Game 72 Preview: W-B/Scranton at Lehigh Valley

Friday, April 7, 2017
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Round 11 - Phantoms host Penguins in AHL's Game of the Week

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

EDIT: You can watch tonight's Lehigh Valley Phantoms game against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for FREE via AHL Live. Click here to watch tonight's game!

ALLENTOWN - For the first time in eight seasons, the Philadelphia Flyers' top minor league affiliate in the AHL - the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (44-22-5) - can clinch a playoff spot tonight with a win against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in addition to a regulation loss by Hershey tonight in Rochester.

The Penguins (47-19-4) have been hit hard with roster movement this week, perhaps providing Lehigh Valley an opportune time to face their most-bitter rival.

They'll be especially tested at the forward position tonight as forward Zach Aston-Reese is at the Hobey Baker Ceremony tonight in Chicago as one of three finalists for the award given to college hockey's best player. In addition, Dominik Simon was called up to Pittsburgh Thursday joining Josh Archibald who was promoted to the NHL last week.

On the other hand, Lehigh Valley has received some help from Philadelphia albeit reassignments of defenseman Sam Morin and Colin McDonald prior to Wednesday's game and now goaltender Anthony Stolarz prior to tonight's game.

It is suspected that Stolarz and possibly even Morin and McDonald could be back on their way to Philadelphia after tonight's game, but the Flyers season ends this weekend and all three will be back with the Phantoms for the final week of the season.

Phantoms' Playoff Update - Atlantic Division Standings through 4/6's games:
X - WBS (98 points, 6 games remaining) 
LV (93, 5GR) 
PRO (91, 6GR)
BST (90, 5GR) 
HER (89, 4GR)
SPR (69, 5GR)
HFD (52, 6GR) 
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms' magic number to clinch a berth in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs is currently at 5 points. You can also keep track of the playoff races in the AHL's daily Playoff Primer.

By The Numbers

LV: 71 games played, 44-22-5-0 = 93 points
2nd Place Atlantic Division
Streak: 1-0-1-0
Last Ten Games: 5-4-1-0

WBS: 70 games played, 47-19-3-1 = 98 points
1st Place Place Atlantic Division
Streak: 1-0-0-1
Last Ten Games: 7-2-0-1

Special Teams

Power Play

LV - 71-for-337: 21.1% = 6th in AHL
WBS - 52-for-294: 17.7% = 15th in AHL

Penalty Kill

LV - 223-for-267: 83.5% = 7th in AHL
WBS - 258-for-296: 87.2% = 1st in AHL

Leading Scorers

LV:  T.J. Brennan (71GP, 20G-35A), Chris Conner (66GP, 22G-32A), Andy Miele (60GP, 10G-42A), and Greg Carey (69GP, 27G-22A)

WBS: Tom Kostopoulos (70GP, 24G-29A), Kevin Porter (66GP, 11G-35A), David Warsofsky (53GP, 15G-30A) and Oskar Sundqvist (58GP, 18G-24A)

Expected Starting Goaltenders

LV: Anthony Stolarz (27GP, 18-8-0, 2.96 GAA, .910 SV%, 1 SO)
WBS: Tristan Jarry (44GP, 27-15-2, 2.20 GAA, .924 SV%, 2 SO)

Season Series

Tonight marks the 11th of 12 meetings between the Phantoms and Penguins this season. Lehigh Valley is 4-5-1 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2016-17.

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 next two meetings, in 7-1 and 5-1 wins.

The most recent meetings have been closer as February 25th's game at PPL Center was a nail biter, as the Penguins won in overtime in Lehigh Valley. On last Wednesday March 8th, the Phantoms went into Wilkes-Barre and shut out the Penguins 3-0 in the Penguins' first home game after a disappointing road trip.

There was a in a home and home series on St. Patrick's Day weekend. Friday night in Allentown, a strong second period by the Penguins combined with a "letdown" second period for Lehigh Valley resulted in a 4-1 Penguins win. But Saturday in Wilkes-Barre, it was the Phantoms holding on for a 3-2 win after a pair of goals seconds apart broke the game open.

