Phantoms try to shake off rust
You know that Monday morning feeling when you head into work and it takes you a while to get going? Especially if you had a few extra days off. The Phantoms had that look to them Friday night when they returned from the All-Star Break to face the Charlotte Checkers at the PPL Center. To be honest, both teams had that look as the game started off with a myriad of missed passes and turnovers. The Checkers even got a penalty for too many men on the ice in the opening minutes of the game.
Before long though, the hockey was back to the crispness that both teams are much more accustomed to playing with and both teams started firing shots on goal, with Charlotte peppering their former teammate John Muse with 40 shots. Muse, who had been recalled from Reading earlier in the day, was up to the task, stopping 38 of the shots in a 3-2 Lehigh Valley win.
“There was a little bit of a feeling out period there in the first, but it was good once we got going,” admitted Muse, who had his name chanted by the crowd with almost every save. “It’s always special to play against a team that you played a lot of games for and tonight was no different. It was great to see a lot of those guys.”
Muse got his most recent promotion after Alex Lyon was recalled by the Flyers for the second time this season. His first trip up was very short and he didn’t see any action, but on his second trip to Philly, he found himself in goal in a relief role last Wednesday night. The 25-year old stopped five shots in the Flyers 5-3 loss to Washington. The next night, the game was all Lyon’s against New Jersey and while he played well, all it took was one shot to sneak through as the Flyers lost their third straight 4-3.
Unfortunately for both goalies, the return of Brian Elliott from injured reserve started the dominoes falling the other way as Lyon was sent back to Lehigh Valley and Muse took that trip down Route 222 to return to the Reading Royals.
Barring any further injuries, both goalies appear to spend the rest of the season with their respective teams.
While Muse started against Charlotte, Dustin Tokarski got the start against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Saturday night on the road. Tokarski stopped 19 of the 21 shots that he faced, but the Penguins were able to turn away an aggressive Phantoms offense that took 35 shots, but were only able to get one goal against Tristan Jarry.
FEELING STRONGER EVERY DAY... The Phantoms have slowly been nursing players back to health and getting them back on the ice. Their injured list is now down to just three names; Corban Knight, Danick Martel and Sam Morin. Knight has been skating with the team in practice and could return to the lineup soon, which is about what the Phantoms expected. The surprise is that Danick Martel, wearing a full-face shield to protect his surgically repaired jaw, also skated with the team Friday and is nearing a return much earlier than anticipated. Morin started individual workouts on the ice at the Flyers practice facility in Voorhees, New Jersey on Monday.
MORE DOMINOES... Tyrell Goulbourne was reassigned to Lehigh Valley, which bumped Chris McCarthy back to Reading. Goulbourne was recalled on January 4th and made his NHL debut two nights later. In all, he’s played nine games with the Flyers this season and 34 games with the Phantoms.
STOP THAT STREAKING... The loss to the Penguins Saturday night snapped a five-game point streak for Lehigh Valley, who were 5-1-1 in their seven games leading up to the showdown in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The surge followed by the loss to the top team in the Atlantic Division leaves the Phantoms just percentage points behind the Pens, but having played three more games than their rival. The two teams are tied with 60 points.
HOME COOKIN’… With three home games this week, the Phantoms wrap up a stretch of seven of eight games at home. During that stretch, Lehigh Valley is 3-1-1-0. After Saturday, they play five of their next seven on the road.