|Phantoms start the year with a win, and earn two points in the standings. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey|
Editor's Note: Testing out a potential new regular story to follow up the post-game recaps this season, tying everything together and giving some final thoughts/insights before moving forward to the next one.
Defenseman T.J. Brennan said it best following tonight's 4-2 win over Springfield. "You can't win 'em all if you don't win that first one."
While the Phantoms came out particularly strong and jumped out to a 3-1 lead through the opening 20 minutes, they got away from their game plan a little in the third period - allowing Springfield to hang around and get back into the game on a power play tally early in the final frame.
There were certainly many positives to take away, and the two points in the standings is the end result.
Here it is. Your Phantoms post-game extra. I'll try to tie everything together to give a greater understanding of what's going on with the Philadelphia Flyers' AHL affiliate and their top prospects playing at the pro-level.
If you missed it, here's tonight's recap of the action.
Post-Game Video Interview
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- Anthony Stolarz was sharp when he needed to be, especially early in the second and third periods. Of course the early lead helps, but if not for some key saves the game could have been a lot closer down the stretch.
- The Phantoms had three lines tonight creating offense and a rather effective fourth line that played with the puck in the offensive zone as well. The balance and depth of the forward core should be something that will continue to be evident as the season moves along.
- Danick Martel (video interview above) had a strong performance, not only finishing his chances but also getting under his opponents skin. Martel said it best, and that's that he'll need to consistently bring that kind of effort night in and night out. Nonetheless a great start to the year for him.
- Radel Fazleev wasn't impressive in the two preseason contests last weekend, but he was very noticeable and in a good way tonight. On Martel's first goal, Fazleev made a patient play circling back into the neutral zone and although he was checked into the boards and lost possession of the puck, he made a great play - stick lifting a Thunderbirds defender and flipping an area pass into the middle that the speedy Martel finished off for what turned out to be the team's first shorthanded tally of the season. The scouting report on Fazleev pits him as a two-way player and he certainly showed glimpses of that tonight. There's going to ups and downs for him like all rookies at the pro level, but there's more there than he originally showed in the two preseason games.
- I might have mentioned this during the preseason contests, but Mark Zengerle's vision on the ice is something special. Several times throughout the night, he was found threading the needle through the middle and creating consistent offensive chances for his team. At first, I was surprised that Zengerle remained centering the second line when Jordan Weal arrived but perhaps Scott Gordon saw something we didn't when he kept the trio of Taylor Leier, Colin McDonald and Zengerle together on opening night.
- The power play, once the units begin to gel and gain chemistry, will be deadly. There were some shaky patches early on their first man advantage, but they showed at the tail end of the 1st period what they can do - and in a short amount of time too. Certainly a thing to keep an eye on as the season progresses. I feel teams are going to have to respect the Phantoms' weapons on the power play and not be baited into taking ill-advised penalties.