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Phantoms weekly rundown: The season finale

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It all ends here.

Casey Liberatore / SB Nation

Where we are

Week of Apr. 10 - Apr. 14

GP W L Standing in Division
GP W L Standing in Division
2 2 0 5th

The Phantoms started their final weekend of the season against who else but Providence, the team looking to clinch that last playoff spot in the Atlantic. They may have ultimately done just that, but the Phantoms got the better of them in this particular game. They came out with some jump and got themselves on the board early on, with the first tally by Colin McDonald just over five minutes into the first period, and then scored three more unanswered (Bryron Froese, Greg Carey, and Corban Knight, hello) between then and the final minute of the second period. But then the Bruins did answer, coming almost all the way back, scoring twice in the final minute and a half of the second, and then once more just before the midpoint of the third. But the Phantoms were able to hold them off for the rest of the period, and still made it out with the win.

The season finale, then, came on Saturday at home against the Hartford Wolf Pack. The Phantoms dropped the first two goals of the game, but got Colin McDonald got them on the board late in the second, and the David Kase was able to get the equalizer just past the 16 minute mark to tie things up. The Phantoms got a couple more chances in the end of regulation but couldn’t close, and then they got some chances in overtime but couldn’t close, and then just like that it was shootout time! Matthew Strome was the shootout hero, scoring the lone goal and completing the comeback and helping the Phantoms send the fans off with a win to end the season.

News

No news this week. Sorry, gang.

Leaderboards

Points

Player GP G A1 A2 P
Player GP G A1 A2 P
Greg Carey 74 29 18 14 61
Chris Conner 72 16 16 19 51
T.J. Brennan 63 9 15 20 43
Mike Vecchione 67 15 13 10 38
Philippe Myers 53 9 15 9 33
Connor Bunnaman 62 19 9 4 32
Nic Aube-Kubel 54 16 6 8 30
Phil Varone 22 11 9 8 28
Colin McDonald 69 13 6 9 28
Mikhail Vorobyev 42 7 14 5 26

Advanced Stats

Player GP 5v5 iCF 5v5 CF% Avg GS
Player GP 5v5 iCF 5v5 CF% Avg GS
Jori Lehtera 2 4 70.31 1.55
Phil Varone 22 46 51.52 1.17
Nic Aube-Kubel 32 68 51.27 0.52
T.J. Brennan 41 122 49.39 0.7
Greg Carey 49 121 48.85 0.81
Justin Bailey 10 33 48.58 0.66
Mikhail Vorobyev 32 41 48.1 0.5
Philip Samuelsson 49 106 48.07 0.22
Philippe Myers 48 192 48.03 0.56
Colin McDonald 49 118 46.76 0.35

Three stars

1. Felix Sandstrom

Sandstrom made his first start in North America on Friday in Providence, and picked up his first win with the Phantoms as well. It wasn’t the easiest of games, but he stopped 40 of the 43 shots he faced on the night (which is also a big uptick in the number of shots he’s used to seeing over in the SHL). He said afterwards that he felt his reactions were a bit slow, at times, as he worked to get adjusted to the pace, but overall, his game seemed solid. The Phantoms have been bleeding a lot of shots recently, so Sandstrom was thrown right into the fire, in a manner of speaking, but he did well to form a sound foundation for the team. We’re not trying to read too much into the one game (small sample size, and what not), but he did have himself a good first game. So there’s that.

2. Colin McDonald

Closing out the last weekend of the season with a two game goal streak, McDonald was an easy choice for stardom this week. The Phantoms played a couple of tight games, and were missing a couple of players who have been key contributors, of late, so they needed others to step up and take over, and McDonald was able to do just that. He was able to bring that bit of scoring, as well as a good bit of energy, and stood out as an overall bit of dynamism down this last stretch. And, considering as he was also playing for a new contract, it was nice to see him going out on a high note.

3. Nic Aube-Kubel

Does it feel a little strange to give third star honors to a player who didn’t pick up a point in these last two games? Maybe a little. Aube-Kubel didn’t pick up any points on the weekend, but he might have picked up a couple of goals on Saturday alone, if the pucks had been bouncing his way. Really, he was all over the place (in a good way!), generating pressure, creating a bit of space for this linemates, and creating some chances of his own on the rush. It was one of those (flashes) where you’re left thinking “huh, wow, he can really look dominant out there.” It’s a shame he didn’t get the points to match the effort, but at least we know the effort was there. We know the truth.

Two observations

1. Killing penalties

We talked a good bit about special teams so far this season, and we’re going to close things out by talking about them a little bit more.

The good: the Phantoms overwhelmingly kept up the good work this weekend, going six-for-eight on the penalty kill between those last two games. Active pressure, blocked lanes, things of that nature. The same good work that they’ve been doing all season, and it’s brought them to a final rank of second in the league with an 85.1 PK%. Well done, gang.

The less good: that six-for-eight record still means that the Phantoms gave up two power play goals, both of which came on Friday in Providence. Can’t always be perfect. Alas.

The strange: on Friday, they allowed those two goals, but also managed to put up one of their own. The Phantoms have done well at generating some shorthanded pressure across the season, and Corban Knight was able to convert on one of those chances on the rush on Friday, bringing the Phantoms’ shorthanded goal total up to 10. And that’s pretty neat too.

2. Getting a little sentimental

In some ways it feels a little strange to go out on a five game win streak and still miss the playoffs, but that’s how it’s gone, and sometimes that’s just how it goes. The ground they lost earlier on was too much to pick up, but they did rally in a big way, and prove that they could play well and produce effectively. They can feel good about the effort, even if it wasn’t enough to get them into the post-season.

But maybe that’s not the only focus. Maybe it shouldn’t be. Carsen Twarynski talked about this during exit interviews, about how they can be proud of putting up some solid efforts, but also of putting on a good show for the fans in their last home game of the season, and of rallying back to get Mike McKenna a win in what might be his last game. Sometimes, as he said, there’s more to play for.

Where we’re going

That’s all folks! It’s the end of the season! Those were the last games! We’re going to keep talking throughout the offseason—you can’t get rid of us that easily—but thanks for hanging out with us this year. It’s been weird, it’s been crazy, and it’s been a whole lot of fun. Until next time.