Phantoms Tuning Up for Saturday's Season Opener

Thursday, October 8, 2015
Head coach Scott Gordon gives out instructions during Wednesday's practice at the PPL Center.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have a week of practice separating themselves from Saturday's regular season opener, and head coach Scott Gordon is using the extra reps in practice to fine tune his players' understanding of the systems he has in place for them.

After the jump, Gordon's take on a variety of topics including Andrew MacDonald, the roster heading into opening night and naming a captain before the season opener on Saturday night against the Syracuse Crunch.

Scott Gordon on Andrew MacDonald:
He's a guy that has had to work for everything he's got. My experience with him in Long Island was nothing but good things and I expect that to continue here.
When you're in this situation, the only way to get out of it is to make sure you're doing the best you can and having the right mindset - keeping focused. If you're playing well you're open to getting called back up whether it's with your parent team or through a trade, whatever it might be. The bottom line is if you don't play well, it makes it a little bit harder. It's been my experience, the guys that put their mind to it are usually very good players and not here for long.
Gordon on the roster:
We have one extra forward and eight defensemen, so obviously we'll have some scratches Saturday night but a lot of things change quickly with injuries and call ups. Right now we're crowded, but we know probably in a month it won't be that way.
 Gordon on MacDonald's arrival changing the dynamic of the defense:
He's a guy that has played 27 minutes a night in the NHL with the Islanders. He's been a part of a playoff team with Philly. His experience is well beyond his years. He's an older player on our team, but he's played probably more minutes in one season than a lot of guys have played in two or three. He's certainly a guy that should help our defense. They should benefit from his presence.
Gordon on the focus at practice this week:
Really just kind of touch on all of our systems stuff. Making sure the gray areas we had in training camp and the exhibition games get eliminated. Trying to do that through drills and making sure guys get a comfort level so there's less thinking. This time of year there is a lot of thinking. You only have so much time to be able implement everything you want to do. You don't have everybody at the same time so sometimes you have to circle back and re-do things. Bodies moving up and down, bodies here from Reading. From a reps standpoint, it's been a great week for us to be able to hammer out and get everything done and give guys a better feel of where we were off in the games and where we can get better.
Two weeks of practice with only one game in between:
For me, it was a good situation. Where we are today, I'd like to believe in a month will be a lot different. Teams that have the same coach are going into the season they're already ahead of the game because they're going to have core players that are accustomed how they are going to play. Those players can act as coaches, voice of the coach to be able to relay the message on how to do things. We don't have that here yet, but in another month it should be a lot more seamless
Gordon on naming a captain before the start of the season:
At some point we will, yeah. Could be real quick.
That last response about naming a captain leads me to believe the Phantoms will announce their team captain sometime soon. While waiting for after practice interviews Wednesday, a certain someone was rounding up the players for an after-practice video session. It was quickly obvious why that player was doing what he was doing.

The Phantoms will have a team captain this season. Stay tuned here for the latest when the team makes the official announcement. It's not always about being the first to report everything. I already have my story ready for the announcement, as luckily I interviewed this player about potentially being named captain after Sunday's win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.


Jason LaBarbera looks to be the goaltender that will begin the year as the Phantoms' number one netminder. Anthony Stolarz spent much of today's on-ice session working with goaltender development coach Brady Robinson.

Andrew MacDonald's arrival allowed the Phantoms to re-assign defensemen Maxim Lamarche and Nick Luukko to Reading. The team is now down to eight healthy defensemen.

Logan Pyett is awaiting a diagnosis from the doctors on a lower body ailment that caused him to miss last weekend's preseason games at the PPL Center. Head coach Scott Gordon held off on details of the injury, stating that he was waiting for more information before labeling a time-table for a return to the lineup.

Injured defenseman Christian Marti was running the steps between each section of both the lower and upper bowls at the PPL Center while the team was practicing. Marti has skated on his own a bit, but isn't anywhere near returning to action. He's at least a month away, and has to be officially re-assigned by the Flyers since he's technically still on the NHL roster.

Up front, the Phantoms have 13 forwards and had four guys rotating on the fourth line (see the lines/pairings below).


Taylor Leier - Tim Brent - Aaron Palushaj
Danick Martel - Nick Cousins - Colin McDonald
Petr Straka - Cole Bardreau - Chris Conner
Tyrell Goulbourne - Pavel Padakin - Michael Parks - Jay Rosehill

Shayne Gostisbehere - Andrew MacDonald
Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Davis Drewiske - Robert Hagg
Matt Lashoff (PTO) - Jesper Pettersson

Jason LaBarbera - Anthony Stolarz


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