Sunday, March 24, 2013

Phantoms 4, Portland 2 3/24

The final score of the game almost becomes inconsequential when there is an injury like the one Rob Bordson suffered early in the second period. The center took a David Rundblad one-timer to his visor, and there was so much force on the shot that it shattered the glass and left him with a nasty, crescent-shaped cut around his eye. With that amount of blood on the rink, you're just hoping the player is OK.

Those are the kinds of plays that could end someone's career. Just ask Philadelphia Flyers Director of Player Development Ian Laperriere, who happened to be in attendance tonight. His career was cut short by the injuries he suffered when he took a shot to the face in the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Fortunately for Bordson and the Adirondack Phantoms, things don't seem nearly that bad. He was wearing a visor, which prevented the puck from hitting him directly in the face. That's an important thing to note. Defenseman Oliver Lauridsen, the first player to reach Bordson, said the center was responsive and answering all the questions he was asked on the ice. Bordson needed some stitches to close the wound, but was only complaining of a headache after the game. He even exchanged words with Laperriere in the hallway outside the Phantoms locker room. Bordson later Tweeted that he was feeling better, and hoped he might be able to return to Adirondack's line-up next weekend.

Phantoms coach Terry Murray said it was too early to put a timetable on Bordson's return -- he'll need a couple days before he can be reevaluated -- but he wasn't exactly thrilled with Rundblad. It's not like the defenseman tried to intentionally shot the puck at Bordson, but Murray still said he broke one of hockey's unwritten rules by one-timing a rolling puck. It was an interesting thought he shared.

“That’s the game – the way it is – today,” Murray said. “You’ve got composite sticks, you’ve got rolling pucks, you’ve got bad ice. You’ve got players shooting one-timers who shouldn’t be shooting one-timers. One of the rules of all time is you never shoot a rolling puck. You have to get a flat puck as a defenseman, because that’s what happens. I think those things, they’re not even talked about anymore. You just shoot the puck.”

A couple weeks ago, when I was talking to him about, interestingly, whether visors should be mandatory in the NHL, he shared an interesting story from his NHL coaching days. He was saying that Capitals defenseman Rod Langway did not wear a helmet when they were first made mandatory, as the old players were grandfathered in, but he was paired with a guy who did. Go back and read it, because he makes an interesting argument. To summarize: players are wearing more protection now, which is good because it protects them from injuries, but it also in turn can lead to more recklessness.

Tyler Brown, however, was injured on a clean hit. Mathieu Brodeur hit him hard into the boards behind the Portland goal in the first period and he did not return. He was sporting a sling after the game, and has a shoulder injury. He'll be re-evaluated after the doctors have a chance to see him.

With those two out, the Phantoms were down to 10 healthy forwards. Then Portland scored to take a 2-1 lead in the second period. Then Jeff Dimmen scored on a power play two minutes later to tie it and Marcel Noebels and Eric Wellwood also scored before the end of the second period to put Adirondack up 4-2. The fact they were able to do that with just 10 healthy forwards says something.

"It's about some character there," Murray said. "Some guys are learning how to do things. Here we are at the end of the year, they're talking about the right stuff on the bench the whole time. ... That's important stuff. It's easy for me to stand in the locker room and talk about things in meetings, but there's nothing like going through it and having the experience of it. This is an important kind of situation for these young guys."

They were able to win despite matching their season low with 18 shots. Part of that is because they only had 10 forwards for two periods -- and two of them were Kyle Flanagan and Derek Mathers, who just joined the team this week -- but they converted the few they got. In the second period, for example, they scored three goals on 7 shots. Goalie Cal Heeter made 17 saves in the second period, then 14 more in the third period to make sure that the 4-2 lead became a final score. He had 40 in all.

“Heets was standing tall on his head,” Dimmen said. “We weren’t getting that many shots, so it’s really important to capitalize on them when you do, and to capitalize on those power plays.”

They also may have set a Phantoms record by scoring nine seconds after the opening face-off. Tye McGinn, Garrett Roe and Jason Akeson all crashed the net and McGinn backhanded a rebound past Mark Visentin. It is believed to be the fastest goal off an opening face-off in Phantoms history. McGinn said it was a play they had worked on in practice over the fast few days.

"You're just trying to get a quick play," Murray added. "There's so much pressure coming at everybody right away on face-off wins and losses right now that you have to get the puck north (up the ice) right away. You get a player into position, you're just looking to get it down and get the forecheck going. It ended up this time that we got a lucky bounce."

Expect the next blog update Tuesday.
-- MC


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