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Phantoms Idling While Titans Rolling

The Adirondack Phantoms and the Trenton Titans, the AHL and ECHL affiliates of the Philadelphia Flyers, have not started off their seasons headed in the same direction.

The Phantoms have boasted a 3-4-0 record to date. Not unlike the Eagles, though, the middle-of-the-pack record is not a good indicator of their overall play to date. The team pulled off an unlikely comeback late in this afternoon’s game against the Syracuse Crunch to gain a valuable two points, but lost the previous two games this weekend. They also split the series against the St. John’s Icecaps last weekend.

Thankfully, the goaltending doesn’t appear to be the problem. Veteran AHLer Scott Munroe and rookie Cal Heeter have earned solid praise for their efforts. The defense, expected to be manned by a number of prospects on the bubble for the NHL, has fallen short of those expectations.

The early season pairing of Erik Gustafsson and Marc-Andre Bourdon has struggled, with Bourdon guilty of an unhealthy amount of minor penalties. Oliver Lauridsen has been scratched for the last two games in spite of being one of just two defensemen with a positive +/-.

On offense, Brayden Schenn has supplied the majority of the production, although prospect Tye McGinn added two goals this afternoon to boost his numbers. In short, the team is not getting much consistency from the forwards, causing head coach Terry Murray to change his line combinations from game-to-game.

Per the Phantoms’ media release on Friday, Murray had this to say:

“What we need to be better at is the mental part of the game.  To understand that you play the team game and stay with the game-plan. We looked for the home-run play. We’re looking for plays to the offensive blue-line from the deep in our own end. Those are isolation plays and sometimes they work but most of the time you end up frustrating yourself. We have to get back to a team-game, the way we played last weekend was really good.”

One positive at least has been the play of Zac Rinaldo. The Flyers’ agitator has been making a conscientious effort to improve on his overall play while reducing the amount of penalties and misdirected energy. Rinaldo is tied for fourth on the team in points, including a penalty shot goal on Friday.

In Trenton, the Titans have made the most of the overflow of talent from the AHL. The team sits tied for first in the Atlantic Division with an overall 5-2-0 record.

ECHLer Andy Bombach is ranked 10th among league scorers while Flyers prospects Marcel Noebels and Jason Akeson have followed closely behind.  Noebels has earned at least one point in each game to date, including an assist on the lone goal in the losing effort last night against the Toledo Walleye.

Prospect goaltender Niko Hovinen played well in the season opener, but hurt his collarbone in the third game of the season and has not played since.  He was well enough to serve as back-up in the last two games behind Scott Wedgewood, a prospect for the New Jersey Devils, so there is a reasonable chance that he gets the start on Friday night against the Reading Royals.

If the Phantoms continue to sputter, there’s a possibility that Akeson or Noebels could be recalled with current Phantoms sent down to the ECHL.  Akeson was the Phantoms’ best scorer last season, but he doesn’t “fit” on the roster unless he is playing in a top six position.  With Matt Ford now serving as a regular healthy scratch under Murray, the opening may be there.

For the latest Flyers news and updates, you can follow me on twitter (@JoshJanet).

Note: The photo at the top of this post is from Phantomshockey.com.

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Posted by on Oct 28 2012. Filed under BREAKING NEWS, Flyers, News, NHL. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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