March Phantoms Report: The final playoff push
It’s madness! There should really be a saying for that in the month of March.
The Phantoms continued their winning ways this month, going 9-2-2 and officially clinching a playoff spot. The team will most likely face the Charlotte Checkers in round one of the playoffs, and with the players they’ll be receiving from the Carolina Hurricanes once the regular season ends, it’ll be a much tougher series than it seems.
March 5v5 Trends
If you’re thinking to yourself, “those numbers don’t scream a 9-2-2 team,” I agree with you, they don’t. The Phantoms 5-on-5 play didn’t drive their success this month, rather it was their special teams that carried them to victory.
As if having a power play clicking at 21.74% wasn’t enough, their penalty kill had an 87.80% success rate this month. Back in January I broke down the penalty kill and blamed their poor success rate on individual mistakes. Now it seems like they’ve worked through their mistakes and as a result have successfully killed a lot more penalties.
March 5v5 Corsi
|James de Haas||11||136||133||50.56||-0.62|
Sanheim and Myers lead the way
Surprise, surprise, Travis Sanheim is really good at hockey. He only played three games this month before being recalled to Philadelphia but the numbers, as you can see, were incredible. To go along with his 68.60% CF (+23.03% rel) he posted a SCF% of 67.65%, easily the best mark on the team.
For Philippe Myers this month may have ended on a sour note, but it’s great to see him winning the shot attempt battle by such a large margin. What I found interesting about his month was that while his Corsi suffered away from Sanheim, his scoring chance numbers did not. His 66.77% SCF was just barely behind Sanheim’s mark and doing that over an eleven game span makes it even more impressive. I don’t think it had anything to do with playing easier competition either, as his three games with Sanheim were all against non-playoff teams. He still takes too many penalties and needs to stay healthy, but he’s got all the tools to be a great defenseman.
Bardreau’s fantastic numbers
This big of a gap with no other forward near him was a bit of a surprise. Cole Bardreau far and away lead all forwards when it came to the shot attempt share this month, posting a 57.89% CF and a +10.48% CF rel. It’s not as if he was propped up by low danger shots, either.
Bardreau 5v5 Corsi Breakdown
Those numbers add up to 63.25% SCF, which is great, and 20 of the 74 Phantoms’ scoring chances that he was on the ice for came from Bardreau himself.
The duo that never stops
For almost the entire season the duo of Greg Carey and Phil Varone has been lighting up the scoresheet. Recently they had begun to drive play at 5-on-5 and that continued in the month of March. Varone gets double-shifted at times, particularly in defensive zone starts, so I do think Carey’s 55.04% CF and +6.33% CF rel is more indicative of the line’s play. Carey still takes the majority of the shots, as he should, but Varone has started shooting more over the past few weeks. They both also graded out quite well in scoring chances, posting a 54.90% and 54.35% respectively.
3 Stars of the Month:
1. Dustin Tokarski
With Alex Lyon in Philadelphia it’s been up to John Muse and Dustin Tokarski to backstop the Phantoms, and they’ve been spectacular. Tokarski in particular has been on a roll, going 6-1-1 this month and posting a fantastic .934 save percentage to go along with his 1.97 goals against average. Earlier in the season I was a bit down on Tokarski, but now he is showing why he has gotten NHL opportunities in the past. Of his six wins, three were shutout victories.
2. Cole Bardreau
I think Bardreau might be the most underrated player on the Phantoms. Well, underrated to those who don’t follow their games that closely. I’ll be honest, before the season started and there were talks that he might have a chance to make the Flyers, I hated the idea. I did not want someone who was, in my head, the next Chris VandeVelde to get the opportunity to become a constant in the lineup for years to come. He’s only played 39 games this season, but in that short amount of time he’s already made me change my opinion of him.
Just another month of excellent play from Bardreau, scoring 5 goals and assisting on 5 others, 4 of which being primary assists. His 0.93 average Game Score was the best among skaters who played in at least five games, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the penalty kill began improving once he returned from injury.
3a. Greg Carey
For the first time since Jonathan Matsumoto did it in 2009-10, the Phantoms have a 30-goal scorer, and his name is Greg Carey. With 7 goals in 11 games this month his impact was pretty clear. He also had the 4th highest 5-on-5 CF% rel at +6.33% and a 0.92 average Game Score. He currently sits just two goals behind Valentin Zykov for the AHL lead.
3b. Mikhail Vorobyev
Look, he didn’t make the cut for my three stars but I couldn’t not talk about his month. We’ve been waiting for Vorobyev to start scoring more and boy did his offensive production explode. He scored 3 goals and picked up 7 assists, 5 being primary, in 13 games played. He continued to drive play as per usual, with a +5.19% CF rel, and in what may have been the most surprising thing to come out of March, he won 58.14% of the faceoffs that he took. That’s Corban Knight and Phil Varone territory.
Highlight of the Month:
Shootouts get a lot of flack, but sometimes it’s nice to watch a future Flyer win one.
Mikhail Vorobyev scores the game-winning shootout goal! pic.twitter.com/QNeGZ8oswE— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 5, 2018
- Nicolas Aube-Kubel was suspended twice this month, you can see the hits here and here.
- The sour note to Myers’ month that I alluded to earlier was that, as you are probably aware, he’s out with an injury yet again. He will miss about 3 weeks according to Ron Hextall.
- Anthony Stolarz made his long awaited return and played his first game of the regular season on 3/24, but was suddenly scratched prior to the game on 3/31 for a “precautionary” reason. His status is day-to-day.
- Samuel Morin may make his return to the lineup in 1-2 weeks.
- David Drake made his pro debut on 3/31, and he picked up his first point; a primary assist./