Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pirates 2, Phantoms 1 12/29

There was a point in the not-so-distant past when the Adirondack Phantoms were the least penalized team in the American Hockey League. Two months later, they're now the fifth-most penalized team in the league, racking up 666 minutes through 30 games. That's a little more than 22 per game, but that also takes into account things like fights and misconducts which don't leave your team shorthanded.

Unfortunately, they're still pretty high up there with total times shorthanded. They've been at least one man down 152 times this season, which is now the sixth-highest total in the league. At press time they ranked fifth, but San Antonio has since surpassed them. The Phantoms are forcing their penalty killers, on average, to kill off five power plays a game and tonight they needed them to kill off nine.

They got seven, but the Portland Pirates scored on two in the second period to earn a 2-1 victory.

When you run into situations like this, you're using a lot of the same players to kill penalties. It makes it harder for coaches to get everyone into the game and sometimes it alters the flow of the game. Two of Adirondack's top penalty killers, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier, also play the power play, and the Phantoms had eight of their own. I would love to see the time on ice from this game.

One of the goals was a pretty unfortunate turn of events. They're already down for their first of two too many men minors, which is never a good thing to have, and then Matt Konan goes off for a minor, so you give Portland a 75-second five-on-three at the end of the second period. Then Oliver Lauridsen breaks his stick, so you're down to a five-on-two-and-a-half. Michael Stone gets the puck at the blue line and pinches to fire a dart from the right-wing circle past Munroe and it's 2-0 Portland.

That stood as the game-winner after Jason Akeson got a five-on-three goal late in the third period, but it was too little too late from the power play. Their eight chances bumped them up to an AHL-best 170 this season. They've only scored on 26 of them, which gives them a 21st-best 15.3 percent clip.

Brandon Gormley also scored for Portland, which got 24 saves from Mark Visentin. Back-to-back times and the ninth time in 17 losses the opposing goaltender has been the game's No. 1 star. The amount of time spent killing penalties and Portland's shot blocking made it hard for them to test him.

You wonder what might have been if they got that power play rolling a little earlier in the night, but instead they lose back-to-back games and fall to 13-16-1. They're right back down to the bottom of the conference with 27 points. Hamilton has 25, keeping the Phantoms out of the outright cellar.

At the other end of the list, Toronto will have the best record in the Western Conference on Monday, which means Marlies coach Dallas Eakins will coach in the AHL All-Star Classic. Binghamton's Luke Richardson and Syracuse's Jon Cooper are battling for the other spots, the AHL notes.

Around the division: Sean Backman scored twice as Bridgeport beat Manchester 4-1. Chad Kolarik scored on the power play and shorthanded as the Whale doubled up Springfield 4-2. Harri Pesonen, Bobby Butler and Jacob Josefson each with two-point nights to lead Albany past Hershey 3-2.

Trenton got off to a great start and then faltered in the third, falling to Reading 3-2. Andrew Johnston returned from his reported concussion earlier this week, but he's been scoreless. Matt Mangene's got five assists in 11 games. Marcel Noebels is leading all rookies with 30 points in 31 games.

They're practicing tomorrow afternoon and then Bridgeport's in town Monday for a matinee. A division game and a pretty good chance for the Phantoms to get things right back on track here.


Until next time,


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