Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wellwood sent down 3/6

One of the stories from Wednesday morning's Adirondack Phantoms practice was that Eric Wellwood was sent back to the Phantoms, and is expected to be back on the ice with them Thursday morning.

Wellwood had been called up to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday morning, basically as an insurance policy in case something happened to one of the NHL club's other 12 forwards before the game at Madison Square Garden. Nothing did, though, so Wellwood was a healthy scratch Tuesday.

Sending him to Adirondack gives him a chance to play in the team's upcoming three-in-three.

Wellwood's impending arrival sort of makes today's lines irrelevant, but here they are anyway:


Wellwood could probably slide into the spot currently owned by Tyler Brown or Zack FitzGerald to keep the Phantoms' lines balanced, but it does not have to be a straight swap. There could always be some shuffling before Friday's game, but whatever is on the ice tomorrow is what you'll probably see in the game. I'll be sure to update the blog with the latest line combinations tomorrow afternoon.

There was something  slightly out of the norm at today's practice. After the team does its usual end-of-practice stretch at center ice, coach Terry Murray has at times just said "See you tomorrow," or something to that effect, before players begin their post-practice work with the assistant coaches.

Today, he gathered them all at center ice and pulled them all in for a discussion in the face-off circle. I asked him about it afterward, and he said it had something to do with team's overall focus and approach, given the mountain they have to climb if they are somehow going to make the playoffs.

"I liked the practice today," Murray said. "I liked our focus and I talked about it yesterday before the practice, the importance of bringing that kind of approach. I want to remind them on a daily basis just about that it's hard. We talk about what we have in front of us here just to make the playoffs. It's a huge, huge climb. If you're not staying totally focused and committed to improving yourself, then any sport can bite you very quickly. I just want to remind them to come into work and stay with that every day."

They realistically have to win at least 18 of their next 21 games to have a shot at a postseason berth. I asked Murray after Tuesday's practice if this team, given the way it is constructed now and the path they have left in the season, is a playoff team. This was his response:

“Well, the reality is it’s an incredible climb if you do get there. It’s incredible. I don’t know if I’ve seen any situation where you get that many points when you’re playing division games, conference games. It’s very hard. The important thing here for us is emotionally and mentally coming to work every day. Try to get better every day, become better as an individual and become better as a team.”

Reading between the lines there, that indicates to me that the Phantoms are basically saying they have 21 games left in the season. If they somehow make the playoffs from 16 points down with a month and a half to go, they pull off one of the most improbable feats that has ever been achieved in the sport of hockey. Regardless of if they do that or not, that doesn't mean the players can't get some valuable experience out of these remaining few games. A pro game played is a pro game played. Power play time is power play time, and penalty kill time is penalty kill time.

"I think we can't think too much about (a playoff spot)," winger David Laliberte said. "I think we have to come here every day and work hard and try to get better every day and work at the stuff we've been working at since the start of the year. We have to try to build something and play every game as if it was the last game for us. We have to battle every game."

Defenseman Andreas Lilja, 37, who had Tuesday off to spent time with his family that is still based in the Philadelphia area and recover from playing three games in three days, was also back on the ice.

I asked Murray about what having Lilja around has done for some of the younger players on this team, particularly his d-partner, Matt Konan. Look for that story in print soon. Also had a chance to talk to Murray about Marcel Noebels and his switch to the wing, so be on the lookout for that too.

Until next time,


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