Game 58 Preview: Lehigh Valley at W-B/Scranton

Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Phantoms' forward Scott Laughton burns Penguins' forward Jean-Sebastien Dea on his way to Penguins' goaltender Tristan Jarry's net. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms' Push For The Atlantic Runs Through Wilkes-Barre

Editor's Note - I'll have full coverage of tonight's Phantoms game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, live from the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. ET, but make sure you're following along on Twitter -> @TonyAndrock and Facebook (like the Facebook page!) for all the latest updates and information. 
Stay tuned here online after the game for a recap of the action. Don't forget to subscribe to Highland Park Hockey's YouTube channel for post-game interviews with players.

Written by: Tony Androckitis, Twitter/Facebook

WILKES-BARRE TWP - The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (36-18-3) start up another three-game week with a mid-week match up against rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (39-16-3) as the first and second place teams in the Atlantic Division meet for the sixth time this season.

Phantoms' Playoff Update - The Phantoms enter Wednesday's game six points behind the first place Penguins with one game in hand. Behind the Penguins and Phantoms are three teams - Providence, Bridgeport and Hershey - in the middle of a dog fight for one of four playoff positions atop the Atlantic Division. 

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms' magic number to clinch a berth in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs is currently at 33 points. You can also keep track of the playoff races in the AHL's daily Playoff Primer.

After the jump, a full preview of everything you need to know in advance of tonight's game.

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By The Numbers

LV: 57 games played, 36-18-3-0 = 75 points
2nd Place Atlantic Division
Streak: 0-1-0-0
Last Ten Games: 4-5-1-0

WBS: 58 games played, 39-16-3-0 = 81 points
1st Place Atlantic Division
Streak: 1-0-0-0
Last Ten Games: 5-5-0-0

Special Teams

Power Play

LV - 63-for-278: 22.7% = 5th in AHL
WBS - 45-for-250: 18.0% = 15th in AHL

Penalty Kill

LV - 186-for-222: 83.8% = 7th in AHL
WBS - 205-for-237: 86.5% = 1st in AHL

Leading Scorers

LV:  Chris Conner (57GP, 19G-29A), T.J. Brennan (57GP, 17G-31A), Greg Carey (57GP, 26G-17A) and Andy Miele (46GP, 7G-34A)

WBS: Tom Kostopoulos (58GP, 20G-24A), David Warsofsky (43GP, 14G-27A), Oskar Sundqvist (52GP, 16G-23A) and Kevin Porter (54GP, 9G-28A)

Expected Starting Goaltenders

LV: Alex Lyon  (36GP, 22-11-3, 2.74 GAA, .909 SV%, 3 SO)
WBS: Tristan Jarry (36GP, 23-12-1, 2.27 GAA, .921 SV%, 1 SO)

Season Series

Tonight marks the sixth of 12 meetings between the Phantoms and Penguins this season.

The Phantoms opened up edge in the season series with a pair of home wins in gritty, physical affairs between bitter rivals but the Penguins dominated the Phantoms in Wilkes-Barre in the two most recent meetings, in 7-1 and 5-1 wins.

The most recent meeting was a nail biter, as the Penguins won in overtime in Lehigh Valley. The season should only continue to heat up as the Phantoms will face the Penguins 7 more times in their final six weeks of the regular season.

Season Series Schedule

Wednesday, November 16th: W-B/Scranton -1 at Lehigh Valley - 4
Saturday, February 4th: Lehigh Valley - 1 at W-B/Scranton - 7
Tuesday, February 14th: Lehigh Valley - 1 at W-B/Scranton - 5
Wednesday, March 8th: Lehigh Valley at W-B/Scranton - 7:05 p.m. ET
Friday, March 17th: W-B/Scranton at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET
Saturday, March 18th: Lehigh Valley at W-B/Scranton - 7:05 p.m. ET
Saturday, March 25th: W-B/Scranton at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET
Saturday, April 1st: Lehigh Valley at W-B/Scranton - 7:05 p.m. ET
Friday, April 7th: W-B/Scranton at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET
Wednesday, April 12th: Lehigh Valley at W-B/Scranton - 7:05 p.m. ET

Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Roster Notes

Anthony Stolarz is expected back between the pipes Wednesday in Wilkes-Barre for the Phantoms. Alex Lyon was pulled from his last start Sunday in Providence after allowing four goals on 24 shots with a tired Phantoms team in front of him.

