Photo Credit: JustSports Photography/Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Allentown-Head Coach Scott Gordon has preached attention to detail for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. If They had played the first two periods the way they played the final one, perhaps it would have been a different result Saturday. Johnathan Marchessault had two goals, and Kristers Gudlevskis made 26 saves as the Syracuse Crunch defeated the Phantoms 4-3 in the season opener.
Both tams opened the game very carefully, trying to feel each other out. Syracuse broke open the scoring just nine minutes in. Off a scramble in front, Michael Blunden found the puck at the edge of the crease, and proceeded to chip it under the glove of Lehigh Valley netminder Jason LaBarbera at the left post. After Cole Bardreau and Tye McGinn got roughing minors, Aaron Palushaj tied it for the Phantoms 2:39 later. Shayne Gostisbehere took a center point shot, Palushaj collected the rebound and scored from the near side faceoff dot while falling down. Taylor Leier also got an assist on the power play goal.
The game was not knotted for long. Marchessault notched his first of the game just 2:52 later. A floating point shot appeared to deflect off the backside of Syracuse's Joel Vermin, but the goal was given to Marchessault. Philippe Paradis extended the lead for the Crunch just prior to the ended of the period, beating LaBarbera five-hole with a lean slap shot from the top of the slot.
In the second, Marchessault extended the lead to three with a spectacular individual effort. He took a spinning shot from the faceoff circle, but it was blocked. He picked up his own rebound and scored low to the stick side. However, 3:10 later, Lehigh Valley would show life. Chris Conner (Pictured) took a nifty pass out front from Michael Parks, danced around Gudlevskis and made an easy tap-in.
In the third, the Phantoms picked it up, while Syracuse was content to defend the lead. Danick Martel banged one in from the edge of the crease with 3:19 left to close out the scoring. Leier had a golden chance from the near circle with 6.9 seconds left, but the Crunch netminder robbed him with the glove.
Notes: Newly minted Lehigh Valley Captain Colin McDonald left in the second period and didnot return. Said Gordon, "I gotta wait and hear from the doctor. As far as I know, it was a hit, but I'm not sure if that's what it was or not."
Quotes: Gordon, on if he was happy with the play of Jason LaBarbera: "I'd have to watch the goals. I watched them really quickly in the first period. I didn't see the fourth goal. I was more concerned about how we got in our zone, so I didn't really analyze what he did. I'm not worried about Jason LaBarbera. He knows how to play goal, and he's gonna be there for us. That's why it didn't even really cross my mind to make a goalie change."
Chris Conner, on if this loss was bigger because they now don't return home until October 24th: Every loss is tough, we're not really thinking ahead. I think, you know, we're gonna learn from this one and move on to the next.
Up Next: The Phantoms hit the road to face Wilkes-Barre/Scranton October 17th at 4:05
On Thursday night, when the Flyers skated off the ice following a 3-2 overtime loss, there were many positives about the effort and how it could beat many teams.
That was against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the defending Eastern Conference Champions and easily a pick to be in the Stanley Cup hunt again this season.
The Florida Panthers are not the same team. It's too early in the season to dub the last season's borderline teams as playoff teams or not, but if you didn't know any better, the Panthers were the defending Stanley Cup Champions and the Flyers were the Mighty Ducks against Iceland.
You know what word comes to mind when you think of that? Pathetic.
An old adage suggests that hockey games can never be won in the first period, but they can be lost easily. For the Flyers, that adage was true for the first 20 minutes of Saturday's game against the Florida Panthers, as they fell 7-1.
Just 6:46 into the first period, the Panthers (1-0-0) had already led 4-0, thanks to goals from Vincent Trocheck, Nick Bjugstad, Reilly Smith and Jussi Jokinen. Once the first was said and done, Trocheck and Jokinen had multiple points (three and two, respectively).
The Flyers continue their brief season-opening sting in the Sunshine State tonight, taking on the Florida Panthers on the heels their heart-racing start to the season in Tampa.
Two maligned Flyers from 2014-15 will look to follow up on strong performances from the season opener -- including Matt Read (who scored the team's first goal of the season) and R.J. Umberger, who assisted on both Flyers goals in the 3-2 loss to the Lightning.