Phantoms weekly rundown: The return
Things are... looking good?
We’re back, folks! The Phantoms are back, which means the weekly rundown is back! It’s taken us a while to get to five games played and a place where we feel somewhat comfortable talking about just what this team is and may be, but we’ve arrived in the end. Let’s get into it.
Where we are
Sept. 5 - Sept. 25
|GP||W||L||OT/SOL||Standing in Division|
Not too much in the way of news this week. Joel Farabee isn’t a Phantom anymore, but that’s old news. They’ve also sent Matthew Strome, Gerry Fitzgerald, and James de Haas to Reading, which leaves the Phantoms with 13 forwards and eight defensemen, giving them a much more manageable roster to work with. It’s taking shape!
Weeks 1 - 3 Leaders
|Player||GP||Goals||Assists||Points||CF%||Controlled Entry%||Controlled Exit%|
See the full points, shot metrics, and transition leaders here.
1. Joel Farabee
This feels a little like cheating, because Farabee isn’t a Phantom anymore because he’d been so good in his time with the team, but it’s still worth recognizing. Because he was really good, you guys. In his four games played, he totaled three goals and an assist, as well as a team-high 69.14 CF% and 73.68% controlled entry% (only three games tracked there, sorry!). This is all just to say that Farabee was, in his handful of games with the Phantoms, very good at generating offense. Beyond the individual scoring contributions, he did well at driving play for his line while he was on the ice, and indeed, at times they looked dominant. In short, he looked too good for the AHL, and certainly earned his call-up.
2. Philippe Myers
Speaking of players who are obviously too good to be in the AHL, Myers is back and doing his thing, and it’s been a real delight to watch. The defense corps as a whole has been, generally speaking, performing pretty well, but Myers is just head and shoulders above the bunch. He’s showing those offensive instincts, but what’s stood out the most is how much he’s helped their transition game—when he’s responsible for the breakout, the team is doing it with possession 80.66% percent of the time. It’s insanely good. There’s really no other way to put it. He’s been extremely noticeable positively to start the season, and an all-around key contributor. We’re also going to leave you with the gif of his assist on Farabee’s first AHL goal. Because it was lovely.
Oh my, Joel Farabee! That's Phil Myers with the breakout pass to set him up here as well. pic.twitter.com/t6ErKGUqQ7— Brad Keffer (@brad_keffer) October 12, 2019
3. Morgan Frost
There have been a number of standout performances so far this season, but we’re only allowed to give three, so we’re going to highlight Frost here. He’s looked solid through the whole of the season so far, but just as was the case during the Flyers’ preseason, he was a little snakebitten. He was generating chances well, but over the past few games is when the floodgates really opened. He has four points (1G, 3A) in his last two games, and it seems like everything’s starting to come together for him. And it’s been fun to watch.
Two loose observations
1. Consistency will be key
As we’ve alluded to, this is a team with a whole lot of talent that’s been a little inconsistent through the start of the season. But what’s been the most encouraging is seeing these glimpses of what happens when everything seems to be clicking for them—they stick to their details and work as a five-man unit with the whole line on the ice, and they have the capability to positively take over the game. And as the lines are starting to take shape, chemistry is building, and the Phantoms are more able to connect on the plays they’re looking for, and it’s serving them well. The good is starting to outweigh the bad, and we’re getting glimpses of just how dangerous this team can be. But they just need to make sure that they are keeping to those details and working together, with one guy not trying to do too much. They have it in them, they just need to keep up the good work.
2. A moment to contextualize
We’d like to take a moment to revisit that standing in the division bit that we touched on above. It would be understandable if you saw that fifth place ranking and started to sweat a bit, given the amount of talent on this roster. But it’s worth noting that the Phantoms have played one to three fewer games than every team in their division (indeed, they’re tied for fewest games played of all of the teams in the conference). It’s hard to climb up the standings when you just don’t have that many games where you can pick up points in the first place. Points percentage has them at third in the division, and that feels more correct, given how they’ve played through their first five games. It’s a weird quirk in the scheduling, but it will all even out in time. But until then we just have to remind ourselves to pump the brakes a bit, and not get too panicky when we see the division standings.
What’s on deck
It’s the first road trip of the season! The Phantoms are down in Charlotte this weekend for two games against the Checkers. And it’s sure to be an interesting matchup--the reigning Calder Cup champs don’t look like quite the same powerhouse that they did last season, and are off to something of a sluggish 3-3 start. They gave the Phantoms some trouble last season, but it’s a whole new world out there, and a good chance for the Phantoms to pick up some actual ground in the standings.