PROSPECT COVERAGE HAS NEVER BEEN AS SOUGHT AFTER AS IT IS RIGHT NOW. PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE FUTURE OF HOCKEY LOOKS LIKE AND PHILLY SPORTS NETWORK IS COMMITTED TO PROVIDING THAT INFORMATION. PROSPECT PROFILES AND GAME RECAPS ARE FANTASTIC BUT DO NOT NECESSARILY PAINT A PICTURE THAT SHOWS A PLAYER’S DEVELOPMENT AND PROGRESSION TOWARDS ACCOMPLISHING THEIR GOAL OF PLAYING IN THE NHL. “UNDER THE MICROSCOPE” IS A NEW WEEKLY FEATURE WHERE WE WILL FOCUS IN ON A SPECIFIC PROSPECT WITHIN THE PHILADELPHIA FLYERS ORGANIZATION AND ANALYZE HIS PERFORMANCE IN A PARTICULAR GAME OR SET OF GAMES.
When looking upon a young hockey season, at any level, you are always in search for a player that stands out. For the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, that player was Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
In the team’s first game of the season against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Aube-Kubel looked fantastic, demonstrating both speed and dynamic ability on offense right from the get-go. His two goals and one assist led all Phantoms in points and helped the team secure a victory in their home-opener. Truthfully, the start to the year couldn’t have gone any better for the second round draft pick.
With a home-and-home against the Springfield Thunderbirds this past weekend, the spotlight was on the 22-year-old Aube-Kubel.
Friday Night at PPL Center
As a whole, Friday night’s contest on home-ice couldn’t have gone any worse. Typically, it is quite challenging to find bright spots in a 7-0 defeat. Though the initial blame might be steered towards Carter Hart, a more in-depth look shows that a lot of responsibility should be given to a lack of discipline and weak penalty-killing. Springfield went a miraculous five for seven on powerplay opportunities. In regards to Lehigh Valley, this is a recipe for disaster.
Aube-Kubel is not a regular on the Phantoms penalty-kill. However, he was responsible for two of the team’s penalties. On a night where there was very little good to highlight for any team member, those four penalty minutes stand out for Aube-Kubel. On the offensive side of the puck, he registered one shot on goal.
As would be the case for every member of the Phantoms roster, the young forward looked ahead to Saturday night for redemption.
Saturday Night at MassMutual Center
When comparing Saturday’s game to Friday’s game, it was completely different in a lot of ways. However, there were still some similarities. First, it was a much more contested match-up all around. The Phantoms came out ready to fight. That hunger resulted in a comeback victory, decided in a shootout. Still, penalties played a significant role.
In total, both squads racked up a total of 15 penalties. Lehigh Valley was the culprit of nine. It got to the point where five-on-five hockey was a rarity.
Of those nine penalties, Aube-Kubel claimed responsibility of three. He was sent to the box twice in the first period for slashing and once in the third period for high-sticking. Six minutes in the penalty box is not ideal for any player, especially one that knew he needed to play with more discipline.
Away from penalty talk for a second, Aube-Kubel had a sub-par night. He generated three shots and looked confident offensively. The problem is, there have not been a lot of situations for him to get in a rhythm. To get a consistent flow going, one has to spend more time on the ice. Unfortunately, when Aube-Kubel is serving a penalty or his team is on the PK, he is not on the ice.
Similar to just looking at opening night, this weekend is a small sample size for Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Still, there is a visible area he can improve. Ten penalty minutes in two games is far too much for an individual. What is most bothersome is the apparent need for a more disciplined style of play in the second game. After Friday’s shellacking, it was clear that Lehigh’s Valley’s performance on the penalty kill needed a lot of work. However, one obvious way to eliminate mistakes on the PK is putting your team in fewer penalty-killing situations. Aube-Kubel did not help with that at all. Looking at those two slashing penalties, in particular, both were avoidable. He cannot be taking foolish penalties like that, especially if he wants to crack the Flyers roster one day.
Aube-Kubel is demonstrating some fantastic offensive abilities to this point. He speed and laser of a shot make him an appealing asset in the Flyers organization. Unfortunately, the frequent trips to the penalty box will stand out like a sore thumb in the eyes of Ron Hextall and Dave Hakstol. In an organization that will not rush to promote a prospect, areas such as discipline on the ice can hold a player back. Still, there is a lot of promise in Aube-Kubel and he will look to correct those avoidable mistakes as the season moves along.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports