Monday's Catch Up & Links 2/16

Monday, February 16, 2015
Phantoms bounce back with two straight wins to end last week.
There's only nine weeks left in the regular season, and points are getting harder to come by as teams outside of the playoff picture are starting to feel the heat of near must-win games in mid-February.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Lehigh Valley Phantoms both won two of their three games last week, with the Pens only loss coming in the shootout on Saturday night to the Phantoms. The Phantoms finished their three-game weekend with two wins and are creeping back into the playoff picture.

This week both teams play all of their respective games at home, and both face the same teams from the Northeast Division - the Providence Bruins and Hartford Wolfpack.

Penguins Take Five of Six Points 

The Penguins are in pretty good shape with 25 games left in the season, currently in 6th place in the Eastern Conference and just two points out of sole possession of 4th.

The Hershey Bears have gone on a 13 game unbeaten streak (11-0-1-1) and lead the Pens by five points in the East Division, but the Pens are in position to challenge for the division down the stretch if/when the Bears cool off.

Up Next

Saturday (2/21) vs. Providence, 7:05 p.m. EST
Sunday (2/22) vs. Hartford, 3:00 p.m. EST


Matt Murray has taken over as the team's number one goaltender, shutting out Portland on Friday night for his league-leading 6th shutout this season. The rookie goaltender has shutouts in three of his last five starts while Zatkoff has just one win in the 2015 calendar year.

It looks as though Derrick Pouliot isn't coming back anytime soon, but the AHL Pens blue line is still talented. Brian Dumoulin has been quarterbacking the power play lately and with much success the last two games, with five assists (four on the power play).

Up front the WBS Pens are enjoying the benefits of the NHL roster getting healthy. Guys like Andrew Ebbett, Scott Wilson and Bryan Rust are back and settled in at the AHL level while Conor Sheary and Tom Kostopoulos led the way when the forward depth was thin.

It hasn't been good news for everyone, as rookie forwards Jean-Sebastien Dea and Josh Archibald have been re-assigned to Wheeling and forward Tyler Murovich has been released from his AHL contract. The depth is a numbers game and with so many healthy bodies it's better for guys like Dea and Archibald to play big minutes in the top six role in the ECHL than get 6-8 minutes a night on the fourth line in the AHL.

Scratches last game (2/14 vs. Lehigh Valley): Harrison Ruopp (healthy), Alex Boak (healthy), Nick Drazenovic (undisclosed, missed 2nd straight game), Anton Zlobin (out for the season, shoulder surgery) and Adam Payerl (healthy)


Conor Sheary - Andrew Ebbett - Bryan Rust
Scott Wilson - Jayson Megna - Tom Kostopoulos
Dominik Uher - Carter Rowney - Tom Kuhnhackl
Bobby Farnham - Matia Marcantuoni - Pierre-Luc Leblond

Brian Dumoulin - Taylor Chorney
Reid McNeill - Scott Harrington
Nick D'Agostino - Barry Goers

Matt Murray - Jeff Zatkoff

Phantoms Reel Off Back-to-Back Road Wins

The Phantoms lost their fourth straight game at home Friday night before squeezing out a shootout win Saturday in Wilkes-Barre and an overtime win Sunday in Springfield. With four points on the weekend, the Phantoms are now just four points out of the playoffs and have one game in hand on 8th place Providence with a chance to close in on the Bruins when they come to the PPL Center Friday night.

The Phantoms are getting bodies back in the lineup, with Scott Laughton returning to Lehigh Valley Sunday in Springfield after almost three months in the NHL with Philadelphia. I caught up with Laughton after Sunday's game and talked about his time in the NHL and being re-united with his linemate/roommate Taylor Leier just in time for his birthday. More on that in this week's edition of The Home News.

Defenseman Mark Alt returned from a broken hand that caused him to miss 17 games on Saturday night vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The additions of Laughton and Alt has added depth both up front and on the blue line, which is beneficial when playing three games in three straight nights like most teams in the American Hockey League face on an almost semi-regular basis.

Up Next

Wednesday (2/18) vs. Binghamton, 7:05 p.m. EST
Friday (2/20) vs. Providence, 7:05 p.m. EST
Saturday (2/21) vs. Hartford, 7:05 p.m. EST


After starting all three of the team's games this past weekend, goaltender Rob Zepp was recalled by the Philadelhia Flyers today and Anthony Stolarz was re-assigned back to Lehigh Valley after backing up Ray Emery in the NHL last week.

Defenseman Mark Alt returned to action on Saturday, his first game since breaking his hand on New Years Eve in Binghamton while blocking a shot. Brett Flemming has been scratched in his place, joining Jesper Pettersson as a healthy scratch on defense.

While Laughton adds a new dimension offensively, it also has led to an increase in offensive output from others. Nick Cousins is 7th in the AHL in scoring  with 43 points (16G-27A) in 50 games while Jason Akeson is on a nine game points scoring streak and has 30 points (15G-15A) in 32 games this season since returning to Lehigh Valley earlier in the season.

Scratches: Brett Flemming (healthy), Jesper Pettersson (healthy), Shayne Gostitsbehere (ACL surgery in November), Kevin Goumas (healthy), Blair Jones (lower body) and Derek Mathers (healthy).


Taylor Leier - Scott Laughton - Andrew Gordon
Jason Akeson - Nick Cousins - Zack Stortini
Jay Rosehill - Austin Fyten - Brett Hextall
Petr Straka - Darroll Powe - Brandon Alderson

Brandon Manning - Mark Alt
Adam Comrie - Steven Delisle
Oliver Lauridsen - Robert Hagg

Anthony Stolarz - Martin Ouellette

Weekly Links

Eric Majeski's weekly "Talking to Myself" feature at Pensburgh looks at the return of Beau Bennett and Blake Comeau to the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup as well as the team's struggles playing with the lead.

A look at the season Kris Letang is having and how the best move new GM Jim Rutherford made might've been the one he didn't make in this piece by Adam Gretz of CBS Sports  Eye on Hockey Blog.

If you missed it, last week's Lehigh Valley Phantoms piece for The Home News on how the team is entering a crucial stretch of the season.

An in-depth and well written update on Shayne Gostisbehere by Dave Isaac, Flyers writer for the Courier-Post.

I caught up with AHL scoring sensation Teemu Pulkkinen of the Grand Rapids Griffins during the All-Star break to talk about his quick transition from playing in Finland to now being a back to back 30 goal scorer in the AHL in his first two seasons. Last night, Pulkkinen became the first AHL player to 30 goals this season in just his 44th game of the season. No sophomore slump for Pulkkinen, with 31 points (19G-12A) in his last 19 games.


Post a Comment