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Phantoms weekly rundown: Wins, baby!

Gone streaking.

Casey Liberatore / SB Nation

Where we are

Week of Jan. 10 - Jan. 14

GP W L Standing in Division
GP W L Standing in Division
3 2 1 7th

News

A bit more roster movement! On Sunday, the Flyers sent David Kase back to the Phantoms and called up Connor Bunnaman.

Update since this was published: with Carter Hart set to miss some time, the Flyers have called up Alex Lyon and sent down Joel Farabee (to make the cap hits fit). Additionally, Felix Sandstrom has been assigned to the Phantoms.

Leaderboard

Player GP G A P CF% Controlled Entry% Controlled Exit%
Player GP G A P CF% Controlled Entry% Controlled Exit%
Greg Carey 36 9 9 18 48.32 46.05 47.44
Mikhail Vorobyev 22 6 11 17 52.33 55 94.12
Cal O'Reilly 29 3 13 16 48.09 41.82 42.62
Morgan Frost 22 6 9 15 51.85 68.18 78.72
Tyler Wotherspoon 36 3 11 14 49.95 25.93 41.81
Andy Welinski 26 5 8 13 49.93 21.15 49.62
Maksim Sushko 33 6 6 12 46.17 49.21 66.18
Mark Friedman 28 2 8 10 52.01 24.72 51.23
German Rubtsov 25 1 9 10 49.43 63.04 67.86
Pascal Laberge 21 7 2 9 43.18 34.09 64.29

All stats via theAHL.com, Phancy Stats, and Maddie’s NZ tracking project.

Three stars

1. Connor Bunnaman

Bunnaman extending his scoring streak to three games in picking up the first goal of the game on Friday in Utica, continuing his rectent run of really solid play. He was held off the board on Saturday, and then called up on Sunday, so that scoring streak came to an end, but Bunnaman’s last game with the team was still a good one, despite that.

It’s tough to measure confidence, but it seems like Bunnaman had been regaining quite a bit of it. He’s skating well and getting more touches recently, and just appearing to be a more active and consistent piece in driving play and generating chances, particularly reemphasizing getting to the net and looking for high danger chances. In short, he was getting back to his game and the results were coming, in turn. His recent play has been much improved, and the call up certainly felt deserved.

2. Mikhail Vorobyev

It was a three point weekend for Vorobyev in his first weekend back with the team, as he picked up the Phantoms’ second goal (short handed) on Friday, and then collected an assist on both Saturday and Sunday. And let’s just have a look at that goal again, because we’ll be honest, it was pretty sweet.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen Vorobyev make this play—picking an opponent’s pocket on an entry attempt and skating it in for a short handed breakaway—but it doesn’t really get old to watch, either.

Vorobyev, outside of that goal, was a great (re)addition to the penalty kill, across the board, but his impact was also felt across all situations. He might not have been all flash all weeekend, but he did bring a much needed level of consistency in playmaking and defensive responsibility that the team has been a bit lacking, of late. He’s been a bit of a stabizing presence, and it’s nice to have him back.

3. The goalies!

We’re cheating a little bit here and lumping both Alex Lyon and J.F. Berube together for this last section because they were both very good this weekend and it would be unfair to single out just one of them, but also because our thoughts on the two are pretty much the same.

Lyon looked a little shaky on Friday and was pulled pretty early as Scott Gordon tried to stop the bleeding, and Berube came in in relief and was very steady, keeping the team as much in it as they could be, while they tried to make a full comeback. Lyon got the start again on Saturday and seemed to have reset pretty effectively, and was just plain solid against Laval, putting up a 37-save shutout on the night. The same was true of Berube the following night against Cleveland, as he had himself a 35-save shutout.

They both had huge games in each of the Phantoms; two wins on the weekend, and were rock solid behind the skaters while they seemed to be trying to find any way to get themselves on the board. The Phantoms struggled quite a bit in both of those games to break out of their own end and get much offense of their own going, which made for busy nights for Lyon and Berube. This also meant that they needed all the support they could get from their goalies, in order to stay in those games, and they got nothing short of their absolute best. And really, what more could you want from your goaltending tandem?

Two loose observations

1. No style points this week

The Phantoms picked up two wins this weekend, and while, considering how things have been going recently, it’s just about impossible to overstate how important and satisfying it is to be able to say that, it’s also worth noting that these weren’t very pretty wins. The Phantoms were outshot 37-21 on Saturday and 35-16 on Sunday. Saturday saw two fluky deflection goals for the Phantoms and goalie keeping them in the game, despite being outplayed. Sunday was much the same, with the goalie again keeping them in the game despite Cleveland dominating territorially, and the Phantoms just holding on and looking like they were surely bound for overtime, and then picking up a power play goal with just under three minutes left in regulation, then the empty netter to seal the win. The Phantoms had a bit of luck working in their favor this weekend, and while we’ll gladly take these wins, they’re a reminder that there’s still work to be done.

2. Killing penalties

One of the bright spots of this weekend, and indeed the last couple of weeks, is how the penalty kill continues to be effective. The Phantoms went 12 for 13 on the penalty kill this weekend (including about a minute of 3-on-5 on Friday in Utica and 30 seconds on Sunday against Cleveland). They’ve been look pretty solid in general recently, but have been looking even sharper of late, and getting Vorobyev back has been a pretty significant help to them, with his dependable defensive game.

The only bit of bad news is that it didn’t really help boost their season average too dramatically, which is still hanging out at 81.6 percent, good for 17th in the league. (It may also be worth noting that they’ve also been shorthanded the tenth fewest times out of any team in the league, so sample size might also be affecting the movement of this average a bit, but we digress). We’d like to see them pick up some more steam going forward and hopefully pull their season average up some, but a middle of the pack penalty kill is, well, it’s just fine, but they seem to be trending in the right direction.

What’s on deck

We’ve still got three games coming up this week, but hey, at least we’re free of the three-in-three weekends for now. The Phantoms will face off against the Syracuse Crunch tonight for the first of their two meetings this season. Then we’ve got a back to back on Friday and Saturday with Binghamton (who each have a win apiece in the season series so far), and Rochester (who we’re also seeing for the first time this season). So we’ve got a couple of fresh opponents coming up, and we’ll see what happens there.