After suffering a 2-1 loss to the Springfield Thunderbirds on Wednesday morning, The Lehigh Valley Phantoms continue their road trip this weekend. On Friday, they head to the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena to take on the Binghamton Devils at 7:05 PM. Then, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins host the Phantoms for a 7:05 PM showdown.
Fourteen games into the regular season, Lehigh Valleys is the perfect example of a “middle of the road” team. At 6-3-1-4, the Phantoms sit in sixth place in the Atlantic Division. Additionally, the team ranks tenth in the Eastern Conference. Currently, Lehigh Valley is falling short in a lot of close games. Of course, it’s promising that the Phantoms remain in contests. However, it’s time to start coming out on the winning side of these battles.
Rookie, and former first-round pick, Morgan Frost, leads all Phantoms with 12 points. Veteran forward, Greg Carey, is close behind Frost with 10 points. Both Phantoms netminders are receiving equal opportunities. Alex Lyon is having a better season this point averaging 2.09 goals-against and posting a .924 save percentage. Jean-Francois Berube is off to a respectable start as well. Currently, he is allowing 2.50 goal-against and has a .910 save percentage. Expect both goalies to get a game this weekend.
The Phantoms Menace: Binghamton Devils
At this juncture in the regular season, Binghamton finds themselves in an undesirable spot. With a 5-7-3-0 record, the Devils are last in the North Division. However, they turned a corner recently going 2-0-1-0 in their last three games. As expected with any struggling team, the Devils are in the bottom half of the league in both goals-for and goals-against.
Unlike Lehigh Valley, Binghamton is led in scoring by one of their seasoned veterans. Ben Street is on an absolute tear early on with 17 points in 15 games. Center Brett Seney is two points behind him with 15. None of Binghamton’s goalies really stand out. Newer arrival, Louis Domingue is the most experienced of the bunch. However, his numbers are nothing to gawk at.
The Phantoms and the Devils have only met up for one contest so far this season. Lehigh Valley walked away from the game with a commanding 4-1 victory. Last season, things were quite even between the two teams. The Phantoms were 2-1-1-0 in there four matchups with Binghamton in 2018-19.
Overall, this is a game Lehigh Valley should win. Still, sleeping on the Devils would be a grave mistake.
The Other Menace: WBS Penguins
Unlike Binghamton, the Phantoms are already quite familiar with the Penguins this season. Three of Lehigh Valley’s first fourteen games were against the “baby” Penguins, and they’ve handled them quite well. The Phantoms won the first game 4-1 while Wilkes-Barre-Scranton took game two 4-3. Then, in their most recent matchup, Lehigh Valley defeated the familiar foe 4-2. In the past, things have been pretty even between these two clubs. Over the past five years, the Phantoms are 25-20-4-2 against the Penguins.
Although the Penguins sit three spots ahead of the Phantoms in the division standing, only one point separates the two teams. Through 15 games, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is 8-5-1-1 and winners of their last three. The Penguins are another one of those “middle of the road” teams at this juncture of the season. They find themselves in the bottom half of the league in both goals-for and goals-against. Obviously, you want to score more goals than you let up. Unfortunately for the Penguins, that’s not happening right now.
Stefan Noesen is finding the back of the net frequently and already has 11 goals on the year. He currently leads the Penguins in scoring with 15 points. Andrew Agozzino is not far behind Noesen with 13. Casey DeSmith is Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton’s top option in net. He’s played 11 games and is averaging 2.67 goals per game. Additionally, DeSmith is posting a .908 save percentage.
Unlike the Binghamton game, this contest is much more of a coin toss. The two teams know each other extremely well and both sides have a realistic chance coming away with the victory.
Mandatory Credit: Alex McIntyre