Lehigh Valley looks to continue their winning ways tonight taking when they head to face the Binghamton Devils in Newark, New Jersey for the Phantoms first weekday game in their second of four games to start the year on the road.
The Phantoms were scheduled to take on the Devils in the pre-season, however that game was washed due to Binghamton having COVID-19 issues on January 29th. The Devils also missed AHL opening weekend against Wilkes Barre Scranton and Hershey Bears also due to COVID-19 issues. Binghamton finally played their first AHL regular season game on Monday night against the Penguins. This was the rescheduled game from last Friday.
The Phantoms remain unaffected from the Flyers COVID-19 situation with Justin Braun, Travis Sanheim and Claude Giroux on the NHL’s COVID Protocol list which ultimately has postponed Philadelphia’s games since Sunday. The Flyers are scheduled to return to action against the Rangers.
Carson Twarynski, Andy Andreoff, Nate Prosser, Sam Morin or Alex Lyon have not been taken off the Flyers Taxi Squad to join the Phantoms during the Flyers unexpected break.
The AHL has had ten games moved that are scheduled or have already been played due to COVID-19 and we’re six days into the regular season.
The Devils were very similar to the Phantoms on Saturday night having plenty of rookies playing their first professional game on Monday night. Tyler Irvine, Nolan Foote, Michael Vukojevic, Nikita Okhotyuk and Riley Walsh are played their first professional games in the AHL. Just like the Phantoms, Binghamton is backloaded with OHL guys on loan.
Binghamton stormed back after trailing 3-1 to pick up the two points in overtime highlighted by Ryan Schmelzer, Walsh, Foote and goaltender Evan Cormier. Foote picked up his first professional goal and point in the 2nd period. Walsh also buried his first professional goal off a feed from Schmelzer which sent the shot pass the leg pad of Emil Larmi. Cormier shined in the win stopping 20 of 23 shots faced his way. In the North Division Syracuse, Binghamton, Lehigh Valley and Utica all have victories to start the season a weekend in.
The Phantoms are seeing another former face in their organization in Danick Martel. The 26 year old spent his first pro season in Lehigh Valley in 2014-15 and wrapped up his tour in Allentown in 2017-18. Martel also played four games with the Philadelphia Flyers during that season.
Lehigh Valley is without Tyson Foerster and Tanner Laczynski for their second game of the season. For those that missed it, Foerster suffered a small fracture in his tibia (shinbone) during his professional debut on Saturday. Laczynski is projected to miss a week or two due to a groin flarement.
It’s also important to note that the Phantoms quietly put forward Pascal Laberge on IR with a back injury. At first glance with him not playing last Thursday and last Saturday, Laberge not getting in the lineup had to be due to the amount of depth pieces that are on this team.
Other Lehigh Valley news, Chris Mueller who joined the team on a PTO on January 26th has officially signed an AHL SPC on February 8th.
So questions going into tonight’s game are: What will Max Willman’s role be with the injuries to Foerster and Laczynski? What bodies will head coach Scott Gordon replace in the lineup? My educated guess for tonight will be that Tanner McMaster and Matt Strome will replace these two. It’s also important to note that with this being a weekday game and both club’s second game of the season, will some scratched players get a crack in the lineup tonight?
Other healthy scratches for the Phantoms Saturday were Mason Millman, Logan Day, Ralph Cuddemi and Brennan Saulnier. You’d have to think that Millman, Day, McMaster and Strome are locks in the lineup tonight for Scott Gordon. I’d assume that Felix Sandström gets his first start in net for the Phantoms after Zane McIntyre played on Saturday and Jeremy Brodeur starting for Binghamton.