GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – They used to just be across the parking lot, a slap shot away from the Wachovia Center – or just a stride down the hallway at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees.
But since they moved to Glens Falls last summer, this past weekend was our first glimpse of the Phantoms this season.
In Tuesday’s Daily News, we have two different stories running: one focusing on the changes in Glens Falls and another on the bonding of Finns Mika Pyorala and Joonas Lehtivuori in upstate New York.
While my editors give me as much space as possible, I figured you’d all want a player-by-player breakdown of the Phantoms’ roster with notes and thoughts.
Here’s my take, in jersey numerical order:
2. Joonas Lehtivuori – D – 44 GP, 4G, 10A, 14P, +4 – Lehtivuori, 21, as written in Tuesday’s piece, has been a big addition to the Flyers’ farm club. The former 4th round pick is a mobile defenseman who isn’t afraid to jump into the rush. He skates well and has an active stick in the defensive zone. Could be a solid NHL contributor with more seasoning and strength.
3. Joey Mormina – D – 56 GP, 4G, 12A, 16P, -2 – Mormina is in his second go-around with the Flyers organization. He is a huge defenseman (6-foot-6, 230) with a lumbering shot from the point. He has already set a career-high for points in a season.
4. Kevin Marshall – D – 52 GP, 2G, 2A, 4P, -4 – Marshall, 20, has done well in his first pro season. The bar was set high for the former 2nd round pick (2007) and he hasn’t disappointed – even if his stats haven’t been impressive. Marshall says he is gaining confidence with each game.
“The position on the ice is a lot different than junior,” Marshall explained. “The biggest thing has been to move the puck quick. My dream has always been to play in the NHL. This is one step towards my dream. I want to make sure that I spend each day here learning so I can get to the NHL.”
Phantoms coach Greg Gilbert had nothing but praise for Marshall.
“Kevin’s just a competitive guy,” Gilbert said. “He’s just going to be a stay-at-home defenseman that punishes the opposition and their forwards every night. He competes every night. There’s some things that we need to work on him with but he’s progressed very well.
“He’s going to find a way to play in the NHL. He’s one of those guys that is self-motivated and driven.”
5. Marc-Andre Bourdon – D – 50 GP, 1G, 10A, 11P, -13 – Bourdon missed both games this weekend with a lower-body injury. Bourdon, 20, was called-up to the Flyers twice this season but didn’t dress in a game. From what I remember in training camp, he is a physical defenseman with a decent shot from the point.
6. David Sloane – D - 13 GP, 0G, 1A, 1P, -2 – Sloane was a healthy scratch in Friday night’s win over Hershey. The Ambler, Penn., native didn’t play much against Albany on Saturday filling in for Denis Bodrov but when out there played strong in his own end.
8. Denis Bodrov – D - 8GP, 0G, 1A, 1P, -5 – Bodrov was signed by the Flyers last month after he parted ways with his Russian team in the KHL. He hadn’t played in almost two months but is working his way back into shape. He doesn’t speak any English so it was hard to communicate with him. Bodrov’s return has thrown a wrench into the Phantoms’ defensive rotation (with 8 players) and has forced someone to sit out each game. He left Friday’s game with a shoulder injury but didn’t show any of the skills previously that made him so highly touted within the Flyers organization.
9. Stefan Legein – F - 55 GP, 21G, 5A, 26P, -1 – Legein will be our focus in Wednesday’s Daily News, so I don’t want to steal too much of the thunder from that story.
10. David Laliberte – F - 49 GP, 12 G, 23 A, 35 P, -4 – Laliberte, who made a splash with the Flyers earlier this season as we noted, has progressed steadily this season. He is a hard worker who is always buzzing in the offensive zone. His positioning is solid and he doesn’t shy away in the defensive zone. Could use some more speed to be really effective.
11. Jon Matsumoto – F - 57 GP, 20 G, 25 A, 45 P, -6 – Matsumoto has led the Phantoms in scoring all season and put up a solid 63-point campaign last year. Still, a ton of players below him have been called-up to the big club, leaving him scratching his head.
“It’s a little frustrating,” Matsumoto told the Daily News. “If I’m not getting the call, obviously there’s something in my game that I need to improve on to get called-up. I take it as I just need to keep working hard and improving my game.”
Gilbert didn’t exactly herald Matsumoto’s effort this year. If we had to guess, it may be that he can be a liability defensively. He is a minus-6 this year and was a minus-12 last year. Plus, he isn’t the biggest guy: his bio lists him at 6-foot but that’s generous.
“Jon’s been OK,” Gilbert said. “He’s a hard working guy but it’s the details of the game that he gets away from sometimes. He tries to do too much and that’s usually what gets him in trouble.
“There’s other parts of the game players need to learn. If you make those mistakes in the minors, you’re obviously going to make them up top. There’s parts of the game that he has to learn and continue to get better at.”
Besides Legein, Matsumoto is the Phantoms’ one reliable scoring threat. He also won the shooting accuracy competition at January’s All-Star Game in Portland.
12. Garrett Klotz – F - 55 GP, 2G, 2A, 4P, -10 – Klotz is a big guy who can fight but only saw limited minutes on the third line with fellow bruiser Matt Clackson and Ryan Dingle.