Defenseman Robert Hagg and forward Danick Martel both exited with injuries in the second period Friday night in Springfield. Neither are expected to play tonight.

Tyrell Goulbourne was called up to Lehigh Valley and joined the team in Hartford Saturday morning. giving the Phantoms 12 healthy forwards. Reece Willcox had been the team's extra defenseman, but with Hagg's injury is back into the lineup alongside T.J. Brennan.

Steven Swavely blocked a shot during the third period in Utica two weekends ago, and left the game. It's safe to say Swavely will likely miss several weeks as he was seen at last Thursday's practice with his left hand/wrist in a cast.

Taylor Leier (concussion) will miss his 14th straight game, having not played since the AHL All-Star challenge on January 30th. Leier skated briefly with the team at practice last Thursday at PPL Center, but was the only skater wearing a green jersey and he exited the ice about 15-20 minutes after I arrived for the 10:30 practice. There are no updates being given on Leier's status or a timetable for his return from Phantoms' head coach Scott Gordon.

Boyd Gordon, who left in a Wednesday home game against Binghamton on February after a sliding BSens' forward crunched into his legs in the corner boards, was expected to miss a few weeks with a knee injury. No update from HC Scott Gordon on any potential timetable for a return to the lineup for Gordon or any of the injured players as per his usual vagueness with updating injured players.

Expected Scratches: Robert Hagg (lower body), Steven Swavely (upper body), Danick Martel (undisclosed), Taylor Leier (concussion) and Boyd Gordon (lower body)

Expected Lines:

Cole Bardreau - Scott Laughton - Colin McDonald
Greg Carey - Corban Knight - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Mark Zengerle - Andy Miele - Chris Conner
Tyrell Goulbourne - Chris McCarthy - Radel Fazleev

T.J. Brennan - Reece Willcox
Will O'Neill - Mark Alt
Sam Morin - Travis Sanheim

Alex Lyon - Anthony Stolarz

Recent Transactions

3/4: ADD - F Tyrell Goulbourne recalled from loan to Reading (ECHL)
3/1: DEL - F Jordan Weal recalled from loan by Philadelphia (NHL)
3/1: ADD - F Jordan Weal returned on loan from Philadelphia (NHL)
2/13: ADD - D Reece Willcox reassigned by Philadelphia (NHL) from Reading (ECHL)
2/12: DEL - D Reece Willcox reassigned by Philadelphia (NHL) to Reading (ECHL)
2/11: ADD - F Steven Swavely recalled from loan to Reading (ECHL)
2/10: ADD - F Chris McCarthy recalled from loan to Reading (ECHL)
2/10: DEL - F Jordan Weal recalled from loan by Philadelphia (NHL)

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

Tristan Jarry gets the start in net for the Penguins, with Casey DeSmith serving as the team's backup goaltender.

Defenseman Cameron Guance and forward Tom Sestito were recalled to Pittsburgh, and defenseman Derrick Pouliot was reassigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Penguins Scratches: Brett Stern, Stuart Percy, Patrick McGrath, Garrett Wilson and Lukas Bengtsson

Expected Penguins lines:

Thomas DiPauli - Kevin Porter - Tom Kostopoulos
Jarrett Burton - Oskar Sundqvist - Josh Archibald
Dominik Simon - Teddy Blueger - Jean-Sebastien Dea
Christian Hilbrich - Sahir Gill - Ryan Haggerty

Tim Erixon - Ethan Prow
David Warsofsky - Frankie Corrado
Derrick Pouliot - Barry Goers

Tristan Jarry - Casey DeSmith


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