Friday, January 25, 2013

Pre-Game vs. Albany 1/25

Tonight's preview post is up early, but that's because there have been several developments today.

First, remember how TSN reported yesterday that Philadelphia had placed Trenton goalie Niko Hovinen on waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract? Well, it won't come to that because the Edmonton Oilers claimed the goaltender off waivers. Things never worked out for him in the Philadelphia organization, but maybe a change of scenery will do the goaltender well.

Secondly, multiple reports out of Philadelphia indicate Phantoms defenseman Andreas Lilja is heading to the Flyers. Andrej Meszaros left last night's win over the Rangers with an injury. When I first read Meszaros was hurt, I thought "Wouldn't it be something if they called up Brandon Manning and the AHL had to replace the replacement for the All-Star game?" Looks like it won't come to that. The good thing about the new collective bargaining agreement is there's no re-entry waivers, so Lilja can join the Flyers and not have to worry about another team claiming him for half-salary.

Also this morning pair of Phantoms held court with the media in their new cities. Cal Heeter spoke with The Trentonian's Mike Ashmore and said he was honestly surprised that he was sent to the ECHL. Meanwhile, original Adirondack Phantoms forward David Laliberte is back in Glens Falls.

First, Heeter, who assigned to Trenton after Hovinen was waived. From Ashmore's Inside the Trenton Titans blog:
"I wouldn’t say I’m happy that this is the position I’m in, but I understand why I’m here," he said. "From what I was told, it wasn’t due to playing performance or anything, it was just due to logistics.  They want to get (goalie Brian) Boucher a lot of games up there in Adirondack, so they didn’t want me just sitting on the bench and not getting a lot of playing time and experience in games.  So they sent me down here so I can keep playing, get a lot of games and continue to improve and work on my game."
Phantoms coach Terry Murray and Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren both have said the three-goalie dynamic the Phantoms had been using over the past week was not ideal, so this is the apparent resolution to it. Boucher and Scott Munroe will be the tandem in Adirondack, though last week Murray seemed pretty keen on the Boucher-Heeter tandem, but few things help development like playing time. So Heeter will get some more of that in in the ECHL, platooning with Devils farmhand Scott Wedgewood, and Trenton is closer to Philadelphia (and the Flyers' goalie coaches) than Glens Falls is. As for how long Heeter will be there, Ashmore  Tweeted a quote from the goalie: "If it's a week (here), OK. If it's a month, sure. If it's the rest of the season, what are you going to do about it?"

Next, the Phantoms caught up with Laliberte this morning.

He had 46 points in Adirondack's first season back in 2009-10, and was traded to Anaheim in the Patrick Maroon deal in November 2010. He is coming off an ACL injury he suffered while playing in Germany last season and had an eight-month recovery period. He signed an ECHL deal with Trenton and posted two points in five games before signing an AHL contract with the Phantoms yesterday.

Based on Laliberte's comments, it seems that eventual AHL jump was the plan from the beginning.

"My agent talked a bit with (Flyers Director of Player Development) Ian Laperriere and we had a good discussion with him," Laliberte said. "He told us 'Go to Trenton, play a couple games.' At the same time, I only had an East Coast deal, so I couldn't go anywhere else. But I think Philly was interested in (me) coming here to the American League. I know pretty much the coaches here and a lot of players here and it's good to be back in Glens Falls too."

As for the knee, Laliberte said it's 100 percent.

"It's probably even stronger than the other one," he said. "No problem with that."

Laliberte said he met with Murray to get a handle on the Phantoms' system, which has changed a little since his first tour of duty in Glens Falls. With a game tonight, he doesn't have much time to learn it.

"It's a little bit different than we used to play, but hockey's hockey," Laliberte said. "It's going to maybe take me a couple games to get to know the system very well and play the way the coach wants to do it, but I'll try my best and try to do it tonight."

Will update this post later tonight with the line combinations and defensive pairings for both teams.

EDIT: And here they are. Keith Kinkaid and Brian Boucher out of the tunnels first. Based on pre-game line rushes, it looks like Erik Gustafsson and Matt Konan could both be returning to the line-up. Jeff Dimmen was the extra defenseman on first run-through, but it will come to a late scratch.

F: Whitney-Zalewski-Butler
Sestito-D. Zajac-Hoeffel
Sislo-K. Zajac-McKelvie
D: Kelly-Gelinas
G: Kinkaid

F: Mangene-Noebels-Akeson
D: Gustafsson-Manning
G: Boucher

Referee: Trevor Hanson. Linesmen: Mike Emanatian, Frank Murphy.

More after the game.

-- MC


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