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Phantoms weekly rundown: Offense, abound!

Lots of scoring, not that many games

Casey Liberatore / SB Nation

Where we are

Week of Jan. 28 - Feb. 3

GP W L Standing in Division
GP W L Standing in Division
2 1 1 T-3rd

We had a lighter week of action, relative to how things have been going recently, but it sure was an eventful weekend, all the same! And, okay, maybe it was a little front-loaded, as Friday’s game in Bridgeport featured All Of The Happenings. First the Phantoms took a three goal lead in the first period (Justin Bailey, Greg Carey, and James de Haas, hello). Then the Sound Tigers got three back in the second. And then Bailey scored again early in the third. And then Bridgeport scored again. And then Dale Weise scored. And then Chris Conner scored. Bridgeport got one more back with just over three and a half minutes to go, but that was all. They pulled their goalie and Mike Vecchione got the empty netter and sealed things off. What a ride!

And if Friday’s game had All Of The Happenings, Saturday’s in Hershey, well, didn’t. Maybe the Phantoms used up all of their offense the night before, but they struggled to get much going in this one. They only managed five shots in the first period, and allowed a goal. And then another goal in the second, but they climbed to seven shots. And, oh, a goal too! Carsen Twarynski picked up his sixth of the season from Mark Friedman to get the Phantoms back within one, but that was all they had in them. So they left the weekend with the split.

News

Only one extremely quick hit: Jori Lehtera cleared waivers and has been assigned to the Phantoms. He’ll be available to play as soon as tonight in Utica.

Leaderboards

Points

Player GP G A1 A2 P
Player GP G A1 A2 P
Greg Carey 46 21 14 9 44
Chris Conner 46 12 9 13 34
T.J. Brennan 39 7 10 17 34
Mike Vecchione 47 11 11 7 29
Philippe Myers 47 8 12 8 28
Phil Varone 22 11 9 8 28
Mikhail Vorobyev 32 6 12 4 22
Colin McDonald 46 4 6 8 18
Nic Aube-Kubel 32 10 5 3 18
Connor Bunnaman 33 12 4 2 18

Advanced Stats

Player GP 5v5 iCF 5v5 CF% Avg GS
Player GP 5v5 iCF 5v5 CF% Avg GS
Nic Aube-Kubel 18 36 53.33 0.69
Phil Varone 22 46 51.52 1.17
TJ Brennan 25 67 49.63 0.77
Greg Carey 26 59 49.26 0.97
Jame de Haas 10 26 48.47 0.09
Taylor Leier 22 49 47.29 0.43
Philip Samuelsson 25 53 47.17 0.19
Mike Vecchione 26 55 46.72 0.56
Chris Conner 25 51 46.42 0.66
Mark Friedman 26 72 46.05 0.3

Three Stars

1. Justin Bailey

Are we tired of talking about Justin Bailey yet? We can’t really stop talking about him, because he just keeps being good. He extended his goal streak to three games, picking up those two on Friday in Bridgeport, but he had to settle for zero points on Saturday in Hershey (where he still looked sharp, despite that). He’s proving to be effective in all situations, bringing scoring flash at even strength and on the power play, while also bringing sound defense at 5-on-5 and on the penalty kill. And, as he gets more games under his belt, we get a better indication of whether he actually is good or if it’s him playing over his head over a small sample. That sample still is a little small—just eight games—but signs are looking promising. We don’t really have any complaints, so far.

2. Dale Weise

Our newest Phantom! Or, at least, newest skater that’s played in a game already. That definition got a little messier, but we made an effort. Anyway, Weise is new to the Phantoms’ lineup, and he did well to immediately make an impact on his new team, picking up a goal and an assist on Friday in Bridgeport. Truthfully, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise—as a player who had been having a pretty solid season in the NHL, we expect him to look just as good, if not better, in the AHL, and Weise did that. He’s settling in nicely already, and proving a useful addition to the team.

3. James de Haas

It’s time to talk about James de Haas! Which is something we haven’t really done a whole lot of so far this season, but he’s deserving of a nod after this weekend. He also picked up a goal and an assist in Friday’s game in Bridgeport, and gave us a little bit of flash to go along with what was, outside of the scoring burst, an otherwise sound game. It’s been tough for him to build a whole lot in the way of momentum, serving as the seventh defenseman this season and sitting for long stretches, but it was nice to see him taking his opportunity and running with it, finding a way to contribute.

Two Observations

1. When goaltending “fails”

Last week, we worked through some of our thoughts on sustainability, about how the Phantoms were getting bailed out by solid goaltending even though they were getting outshot on a pretty regular basis, and what would happen when their goalies were playing poorly, or just averagely? And Friday’s game served as a pretty immediate answer to that.

So, what happens when your goalie doesn’t play lights out and gives up, say, five goals? You find a way to score seven. And maybe that’s the mark of a team that’s playing, for lack of a better term, cohesively. Maybe it’s not a night in and night out thing, but there’s something to be said for a team that can rally in such a way, to get themselves the win. It’s a little bit wild.

In all seriousness, we still have our concerns. Regression may well still be coming, folks. Scoring all of the goals to bail yourself out is kind of fun to watch, but maybe not all that sustainable? We keep saying this, though. So we’ll see.

2. Behind the net play

We’re touching on a small detail in our second observation this week. We’re honing in on just one play. It came in Friday’s game, when the Phantoms had themselves set up in the offensive zone and a pass from behind the net made its way out to Carey in the left faceoff circle, and, with that quick release, he turned that into a goal. They were able to get Bridgeport’s goalie moving, and they were able to exploit a bit of space that he left open. We know this is a strategy that works, and it’s one that we saw used a fair bit last season, but not as much this year. So, we just have to say, more of that please.

Where we’re going

It’s another three in three weekend, folks! It starts tonight in Utica as the Phantoms face off against the Comets. This is their first of two meetings on the season, and the Comets find themselves in just about the same position, over in the North division, with 53 points. It’s, on paper, a pretty even matchup. So we’ll see how that goes.

The same can’t really be said for Hartford, who the Phantoms will play at home on Saturday and Sunday. They’ve had a rough go, sitting last in the Atlantic division with 44 points (next ahead of them is Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, with 51 points). They have, however, still given the Phantoms some trouble, and the season series sits at 1-2 in their first three meetings. It’s time to even the score, we think. Please and thanks.

All stats via Phancy Stats and theAHL.com

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