The most recent meetings were a different story.  In back-to-back Saturdays, the Penguins shut out the Phantoms. On March 25th, it was a Penguins' 4-0 shutout win in Allentown over Lehigh Valley. Last Saturday, the Phantoms were shutout in Wilkes-Barre by a 3-0 margin.

Season Series Schedule 

Wednesday, November 16th: W-B/Scranton -1 at Lehigh Valley - 4
Friday, January 20th: W-B/Scranton - 3 at Lehigh Valley - 5
Saturday, February 4th: Lehigh Valley - 1 at W-B/Scranton - 7
Tuesday, February 14th: Lehigh Valley - 1 at W-B/Scranton - 5
Saturday, February 25th: W-B/Scranton - 4 at Lehigh Valley - 3 (OT)
Wednesday, March 8th: Lehigh Valley at - 3 W-B/Scranton - 0
Friday, March 17th: W-B/Scranton - 4 at Lehigh Valley - 1
Saturday, March 18th: Lehigh Valley - 3 at W-B/Scranton - 2
Saturday, March 25th: W-B/Scranton - 4 at Lehigh Valley - 0
Saturday, April 1st: Lehigh Valley - 0 at W-B/Scranton - 3
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, reassigned to Lehigh Valley by Philadelphia prior to tonight's game, will get the start in net tonight for Lehigh Valley against the Penguins. Alex Lyon will back up Stolarz. There hasn't been an official roster move regarding Martin Ouellette back to ECHL Reading which likely reaffirms the notion that Stolarz will be heading back to Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Flyers assigned defenseman Sam Morin and forward Colin McDonald to Lehigh Valley earlier today prior to tonight's game. Morin made his NHL debut Tuesday night against New Jersey - leading the way with a game-high seven hits and playing a relatively quiet game and being sound defensively.

Reece Willcox was reassigned to ECHL Reading prior to last weekend's games, but was returned to Lehigh Valley earlier this week prior to Sam Morin's first NHL call up Tuesday.

Will O'Neill was seen sporting a cast on his left wrist at the team's annual team photo day last week - a sign he's going to be out longer term. Let's put him in the four-to-six week range from when he sustained injury on March 11th, meaning he can hopefully get healthy for the postseason.

The Philadelphia Flyers signed their 2014-3rd round draft pick, defenseman Mark Friedman, to an entry level contract beginning in the 2017-18 season. The former Bowling Green State Univeristy product, who tallied 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists) in 40 games this season in the WCHA, joined the Phantoms on a tryout contract for the remainder of the season. He participated in his first ever AHL warmup skate last Saturday in Wilkes-Barre.

Boyd Gordon, who left in a Wednesday home game against Binghamton after a sliding BSens' forward crunched into his legs in the corner boards, was initially expected to miss a few weeks with a knee injury. He was seen at a recent Phantoms game in Allentown walking with a knee brace over his suit pants. His season and a potential return to the lineup remain in the balance.

Expected Scratches: Martin Ouellette (healthy/third goaltender), Will O'Neill (upper body), Radel Fazleev, Max Lamarche (healthy), Chris McCarthy (healthy), Boyd Gordon (lower body) and Mark Friedman (healthy)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Taylor Leier - Scott Laughton - Colin McDonald
Greg Carey - Andy Miele - Chris Conner
Danick Martel - Corban Knight - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Tyrell Goulbourne - Radel Fazleev - Cole Bardreau

T.J. Brennan - Reece Willcox
Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Robert Hagg - Travis Sanheim

Anthony Stolarz - Alex Lyon

Recent Transactions

4/7: ADD - G Anthony Stolarz returned on loan from Philadelphia
4/5: ADD - RW Colin McDonald returned on loan from Philadelphia (NHL)
4/5: ADD - D Sam Morin returned on loan from Philadelphia (NHL)
4/4: DEL - D Sam Morin recalled from loan by Philadelphia (NHL)
4/3: ADD - D Reece Willcox reassigned from Reading (ECHL) to Lehigh Valley (AHL)
4/1: ADD - G Martin Ouellette recalled from loan to Reading (ECHL)
4/1: DEL - G Anthony Stolarz recalled from loan by Philadelphia (NHL)
3/31: ADD - D Mark Friedman signed to amateur tryout (ATO)

Editor's Note - Full coverage of tonight's Phantoms game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, live from the PPL Center in downtown Allentown, 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.


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