PREVIEW: Phantoms at Bruins, Game #57

Friday, March 15, 7:05 p.m.
Amica Mutual Pavilion, Providence, RI
Lehigh Valley (25-24-7) at Providence Bruins (35-17-5)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (25-24-7) conclude their five-game road trip with a two-game weekend series in Rhode Island against the Providence Bruins.
Lehigh Valley is holding down sixth place in the Atlantic Division in the battle for the last playoff spot. The Phantoms and Springfield Thunderbirds are tied in points but Lehigh Valley also has one game-in-hand on the T-Birds.
The second-place P-Bruins have not quite locked up a bye in the first-round of the Calder Cup Playoffs but the high-scoring team has a seven-point lead over third-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
This is game 4 out of 6 in the season series. The Phantoms are 0-2-1 against Providence this season.
Tonight is the 57th game of the season. There are just 16 games remaining in the 2023-24 campaign.

The Phantoms couldn’t find the comeback magic this time as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins successfully and finally defended its home ice in the rivalry series via a 3-0 win on Wednesday night. Joel Blomqvist recorded 23 saves for his first career shutout and Jagger Joshua gave the Baby Pens all the offense they would need with his first-career two-goal game. It was Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s first win at home against the Phantoms in four tries.

Phantoms captain Garrett Wilson was suspended for three games by the American Hockey League as the result of a checking to the head penalty in last Saturday’s game at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Wilson is unavailable for tonight’s game at Providence but is eligible to return to the lineup in the rematch tomorrow which is also his 33rd birthday.

Tanner Lacynski returned to the lineup on Wednesday night at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. It was Lacynski’s first game in almost two months since he last played on January 20 at Cleveland. The 26-year-old center out of Ohio State has scored 8-18-26 in 34 games with Lehigh Valley this season. For his career, Laczynski has played in 78 games with the Phantoms over parts of four different seasons scoring 21-34-55 and has also played in 38 NHL games with the Flyers where he has scored 2-2-4.

Defenseman Adam Ginning has been returned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms from the Philadelphia Flyers. Ginning has played in one game with the Flyers this year and 54 games with the Phantoms scoring 2-11-13.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms continue to thrive on the man advantage at 20.8% which is good for sixth in the AHL and second in the Eastern Conference.
Cooper Marody is tied for the AHL lead in power-play assists (19) with Mike Sgarbossa of Hershey and is in a three-tie for the league lead in power-play points (24) with Brennan Othmann of Hartford and Lane Pederson of Bakersfield.

A pair of rookie prospects have also helped drive the team’s success on the man advantage.
Emil Andrae has scored 3-15-18 on the power play to rate second among AHL rookies in power-play assists and first among AHL rookie defensemen.
Samu Tuomaala has scored 7-12-19 on the power play. He is tied for third among AHL rookies in power-play points and is fourth in goals and fifth in assists.

Never count out the Phantoms! Lehigh Valley has rallied for victory seven times when trailing after two periods which is the most comeback wins in the AHL ahead of Grand Rapids, Henderson and Manitoba who have six late comeback triumphs. Three of Lehigh Valley’s rallies have been on the road at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton where the Phantoms have gone 3-0-0 despite trailing at the second intermission on each visit.

The Phantoms have won five straight games that have been tied after regulation including two overtime wins and three shootout wins. Lehigh Valley is 7-1 in calendar year 2024 in overtimes and shootouts combined.
20-year-old rookie J-R Avon is tied for the AHL lead with five shootout goals on just six attempts this season. Trey Fix-Wolansky of Cleveland is the only other player with five.
The Phantoms are tied for the league lead with four shootout wins. The Cleveland Monsters and Abborstford Canucks also have four. Lehigh Valley is also second in the league with nine total shootout goals trailing only Cleveland who has 11.
The Phantoms have gone to overtime or shootout in 17 games this year which is third-most in the AHL behind Rochester (19) and Cleveland (19). The Phantoms are 6-5 in overtimes and 4-2 in shootouts for a combined mark of 10-7 after regulation.

The Phantoms record when:
– Score 4 or more goals: 17-0-2
– Allow 3 or fewer goals: 18-6-3
– Lead After 1st period: 7-1-2
– Lead After 2nd period: 13-2-1
– One-Goal Games: 18-6-7
– Overtime: 6-5 / Shootout: 4-2

The Providence Bruins (35-17-5) are looking good to receive a first-round playoff bye as they are solidly implanted into second place in the Atlantic Division and have a seven-point cushion over third-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The P-Bruins bounced back from two blowout losses against Hartford to post a 5-0 trouncing of Springfield on Sunday with Brandon Bussi (18-9-3, 2.63, .912) racking up 36 saves in the shutout.
Second-year pro Georgii Merkulov (23-28-51) leads the team’s fast-paced and high-octane attack and is fourth in the conference and ninth in the AHL in scoring. Merkulov represented Providence at the AHL All-Star Classic this season after also making the AHL All-Rookie Team last season.
21-year-old first-rounder Fabian Lysell (15-30-45) and former Laval Rocket Anthony Richard (20-21-41) provide additional scoring punch. First-rounder John Beecher (4-4-8) made a brief return and lit it up in recent weeks to earn a recall back up to Boston.
The Bruins are fifth in the AHL in offense at 3.42 goals per game and their 195 total goals are  second in the Eastern Conference behind Cleveland.
The Phantoms are 0-2-1 against Providence entering Games 4 and 5 out of 6 in the season series. The two teams have not faced each other since December 8 when Michael DiPietro posted a 19-save shutout at PPL Center in a 2-0 Bruins verdict. Brandon Bussi is 2-0, 1.47, .953 in two games against the Phantoms.


Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 14-32-46
Samu Tuomaala 14-26-40
Olle Lycksell 18-14-32
Emil Andrae 4-26-30
Tanner Laczynski 8-18-26
x – Ronnie Attard 10-15-25

Bruins Scoring Leaders
Georgii Merkulov 23-28-51
Fabian Lysell 15-30-45
Anthony Richard 20-21-41
Jayson Megna 14-26-40
x Justin Brazeau 18-19-37
John Farinacci 12-19-31

Lehigh Valley PP, 20.8% (6th)  – Lehigh Valley PK 81.1% (22nd) – Series PP vs. PRO 2/11 (18.2%)
Providence PP 17.8% (20th) – Providence PK 79.8% (24th) – Series PP vs. LV 4/14 (28.6%)

The Phantoms and Bruins rematch Saturday night in Providence in the finale of a five-game road trip.
The Phantoms return to PPL Center on Wednesday, March 20 for a critical showdown against the Springfield Thunderbirds.

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Friday, March 15 (7:05) at Providence Bruins
Saturday, March 16 (7:05) at Providence Bruins

Wednesday, March 20 (7:05) vs. Springfield Thunderbirds – Joe Watson Book Signing / $1 Pretzels
Saturday, March 23 (7:05) vs. Bridgeport Islanders – Margaritaville Night
Sunday, March 24 (3:05) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – Kids Takeover Day / Postgame Autographs Presented by NJM Insurance