PREVIEW: Phantoms at Bruins, Game #58

Saturday, March 16, 7:05 p.m.
Amica Mutual Pavilion, Providence, RI
Lehigh Valley (25-24-8) at Providence Bruins (36-17-5)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (25-24-8) conclude their five-game road trip in the finale of a two-game weekend series in Rhode Island against the Providence Bruins. Lehigh Valley is 2-1-1 so far on the road trip.
The Phantoms have taken sole possession of the last playoff spot in the Atlantic Division after a shootout loss standings point yesterday pushed the Phantoms ahead of the Springfield Thunderbirds.
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 nine-point lead over third-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
This is game 5 out of 6 in the season series. The Phantoms are 0-2-2 against Providence this season.
Tonight is the 58th game of the season. There are just 15 games remaining in the 2023-24 campaign.

The Phantoms racked up 41 shots but Providence goaltender Brandon Bussi was spectacular in keeping his team in the game. The Bruins eventually took a shootout decision in a 4-3 final. Cooper Marody (15th), Olle Lycksell (19th) and Tanner Laczynski (9th) all scored for the Phantoms who never trailed until the skills competition. Defenseman Reilly Walsh (7th, 8th) scored a pair of tying goals for the P-Bruins while first-rounder Fabian Lysell dazzled with two nifty steals and assists in the third period.

Tanner Lacynski and Olle Lycksell have bolstered Lehig Valley’s offense with their return to the lineup and both scored go-ahead goals in the third period on Friday at Providence.
Laczynski was playing his second game after an almost two-month absence due to injury. Before last Wednesday at Wilkes-Barre, Laczynski had not played since January 20.
Lycksell has spent most of the last two months with the Philadelphia Flyers. But in his time with the Phantoms, the team’s leading goal scorer has cranked up seven goals in his most recent seven AHL games. That includes a stretch from January 12-20 and then a single game at Charlotte on February 24 with two goals and two assists followed by his return to the lineup on Friday at Providence.  Lycksell has scored 7-5-12 in his last seven games since January 12 and also has scored 4-3-7 in his last three games with the Phantoms which have come in three different months (January 20, February 24, March 15).

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have pushed ahead of the Springfield Thunderbirds for the last playoff spot in the Atlantic Division with just 15 games remaining. Lehigh Valley has points in four of its last six games (3-2-1) and currently stands one point ahead of the Thunderbirds. The Phantoms host Springfield in a pivotal showdown on Wednesday night.
The top six teams in the Atlantic qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs. The first-round is a Best of 3 series and right now would see the Phantoms take on the rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 6 vs. 3 matchup in late April.
Lehigh Valley’s second-round matchup would be against first-place Hershey in a Best of 5 series.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms continue to thrive on the man advantage at 20.7% which is good for fifth 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 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: 18-6-8
– Overtime: 6-5 / Shootout: 4-3

The Providence Bruins (36-17-5) 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 nine-point cushion over third-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Second-year pro Georgii Merkulov (24-29-53) leads the team’s fast-paced and high-octane attack and is fifth in the AHL in points. 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 (15-32-47) 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 3.43 goals per game and their 199 total goals are most in the Eastern Conference.
The Phantoms are 0-2-2 against Providence entering Games 4 and 5 out of 6 in the season series. Brandon Bussi is 3-0, 1.92, .943 in three games against the Phantoms.


Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 15-32-47
Samu Tuomaala 14-26-40
Olle Lycksell 19-15-34
Emil Andrae 4-26-30
Tanner Laczynski 9-18-27
x – Ronnie Attard 10-15-25

Bruins Scoring Leaders
Georgii Merkulov 24-29-53
Fabian Lysell 15-32-47
Anthony Richard 20-22-42
Jayson Megna 14-27-41
x Justin Brazeau 18-19-37
John Farinacci 12-19-31

Lehigh Valley PP, 20.7% (5th)  – Lehigh Valley PK 81.4% (19th) – Series PP vs. PRO 2/12 (16.7%)
Providence PP 17.5% (23rd) – Providence PK 79.9% (24th) – Series PP vs. LV 4/18 (22.2%)

Nov 24 – OTL – Providence 2 at Lehigh Valley 1 (OT)
Dec 3 – Loss – Lehigh Valley 2 at Providence 3
Dec 8 – Loss – Providence 2 at Lehigh Valley 0
Mar 15 – SOL – Lehigh Valley 3 at Providence 4 (SO)

March 16 – Lehigh Valley at Providence
April 5 – Providence at Lehigh Valley

Lehigh Valley
Olle Lycksell 2-1-3
Tanner Laczynski 1-1-2
Adam Brooks 0-2-2

Georgii Merkulov 2-3-5
Fabian Lysell 1-3-4
Jayson Megna 1-3-4

The Phantoms return to PPL Center on Wednesday, March 20 for a critical showdown against the Springfield Thunderbirds.
The Phantoms homestand continues next Saturday night against the Bridgeport Islanders and also Sunday, March 24 at 3:05 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

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

Friday, March 29 (7:00) at Syracuse Crunch
Saturday, March 30 (6:05) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Tuesday, April 2 (7:00) at Hershey Bears