definitely weird. And I don’t know that it’s necessarily a bad thing—at the end of the day, points are points, right?—but it does leave me with a certain uneasy or uncertain feeling.

B: For sure, and I do agree points are points, it’s not like it’s easy to produce offense.

M: I just don’t know what to do with this, knowing he did produce tangibly but somehow still feeling like he was absent. Is the organization seeing this, too? Putting personal preference aside, I know he should, in theory, be right in the running with Vorobyev to grab at that 3C vacancy with the Flyers, but I still feel like I needed to see something more out of him to really cement that place. But I don’t know what that would be.

B: I don’t think this is what is making us feel this way, but I do think the Flyers really want their bottom-six centers to kill penalties. Filppula, Laughton, and Lehtera were all used there this past season, and going back through the years, I believe the last bottom-6 center the Flyers had that didn’t see time on the penalty kill was Lecavalier. Vecchione didn’t play on the penalty kill at all for the Phantoms, which was a bit of a surprise to me given how he was branded as a “two-way” player when he was signed, and even call-ups from Reading got time there before he did. So I just don’t know what the Flyers have as far as plans for him.

M: The lack of penalty kill time is definitely curious. If he already does defense, he should be killing penalties. If he needs to learn defense, you’d think he’d be doing that down here in the AHL, and they’d at least still give him some time on the PK while he’s presumably learning and growing. Either way, it’s weird. And I don’t know how it benefits him, if they want him to be successful in defending at the next level, and soon.

Chris Conner: 13 GP, 5 G, 4 A, 17 SOG

Maddie: First impression? Dude can do a breakaway, holy smokes.

Brad: Oh yeah, that’s a thing. He has got to be the fastest Phantom (shout out to former fastest Flyer Jay Rosehill) and his hands in close at the net are *chef kissing fingers*.

I feel he really stepped his game up once the playoffs begun and really was one of the team’s most impactful skaters. I mean his points speak for themselves but he had plenty of chances throughout.

M: I didn’t get to see too much of him in the regular season, but I think you’re right on the mark about elevating his game. I think I came into the playoffs planning on paying a little more attention to the prospects, but I just couldn’t ignore Conner. He’s just so dynamic, and with that elevation of play, that’s exactly what we want to see, right? I was impressed.

B: Yea, exactly what we want to see.

Throughout the playoffs I really noticed him when it came to zone entries. I don’t have tangible numbers or anything but it felt like dumping the puck in wasn’t an option for him - which I absolutely love - and he would almost always be successful at carrying the puck into the zone.

M: I noticed this as well and I was very into it. I feel like, to synthesize, Conner was just kind of impressing on all levels, the micro and the macro—he brought the raw scoring but also paid equal attention to smaller details (controlled entries, quality chances) to give them the best chance to get even more of those results.

I know we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the prospects, and Conner is not a prospect, but was still one of the most dynamic players through pretty much the whole of the playoffs, and he deserves all the credit for that.

Tyrell Goulbourne: 10 GP, 2 G, 0 A, 14 SOG

Brad: He’s both a former Flyer and a possible future Flyer all at the same time. Isn’t that fun?

Maddie: Uh...yeah...super fun. Right.

B: He was in and out of the lineup at times with an injury, but when he was in you knew it after his first shift. There’s nothing quiet about his game and he was always doing something, usually hitting everything and anything in sight.

M: Gotta have that grit, baby!

B: He scored twice too! They were both pretty nice shots as well!

M: That they were! So credit where credit’s due, there. But, I think on the flip side, I want to touch on the missed chances. Because there were, uh, a lot more of those.

B: Yea, there were a few. I remember one or two that were set up by Vorobyev specifically that were just missed and it was agonizing. He did have a couple of really solid shifts on the penalty kill where he blocked a good amount of shots.

M: So, all that said and since this is sort of a thing we’re doing here too, where do we see him fitting in within the organization? I know he got the call up this season, but I still don’t see him as being super high on the depth chart.

B: I don’t either. I, uh, don’t really expect him to play another game for the Flyers. However, if you asked me if I thought he’d play for the Flyers at all prior to this season I would’ve said no and laughed about it even being a question, so who really knows! I’d be thoroughly shocked though.

Final Thoughts

Maddie: And we’re just about wrapping things up! Were there any loose ends you wanted to tie up, here?

Brad: The Marlies are so, so good. Toronto has a ton of NHL ready players waiting in the AHL.

M: It’s almost a little staggering, honestly. I think how they’ll all fit into the Leafs’ roster is an open question, but they sure do have a lot of talent waiting in the wings.

B: I also just want to touch on the Calder Cup Final really quickly, because the series is tied up 2-2 and every single game was decided by one goal and I just find that so fascinating. It’s been such a close series.

M: It’s wild. I don’t have much of a breakdown on this, but I don’t know that I was expecting the games (or this series, even) to be this close.

My loose end, the little thing that’s been lingering with me is I guess a systems thing—how impressed I was in general at their emphasis on generating quality shots, and particularly how they’d set that up with a centering pass from below the red line, and then have someone in front of the net to quickly try to generate a scoring chance. We saw it a lot in the Providence series, in particular, and it worked. I want to see the Flyers doing more of that. If I have to watch another season of just everybody and their mother throwing it in from the point and hoping for the best, I think I’ll scream. That is all.


And that’s just about it! We’ve wrapped up the wrap up! Thanks everybody for tuning in to this series and listening to (well, reading) us talking at each other. Until next time.