Game 55 Preview: Hartford at Lehigh Valley

Friday, February 26, 2016
The Phantoms host Hartford tonight to kick off another three-game weekend. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
I'll have full coverage of tonight's Phantoms game against the Hartford Wolf Pack. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. ET, but make sure you're following me on Twitter -> @TonyAndrock and now on Facebook (be sure to like the Facebook page!) for all the latest updates and information this evening.

You can also help keep me on the road covering the team by making a donation via my GoFundMe page. Stay tuned here online after the game for a recap of the action.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (25-25-2-2) look to continue their push towards the postseason with another critical three-game weekend beginning tonight at home against the Hartford Wolf Pack, who enter tonight's game just two points ahead of Lehigh Valley for 6th place in the Atlantic Division.

With 22 games left on the regular season schedule, the Phantoms currently sit six points behind the Providence Bruins with two more games played than Boston's AHL affiliate. Lehigh Valley also trails the Bridgeport Sound Tigers by seven points with one more game played than the Sound Tigers. Those are the two teams the Phantoms are looking to catch up to for a playoff spot and interestingly enough the Bruins and Sound Tigers begin a home and home series tonight in Providence. 

In all, Providence and Bridgeport play each other three times in the next eight days, so as long as those contests end in regulation the Phantoms should be able to gain some ground in the Atlantic Division playoff race if they of course take care of business this weekend.

The Phantoms are 0-2 against Hartford this season and are hoping that the third time is the charm, especially since these two teams meet again on Sunday evening in Hartford at the XL Center. Much like their NHL affiliate in Philadelphia, there's no time (or games) to waste if Lehigh Valley hopes to sneak into the postseason come late April.

All of the regular news, notes, stats and more to get you ready for tonight's game in a full preview after the jump.
By The Numbers

LV: 54 games played, 25-25-2-2 = 54 points
7th Place - Atlantic Division
Last 10 Games: 5-4-0-1
Streak: 2-0-0-1

HFD: 54 games played, 27-25-2-0 = 56 points
6th Place - Atlantic Division
Last 10 Games: 5-5-0-0
Streak: 0-2-0

Special Teams

Power Play

LV: 17.8% - 13th in AHL
HFD: 10.9% - 30th in AHL

Penalty Kill

LV: 82.7% - 16th in AHL
HFD: 82.4% - 17th in AHL

Leading Scorers (Active)

LV: Taylor Leier (49GP,17G-21A), Chris Conner (37GP, 12G-26A), Petr Straka (44GP, 17G-14A), Danick Martel (46GP, 18G-11A)

HFD: Chad Nehring (54GP, 16G-17A), Jayson Megna (46GP, 10G-16A), Ryan Bourque (54GP, 10G-14A), Mat Bodie (54GP, 4G-19A)

Starting Goaltenders

LV: Anthony Stolarz (17-11-4, 2.56 GAA, .914 SV%, 0 SO)
HFD: Magnus Hellberg (20-15-2, 2.40 GAA, .917 SV%, 3 SO)

Season Series

This is the 3rd of six scheduled meetings between Lehigh Valley and Hartford this season. The Phantoms are 0-2 against the Wolf Pack this season, scoring just one goal per game in both losses. The two teams will finish the season series within the next month, as four of the next 15 games (including two this weekend) for the Phantoms are against Hartford.

Head to Head Scoring Leaders

LV: Petr Straka (2GP, 1G-0A), Chris Conner (2GP, 1G-0A), Mark Alt (1GP, 0G-1A)

HFD: Jayson Megna (1GP, 0G-3A), Luke Adam (2GP, 1G-1A), Brady Skjei (1GP, 1G-0A)

Goalies Head to Head Stats

LV: Anthony Stolarz (2GP, 0-2-0, 2.55 GAA, .907 SV%, 0 SO)
       Jason LaBarbera - No Stats

HFD: Magnus Hellberg - (1GP, 1-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .963 SV%, 0 SO)
          Jeff Malcolm - No Stats

Season Series Schedule

Friday  2/26, Hartford at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET
Sunday 2/28, Lehigh Valley at Hartford - 5:00 p.m. ET
Saturday 3/12, Lehigh Valley at Hartford - 3:00 p.m. ET
Saturday 3/26, Hartford at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET

Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Roster Notes

Anthony Stolarz is expected to get the start in net for the fifth straight game. Jason LaBarbera didn't play any of the three games last weekend, so that's something to keep an eye on this weekend.

Unless there was a setback at practice yesterday, Colin McDonald is expected to return to the Phantoms lineup tonight.

If you missed it, the Phantoms signed forward Dalton Smith to a PTO to bolster their bottom-six forward depth. Dalton's father, Derrick, and uncle, Keith Primeau, were both longtime Philadelphia Flyers in their respective NHL careers which made signing with the Phantoms special to the younger Smith.

Jay Rosehill returned to the Phantoms lineup for two games last weekend, his first action since December 27th.

Smith's arrival and Rosehill's return to action meant the Phantoms had 14 healthy forwards in addition to Kevin Sundher skating at practice this week, so Lehigh Valley re-assigned Pavel Padakin to Reading (ECHL).

Christian Marti was a healthy scratch on Saturday and Sunday to make room for Rosehill in the lineup, which saw head coach Scott Gordon switch from an 11/7 lineup to the more traditional 12 forwards and six defensemen.

Expected Scratches: Christian Marti (healthy) Kevin Sundher (lower body since 11/27), Colin McDonald (upper body), Michael Parks (upper body since 10/17), Dalton Smith (healthy), Pavel Padakin (healthy), Tim Brent (hand/wrist surgery) and Logan Pyett (out indefinitely)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Petr Straka - Cole Bardreau - Colin McDonald
Taylor Leier (A) - Phil DeSimone - Chris Conner (A)
Danick Martel - Kevin Goumas - Aaron Palushaj
Tyrell Goulbourne - Joe Rehkamp - xxxxxxxxxx

Davis Drewiske (A) - Max Lamarche
Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Adam Comrie - Robert Hagg
Christian Marti

Anthony Stolarz - Jason LaBarbera

Recent Transactions

2/26: RW Pavel Padakin returned on loan to Reading (ECHL)
2/22: LW Dalton Smith signed to a professional tryout contract (PTO)
2/18: RW Pavel Padakin recalled from loan to Reading (ECHL)
2/17: RW Pavel Padakin returned on loan to Reading (ECHL)
2/13: D Andrew MacDonald recalled from loan by Philadelphia (NHL)


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