14. Andreas Nodl – F - 42 GP, 7G, 13A, 20P – My nickname for Nodl has been Andreas No-Goal. He was better than a point-per-game player at St. Cloud State but that hasn’t translated to the NHL or AHL. He has just 1 goal and 4 assists in 45 games for the Flyers, which is why he may be running out of chances in the NHL.
15. Matt Clackson – F - 49 GP, 2G, 3A, 5P, -5 – Clackson is not one to shy away from the rough stuff. He leads the Phantoms with 139 penalty minutes but has improved by leaps and bounds as a skater.
16. Pat Maroon – F - 45 GP, 9G, 25A, 34P, -5 – In my eyes, Maroon was one of the most disappointing players this past weekend. He never really seemed to get involved in the play. Many expected him to challenge for a roster spot in training camp but he never really had a chance because of an injury. Down to 225 pounds, Maroon is way too slow to be ready for the NHL.
17. Jason Ward – F - 48 GP, 10G, 15A, 25P, -4 – Ward showed a dangle or two this weekend, though his signing seemed to be a bit puzzling for the Flyers. The 31-year-old was Tampa Bay’s healthy forward last year. He is 4 years removed from a 28-point season with the Rangers in 05-06. Ward doesn’t have much speed but is experienced… if he is healthy. He has struggled with minor nicks, bumps and bruises this season.
18. Jared Ross – F - 50 GP, 6G, 24A, 30P, +2 – The Phantoms’ captain continues to impress with strong play at both ends of the ice. Ross stepped up for the Flyers last year with a goal against Pittsburgh in the playoffs. The pesky Alabama native could be added to the roster at the end of the season this year as well.
19. Ryan Dingle – F - 46 GP, 4G, 5A, 9P, -5 – I get the feeling Dingle has been misused by the Phantoms this season, centering their checking line. Dingle, 25, has speed and decent hands. He is a player that could prosper with more talented linemates. He was acquired by the Flyers from Anaheim in last summer’s Chris Pronger trade.
20. Josh Beaulieu – F - 32 GP, 2G, 2A, 4P, -8 – Beaulieu has been out of the lineup with an injury since Jan. 22.
22. Mika Pyorala – F – 12 GP, 3G, 4A, 7P, +6 – Pyorala seems to have found a home after 38 games with the Flyers this season. As noted in Tuesday’s story, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a guy the Flyers used in their stretch run or in the playoffs if there are injuries.
24. Rob Bellamy – F – 46 GP, 1G, 4A, 5P, -14 – Bellamy did not appear in either Friday or Saturday’s game. His sister, Kacey, is on the U.S. Women’s Olympic team in Vancouver.
26. Sean Curry – D – 46 GP, 4G, 5A, 9P, -15 – Curry is reminiscent of the Flyers’ Braydon Coburn in terms of his skating and defensive style. Like Coburn, he has struggled in the plus/minus department this season. He is one of the Phantoms’ elder statesman but has great size (6-foot-5, 227). He is a long ways away from his 13-goal, 38-point season with Providence (AHL) just 2 years ago.
28. Logan Stephenson – D – 44 GP, 1G, 3A, 4P, -2 – Stephenson may be one of the most respected players in the Phantoms’ locker room. Still just 24, he is in the prime of his career but a veteran in AHL seasons. He is feeling the pressure to make it to the NHL – even if just for a cup of coffee – like his brother and father. He’s not going to get that chance this year.
31. Johan Backlund – G – 33 starts, 18-12-2-2, 2.69 GAA, .910 save percentage – Backlund continues to be one of the Phantoms’ feel-good stories of the year. He has bounced back and forth between the Flyers but has never seen action in an NHL game. The first-year North American pro from Sweden, who signed as a free-agent back in March, has surprised many within the Flyers organization and could be groomed to be an NHL backup sometime in the future.
36. Krys Kolanos – F – 27 GP, 9G, 6A, 15P, -3 – Kolanos underwent successful hip surgery last week in Nashville and no return date has been set. He has struggled with injuries all season. Last year he was better than a point-per-game player with Houston (AHL) and was called up to the Minnesota Wild five times. He signed a one-year deal with the Flyers last summer.
37. Jon Kalinski – F – 46 GP, 6G, 10A, 16P, -3 – Kalinski played 10 games with the Flyers this year, spending 21 days on the NHL roster. This past weekend, Kalinski saw special teams time on both the power play and the penalty kill.
47. John Grahame – G – 12 starts, 2-10-0-0, 2.84 GAA, .896 save percentage – Grahame hasn’t gotten much support from the Phantoms in terms of goal support in his 12 starts, leaving him with a poor record. But his play has given the Phantoms a chance to win in each of his outings. He is still playing on a pro tryout contract (PTO) but the fact that the Flyers have kept extending him – and haven’t played goaltender Nic Riopel (who is back in the QMJHL) – should tell you something about their goaltending prospects for the future.
Currently, the Phantoms (26-27-2-2, 56 points) sit 4 points out of the 4th spot in the East Division. If they can solve their win-two, lose-two inconsistency, they could challenge for one of the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spots.
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